Although the HC1E lacks one or too manual features, they’re omissions you can live with – especially when you see the end results. You really have to see footage from the HC1E to believe just how good it is. With nearly four times as many pixels per frame as regular TV, the detail is absolutely amazing. Despite not having a sensor for each colour like its FX1E big brother, the HC1E’s colour fidelity was also gobsmacking in reasonable lighting. Even under artificial illumination, results were better than is normally the case for a single-sensor camcorder. Only when you get below around 15 lux (equivalent to the light of a single 60W bulb at 10 feet) does the picture really start to lose colour fidelity – and you’re asking for trouble not adding extra lighting under such conditions anyway.
The HC1E does have a couple of real drawbacks, however. By far the biggest is the fact that tapes are loaded from the bottom. So you’ll have to unscrew it from your tripod quick-release to change tapes, which is more than just mildly irritating. The other one is the Sony proprietary accessory shoe. Although adapters are allegedly available for attaching standard microphones and lights, we’ve not found anywhere that sells them in the UK. So you’re stuck with Sony add-ons, even though standard headphone and microphone mini-jacks are integrated.
The HDR-HC1E is too expensive to appeal to even the top end of mainstream camcorder users. But, then again, if you fancy shooting HD right now, the only other options are at least twice the price. The cost benefits of the CMOS technology also lead us to guess that we won’t be seeing any HDV camcorders at this price point from other CCD-only manufacturers for a little while. Considering the price isn’t far off a decent three-CCD semi-professional model, the HDR-HC1E’s price is actually quite amazing. And the video it shoots is absolutely stunning.