With its 1/6in CCD, the SDR-S7 wasn’t likely to produce top-notch video quality. But even if this mini monster can’t be expected to offer professional-grade images, it needs to be passable in everyday conditions. It certainly is in bright daylight and even cloudy conditions, with no manual settings required. Colours don’t have the saturation characteristic of Sony models, but are perfectly faithful. Reproduction remains decent in everyday artificial lighting, and performance can be improved by adding gain. However, this does introduce a pink tinge, which worsens as light levels diminish. Video gets very grainy and lacking in colour in the lowest light. Overall, though, the SDR-S7 delivers enough for its target market. You will be able to shoot family events in most situations.
Despite the tiny size of the body, the SDR-S7 still has USB 2.0 and a proprietary A/V connection built in. The cable supplied for the latter only offers composite video and stereo RCA audio, but not S-video. We had no problems importing the MOD files the SDR-S7 produces into Ulead VideoStudio 11.5 Plus and Pinnacle Studio 11.1 Plus. Adobe’s Premiere Elements 4 also supports the MOD format, although there have been reports of problems with JVC’s version of it. But as it is basically MPEG-2, with MPEG-1 Layer 2 audio, editing the SDR-S7’s video won’t pose many problems, although only the Vista version of Windows Movie Maker has the necessary support.
You can’t expect a camcorder as tiny as the SDR-S7 to offer much for the more serious videomaker, and its lack of high definition ability will give it a limited shelf life. But for just over £200, the SDR-S7 packs real camcorder abilities into the kind of package normally associated with cheap and nasty attempts from manufacturers with no experience in the camcorder business. It’s a capable video tool in an extremely pocket-friendly format, for a very reasonable price.
Score in detail
Image Quality 7