With its Full HD shooting, the TG3 can’t be faulted for detail in good lighting. Bright sunlight produces rich colours with Sony’s characteristic full saturation. Light areas lose a little detail, but there is no sign of blowout. The autofocus and exposure react quickly, keeping the image crisp. Mixed lighting, combining bright areas and shadows, is also dealt with effectively. However, the 1/5in sensor makes its presence felt in low light. In a room lit by a single 100W bulb, the image has very obvious creeping grain, although there is still a reasonable level of colour evident. So this is not an ideal camcorder for shooting events in poorly lit rooms, but better illuminated situations are handled admirably, belying the TG3’s small size.
When it comes to editing, the TG3’s AVCHD video proved very compatible. Adobe’s software still doesn’t support any form of AVCHD. But even in FH mode, the Sony’s footage worked just fine in Pinnacle Studio 11.1 Plus, CyberLink PowerDirector 7, Sony Vegas Pro 8, and Ulead VideoStudio 11.5 Plus. So, despite the Full HD resolution, clips can be edited in most of the popular apps.
Amazingly, this tiny camcorder still manages to incorporate HDMI output, although this is of the miniature variety so will require an adapter when connecting to an HDTV. With a BRAVIA TV supporting BRAVIA Sync, you can even control the camcorder via the TV over HDMI, and the port is HDMI 1.3 compliant for x.v.Color support. There’s a propriety connection for analogue output, with cables supplied for composite video plus RCA audio, or component plus RCA audio. What the camcorder doesn’t have is a built-in USB 2.0 connection. This has been relegated to the bundled docking station, which includes another A/V connector as well.
The Sony HDR-TG3 is another bold step from Sony, the company which broke HD into the UK market and dominated for the first year or so. The poor low light performance will be a worry if you want to shoot family events in darkened rooms. But for a sub-300g camcorder slim enough to fit in a jacket pocket, the TG3 is an outstanding achievement.
Score in detail
Image Quality 8