Home / Cameras / Camcorder / Sony Handycam HDR-CX105E

Sony Handycam HDR-CX105E review




  • Recommended by TR

1 of 5

Sony Handycam HDR-CX105E
  • Sony Handycam HDR-CX105E
  • Sony Handycam HDR-CX105E
  • Sony Handycam HDR-CX105E
  • Sony Handycam HDR-CX105E
  • Sony Handycam HDR-CX105E


Our Score:


This time last year, Sony impressed us greatly with the unfeasibly tiny HDR-TG3, and it still stands up as a classic piece of design. There have been smaller camcorders since it arrived which claim to shoot HD, but the TG3 remains the real deal - a true HD camcorder in a slim format you could easily fit in a pocket. But technology marches forward ceaselessly, and now Sony has launched another unfeasibly dinky HD camcorder. The HDR-CX105E has a more conventional form factor, but is still impressively dimensioned.

The CX105E is bigger than the TG3. Although it's only 40g heavier, the chassis is almost twice as thick. Nevertheless, the sub-300g weight could hardly be described as portly, and it remains one of the smallest 'Full HD' (interpolated) models on the market. You just won't be able to slip it into a jacket pocket without making your chest look lumpy.

Like the TG3, the CX105E relies on a 1/5in CMOS sensor, but this time it uses Sony's Exmor sensor technology rather than ClearVid. Exmor places the wiring behind the photo diodes, theoretically providing more usable area and greater sensitivity. Our first experience of this in a consumer camcorder, the HDR-XR520, impressed us considerably. That model uses a larger sensor, but Exmor has even more potential for less well endowed units, where low light performance needs all the help it can get.

The CX105E also incorporates 8GB of flash memory. However, this is really only enough to get you started, as it will store a mere hour of footage at the top AVCHD data rate of 16Mbits/sec. Sony also provides a slot for expansion, but naturally this is the company's proprietary MemoryStick format, which in this case is of the Pro Duo variety. This is a little more expensive than SDHC, but not heinously so. An extra 8GB in this format will set you back about £25.


May 30, 2009, 9:38 pm

Hmm... no external mic socket... That omission really pushes a cam into the toy category. I don't know how you can recommend a cam at that pricepoint without that - its a must have if you're ever going to seek decent sound, which is more important for watchability than decent image.

Geoff Richards

May 31, 2009, 2:39 pm

It's horses for courses, KB. This cam is clearly aimed at the Point & Shoot brigade, and performs that function very well.

For more advanced users like you & me, we want features like accessory shoes and external mic sockets (nevermind the manual image controls missing from the CX105E). And that's fine too - we just have to scratch together a few hundred more and get a Canon HF100, or a few hundred more than that for a Panasonic HDC-TM300. Then treat ourselves to a new shotgun mic, a wide-angle lens attachment...

You can see why the Point & Shoot user will just hand over £500 and be done with it, while the spending never really ends of us enthusiasts :)

James Morris

May 31, 2009, 5:04 pm

@K B Just to reinforce what Geoff said, if you're just looking to take a camcorder on holiday, you really won't want to bother with extra microphones - or extra anything really, even a tripod. I make video for a living and even I don't take any of these things for my holiday moviemaking. You can really ruin your family's pleasure by messing around with gadgets when you're all supposed to be having fun. The CX105E is one of the best options currently out there for this purpose - light and small, but shoots great video.


May 31, 2009, 11:27 pm

Point taken that if you know for sure you'll never want better sound than the onboard mic will give you. But if you're maybe buying this as your first cam... then decide to get more serious... well you've then got a cam that can produce maybe great HD video... but you'll have to go right out and buy another. All for the sake of not having a mic socket! If its a £100 cam then fair enough - but ditching the mic socket in a £450 cam... for what? Gets big minus points from me. I'd recommend someone buy something that will give them that option in the future, even if they don't think they'll want it right now. Plenty of alternatives at the same price point.

James Morris

May 31, 2009, 11:36 pm

@K B I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. Yes, there are plenty of alternatives with sound inputs, but actually not that many at this price point which can match the CX105E's video quality. Now that Panasonic's HDC-SD9 is becoming hard to find, there really aren't any I can think of for less than £500.


June 4, 2009, 10:52 pm

Hi James, I am going to buy my first digital camcorder and I am very attracted by the Sanyo HD2000. After reading you review I put also the cx105e on the list, and I really can't decide between these two.

The Sanyo is 1080p, while the CX105 is 1080i.

The sony has an optical image stabilizer, while the sanyo digital one does not work very well, according to users comments.

The sanyo has a mic-in port and it uses standard SDHC cards, while sony uses the more expensive MS format.

I also cannot find a cx105 sample video at maximum resolution, so I cannot compare the image quality (colors, contrast, sharpness, noise under low-light etc.).

I'd also like to know something about the effective battery life.

What do you think?

Please help me! :-)


July 9, 2009, 6:26 am

Could somebody tell me whether it'd be possible to put different lenses on this camera? Such as an 'opteka fisheye' lens? I'm a total newbie to camcorders, but would love to get some nice footage when I go away to Rome and want to be able to play around with a fisheye on some of the sights. Any help would be most appreciated, thank you :)

Anders Lund

August 17, 2009, 7:31 pm

I just wanted to point out that Sony has been replacing the automatic lens cover with a manual on a lot of their new models, even higher priced ones. The reason? Reliyability. I have had 4 Sony camcorders with auto lens covers and ALL of them ended up having to go to repairs due to worn down parts. The little engine that flips it up and down can't withstand the amount of usage it receives. I personally welcome the manual, since it does not use up battery power, and it's more reliable. Not to mention it reduces the cost. It's just a small pointless thing to have really.

Kalos Geros

September 20, 2009, 4:00 am

just came accross this review...being a 1080i camcorder the CX105 doesn't really need all of the 2 mil pixels of 1080p...interlaced fields of 1080i video are 1920x540 which is actually just a tiny bit more than 1 mil pixels...so 1,17 mil pixel is enough to catter for both 720p and 1080i...no pixels are really lost or interpolated...

comments powered by Disqus