Sony Handycam HDR-CX105E - Sony HDR-CX105E

By James Morris

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

9

As this is a tiny pocket camcorder, there are few provisions for the more serious videomaker. There is no accessory shoe, nor minijacks for an external microphone or headphones. The few discrete buttons, which are available beneath the LCD, control global features like switching to playback and Easy mode, the latter hiding the majority of settings for those worried that they might end up configuring them accidentally. The CX105E also has face detection to help get the exposure of human faces correct automatically. However, one automated feature we would have liked is a lens cover that opens when the camcorder turns on, like many HD camcorders in this class now have. But instead you have to open this yourself with a slider on the side.

If you do want to delve into manual settings, these are all controlled via the touchscreen LCD. As with the XR520, the one-touch system now extends to simultaneous configuration of focus and exposure with a single tap. You can still access these two settings separately, like previous Sony touchscreen camcorders, and there are manual sliders to control them as well. But there is no way of changing the shutter speed directly. The only way to bias this is via one of the scene modes, such as the Sports option which selects the fastest possible shutter. There are eight other scene modes to choose from as well.

The CX105E also incorporates Sony's Smooth Slow Record. This is a separate mode alongside Movie and Photo that captures footage at four times normal speed. However, it only works for three-second bursts, which are buffered and then transferred to create 12 seconds of regular AVCHD. Quality isn't as good as when recording at normal speed, and Sony hasn't made public what resolution or data rate is actually used when buffering. But the results are quite reasonable, and look better than some of the slo-mo options available from other manufacturers.

K B

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.

K B

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.

Mauro

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! :-)

edzio

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...

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