Sony Handycam HDR-CX105E - Sony HDR-CX105E

By James Morris



Our Score:


With its relatively small sensor, the CX105E is unlikely to vie with the company's premium models such as the HDR-XR520 for image quality. But it still does better than would be expected for a 1/5in CMOS sensor. This sits in between Panasonic's latest budget HD models, such as the HDC-SD20 with its 1/6in CMOS, and Canon's LEGRIA HF20, which sports a larger 1/4in unit.

However, Sony's Exmor technology has clearly managed to work its magic once more, producing superior low light performance than usual for a sensor this size. The image is brighter than the Panasonic and Canon competition, and also an improvement over JVC's Everio GZ-HD300. That said, there is considerable noise which obscures detail, so it's far from a perfect image. Nevertheless, for a camcorder this size the CX105E provides the video quality necessary in that all-important environment: poorly lit rooms.

In brighter conditions, the quality is even less distinguishable from higher-end models. Close inspection will reveal slightly less fine detail than the top models, as the CMOS only uses 1.4-megapixels of its 2.3-megapixels when shooting video, which isn't quite enough for the 2.07-megapixels required for Full HD. But the image is still very sharp, and colours have Sony's characteristic saturation. So they're faithful, but with the emphasis on vibrancy more than absolute accuracy.


The Sony HDR-CX105E doesn't have the gobsmacking excitement of the HDR-TG3. It's not quite so small and although light, its form factor will mean it doesn't slip so easily into the pocket, unless you're wearing Barbour. But it does offer even better image quality, and will hardly be a pain to pop in your bag.

The icing on the cake is that, unlike many of the camcorders we've seen this year, this one doesn't arrive at a noticeably higher price than previous models. In fact, for under £440, it's good value even by 2008 standards. It may not have many or any features for the enthusiast, but if all you're after is an easily portable camcorder that shoots high quality HD video, the CX105E fits the bill very nicely indeed.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Value 10
  • Image Quality 9
  • Features 8


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 1,17 mil pixel is enough to catter for both 720p and pixels are really lost or interpolated...

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