Sony tends to use the most saturation of all camcorder manufacturers, and the HDR-CX6EK is a prime example. In full sunlight, colours are extremely vibrant – particularly green. But the balance is good, and this is the kind of colour most consumers want in their video. The image doesn’t look as sharp as the HDV-based HDR-HC9E, but this is entirely due to the more aggressive AVCHD compression, which runs at nearly half the bit-rate.
Moving to lower light – equivalent to a living room lit by a single 100W bulb – the HDR-CX6EK was even more impressive for a single-chip camcorder. Colour balance remains excellent, and vibrancy is only a little muted compared to daylight. There is a fair amount of grain, however. Canon’s HG10 and HV20 are both much cleaner in this level of illumination. The noise increases as the light drops, and although the HDR-CX6EK maintains more colour than many, the grain still ruins its chances. Few consumer camcorders operate well in this level of light, though, and the Sony is still much better than average.
On the camcorder body itself there is only HDMI and a proprietary A/V connection, which provides composite video and stereo RCA audio output. But a docking station is supplied, which also incorporates an A/V connection and adds component video and USB 2.0 for importing your video files into an editing system. Being AVCHD, the HDR-CX6EK’s footage won’t be hard to edit these days, although it’ll be processor intensive. The AVCHD format is supported by Pinnacle Studio 11 Plus, Ulead VideoStudio 11 Plus, and Sony Vegas 8 – but not Adobe Premiere Elements 4.
Sony hasn’t produced a camcorder with quite the pocket-friendly appeal of Panasonic’s HDC-SD9. But it is capable of great-looking video in the kinds of conditions the average consumer will be shooting. Sony has focused on achieving this with as little user intervention as possible, but sacrificed manual control on the way. So the HDR-CX6EK will appeal to those who just want to point and shoot, leaving more serious video makers to look elsewhere.
Score in detail
Image Quality 8