”’Never mind the width, feel the quality!”’
Although three CCDs are de rigueur at this price point, the HDR-HC1E actually uses a single 2.97Megapixel CMOS instead. As well as providing sufficient pixels for HDV, this can also be used to capture stills at up to 1,920 x 1,440. A MemoryStick duo slot is integrated for storage, with a 16MB card supplied. The HC1E can shoot in regular DV mode as well, but with the ability to down-sample to DV on the fly over FireWire, there’s not much point, unless you need the 4:3 aspect ratio.
In terms of camcorder functionality, Sony appears to have learned from many of the mistakes it made with the DCR-HC1000. Instead of leaving you to access virtually everything through the touch-sensitive LCD, discrete buttons are available for a number of important functions. You can switch the lens ring from controlling focus to zoom. There’s a rocker for exposure, plus switches for backlight compensation, tele macro mode, and expanded focus. The latter zooms the image on the LCD screen for easier focusing, although the actual recorded image remains the same.
You still need the LCD to access other features, however. Here, you can alter shutter speed manually from ½ to 1/10,000th of a second, set audio levels manually, or choose one of the five programme auto-exposure modes. Most annoyingly, the LCD is the only way to configure white balance. But there is one superb feature available from the touch screen – spot focusing and exposure. This allows you to set either of these parameters simply by touching the point in the frame you want to be used as reference.
”’As you can see, the image quality is, quite simply staggering!”’