There’s a famous Saturday Night Live sketch about a new product which is both a floor cleaner as well as a dessert topping, and at very first glance you might think that combining a camcorder and a projector seems like a similar, if slightly less extreme ‘jack of all trades’ situation. Fortunately, Sony’s HDR-PJ10E doesn’t fall into this trap. It is the first consumer camcorder of its kind, but the concept has great pedigree in the early days of film, as 19th century innovators the Lumiere Brothers’ first camera also doubled as a projector.
The camcorder side of things is decidedly mid-range, however. The optics feed into a single 1/4in CMOS with 4.2Mpixels. This is not as big as Sony’s top-end models offer, but it still incorporates Exmor R technology, so has a back-side illuminated construction which lets in more light than the traditional configuration. Also on the plus side, the smallish sensor means the PJ10 can offer a very healthy 30x optical zoom, despite its relatively compact form. This can be further increased to 42x in Extended mode, which doesn’t entail the quality loss associated with traditional digital zooms, although there’s a 350x version of the latter also available if you like pixellated images.
A number of recording modes are on offer, ranging from Full HD at 50 progressive frames per second down to standard defnition with a 50i interlaced signal. In between can be found some anamorphic HD options, and even the ability to shoot MPEG-2 PS standard definition, at a healthy 9Mbits/sec, if you need high-quality non-HD. Regular 50i AVCHD can be recorded at up 24Mbits/sec, with Full HD 50p available at 28Mbits/sec. The PJ10 has 16GB of Flash memory built in, which is enough for 75 minutes of footage at the top 28Mbits/sec setting. If you want more storage, Sony has hedged its bets and offers a slot compatible with both MemoryStick Pro DUO and SD. This supports SDXC, too, so can accommodate cards up to 128GB in capacity, and beyond when they become available