Despite its point-and-shoot ‘palmcording’ orientation, the TG3 still offers a few useful manual features for the more discerning videomaker. But it doesn’t have an accessory shoe or minijacks for attaching an external microphone or headphones for checking audio levels, none of which is a surprise in such a small camcorder. Manual focusing can only be performed via the touch-sensitive screen, either using a slider or the spot focus system. This involves touching the point on the screen you wish to be in focus.
Exposure control offers similar options, with a slider or spot function. But there’s no direct relation between exposure setting and iris F-stops, and no control whatsoever over shutter speed. For a more automated approach, the usual array of Scene modes are also available, including Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Candle, Sunrise & Sunset, Fireworks, Landscape, Portrait, Spotlight, Beach, and Snow. Other than that, you can choose between two white balance presets, for indoors and outdoors, alongside auto and manual modes. The Colour Slow Shutter mode drops the shutter speed as low as necessary to pick up a properly exposed image.
The TG3 also has three microphones built in, two facing forwards and one backwards. This enables it to pick up directional sound and mix it to 5.1 surround, recording to Dolby Digital. Sony’s Face Detection system is built in, too. This recognises human faces, bordered by a square, and uses these as an exposure reference. So faces shot against a bright background will be properly exposed. We found it did its job fairly competently, although fast-moving subjects go in and out of detection, making exposure vary slightly. The TG3 also offers the option to shoot in x.v.Color, although you will need a compatible TV to see the results.