Handycam DCR-HC90 MiniDV Digital Camcorder (3.31MP, 10x Opt, 120x Dig, 2.7" LCD) - Security Camera User Rating
Manufacturer: Sony
Model: DCRHC90
Digital Zoom: 120 X
Optical Zoom: 10 X
LCD Screen Size: 2.7 in
Recording Media: Memory Stick Duo|Mini DV
Audio Support: PCM|Stereo
Additional Features: PC Connection|Touch Panel LCD|Viewfinder
Image Stabilization: Optical
: Number of User Reviews: 8

Reviewed by: doc_avid on Mar 28, 2005

Experience: 1 Months

Strengths: Great image quality for both video and photo taking. True Widescreen. True 30P recording. Top cassette loading. New improved and slimmer Info Lithium batteries. Perfect size and shape.

Weaknesses: No manual shutter. Manual Focus and manual exposure only through Menu selection; a bit awkward to use. No uncompressed mode for photo. No earphone connector. A bit pricey.

Summary: Under the hood this Sony Camcorder is basically an improved version of the DCR-PC350 at a better price although some stores are liquidating the PC350 at about 100$ cheaper than the HC90. If you read the excellent DVSpot review of the PC350 you will have a very good decription of the HC90 since it is inside the same beast; same optics, same specifications, same functions. But Sony did improve a lot on some aspects:

- The camera shape and casing has been completely redesigned; it is a bit bigger than the matchbook shape of the PC350 but it is smaller than the traditional steadier horizontal shape. This in between shape is perfect for those who while wanting a good grip also want a compact camcorder. The buttons are all at the right places, particularly the proportional zoom lever at the tip of your index or thumb, depending if you are handling the camera by the bottom or top . But unfortunately Sony dropped the great electronic manual focus ring found on the PC350; on the HC90 the only way to do manual focus is with a menu selection. On the plus side, the lens cap is not needed anymore; there is now an automatic shutter in front of the lens.

- Sony also included a widescreen LCD which is perfect if you shoot mostly 16:9 ratio like me.

- On the PC350 many users complained of camera noises because the microphone used to be on top of the camera. If your hand rested on top it would create some hum or catch the motor noise. On the HC90 the stereo microphone is where it should; at the front, below the lens.

- Another welcome improvement; gone the dock, now you will find the USB and Firewire (iLink) connectors on the camera as well as the power supply and Sony's audio-visual connectors. But unfortunately, the audio- video cable included with the camera does not have an SVHS plug; another accessory to buy from Sony.

- The new A-type InfoLithium batteries are now much slimmer and lighter than the bulky P-Type. The battery slides into an easy to access compartment inside the camera. I found that the stock battery is good for about 60 minutes of SP recording. The battery also provided reliable info of remaining charge. Recharging with the provided charger-cable was also quick. I also bought a higher capacity battery which provides about 150 minutes of recording time. Unfortunately you will not be able to use bigger batteries since you are limited by the internal space of the battery compartment. Unfortunately, you cannot recharge batteries outside the camera with the provided charger. Still, another accessory to get from Sony.

- If you do not want to carry a camcorder and also a Digital camera on your trips, this camera provides a 3 megapixel quality (2016 X 1512), adequate for up to 8 X 10 prints. The excellent Zeiss optics provides crisp and colorful photos rivaling pictures taken with 5 megapixel camera with cheap optics. I would have liked Sony includes an uncompressed photo mode; you only get two JPEG compression modes (fine and standard).

- What really stands out on this camera is its almost pro qualities; TRUE Widescreen and 30P (progressive) recording which yield the best possible image quality for a consumer grade MiniDV camera. (There is unfortunately no 24P recording; only a fake gimmiky 24 FPS ). Sound was also quite good considering an all automatic camera microphone. The camera motor is also very quiet. Finally, I had no problems to digitize the video and audio into programs like Final Cut Pro and Avid XPress Pro.

All in all, I did a lot of research before I bought the Sony DCR-HC90; it is undoubtedly one of the best consumer MiniDV on the market today. I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by: bdmllc from NY on May 10, 2005

Experience: 3 Weeks

Strengths: Defenatly one of the best cameras out there, picture clarity, design, ease of use

Weaknesses: battery life, need better options on the camera,

Summary: I purchased this camera for my wife, to take videos of kids, surprisingly enough it only took her couple of minutes to get comfortable with it, and off she went. This is a great camera for family and small occasions, small, durable (so far it was dropped 2 times and still works fine). Picture is great, so is sound, small memory card included but capable of holding a few short movies and about 20 pics, Overall, for the price its a decent product I have checked worse items for more money, this is small easy to hide camera, my 5 yr old son is able to use it too.

Reviewed by: taylorhou from TX on May 18, 2005

Experience: 1 Month

Strengths: It is very compact, almost too small. The images on video and photo both are very sharp. Very easy to use for the first timer. Remote control is cute.

Weaknesses: Took a while to figure out how to connect to the computer and TV. Sony has very specific steps to follow but this one did not list out very clearly. Have to call friends who used Sony DV before.

Summary: Hard to find one with both Comcorder and Photo with this kind of good quality in the market. Size and features are great! Use touch panel for all the setups, eliminates lots of buttons. My 11 years old daughter started within minutes. I also added a memory card for the photos. However, in order to make it to connect to the PC for editing, we have to call both hardware and software tech support. We finally made it to connect by calling someone who used Sony before. The tricks are some setups on the camcorder itself. Everything is working now!

Reviewed by: comcicomca from IN on May 16, 2005

Experience: 10 Days

Strengths: Good video quality, clear LCD, good stabilizer, small size, easy to use.

Weaknesses: low batter life time, viewfinder is fixed, memory stick is alway expensive.

Summary: I would recommend this one, it can beat any canon and JVC camcorders in this price range. It has better night shot function than PV-GS 250. But it is an one ccd product, so the outdoor color is the weaknesses compare with 250, but it's enough for me.

Reviewed by: will4271 from CA on Mar 18, 2005

Experience: 2 Days

Strengths: Very light weight and very easy to hold. The picture comes out very clean and crisp.

Weaknesses: Menu selects took some time to get used to. You have select the menu on the lcd by touch screen.

Summary: I found that this new unit is definately a lot better than the previous big and bulky camcorder units from SONY in the past.

I compared the SONY DCR-HC1000 and SONY DCR-PC350 and found that this unit is the best price, function per value. Sure the DCR-HC1000 can zoom at 12X optical and has a slightly better low light performance it's around $1500. I didn't like the DCR-PC350 due to the lack of the firewire port.

This one has a 1/3" CCD (size matters) which enables it to perform better in low light than also the lower price camcorders.

However, the optional zoom lacks compared to previous SONY camcorders. Trade-offs, you know. Check it out and see for yourself.

Reviewed by: hutao1975 from NY on Apr 27, 2005

Experience: 38 Days

Strengths: Widescreen is favorite. Easy operation, good price.

Weaknesses: A little difficult to understand the menu select. The software for the video view installed to my notebook does not work properly.

Summary: In summary, it is a economical and good camcorder. The video are of good image quality. The photo is comparable to that from the digital camera. It is easy to connect to TV and computer and works properly. However, the user manual is only a little helpful. Many functions were found after I have used it for a long time.

Reviewed by: yiy from TX on Apr 18, 2005

Experience: 2 Weeks

Strengths: Pictures and vedio is very sharp and nice.

Weaknesses: Battery does only last 30 minutes or so.

Summary: Overall, I am happy with the product. I did have a little hard time transferring pictures from camcoder to my PC. The direction in the user guide is not much help. It did not have details on the camoder's menu. Their are so many choices in the camcoder menu and I could not find any documentation or explanation concerning the choices.

Reviewed by: balis from NY on Apr 6, 2005

Experience: 2 Days

Strengths: 1/3 CCD, 5.1 surround sound system,2.7 LCD

Weaknesses: Video quality is not that good but ok compare to other dvd camcorder

Summary: Great and compact camera.Tried indoor and outdoor videos.Video quality is good but not great .Video quality is good compare to other dvd camcorders.
The 5.1 dolby surround system is awesome.I like the sound system very much.They other 2 reviewers dont know why didnt mention the surrond system.

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