Sony DCR PC110e DV Camera in review by R.I.Axford  


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Accessories will sap the remainder of your bank balance

If you intend using the camera from your vehicle as you might if you do a lot of camping - as I do, I'd not bother splashing out for the very expensive DC charger and instead go and purchase a 12 to 220 Volt inverter. This will enable you to use the supplied AC charger to charge your batteries on the camera. I did this for three weeks and was not once short of power with the two batteries that I purchased for the PC110. 
Get an inverter that can put out around 200 Watts or more and you can run your laptop computer as well, thus giving you a place to offload the day's work.

Battery life is very good.

I bought the next larger battery pack, the NP-FM70 as a second unit, but would have been just as happy with another small one as it turns out. 
The larger pack is somewhat bigger in reality than it appears in pamphlets. At first I thought they must have sent me the FM90 pack by mistake, which must be absolutely huge considering the size of this intermediate one.
In any case, I'm getting about 2 hours off one pack and nearly twice that off the other at this point. 


Things you must buy:

  • One 64Mb Memory Stick. 
  • A 37mm UV filter. 
  • A 37mm circular polarizer. 
  • A cheap Lapel microphone normally intended for a PC.
  • Lightweight, cheap, semi-enclosed headphones.
  • A real tripod with a real fluid head. (Manfrotto with quick-release)
  • A small carry-all. (Recommend Lowe-Pro D-Res 40AW)


Other things I've found useful:

  • Extra Sony battery pack.
  • Sony HVL-S3D Video Light.
  • Manfrotto monopod with same quick release as above
  • Home-made mounting clamp with ball head.
  • Urethane tape for protecting some parts of the camera from dust and scuffing.
  • The LaserLink IR device for easy TV hook-up. The old IFT-R10 works just fine.


Odds and ends.

I've shot some footage from inside my moving vehicle by clamping the camera to a window with a clamp I made up.  The camera jiggled away as I drove around, but on playback gave perfectly still video with no sign of wobble.  That impressed me somewhat especially considering it does its work without any loss in effective CCD area.

I've also purchased a generic IEEE1394 card and have used this and Adobe Premiere 6 to control the PC110e via the DV cable.  It works very well and using the LaserLink device to broadcast to my TV, I only have to have a single cable plugged into the camera when editing video.
The bundled Ulead app was just too goofy to even bother with though I gather that their high end app is completely different.

There is a lot more that I could write about the Sony PC110e, but I do have to stop somewhere.  I have written this up to try and inform some of you about the ins and outs of buying such a device and whilst it may look as if I think the camera is a piece of junk, it most certainly is not. This image copyright some Sony site. If you want it removed, let me know.

If you are seriously considering buying this camera, make sure you check out the more conventionally styled but similarly spec'd DCR TRV20  (pictured to the right) as that camera should overcome some of the ergonomic problems that plague the 110 and is cheaper into the bargain. It is in fact identical in spec to the older PC100 and is missing the flash and the USB connection of the 110. Still, it's just not as cool as the 110 which I'm beginning to look upon as comparing well to the classic Rolleiflex 3.5F/2.8F for sheer "gadgety-ness".

Update: New model TRV30 announced for April 2001 release.  Has all the features of the PC110 in a TRV-style body.  Slightly improved is the CCD/still imaging ability with a maximum 1360x1020 pixels.

Click here for a PC110 feature list along with many more photos and a review.

 

2001 Robert Ian Axford

Please be sure to check out the DTV forum for more updates and further information about the Sony PC110 and everything else relating to it's use.

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Comment on this review in the DTV forums 2001 R.I.Axford