Sony DCR PC110e DV Camera in review by R.I.Axford  Jan 2001


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Introduction
This is not a standard product review in the sense that it is designed to sell you the item via a conveniently-placed link at the end, nor is it my intention to simply describe the operation of the camera using the supplied brochure and then add an off-the-cuff opinion on it's good and bad points as so many so-called reviews do nowadays.
Instead, I intend to approach my new purchase from several angles that should be of interest to others who may be considering investing in such a camera themselves.  I am not always comparing it with similar cameras of similar capability, but am judging it as a very expensive video camera combinedThis image copyright some Sony site. If you want it removed, let me know. with a mega pixel digital stills camera intended to be used for work and pleasure.

The primary project I am going to undertake with the Sony is to record and produce an educational video about large format landscape photography, which has been my hobby for quite some time now.  This project has been on my mind for a couple of years now and I had been following the DV Cam market throughout this period to ensure I ended up with the right product when I finally saved the cash to purchase one.

Features I wanted in a Dvcam
  • High quality video - good enough for a commercial video release.
  • All I/O required for PC editing of Audio and Video.
  • Very compact size so that I could actually carry it in addition to my usual camera equipment.
  • Long battery life.
  • A quality real-glass high-ratio zoom lens.
  • Optical or electronic no-loss stabiliser.
  • Manual overrides for white-balance, exposure and focus.
  • Nothing 'goofy' or half-assed about it.

What I considered desirable

  • Ability to take stills good enough for use in web-work and possibly for use as stills in the video production I bought it for.
  • Stills to be recorded on flash-RAM rather than tape.
  • USB rather than serial connection for image>PC transfer.
  • Windows 2000 drivers for the USB interface.

Things I considered irrelevant

  • Built-in video effects.
  • Built-in editing facilities.
  • Digital zoom.
  • Titling facilities.
  • Bundled editing software.

The Sony PC100 met most of the above requirements, but I decided to hold out and get the new and improved PC110 model instead which was due here sometime in December.  In the event, it arrived just a few days before I left for my holiday and I did not have a lot of time to familiarize myself with it before leaving.

Some pleasant bonuses.

In addition to all of the above mentioned features, this camera has certain extras that I have found to be either highly desirable or at least useful and worth having.

  • Built-in USB connection rather than a separate USB reader
  • Built-in flash for stills.
  • In-camera MPEG recording.
  • Large CCD for better stills and no-loss stabilisation.
  • Infrared-illuminated night-shot mode.

And some disappointments.

There are a couple of things that I have found to be inadequate or disappointing in this camera:

  • 15 second limit to individual MPEG recordings.
  • Non-cancelable AGC (Auto Gain Control)

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    2001 R.I.Axford