The HDR-CX700V is Sony’s top-of-the-line consumer camcorder, and it’s fair to say that this sucker is loaded. Along with being able shoot 1920 x 1080 HD video at 60p, the HDR-CX700 has a whopping 96GB of internal flash memory and a Memory Stick Duo/SD Memory card slot if you want to add storage. Other noteworthy features include a 10x optical Sony G-series lens with a maximum wide angle of 26.3mm and a built-in GPS receiver for geotagging your HD footage.
As for low-light bona fides, the CX700V stacks up favorably, with a large, 1/2.88-inch CMOS sensor and a backside-illuminated sensor that places the circuitry on the rear of the chip to prevent it from blocking incoming light.
What does all this jargon mean for the real-world videographer? As we did with the Canon Vixia G10, we started our test by shooting a kid blowing out his birthday-cake candles, which were the only light source in the scene.
Of all the cameras we looked at for this roundup, the Sony produced the least amount of noise during the candle test. The footage looked smooth and sharp even when played back on a 46-inch HDTV. We weren’t happy with how dark everything looked, though. The candlelight seemed warm and natural; it just didn’t go very far in the Sony.
The CX700 performed solidly enough outdoors but was a step behind the Canon Vixia G10 we reviewed with regard to dynamic range. The footage had slightly less detail in areas of high contrast and couldn’t quite match the Canon’s bright, warm color reproduction.
This camera did excel when it came capturing the action of our nighttime basketball game, however. The 10x optical zoom had smooth, cinematic control, and sound from the 5.1 channel surround mic was clear and lifelike. The Wind Reduction feature also helped out tremendously.
The 3-inch LCD touch panel is half an inch smaller than the previous model — why, Sony, why? — but we really appreciated new capabilities like the options to switch between 60p and a more cinematic-looking 24p HD recording. We also liked the Cinema tone presets and manual control options for focus, exposure, white balance, iris and shutter speed.
Our verdict on this feature-rich HD camcorder: Lots to like with a few disappointments. However, thanks to its generally sparkling image quality and a boatload of options, it’s easily one of the best consumer options on the market.