11th Apr 2005

Sony DCR-HC40 MiniDV Digital Camcorder

Sony DCR-HC40 replaces DCR-TRV33 and comes with a new, ultra compact design and 2.5″ Hybrid Color Touch Panel LCD with new controls allowing to enable and disable LCD backlighting, saving battery power while shooting.

Major upgrades over the slightly cheaper DCR-HC30 model:

  • Mega-Pixel CCD with still images at 1152 x 864 resolution;
  • Up to 520 horizontal lines of resolution (vs 500);
  • Intelligent Accessory Shoe (vs Cold Shoe);
  • Enhanced 16:9 Mode;
  • 14 Bit DXP.

Sony DCR-HC40 MiniDV Digital Camcorder

14 Bit DXP allows to capture the dynamic range between light and dark areas of your subject, providing an overall improvement and more natural picture reproduction – without losing detail such as highlights and shadows.

DCR-HC40 features 1/5″ CCD with 1,070k Pixels (Effective Pixels 690k) producing video with up to 520 lines of horizontal resolution. DCR-HC30 with 340K actual pixels and 500 lines of horizontal resolution performs slightly worse picture quality and low light perfomance because of larger 1/6″ CCD.

The DCR-HC40 records pretty high quality still images at 1152 x 864 pixel resolution (DCR-HC30 – 640 x 480) directly to Memory Stick Duo for transfer to PCs (using the included USB jack) for emailing, printing, or sharing with other compatible Memory Stick Duo devices.

Overall video perfomance of Sony DCR-HC40 is very good – excellent color reproduction and no digital artifacts, with accurate skin tones.

The DCR-HC40’s low light performance is rather average, despite Super NightShot Plus Infrared System, designed to capture natural looking video even when shooting in low light up to 10 feet away using the built in infrared system. Though comparing to Canon ZR90, the DCR-HC40 produced brighter videos with more vivacious coloring and finer detail.

Like its predecessors, the DCR-HC40 features a 10x optical and 120x precision digital zoom. Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens has a focal range of 3.2 – 32 mm, which is equivalent to 46 – 460 mm for video and 38 – 380 mm for stills. The lens is threaded for 25 mm accessories.

The DCR-HC40 has a 2.5″ Hybrid Color Touch Panel LCD with 123,000 Pixels. The “hybrid” means that you can actually see it outdoors in bright light. Also there are new controls on the LCD panel to start and stop recording and to enable and disable LCD backlighting, saving battery power while shooting.

Also a new feature on Sony DCR-HC40 is the addition of a standby/record button next to the LCD. This comes in handy when you’re holding the camcorder above your head, or when it’s down low.

Manual controls include focus (by touch panel), zoom, exposure (touch panel – 24 steps) and white balance (touch panel – Indoor, Outdoor, Hold). There are no buttons – all the controls are inside the LCD touch screen. It is downside of HC40.

Especially good are the spot-metering and spot-focusing functions, which you can operate by touching the screen area (object) that you’d like to meter or focus upon.

Overall, the controls are rather awkward – touch screen LCD menu forces the user to navigate manual options and settings by touching the LCD screen, the camera has a tendency to jerk when you adjust parameters via the touch screen while shooting.

Since the HC40 has the Intelligent Accessory Shoe, you can also add video lights, flashes, an infrared light (for extending the Nightshot range), and microphones.

Audio quality is really impressive – DCR-HC40 records a strong, clear signal, almost without a background noise.

Really nice feature is the integrated built-in lens cap. By using the switch being at the front end of the right-hand side, the lens cap can be easily opened or closed when rushing.

Another new feature is Easy Handycam Button. Using a camcorder can be intimidating for some people, so with a press of the Easy Handycam button, most of the advanced functions of the camcorder are locked out leaving only the buttons essential for recording operational.

Very practical is Super SteadyShot system, designed to help reduce the effects of “camera shake”. It smoothes and steadies your images without degrading picture quality. Sony does it with motion sensors – a more accurate system.

Conclusion

Despite some minor problems mastering the controls, very easy to use the Sony DCR-HC40 is really recommended and worth your money entry-level camcorder, producing high quality video and audio.

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