11th Dec 2005

Sony DCR-TRV950 Digital Camcorder

Though not really a professional model, Sony DCR-TRV950 is a very good camcorder for the serious DV enthusiast. With TRV950 Sony brought all of its latest technologies together under one roof – Memory Stick, Bluetooth (with optional wireless modem), large 3.5-inch LCD screen with touch-screen menu selection achieved by stylus pen, variable shutter speed, USB, pop-up flash, manual and automatic controls, and more.

The video quality from the TRV950 is exceptional for a unit of this price – better than Canon GL1-GL2 and all other Sony DV cams, except Sony VX2000.

The DCR-TRV950 has 3 CCDs – each CCD is 1/4.7 inches in size, with 1.098-mega pixels maximum resolution (680k max for video, 320k used for image stabilization, and 1 MP available for stills). Camcorder lens are 3.6 to 43.2 mm with f range of 1.6 to 2.8. The lens thread diameter (for filters or add on lens accessories) is 37 mm.

The TRV950’s optical zoom magnifies up to 12 times, which is enough for most purposes. Turn on the digital zoom, which electronically magnifies the optical image, and reach up to 150x. Zoom controls are faster and seem much more sensitive compared to the TRV900.
Sony DCR-TRV950 Digital Camcorder
The 3.5″ SwivelScreen LCD display provides excellent viewing clarity with improved resolution. It uses 246,000 pixels to display sharp, detailed images during playback or while recording. The “On Screen” touch panel system allows you to navigate through the camera’s menu system at the touch of the LCD screen using the supplied stylus.

Low light perfomance is not of such quality as TRV900 (images were darker) and significantly worse than VX2000. To get close to the TRV900 you must change shutter speed to 1/30th.

New Hologram Auto Focus system provides a faster and smoother focusing system for a quick and highly accurate focus lock, even with moving subjects.

The image stabiliser works very well – system minimizes even high frequency shake and vibration using motion sensors and an optical active prism stabilization system that provides superior shake reduction even in difficult shooting situations.

The TRV950 is equipped with the standard DV IEEE 1394 port (FireWire) for connection to a PC or other DV machines. The USB connection is used to transfer digital photos and MPEG movies. Innovative Bluetooth capability adds network connectivity. The traditional S-video and RCA connections are also provided for direct viewing on a television or VHS dubbing.

Digital stills can be stored on a Memory Stick that works independently from the DV tape system. The camera performs with 1-megapixel resolution, making it capable of sharp images that are up to 1,152 x 864 pixels in size. When you need more light for your photos there is a built-in flash unit that can pop up.

Auto pop up flash with red-eye reduction provides the appropriate amount of flash for optimum brightness and color accuracy in hard lighting condition. The red-eye reduction system uses a series of pre-flashes that cause the subject’s pupils to contract, reducing the possibility of reflection from the back of the eye that causes the red-eye problem.

The camcorder will compress and save MPEG EX movie clips at 320 x 240 and 160 x 112 pixel modes. MPEG1 movies and JPG images stored on the Memory Stick can be sent via email as attachments by using the optional Bluetooth modem accessory, which links the camcorder to an external networking device, and the camcoder can also be used to surf web pages.

You’ll also get good sound quality, recorded in either 12-bit or 16-bit audio recording modes. 16-bit audio includes on set of stereo audio tracks to produce CD-quality sound. 12-bit audio utilizes two sets of audio tracks so you can easily add background music or commentary into your videos while maintaining the existing soundtrack. The internal speaker of the TRV950 is smaller than the TRV900 and has less output.

One of the upgrades of the DCR-TRV950 over the lower Sony MiniDV models is Zebra Pattern generator which helps to set exposure accurately.

There are no external controls for VCR functions. You have to leave the LCD screen on to use the VCR functions which causes the batteries to be drained faster than if you were to watch through the viewfinder.

Also one of the downsides of the TRV950 is the lack of Progressive Scan Mode which allows you to pull individual frames of non-interlaced still images from the captured video.

Conclusion

Sony DCR-TRV950 is indeed impressive camcorder with exceptional image quality for a cam in this price range.

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