The R10 had yet to reach the shops as we went to press, but it should be on sale by the time you read this.
At £379 it’s competitively priced for an HD camcorder, especially one that’s so well specified. It has a 2.7in touchscreen, it records at the full HD resolution of 1,920×1,080 pixels and it uses a big 1/2.33in CMOS sensor.
However, there are a few less impressive specifications. The lens’s maximum aperture is f/3.5, which means it lets in less light than the f/1.8 lenses on the pricier HD models. The 5x zoom is fairly short, although the camera exploits the spare resolution in its 9-megapixel sensor to provide an 8x effective zoom.
The design is light and compact. The lack of a lens cap is disconcerting, but the tempered glass window seems tough, and a padded pouch and lens cloth are included. The lens faces up by 25° compared to the camera body, supposedly making it easier to hold, but we found it confusing. The touchscreen menus are largely the same as the VP-HMX20C’s, but there are additional spot-focus and time-lapse options. However, despite a wide range of exposure-related controls, there’s no way to lock the exposure for the duration of a clip.
Video is recorded as progressive scan or interlaced and saved using AVC compression. The bit rate is a little higher than on the VP-HMX20C, at 17bit/s rather than 14Mbit/s, helping this avoid the VP-HMX20C’s compression artefact problem. However, the files caused reliability issues in Adobe Premiere Elements and Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum, just as with the VP-HMX20C’s files.
Image quality was reasonable, with average detail levels, a fair amount of noise in low light and strong colour casts on the automatic white balance setting. The electronic stabilisation didn’t work wonders, but this wasn’t such a big problem considering the short zoom range.
The R10 is keenly priced but the software compatibility problems, small zoom range and the lack of an exposure lock option mean Sony’s HDR-TG3E is more appealing.