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Sony HDR-MV1 review

Richard Easton
8 Sep 2014
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
249
Amazon

The HDR-MV1 is a good choice for musicians looking to record performances for social media, but video quality could be better

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Specifications

Optical zoom: N/A, Sensor: 1/2.3 back-illuminated CMOS, LCD screen: 2.7in, 230,000 dots, Size (HxWxD): 116.5x70.5x27mm, Weight: 165g

Internet video websites such as YouTube have helped launch the careers of many musicians, and Sony hopes it can help even more hopeful pop stars realise their dreams with the HDR-MV1 Full HD camcorder. The HDR-MV1 is designed for those who want to record live performances, and it uses two high-quality microphones to record and preserve your musical efforts.

One side of the HDR-MV1 is dominated by a large 2.7in widescreen LCD monitor. This isn’t a touchscreen monitor, which is a shame because a touchscreen would have been much easier to operate than the small joystick that that is used for control. The screen isn’t particularly high-resolution or bright, but you do get a large area on which to see and adjust settings.

Navigating the menus using the joysticks is straightforward and the menu systems are sensible. The HDR-MV1 provides basic editing abilities direct from the camcorder, which is useful if you don’t have a computer to hand.

The screen also displays a ‘live level’ meter that shows you the recording level of the sound captured by the microphones. This is useful for sound checks. If the level is low, for instance, you can increase the sensitivity of the microphones.

The only problem we have with the monitor is its position on the side of the HDR-MV1, as you can’t pull it out so that you can see it while standing behind the HDR-MV1. You can, however, monitor the scene with an app that’s available for iOS and Android devices. You can also start and stop recordings with the app, and copy recordings from the camcorder.

ONE STAGE WIDER

Of course, the HDR-MV1’s two front-mounted external microphones are the HDR-MV1’s main attraction. These microphones allow the HDR-MV1 to capture a wide range of sound, and allow for far superior stereo separation and a wider soundstage on recordings than you would with a single microphone.

You can record audio using either Linear PCM or AAC encoding. The former is lossless and allows for 48KHz/16-bit recordings. Linear PCM is your best choice if audio fidelity is important, but it does result in some rather large file sizes when you record video in Full HD. You’ll need to invest in a large microSD or Memory Stick Micro storage card if this is your chosen shooting combination.

In our low-light test footage, we didn’t see as much detail in our stuffed toys’ material as we’d have liked, and we saw some noise and artefacts in darker areas. The recordings also lacked sharpness, and colours were dull and lacked vibrancy. To be fair to the HDR-MV1, though, its video quality is good considering its price.

However, we found the HDR-MV1’s 120-degree fixed wide-angle lens to be just too wide for our liking and this meant that there was barrel distortion. The lack of zoom also limits the position from which you can shoot, so if you’re planning on recording a concert or performance you’re going to need to be close to the stage.

SOUNDCHECK

To test the HDR-MV1’s audio recording capabilities we placed stereo loudspeakers each side of our test area and played Santana’s Black Magic Woman. We often use this track when testing speakers because there’s a vast amount of detail across the bass, mid, and treble frequencies, and it makes good use of stereo.

When listening back to our recorded footage, we were pleased to hear that the unidirectional microphones had successfully captured the intricate details of the track as well as the stereo separation. There were distinct left and right channels, from the delicate cymbals on one side to the pluck of a bass guitar on the other. The HDR-MV1 also uses a low-cut filter to reduce ambient noise that might ruin a recording.

The sensitivity of the microphones does mean you have to be careful not to knock the camcorder when recording, and it is best to mount it on a tripod to mitigate the chances of this happening. When we held the camcorder, we found that quick movements resulted in the recording of a whooshing noise, which was generated as the result of air passing over the microphones. A novel feature of the HDR-MV1 is the ability to record audio only, but this defeats the purpose of a camcorder and we’re not sure if many people would use this feature.

On the rear of the camcorder you’ll find a headphone jack as well as a line-level input-cum-microphone jack to connect an audio source or external microphone. A micro HDMI output lets you play your videos on a larger display, and the HDR-MV1’s Micro USB port lets you charge it.

Disappointingly, Sony doesn’t provide an AC adaptor as standard, and you have to buy one in order to power the device via mains electricity while recording. The battery lasted for 1 hour 44 minutes on a single charge while recording with Linear PCM sound at a resoltuoin of 1,920x1,080. This should get you through most concerts, but it’s probably worth buying a few extra batteries just in case you need them.

Overall the sound recording capability is the HDR-MV1’s shining feature and its mobile app makes it a snap to share your recordings. Its video quality is average, however. If good audio quality is crucial for you then the HDR-MV1 is a good choice, but otherwise you may be better off buying the similarly priced Samsung HMX-QF30.

Hardware
Optical zoomN/A
Digital zoomN/A
Max recording resolution1,920x1,080
Sensor1/2.3 back-illuminated CMOS
Sensor pixels
LCD screen2.7in, 230,000 dots
ViewfinderN/A
Video lampN/A
Video recording formatMPEG-4 AVC/H.264
Video recording mediamicroSD, microSDHC, M2 Memory Stick Micro
SoundMPEG-4 AAC, MPEG-4 Linear PCM
Maximum still image resolutionN/A
Memory slot (card supplied)MicroSD, MicroSDHC, M2 Memory Stick Micro (none)
Camera flashN/A
Connections
USB outputsMicro USB
Video outputsMicro HDMI
Other connections802.11b/g/n
NFC, Line-in, Microphone, Headphone
Battery type1,240mAh Lithium-Ion
Battery life1:44
Battery charging positionCamcorder
Size (HxWxD)116.5x70.5x27mm
Weight165g
Buying information
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Price including VAT£248
Supplierwww.amazon.co.uk
Detailswww.sony.co.uk
Part codeHDR-MV1B

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