1/1.8in CMOS sensor, PAL, 1,920×1,080 (50i/25p), 10.0x zoom, 456g
The VP-HMX20C is unique here thanks to its 1/1.8in sensor.
This has almost three times the surface area of the Sony HDR-CX11E’s 1/3in sensor, and over 11 times that of Panasonic’s HDC-SD20. Bigger sensors capture more light and measure it more accurately, giving a significant boost to image quality. In bright conditions the VP-HMX20C produced high-quality video, but in low light it was fantastic, with barely any noise when shooting indoors on the 1080p progressive scan setting. Colours were good, if a little warm.
Externally, the VP-HMX20C is simple and elegant. There’s no video lamp but a flash supports the photography function. The HDMI output on the docking station requires a mains adaptor, though. The touchscreen-based menus are easy to navigate, but shutter speed and exposure controls aren’t accessible at the same time, and the spot-focus mode is clumsy.
The 8GB of built-in memory holds 71 minutes of top-quality footage, and there’s an SDHC slot to expand it. Video is saved in H.264 format at an average bit rate of 14Mbit/s, which is almost identical to the AVCHD format used elsewhere. However, fast-moving subjects posed more of a problem, resulting in blocky artefacts. The problem was exacerbated by wobbly camerawork, and with the electronic image stabilisation struggling to compensate, this is a camera that needs to be handled very smoothly. Compression artefacts were also more visible in out-of-focus shots, particularly in low light, where the autofocus struggled.
The lack of AVCHD compliance caused problems with software, although footage worked fine in the bundled CyberLink playback and editing software. Worryingly, some files were reported as corrupt by Sony Vegas and made Adobe Premiere Elements and CyberLink PowerDirector crash.
The VP-HMX20C’s low-light performance is fantastic, but the proprietary format makes Sony’s less remarkable but more dependable HDR-CX11E a better choice.
|LCD screen size||2.7in|
|Video recording format||AVC|
|Video recording media||SDHC and flash memory|
|Sound||AAC 48KHz stereo|
|Video resolutions||PAL, 1,920×1,080 (50i/25p)|
|Maximum image resolution||3,264×2,448|
|Mermory supplied||8GB internal|
|Analogue inputs/outputs||AV out, component out, HDMI out (via dock)|
|Other connections||charge jack, microphone, docking port|
|Battery type||7.4V 850mAh Li-ion|
|Battery life||1h 43m|
|Battery charging position||camcorder|
|Warranty||one year RTB|