Sony HDR-CX700V Camcorder Review
Like most camcorders, the Sony HDR-CX700V has a dedicated still image mode for taking photos with the camcorder. You can access this mode by selecting it from the menu system (under the Shooting Mode submenu), or by pressing the small mode button on the back of the camcorder. The mode button only switches between video and photo modes, it does not allow you to enter other shooting modes (like Golf Shot or Smooth Slow Record), nor will it bring you to playback mode.
When you look at photo size options on the camcorder, you'll notice the highest quality setting is a 12.3-megapixel photo option. This setting exceeds the CX700V's effective pixel count for still images, which is 6.14 megapixels. However, Sony claims that the "unique pixel array of Sony's ClearVid and the image processing system (BIONZ) allow still image resolution equivalent to [12.3 megapixels]." Basically, we take this statement to mean Sony is interpolating the images in order to capture them at that size. The amount of pixels in those 12+ megapixel photos, will still be 6.14 megapixels (or around that). Other photo options on the CX700V include a 9.2 megapixels, 3.3 megapixels, and VGA. All of these size options, other than the 12.3-megapixel mode, capture photos at a 4:3 aspect ratio.
Enough of this pixel jargon. The Sony HDR-CX700V has plenty of other still image features worth talking about. There's a built-in flash on the front of the camcorder, and the flash has a number of intensity settings and red-eye reduction. The face detection feature can also be used to detect smiles, which leads us to Sony's "smile shutter" technology. This allows the camcorder to automatically take photos when it detects a smiling subject. It doesn't work perfectly, but the mode even allows you to set the smile sensitivity for which the camcorder to detect (low, medium, or high).
Smooth Slow Record
A simple slow motion mode, Smooth Slow Record, will capture 3 seconds of footage and turn it into 12 seconds of slow motion video (by recording with a 240fps frame rate). The video quality isn't great, so we recommend using this function sparingly, but it can create some cool effects. The main problem is the 3-second recording limitation. You can also set Smooth Slow Record to capture the three seconds of footage before or after you hit the record button.
This feature is entirely designed to capture and analyze a golf swing. When you turn it on, the screen is cropped on the left and right and a small white box appears in the middle of the frame. You are meant to position the golfer within this box and a message tells you to press the start/stop record button "right after impact" (we assume this is referring to the golf club hitting the golf ball). The feature works best if the camcorder is on a tripod or laying flat.
After you do all this, the camcorder will take the short bit of footage and divide into a bunch of still images. This way you can see frame-by-frame analysis of your golf swing. Maybe this feature could be used for other analysis, but the limitations on image size and record time make this difficult. Can't Sony tweak this feature for a baseball swing analysis? Maybe next year.
Night Shot uses infrared technology (like night vision goggles) to allow you record an image in total darkness. You just have to be willing to accept the fact that all your videos shot in this mode will come out looking bright green. This is a prized feature for people who love to take their camcorder camping, spelunking, or on nighttime tours of haunted houses.
You can add a black or white fade while you shoot your video clips using this setting.
The HDR-CX7000V has built-in GPS that allows you to keep track of your videos by the location in which they were shot—and you can even view/organize clips by location on a map. You turn GPS on and off via a small switch inside the camcorder's LCD cavity. Keep in mind, having GPS activated will drain your battery a bit faster than normal. Also a problem: the CX700V's GPS function could not find our office location on the map. We had to walk around outside before things started to click. Don't expect the GPS to work smoothly everywhere (even in major cities).