Sony HDR-SR1 First Impressions Camcorder Review
Those familiar with our First Impressions reviews know that we can only estimate this camcorder’s video performing prowess based on its specs. A full evaluation with testing will come as soon as we can get our hands on one of these camcorders.
The HDR-SR1 features a 1/3" ClearVID CMOS sensor, with 2.1 gross MP (1.07 effective MP in 4:3, 1.43 effective MP in 16:9). Clearly a favorite of Sony’s, this chip is also found in their top standard definition DVD camcorder, the DCR-DVD505, and their new AVCHD DVD camcorder, the HDR-UX1. While the HDR-SR1 may borrow many features of the standard definition DCR-SR100, that camcorder uses a traditional CCD.
Sony claims multiple benefits to the CMOS over the CCD. The pixels are tilted 45 degrees and the number of green pixels has been boosted (humans perceive the most detail in the green portion of the spectrum). In comparing the DCR-DVD505 (1/3" ClearVID CMOS) and the DCR-DVD405 (1/3" CCD), we saw almost no difference. Of course, the CMOS chip does have added benefits, like lower power consumption. Its visual superiority, however, remains to be seen.
What we're really looking forward to here is the new AVCHD standard and its effects on video performance. Of the camcorders that we saw on exhibition in New York, none of them had the latest firmware updates, and were unavailable for testing. The Compression section towards the bottom of this review should give you a better idea of what this format entails. Compression methods and data rates have a lot to do with how good a video looks. But the truth is we don't know what the performance of this camcorder will look like. Don't worry, though. We'll tell you all about it soon enough.
Low Light Performance
The 1/3" CMOS sensor is certainly large enough to promise some decent low light from the Sony HDR-SR1. The camcorders that contain this same chip – the HDR-HC3 and the DCR-DVD505 – had excellent performance. What we’re really eager to see here are the compression artifacts. The clearest distinction between DVD and MiniDV or HDV is sometimes the artifacts, which tend to become more apparent in low light. The new AVCHD has yet to be tested in our secret labs, but we’ll get the answer back to you as soon as we can.