Sony Handycam HDR-PJ30V Camcorder Review
Sony isn't generally considered a leader in our color accuracy tests, so the middle-of-the-road showing by the HDR-PJ30V here isn't that surprising. The camcorder managed a color error of 4.81 and a saturation level of around 90%. These numbers are in the same ballpark to what the Sony HDR-CX700V scored, but they are a bit worse than our measurments from the Canon HF M40 and Panasonic HDC-TM90. More on how we test color.
The Sony PJ30 is not the best camcorder for color enthusiasts, as it has no color modes to be found. You can't boost the saturation or pick a color preset like you can on many other mid-range HD camcorders. The only thing you can do is pick from the PJ30V's variety of scene modes, some of which alter the color tones slightly.
Luckily, the colors produced by the Sony HDR-PJ30V in auto mode generally look pleasing to the eye. Check out our sample comparisons below to get a better idea how it stacks up to the competition. Its colors aren't quite as vivid as what the Panasonic HDC-TM90 produced, but they look just as crisp and deep as the colors captured by the Canon HF M40 and Sony HDR-CX700V.
Low Light Color
Color results in low light for the Sony PJ30V were not strong. The camcorder registered a color error of 6.24 in this test—that's nearly a point and a half higher than its bright light color results—and a saturation level of 69%. This color error is worse than the other three camcorders we compared the HDC-PJ30V to, although none of these models put up top-notch numbers in this test. The only camcorder in this group with a saturation level well above 70% in this test was the Panasonic HDC-TM90 (85% saturation). The rest of the models, the PJ30V included, produced somewhat muted colors, and all had saturation levels between 69% - 70%. More on how we test low light color.
The Sony HDC-PJ30V does have a few alternate frame rates for recording Full HD video, but neither its 24p or 60p modes showed a huge amount of improvement in our low light color accuracy testing. The 1080/60p mode did enhance sharpness and motion performance a bit, and the 24p mode did increase the saturation level to around 75%, but neither did much to improve color accuracy in low light.
The low lux mode on the HDC-PJ30V did improve the brightness of the camcorder's low light image, but it also didn't do anything to improve color accuracy. Saturation was also boosted by about 5% when we shot using the low lux setting (about the same as the 24p mode did). Keep in mind, though, that the low lux option does allow the camcorder to utilize a slow shutter (1/30 of a second shutter speed), which can create jerky motion and blurred images at times. The mode doesn't always use a slow shutter, though. It only does so if the light levels are seriously dim. In our 60 lux test, for example, the low lux mode simply boosted brightness without using a slower shutter (we assume by increasing the ISO levels or something to that effect).
The HDR-PJ30V averaged 0.7% noise in our bright light test, which is in the same range as the noise levels we measured on the three comparison models in this review. This isn't a stellar noise performance for Sony, but anything under 0.75% noise is usually considered good in this test. More on how we test noise.
The noise crop shown above do a good job showing off sharpness levels of the PJ30. You'll notice that the HDR-PJ30V didn't produce the sharpest image in this set, but its video was still quite crisp for a mid-range HD model. The Canon and Panasonic camcorders showed a bit more fine details in the vertical trumpet, while the higher-end Sony HDR-CX700V produced an image that looks marginally sharper than the PJ30V.