Sony Handycam HDR-XR350V Camcorder Review
The HDR-XR350V isn't exactly limited when it comes to photo capabilities, but it doesn't have an abundance of still features either. The camcorder's highest resolution for capturing still images is a its 7.1-megapixel setting that takes 3072 x 2304 photos. Unfortunately, this setting is interpolated because it far exceeds the HDR-XR350V's effective pixel count of 3.54 megapixels. The highest native resolution available on the camcorder is a dismal 1600 x 1200, which makes no sense at all. Why not offer a resolution in the 3-megapixel range like Canon does with its 2100 x 1575 setting on the HF M31? We're not saying the interpolated photos look terrible on the HDR-XR350V, we'd just rather have a native resolution setting that takes full advantage of the camcorder's effective pixel count.
Also strange is the fact that you cannot record photos during recording when you are shooting video in the highest quality setting on the HDR-XR350V. In the lower quality setting you can take photos during recording, albeit with a 3072 x 1728 resolution only. It bugs us that you can't take native 1920 x 1080 photos when the camcorder is in video mode (whether you are currently recording or not).
We do think Sony's smile shutter feature works well, and we like the fact that it offers three 'smile sensitivity' options for detecting smiles... but overall, we can't imagine anyone using this feature all that much. Is it really all that much work to press down on a shutter button when you see someone crack a smile instead of the camcorder doing it for you? Besides, we think the human eye is still a little better than the camcorder at detecting smiles—for now, at least.
The HDR-XR350V produced strong, accurate colors in our still image testing. The camcorder measured a color error of 2.77 and a saturation level of 105.2% in this test, both of which are better numbers than the camcorder scored in our video color testing.
In the Error Map above you can see that the XR350V rendered nearly all of the colors in our still image test accurately. Only a few blue and red tones gave the camcorder a bit of trouble. All of the camcorders shown below did quite well in this test, although the Sony HDR-XR350V was the only model in this set to have a color error below 3.0 (all the models had saturation levels around 100%).
Strangely, the HDR-XR350V produced high noise levels in our still image testing—levels that were much higher than the camcorder measured in our video testing. Still, the camcorder's 1.53% noise that we measured in this test wasn't all that much greater than what we saw from the Sony HDR-CX550V as well.
Given the fact that the HDR-XR350V has an effective pixel count of 3.54 megapixels for still photos, we didn't have high expectations for the camcorder in our still sharpness test. To our surprise, however, the XR350V did quite well. The camcorder measured a horizontal sharpness of 1977 lw/ph with no oversharpening and a vertical sharpening of 1217 lw/ph with 13.2% undersharpening. These numbers aren't far off from what the Sony HDR-CX550V was capable of, and that camcorder has a much larger sensor and pixel count than the XR350V.
Useful for analyzing a golf swing, this feature records two seconds of footage and splits it into individual frames that are recorded as a movie and photos.
Smooth Slow Record
Somewhat similar to the 'Golf Shot' setting, Smooth Slow Record captures 3 seconds of footage and turns it into 12 seconds of slow motion video. The camcorder records at 240 frames per second in order to create this slow motion effect. Be forewarned, however, the video captured in this mode doesn't look very good as compared to the camcorder's regular HD record mode.
You can add a black or white fade to your clips with this setting.
The HDR-XR350V is equipped with a built-in GPS system, which is included on most of Sony's new camcorders. This allows you to keep track of your videos by the location in which they were shot, and you can view or organize clips by location on a map. You turn GPS on and off by flipping a small switch inside the camcorder's LCD cavity. Having GPS activated may drain your battery a bit faster than normal, so keep that in mind.
The disc burn button is located on the inside of the LCD cavity and it lets you burn video footage directly to a disc if you use a compatible DVD burner. Sony sells a few portable burners that work with the camcorder and connect via the USB terminal. Video shot using the highest quality setting (the 24Mbps FX mode) cannot be able to be burned onto a regular DVD.