Sony Unveils World’s Smallest and Lightest HD Consumer Camcorder

Sony Unveils World's Smallest and Lightest HD Consumer Camcorder Pausing briefly for breath after announcing the new PlayStation today, the busy bees in the Sony hive have announced the world’s smallest and lightest high definition consumer camcorder with full HD resolution based on HDV 1080i.

The HDR-HC1 is the second consumer HD camcorder from Sony with the company hoping its lower price and size will help popularise the HD video recording format.

With some skilful spatial jiggery-pokery, Sony have managed to squeeze the camcorder’s size down to less than half that of their current model, the HDR-FX1, with the price falling substantially too.

The price and size economies were brought about by replacing the 3 CCD sensors with a single CMOS image sensor – a cheaper, simpler optical system that doesn’t require a bulky prism to split the image to each of the sensors.

Sony Unveils World's Smallest and Lightest HD Consumer CamcorderThe new camera also uses a smaller and more compact Carl Zeiss lens, with a diameter of 60mm compared to 92 mm on the previous model.

The lens offers a 10X optical and 120X digital zoom, zoom ring, zebra pattern and spot focus with manually adjustable white balance, shutter speed and focus.

Depending on the recording mode, the camcorder can provide around 90 minutes of continuous recording.

A 2.7in wide hybrid, touch-panel LCD screen allows access to menu options, with an option to switch between 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios (in DV mode) to see exactly how the content might look on television.

There’s also a built-in microphone, pop-up flash, Super SteadyShot image stabilisation and Sony’s Super NightShot Plus Infrared System for filming in low/no light conditions.

Sony Unveils World's Smallest and Lightest HD Consumer Camcorder A Memory Stick PRO Duo media slot is provided for transferring images captured on the camcorder’s 2.8-megapixel still camera.

Even with all these features, Sony’s engineers have managed to reduce the size of the camera’s electronics, cutting the 5 circuit boards down to 2 and reducing the total component count from 3,000 to 2,000.

This has been achieved with some nifty integration of components into chips, said Sony.

All of this has made the HDR-HC1 into a tiny little puppy, measuring just 71 x 94 x 188mm, and weighing a mere 680g without the battery – compare that with the previous bruiser of a camcorder that measured 151 x 181 x365 mm and weighed a muscle building 2kg.

Like its predecessor, the HDR-HC1 is based on the HDV format, which uses current-generation DV tapes to store high-definition video.

DV tapes are completely compatible and can hold the same amount of video under HDV as they can under standard definition, offering advantages to current DV camcorder users looking to preserve their investment in recording media.

HD video connectivity comes in the shape of Y/Pb/Pr component video signal, Japanese D3/D4 format signal and a 4-pin iLink interface.

This output can be streamed to high-definition compatible monitors and televisions with an HDV iLink interface.

The HDR-HC1 will be launched in Japan in early July and in North America, Europe and Asia around the same time. Although costing is not confirmed, it’s expected to roll out for 180,000 Yen in Japan. (~£915 ~US$1,680 ~€1,328).