I bought the Sony Bloggie HD Video Camera on a whim a few weeks ago. The TL;DR version is that I don’t recommend the Bloggie mainly because the similarly priced model from Sanyo stomps all over it.
Looking at the HD bloggie specs, you would think it would be at least a silver medalist in the entry-level HD camera arena. Unfortunately, after I have used it for twenty days, I think it should have taken a little more prep time before hitting the market.
Right up front, let’s get some test videos out of the way.
Here’s a field shot, taken at midday in 1280×720…
Same field, same time, but this one is at 1920×1080…
Right. On to the technical details!
The camera records in 4 settings. Using a standard SDHC 8 gb memory card…
- 1080 at 30p gives you 1 hour and 15 minutes of recording time
- 720 at 60p gives you 3 hours and 05 minutes of recording time
- 720 at 30p gives you 4 hours and 58 minutes of recording time
- VGA mode at 30p gives you 8 hours and 15 minutes of recording time
There is an image stabilization option for the VGA and 720 at 30p video settings, but not for the 720 at 60p or 1080 settings. This becomes extremely evident when shooting outdoor “moving” shots, or just holding the camera as you are walking. Every little bump or heavy step will make the video jump like it was broadsided by a speeding 18-wheeler semi truck on fire. If you are staying still, or just tracking a moving object, it’s not too bad though.
The camera design is similar to Sanyo’s. A USB cable under the rear panel pops out for connecting to a PC or Mac…
…but whoever designed this plug was apparently guessing about laptop heights because the camera plug is higher than the USB ports on my HP, Dell, and Mac laptops.
The camera’s USB connector does not have a swivel joint, so you’re stuck connecting it straight in. The only way to connect this camera to the USB ports on my computers was to either prop up the laptops about 1/2 inch on the USB side or to use an extender cable that was included with he camera. (Another specialized cable to carry around! Yay!) Plus it’s a port hog. Once it’s plugged in, you won’t be able to reach any usb ports near the one the Bloggie is plugged into.
Some other “bad camera!” bullet points….
- The LCD panel useless in daylight. You can not see what you’re shooting. Check out the photos below. The LCD is on full brightness in both photos.
- You can only charge this camera through a USB connection to your PC. There’s no wall charger included.
- There is no flash on the camera. (The Sanyo has one on their HD camera.)
- The optical zoom is only 5X. (Sanyo has 10X)
- There are no manual override camera settings at all. You’re stuck with what the bloggie feels like shooting in video and in “still” camera mode. (And this is a big big big problem for me.)
- The low light camera recording quality is very poor.
- Any sort of nighttime imaging and recording is useless. You will get nothing but solid black. (My un-modified first generation iPhone takes better video AND still images at night than this 2010 Sony camera!)
- Video takes a long time to re-focus on any zoom shot.
- The still camera images seem blurry and not as sharp as images from a “regular” camera.
- The gloss camera finish absorbs fingerprints – the camera gets dirty and ugly in seconds. (Sanyo used a matte finish. That’s a much better design!) Here’s a “clean” and “used” comparison…
- Playback is limited to what’s on screen. There’s no “NEXT” or “PREVIOUS” option. If you want to jump to a second video while watching a video currently in playback mode, you need to back up to the menu and choose the next video. Highly frustrating.
- The mac version of the software has no “info” options and is very limited in scope.
- If you have anything over medium-large hands, you may accidentally cover the microphone when you hold it. You’ll have to get used to the “three fingers kung-fu grip”. The next photo shows the microphone covered, the second shows the “three fingers kung-fu grip” and the microphone on the curve of the HD camera exposed.
OK, now the good parts….
- It does have an HDMI and Video out, so you can plug it straight into a HDTV.
- The Bloggie does come with HDMI and RGB cables and a USB extender cable, so you can plug into anything right out of the box.
- The camera does very well in indirect daylight and well-lit indoor areas. It’s also fairly water resistant.
- The microphone picks up everything. Great sound quality.
- The 720 at 60p is outstanding.
- The 1080 setting is a knockout. Just don’t move much or you’ll get the “Blair Witch Barfs”. (NOTE; Earlier this week I recorded a recent downpour in the area in 1080 and the video made it on to the local news station. So the 1080 (or 720 at 60p) is perfectly acceptable for HD broadcast.)
- The zoom feature, once focused after the zoom, stays focused even on moving objects.
- It takes SDHC cards and Sony’s “stick of gum” style memory.
- It’s a featherweight. I find myself carrying it everywhere and shooting things on a whim. Citizen/Underground journalism FTW!
- I’m shooting more 1080 HD video and taking less still images with my digital camera.
- Plugging it in to a PC with the window closed just charges the unit. You have to open the window to power on the unit to access the photos and movies. Good security feature!
- Software to use the camera is pre-loaded, so you don’t have to worry about installing the Bloggie’s transfer software on new machines, but you can also just drag-and-drop the movies and images out of the respective drives that appear when you plug in the camera if you don’t want to mess with the software.
Overall, I think it is a good camera for everyday use and it works well for recording HD movies if you have a steady hand. The portability of the device makes it easy to shoot HD movies all the time wherever you go. However, despite the good points, there are superior HD cameras for the same price as this one. (IE: Sanyo’s Xacti).
The Bloggie isn’t bad at all, but I really expected better from Sony.
Three and a half out of five stars.
You can also see the Sony MHS-CM5 bloggie HD Video Camera at Amazon.