The Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5 has a 5x optical zoom lens, but it doesn't match the performance of similarly priced camcorders.

The Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5 distinguishes itself from competing pocket camcorders with a pistol-grip design, a 5X optical zoom lens, and a dual memory-card slot that supports both SD/SDHC cards and the MemoryStick format. It shoots reasonably good video and has some nice features, but ultimately it doesn't set itself apart from the crowd in the area of performance.

Unlike most pocket camcorders in stores today, the Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5 looks like a miniature version of a full-size camcorder. And along with its candy-bar-style cousin, the Bloggie MHS-PM5, it's among the first Sony pocket camcorders to shoot 1080p-resolution high-definition video. Both Bloggie models are follow-ups to last year's Webbie camcorders; Sony has simply renamed its pocket-camcorder line.

Aside from having a unique design, the Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5 is noticeably bulkier than most pocket camcorders. It has a built-in USB connector that swings out from a compartment on the side of the camera - a welcome improvement on last year's Webbie models, which used a separate USB cable to offload footage and charge the camera. Because of the camcorder's generous size, its USB connector may have a bit of trouble fitting in some port configurations. Fortunately, Sony includes a female-to-male USB extension cable to alleviate such woes.

The Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5 shoots 1080p MPEG-4 video captured at 30 frames per second - as well as 720p video captured at 60 fps and 30 fps, 640-by-480 VGA video taken at 30 fps, and 5-megapixel still photos. There's about a second of shutter lag between when we pressed the shutter button and when the Bloggie captured an image, but the image quality is decent and the camcorder's SteadyShot digital stabilization does a good job of reducing any associated shakiness.

Video performance is decent, as long as you're in a well-lit setting. In bright indoor lighting, the Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5's 1080p video is a bit darker and somewhat less sharp than output from two competing 1080p pocket camcorders, the Kodak Zi8 and the Toshiba Camileo S20. The 5x optical zoom lens is a great spec for a pocket camcorder, but the Bloggie didn't offer nearly as much coverage on the wide-angle end as our wide-angle winner, the Creative Vado HD. Autofocus has a little trouble at the telephoto end of the zoom, but it ultimately locks in on a sharp image after a second or so of searching. Also, the zoom is the smoothest we've seen on a pocket camcorder, by far.

In low light, the Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5 produced grainy footage that had a yellow tint, without much color accuracy. Compared to excellent low-light performers such as the third-generation Creative Vado HD and the second-generation Flip MinoHD, the Bloggie shot noticeably lower-quality footage in dark settings.

The Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5 reproduced loud and clear audio, and it didn't show the same oversensitivity to hand movements that last year's Bloggie MHS-PM1. That said, the built-in microphone remains sensitive to wind, and overall audio sounds a bit hollow. The Bloggie doesn't offer the external mic-in capabilities of the Creative Vado HD or the Kodak Zi8, so you're stuck with the onboard mic.

Despite its underwhelming video performance, the Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5 has a lot of features to like. Flipping out the camcorder's 2.5-inch LCD screen powers on the camcorder, and flipping it closed turns it off - a much faster process than pressing a power button. During filming, the camcorder's face detection option lets you optimise in-camera exposure settings, and its SteadyShot stabilisation is probably the best stabilisation mode we've seen in a pocket camcorder.

 NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5: Specs

  • Camcorder: 1080p
  • 5Mp 1/2.5in CMOS sensor
  • Effective Video Resolution: 2.07 Mpix, Effective Still Resolution 5.038 Mpix
  • Widescreen Video Capture
  • Flash card
  • 4x Digital Zoom
  • Electronic (Steady Shot) stabiliser
  • Max Shutter Speed: 1/4000 sec
  • Min Shutter Speed: 1/15 sec
  • Face Detection Built-in
  • MPEG-4, H.264
  • JPEG
  • 720p, 480p, 1080p
  • SD Memory Card, Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo Mark2, SDHC Memory Card, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo
  • Zoom lens f/3.3
  • USB 2.0 compatibility, face detection, USB charging, YouTube capture mode
  • 2.5in TFT active matrix LCD display, 230,400 pixels
  • built-in microphone
  • USB, composite video /audio output, component video output, HDMI output
  • 39x67x101mm
  • 196g
  • Camcorder: 1080p
  • 5Mp 1/2.5in CMOS sensor
  • Effective Video Resolution: 2.07 Mpix, Effective Still Resolution 5.038 Mpix
  • Widescreen Video Capture
  • Flash card
  • 4x Digital Zoom
  • Electronic (Steady Shot) stabiliser
  • Max Shutter Speed: 1/4000 sec
  • Min Shutter Speed: 1/15 sec
  • Face Detection Built-in
  • MPEG-4, H.264
  • JPEG
  • 720p, 480p, 1080p
  • SD Memory Card, Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo Mark2, SDHC Memory Card, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo
  • Zoom lens f/3.3
  • USB 2.0 compatibility, face detection, USB charging, YouTube capture mode
  • 2.5in TFT active matrix LCD display, 230,400 pixels
  • built-in microphone
  • USB, composite video /audio output, component video output, HDMI output
  • 39x67x101mm
  • 196g

OUR VERDICT

But the Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5's impressive design and spec sheet don't enable this pocket camcorder to catch up with competing models entirely. It's a good option for anyone seeking a pistol-grip-style unit that supports both SD cards and MemoryStick cards, but video quality is mediocre in both bright light and low light. Other than its 5x optical zoom, the Bloggie MHS-CM5's features aren't radically superior to the competition's, and it certainly doesn't outperform existing high-definition pocket camcorders in terms of video quality.

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