The Sony HDR-SR8E is a well built camcorder, with very high built-in storage capacity, that produces high-ish resolution stills - but it is pricey.
Of a similar size and control layout to Canon’s HG10, the Sony HDR-SR8E is a sleek-looking if expensive HD Handycam that features a whopping 100GB built-in hard drive – allowing up to 38 hours of footage in LP mode – plus removable storage with the optional Sony Pro Duo Memory Stick.
The Sony HDR-SR8E is the flagship model in Sony’s range, and as well as full HD video (again AVCHD format) courtesy of a ClearVid CMOS sensor, you get a respectable stills resolution of 6.1mp, plus a 10x optical zoom with renowned Carl Zeiss optics.
This is supported by Super SteadyShot image stabilisation (Sony’s anti-shake feature) that results in a smooth, judder-free image even at maximum zoom when shooting one-handed. The Sony HDR-SR8E's touchscreen LCD also helps it to stand out from the crowd, avoiding a plethora of attendant buttons and speeding up operation.
With a small zoom lever on the camera hood just forward of a raised shutter release button, the Sony HDR-SR8E's operation is as fast as greased lightning, while a manual button and camera control wheel to the left side of the lens provide more hands-on operation than less expensive models. Included in the Sony HDR-SR8E's box is a desktop docking cradle and remote control, but removable media is for stills only.
Delivering 5.1-channel surround sound for home cinema buffs, Sony is making a feature of the Sony HDR-SR8E’s ability to capture images in dimly lit interiors and twilight (down to 2 lux), although this requires a slower shutter speed to be set.
Similarly, although stills can be taken while shooting video, these are in fact lower resolution ‘grabs’ at 4.6Mp – you must switch to the dedicated photo mode for the full 6.1Mp shots.
The Sony HDR-SR8E supports the new xv colour standard, which delivers results closer to that which the human eye perceives – and of course makes it a good fit for the latest Bravia TVs and Blu-ray players. It seems a bit stingy, therefore, that you have to pay extra for an HDMI lead.