Pros: Excellent picture and sound, features, nice looks, good battery
Cons: 640x480 resolution for still pictures
The Sony DCR-TRV11 is Sony?s least expensive MiniDV camcorder. There are cheaper Digital 8 camcorders, but MiniDV allows you to hold more video and is more compact (although MiniDV tapes are somewhat more expensive).
MiniDV tapes can be used in the LP mode for increased capacity without compromising the picture quality ? since the data is stored in the digital format. You should be careful with the tape loading mechanism though ? it is quite fragile and you can accidentally bend something if you press it in the wrong place.
This MiniDV camcorder offers the resolution of up to 500 lines (other digital video sources like DVD players and DBS offer similar resolution), higher color bandwidth (Sony claims three times higher than VHS) and virtually no video noise.
The picture is very sharp and clear. You have 10x optical/120x digital zoom, the camera also uses Carl Zeiss lens for better picture quality, special coating reduces glare and increases contrast. Since the recording is digital, the quality will not decrease over time.
The camcorder has an ADC (analog-digital converter) that converts an analog signal you pass through the analog input, so you can either record it on the MiniDV tape in digital format (for archiving purposes) or send it through the IEEE-1394 (i.Link) initerface to your computer or another device.
TRV11 uses the Digital Audio Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) - similar to CD recording technology, with 12-Bit or 16-Bit modes. This allows for a dynamic range of more than 96dB, since audio is stored separately you can use Audio Dubbing that allows you to add a stereo track of music or narration. The sound quality does not deteriorate over time and there is no ?background? noise introduced by the medium itself, as happens in analog world.
There is an L (LANC) Editing Interface that provides standardized connection for synchronized operation of camcorder, VCR, and edit controller. TRV11 also has an I.Link? Digital Interface (FireWire, IEEE1394), which is a two-way input/output that carries digital audio, digital video and control signals to compatible digital VCRs, edit controllers and computers.
The TRV11 also has the Super Laser Link? Wireless Transmitter, which uses infrared light to make a wireless connection from the camcorder to your television up to 26 feet away. The transmitter is built-in, so you can buy a receiver and connect your camcorder wirelessly. The IFT-R20 IR receiver is optional.
You can use the TRV11 as a digital still camera at 640x480 resolution (enough for emailing), the images are stored on a supplied 4Mb Memory Stick. You can use the supplied PictureGear Lite 4.1 software to transfer images to your PC (using the supplied serial cable), edit and store/catalog them.
The camcorder features a 680,000-pixel HAD (Hole Accumulation Diode) CCD (the high resolution increases the picture quality) with low noise design. It has 7 modes AE, manual focus and manual exposure in addition to automatic ones.
Manual focus is controlled by the ring, which also looks cool. You can switch between manual and automatic focus using a switch on the left side of the camcorder (by LCD), it also has a position for ?infinity? focus.
The camcorder has a 3.5" 184,000-pixel LCD in addition to the color viewfinder. The 2x playback zoom allows you to zoom in during the playback. You can also shoot in total darkness with Sony?s Super NightShot?, which enables you to shoot subjects up to 10 feet away. The system uses a built-in infrared light; the optional IR light can extend the range to up to 100 feet.
The Super SteadyShot system can be employed for image stabilization There is also a built-in speaker (you can control the volume) and camcorder comes with a remote control and an intelligent accessory shoe (which accepts accessories ranging from lights, IR lights and photo printers to microphones that ?zoom? with the camcorder).
The camcorder has 8 picture effects (6 digital effects), 7 A/V fader modes, 16:9 and LP mode recording.
The digital and picture effects can be used independently (some of them can be combined). The cool A/V fader modes I like include ?dot? and ?bounce?. You can also manually adjust (if you want, otherwise it?s automatic) shutter speed and exposure.
The VCR mode allows you to see your material. When you switch to it, the VCR buttons appear on the upper black panel, backlit by the amber light (they are invisible in other modes). In ?camera? mode you can use ?Edit Search? to look through the material to find the insertion point, or use ?End Search? button, located under the LCD to find the end of your last recording.
The power source for the camcorder is an InfoLithium? battery, which has large capacity and no "memory effect", that ?old? Ni-Cd batteries used to have. The best feature: you can always see the approximate remaining power: AccuPower? meter shows you the remaining battery time in minutes on the camcorder's LCD or viewfinder ? this estimate is very accurate.
The Stamina? Power Management that power consumption and extends battery life when camera is not in use ? you can shoot for up to 11.5 hours with an optional battery.
The backlit LCD on the outer side of the 2.5? color LCD shows the remaining battery power in minutes while charging and tape counter when operating VCR.