Sony SR 47

The Handycam DCR-SR47 is Sony's entry-level hard-drive-based standard-definition camcorder. The main attractions are its small size, large storage capacity, and megazoom lens. It's also fairly easy to use partly because of the touch-screen-based menu navigation and partly because of its dearth of shooting options. However, as with most camcorders in its class, the video results are mediocre--especially if you're watching them full screen on a large HDTV or are used to the detail of high-definition content.

If you're not terribly concerned with video quality and want a reasonably priced camcorder that's easy to use, has a megazoom lens, and can fit in a large coat pocket, this Sony is worth checking out.



Key specs Sony Handycam DCR-SR47
Dimensions 2.4x2.8x4.5 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 11 ounces
Storage capacity, type 60GB; Memory Stick Pro Duo
Resolution, sensor size, type 680K pixels, 1/8-inch CCD
LCD size, resolution 2.7-inch LCD, 123K pixels (touch screen)
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 60x, f1.8-6.0, 39-2,340mm (16:9), 44-2,640mm (4:3) (35mm equivalent)
Minimum illumination 6 lux
File format (video, audio) MPEG-2, Dolby Digital 2-channel stereo
Resolution (video/photo) 720x480/640x480
Recording time at highest quality 15 hours, 10 minutes
Image stabilization type Mechanical and electronic
Inputs/Outputs None/Mini-USB, AV terminal
Battery type, rated life Li ion rechargeable, 90 minutes

Available in blue, black, or red versions, the SR47 is a cute little camcorder. Its physical controls are textbook camcorder design with a start/stop button at the back and zoom rocker up top in front of a shutter release for snapshots in Photo mode. The whole package is roughly the size of soda can. The hand strap is comfortable if a little low and because hard drives have become so small and light, there's barely a bump encasing it making the body mostly lens.

The battery juts from the back; below it is the Memory Stick Pro Duo card slot and power input. Up front below the lens is a small door hiding an AV output. Flip open the touch-screen display (there is no viewfinder), and you'll find a row of buttons in the body cavity for power; turning off and on display information; direct-to-DVD recording using Sony's $149 VRD-P1 DVDirect DVD burner; an Easy button that locks down the camcorder's few advanced features; and changing over to Playback mode. There's also a button that instantly adjusts exposure for backlit subjects. The last of the I/O ports are in this cavity, too: an uncovered Mini-USB port.

The touch-screen menu system is good for those who don't make a lot of changes. In other words, it's responsive, but can get a little confusing for those unfamiliar with Sony's Menu and Home buttons. Pressing Menu gives you access to context-sensitive shooting options, and Home gets you access to everything else. The main problem with this is remembering what functions rest where. (Fortunately, Sony put the menu tree in print in the manual that comes with the SR47.) With little practice, though, the system makes sense and even full operation--not just point and record--becomes simple.