Sony CX 550V- First Impressions at DVinfo.net

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Old March 12th, 2010, 04:56 PM   #1
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Sony CX 550V- First Impressions

Just received the CX 550 and must say, that for my needs, it hits the marks very well.
I am upgrading from the XR 520, so that is my basis for comparison.
1) Size- significantly smaller than the XR- will actually drop into a front pants pocket. Key item for me, the WA end of the zoom matches the focal length of the XR + the bulky WA adaptor that was a perminant feature of my XR. Without the need for the adaptor (comparing apples to apples), the 550 is very small indeed.
2) The HD LCD is brilliant- just like the XR, but a half inch larger. The viewfinder is quite adequate for framing and an important feature for me.
3) MENUS- well designed, easy to navigate. A nice 6 item customizable menu is the first page to display
4) MANUAL CONTROL: Front dial/button gives you manual control over FOCUS, EXPOSURE, SHUTTER SPEED, f-STOP, WB SHIFT, AE SHIFT.
5) Image quality/color/vibrance: HD 16 mbs seems similar to the XR (excellent), and 24 mbs even better- motion capture is excellent.
6) Auto Focus- seems accurate and snappier than the XR, even in low light. 550 has the Spot Focus/Exposure feature just like the XR.
7) Low Light Performance- very good, low noise, perhaps slightly better than the XR, certainly as good.
8) OIS-The "ACTIVE" Steadyshot seems very effective for X,Y, and Rotary camera shake. I think its an improvement on the XR OIS.
I'm very impressed so far. Of all the recent high end Sony consumer cams, the CX550 comes closest to fulfilling my personal "wish list" for a travel cam.
I'll try to post some test footage later.
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Last edited by Robert Young; March 12th, 2010 at 06:13 PM.
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Old March 12th, 2010, 05:05 PM   #2
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Looking forward to some footage.
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Old March 12th, 2010, 06:47 PM   #3
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Curious about how good the lens is - any sign of CA or other unwelcome distortions with the new lens range? Overall the cam sounds about as expected, definitely on my upgrade list, and that's really the only major concern.

A couple minor things, the LCD is only .3 in bigger, the XR5xx series had a 3.2, but I'm sure the 3.5 on the 550 seems a lot bigger - I know the 3" LCD on the CX500 sure seems a LOT smaller than the XR...

How is the weight - I know the size isn't much but with the wider lens and no WA, that's huge <wink>.

Sounds very much like the improvements that showed up in the CX500V came along on the latest version - better "roll control" in the OIS, better low light (how do you find the colors overall, I noticed the CX500 seems a bit more punchy than the XR500), new style menus.

Curious how much more load the 24Mbps puts on the computer for editing over the 16Mbps. Hoping it's not TOO much more of a pain to deal with, just got done with a computer upgrade to handle the 16Mbps!
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Old March 12th, 2010, 06:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Young View Post
Of all the recent high end Sony consumer cams, the CX550 comes closest to fulfilling my personal "wish list" for a travel cam.
There are many things to like about the CX550 as a travel cam. I certainly wish I had this cam some years ago when I shot standard definition miniDV in Africa, South America and on Baffin Island.

I was recently using a Sanyo FH1, and I wish that the CX550 could be made that small, but the wonderful Sony OIS probably can't be jammed into such a small body, and the FH1 has no viewfinder. For a lot of work, I could survive without a viewfinder, but when you are shooting things like skiing scenes, even a very bright LCD display can't compare to a viewfinder.
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Old March 12th, 2010, 07:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
Curious about how good the lens is - any sign of CA or other unwelcome distortions with the new lens range? Overall the cam sounds about as expected, definitely on my upgrade list, and that's really the only major concern.
You are correct re the LCD size difference- only a bit bigger than the XR.
I haven't done a really critical look for CA, etc. Overall, the image seems as sharp as the XR. The wide end is wide enough to show a some image "barrelling" at the edge of the frame. I know someone mentioned CA at the wide end of the lens. I haven't noticed it so far, but I'm not the greatest observer.
I haven't done side by side test shots against the XR, but the color & "punch" look similar to me.
RE 24 mbs- I'm using Intel i7/Win7 64/12GB RAM, so I have plenty of system resources- haven't noticed any difference from 16 mbs stream. Also, I convert to Cineform.avi for the actual editing.
One bummer- the XR batteries will NOT FIT IN THE CX 550 "V-TYPE" BATTERY SLOT- grrr...
I think you will like the cam. The biggest pluses over the XR from my perspective are native WA and 24 mbs stream.
Also, with 64 GB onboard and a pocket full of Duo OR SD cards, you can shoot a heck of a lot of footage- no muss, no fuss.
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Last edited by Robert Young; March 12th, 2010 at 07:54 PM.
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Old March 12th, 2010, 08:15 PM   #6
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I'll be interested to see footage! I'm guessing that the barrelling and any CA/distortion would be comparable to mounting a WA, although I'm spoiled by the HG0737Y, which prolly weighs as much as this camera! Hopefully it's minimal...

I try to edit native with Vegas, have a similar config to yours, w/less RAM. I can do 4 multicam streams w/ the current 16Mbps, but the 24Mbps would in theory represent a 50% load increase... hmm, may be interesting.

MAJOR Bummer on the batteries, I had a funny feeling that Sony once again was going to play that game when I saw the "FV" notation instead of the FH's I have such a nice collection of. I may have to at least try altering the tabs on the battery again, although they locked out the FP series electonically to prevent such "mischief" when they released the FH series, so probably not likely to work... guess they have to get their extra $$ somewhere.
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Old March 12th, 2010, 10:29 PM   #7
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I use the 737 WA as well, and the barrelling @ frame edge is exactly the same as the CX550 on full wide. It's just the focal length, not a camera shortcoming. Interesting when you put the 737 on the 550- get a little vingetting on full wide, but gives you a major panoramic view for sure.
Let us know if you can tweak the tabs & get the FH batteries to work. Like you, I have a handful. I just ordered two larger V's @ $100 each :(
I use CS4 & never tried native AVCHD edit, but the CF conversion seems just about as fast as the 16 mbs files. Playback runs the 8 cores @ 12%, CF conversion @ 90%.
Also the Sony PMB v.5 seems like a real improvement over my old version- their v.5 AVCHD player is better image/motion playback than VLC, etc.
I'll go out this weekend and get a variety of shots- day, night, indoor, handheld- stitch them together & put them up as Flash. Not perfect, but should give some clues anyway.
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Old March 13th, 2010, 12:05 AM   #8
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I've got several versions of the HG0737 - the Y version is a beast, but doesn't exhibit much distortion at all, and not much barrelling when compared to the X and C versions, must be all the heavy glass, but it's too big for practical use most times.

I've been of the theory that if the native lens is well designed it should be as good or better than adding a WA adapter... and I'd imagine you get a really wide view, not too surprised that it vignettes.

The tabs are usually a matter of figuring out the minor changes - from what I can tell the older chargers will still work (FP series chargers charge FH series batteries just fine), so I suspect they alter a chip in the batteries that talks to the camera and says "go buy our new batteries" - that was what I found when I managed to get an FP to fit on an FH camera - you get a quick error message, a maniacal laugh (not really, but it seems like it should!), and the camera shuts down.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed on the editing, since I deal with multicam, but I'm hoping it will work. Enjoy the test shooting, look forward to seeing samples.
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Old March 21st, 2010, 07:57 PM   #9
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testing?

Hi Robert,

So did you have the time to do some testing on the CX550? I'm very curious about this camera as I need a small camera for an upcoming project...

Would be glad to hear more about your findings.
Cheers!
Senad
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Old April 26th, 2010, 10:50 PM   #10
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I am hoping to make my upgrade purchase too from XR520v to either the CX550v or XR550v. can't decide to stay with 240GB HDD or go with 64GB flash drive.

only $200 difference in my local store.

I often worry about these cams getting too small which sometimes makes them hard to actually handle. In other words easy to drop.

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Old April 26th, 2010, 11:31 PM   #11
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Russ -
The minor difference is size won't hardly be noticeable, and in fact the CX may be more comfortable - I've always preferred the CX versions of the same generation when purely handheld. There's a "D" ring on the strap that you can attach an additional lanyard or other "safety" restraint in lieu of the usual strap..
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Old April 27th, 2010, 12:11 AM   #12
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Hi Dave, yes thats true. i was checking the size weight differences and only a few mm in it.

Dimensions (W x H x D)

70 x 74 x 143mm XR550v
71 x 75 x 134mm XR520v
66 x 74 x 143mm CX550v

Mass (w/o Tape, Battery, etc.)

Approx. 500g XR550v
Approx. 500g XR520v
Approx. 430g CX550v

9mm in length difference and only 5mm width difference.


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