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Dave Blackhurst April 3rd, 2008 04:38 PM

SR11 after a couple days...
Had more time to play with this camera...

To update, I took side by side footage (outdoor, late afternoon sun/ shadows, short people in high motion mode!) with the CX7 and the SR11. The CX7 is no slouch, and I've been quite happy with the quality from that cam (no idea why it wasn't better reviewed, but whatever...). After sync'ing the video from both cams, I tried extensive switching between the two (blind switching, just kept clicking the "solo" button until I didn't know which video stream was being previewed, then went back and forth until I decided which looked the best for color, noise, etc.). The SR11 won EVERY time, albeit I doubt very many people would have seen or really cared about the differences.

Here are my impressions after having the cam for a couple of days and getting to know it enough to see what it's capable of...

BUILD QUALITY - Just simply impressive and one of the best designed pieces of equipment I can imagine! I'd make the VF pull out not up, but that's a quibble. I'd add a few manual controls and some features from the HC9, but control is more than acceptable with this cam, that control button/dial is almost as good as a traditional ring. BIG LCD is WAY BETTER THAN SMALL ONE!!! I could lose the HDD (CX7 sucessor??), but I can see where having that much storage could be pretty handy...

STILLS - While there is some pattern noise and artifacting in the stills, you have to zoom in so far to see it, it's not an issue, and with a little post work, you get incredible stills. This camera does break through in that regard, NOTHING in the current video cam market will match it. That was what I was looking for primarily - a cam that could shoot still and video simultaneously (without the silly "3 shot" limits of earlier cams) and get reasonably high quality results for BOTH formats. The SR does it.

VIDEO - This is where the A/B with the CX7 was very informative... In things like crisp blue desert sky - the smoothest most noise free image I've seen! This is one type of image where I always see nasty noise and macroblock type junk - there is NONE from the SR11, wasn't much from the CX7, but it was there...

Detail is better in the SR11, blacks are "blacker" resulting in a sharper look, and I see more range in the image - I think "lattitude" is the technical term? AWB seemed to make good choices in both cameras, but the SR11 was better by a hair. Colors are crisp, accurate and just vivid enough to really look great, but not overdone!

Overall, the SR11 is VERY impressive, and a "no brainer" purchase - I'll defer to Ken's impressions against the HF10, but having owned an HV20, I can pretty much nod in agreement there - the SR11 is going to have better picture quality.

There are a few quibbles, to be fair...
I am seeing some rather bad focus hunting in low light when zoomed (the CX7 locks instantly under the same conditions), but it's just something to work around - wide (even in low light), and in adequate light, focus is fast and accurate.

There are also a couple other strange little things I've noticed and even captured to the HDD, but they seem to be tough to reproduce. I'm going to chalk them up to the massive amount of digital processing this camera must utilize to create the level of image this cam delivers. The strangest one is that brighter colors seem to "wash out" as you zoom in to the higher range of the optical and into the digital zoom range - probably an automatic adjustment of some sort kicking in, and it's not worth stressing over, but I'm inclined to be a bit careful of high zooms!

Manual controls... well, more might be better <wink>, but I can live with AE Shift and exposure - always worked well for me in Sony cams...

I still want to revist the low light - the CX7 has been the best for me so far in horrible light, but the SR is close, so close... more testing!!

Ken Ross April 3rd, 2008 05:29 PM

Dave, really great review! I'm in agreement with you on almost every point. Of course I never had the CX7, but your SR11 observations are 100% consistent with mine. You're right 'exposure latitude' is the correct term. This was another thing that I think contributed to the feeling that the SR12 was producing a better image than the HF10.

Honestly, after having done the A/B between the HF10 and the SR12, it just makes me appreciate the SR series all that more. The pristinity of the image as you noted is just in a class by itself. I didn't even touch on all the features of the camera in my review since I was focuing on picture quality. However, I've been truly impressed with the stills output to my Pioneer plasma, just extraordinary.

As you stated, on the downside, the focus does hunt in very low light where my HV20 does not. I still think the autofocus on the HV20 is in a class by itself. But the Sony is certainly good enough to get you through most shooting situations without any issues.

By the way Dave, I never use the digital zoom on any of my videocameras, but I did read someone posting that in the lower ends of the digital zoom, it really is very good. I'll give that a whirl, but you do run the danger of both shaky video and extending in to the 'not so nice' reaches of the digital zoom. I'm sure ultimately I'll leave it off.

But this is simply the nicest cam I've ever owned with all things considered.

Dave Blackhurst April 3rd, 2008 08:38 PM

Hi Ken -
The "digital doubler" for want of a better term - 12x times 2 = 24X or 10x times 2 = 20x is actually fairly usable. It's interpolation no doubt, but at that relatively small bump, it's not too likely to get ugly...

I did for giggles turn on the "150x" digital zoom... and then turned it back off <wink>. Marketing... sigh.

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