Sony Handycam HDR-XR520V Camcorder Review

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The Sony HDR-XR520V (MSRP $1499.99) packs a lot of punch—and a lot of hard drive capacity—into a relatively small consumer camcorder. The retractable viewfinder and the return of last year's excellent manual control dial are just a couple of the features that will intrigue proficient camcorder users. Also intriguing? The incredibly low noise levels, clear and smooth motion, built-in GPS, and 240GB internal hard drive.

There are some downsides that consumers of every ilk will have to weigh for themselves: no manual aperture/shutter control, mediocre low light performance, the lack of 24p or 30p frame rates, and an intimidating array of buttons, switches, and layered menus. It's not the ideal camcorder for a first-time user, nor does it offer every bell and whistle that the experienced videographer could want. It does have some intuitive features and excellent video performance: a combination that might be just what some consumers are looking for.

Update: The Panasonic HDC-TM300 was ultimately selected as our 2009 Camcorder of the Year. To see why we selected it and read about our other awards, check out the 2009 Select Awards.

Comparable Products

Before you buy the Sony HDR-XR520V, take a look at these other camcorders.

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  1. Introduction
  2. Design
  3. Product Tour
  4. Color Performance
  5. Low Light Performance
  6. Motion Performance
  7. Sharpness Performance
  8. Sample Videos
  9. Ease of Use
  10. Handling
  11. Controls
  12. Features
  13. Recording Options
  14. Hardware
  15. Other Features
  16. Canon Vixia HF S100 Comparison
  17. Panasonic HDC-TM300 Comparison
  18. Sanyo VPC-HD2000 Comparison
  19. Conclusion
  20. Photo Gallery