Sony HDR-CX760V Review
The Sony HDR-CX760V: 2012 Camcorder of the Year and Prosumer Camcorder of the Year.
The Sony HDR-CX760V may not be a perfect camcorder, but it comes pretty darn close. Video performance from this flagship Handycam was excellent, featuring crisp full HD images in bright light, dramatic improvement in low light capabilities, and fluid motion performance. Some pros may yearn for a bit more control on a high-end camcorder like this, but the HDR-CX760V makes do. The custom control dial (not as good as a lens ring, but close), large LCD, small viewfinder, strong battery life, and 70° wide-angle lens make the HDR-CX760V an excellent choice for video enthusiasts and semi-professionals who want top-notch quality from a consumer model. Like we said, it may not do everything right, but it has a ton of positives.
This Sony is currently available for around $1299, which is a significant price drop from its launch-date MSRP of $1499. Loaded with 96GB of internal flash memory, this is a reasonable price to pay for a flagship Handycam, but it’s certainly not cheap.
Design & Usability
A large consumer camcorder by today’s standards, the HDR-CX760V offers both simple and advanced controls.
The HDR-CX760V looks and feels nearly identical to Sony's other high-end 2012 Handycam, the HDR-PJ760V. The only difference is that the CX760V lacks a built-in projector, which would allow users to play back and project videos from the camcorder onto walls or screens. The gimmicky projector aside, this Sony is outfitted with a ton of features—ones that only high-end camcorders offer these days. It has a small viewfinder, a control dial, a large lens with multiple levels of image stabilization, a bulky frame, and 96GB of internal memory.
Despite its intimidating frame, the HDR-CX760V is actually a user-friendly device that is good for beginners. Sony incorporates numerous simple auto features right alongside its more complex manual controls in an attempt to please beginners and pros alike.
Loaded with features, manual controls, and great connectivity options, the HDR-CX760V is certainly not a boring camcorder.
If you’re a professional videographer, there are a number of features on the HDR-CX760V that you’ll likely enjoy. For instance, the camcorder’s custom control dial gives you immediate access to focus and exposure controls, as well as white balance and auto exposure shift options. A gain limiter function allows control over noise levels by keeping gain levels low, and special assist functions like focus peaking and zebra patterns help expose and focus images properly. There are some gimmicky features as well—a limited slow motion mode called Smooth Slow Record, an infrared low light mode called Nightshot, and a built-in GPS tracker.
These features can be fun to play around with, and they are proven staples of Sony’s high-end Handycams, but they aren’t the kind of capabilities that a pro or enthusiast will get much use out of. But that’s one of the reasons we found the HDR-CX760V to be an overall well-rounded product; it has a great mix of new, high-tech functions in addition to your classic manual controls.
Excellent performance for a Sony Handycam
There aren’t too many negatives with the Sony HDR-CX760V’s video performance. The camcorder’s 1080p mode captures excellent video in bright light—sharp, fluid, and clean. As for low light, the camcorder struggled a bit in very dark environments, but its images were still vivid, with little presence of noise. In general, the HDR-CX760 isn't the best low light camcorder we reviewed this year, but the its complete repertoire in our performance testing was impressive to say the least.
To sum it up, this is a camcorder without any major performance flaws: great sharpness, great color, excellent image stabilization, and low noise levels. If you’re looking for top-notch video from a consumer camcorder, this is your guy.
Sony's 2012 flagship camcorder is pricy, but it's worth it.
Last year, in our review of the HDR-CX700V from Sony, we dreamed of a future where Sony would actually improve the low light performance of its high-end Handycams. This year, with the HDR-CX760V, that dream became a reality. The CX760V is not only the strongest consumer camcorder Sony has released in a few years, but it’s also one of the most impressive models we’ve reviewed all year. The camcorder did everything well in our performance tests. In addition to the improved low light capabilities, it delivered excellent motion performance, good sharpness, vivid colors in bright light, and low noise levels across the board. The one downside of the camcorder may be its bulky design, with an awkward grip that didn't feel pleasant in my hand.
With 96GB of internal memory, an electronic viewfinder, and an excellent 10x zoom lens (with fantastic optical image stabilization), the Sony HDR-CX760V’s $1299 price tag is justifiable. The Panasonic HC-X900M is a cheaper option for a high-end user, but it lags behind the Sony in a few key categories, and its user interface isn't quite as enjoyable to work with. The Canon HF G10, our pick for Camcorder of the Year in 2011, does match the Sony CX760V in terms of performance, but it lacks the 60p frame rate feature that makes the Sony and most other top-line HD camcorders so special. It's a close race, but right now, the Sony HDR-CX760V is the best all-around consumer camcorder on the shelves.
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