My friends and family know that I work in the television industry.
They also know that I’m always looking at new products to make my job easier or to give me an advantage. So inevitably the questions will come up about which video camera they should buy or which camera is “The Best.” I usually answer with something like “I’m a craftsman and I need many tools to create my art. What are you looking to create?”
This is a good answer because it A) shows that you need the right tool for the job and B) answers their question with another question which I love to do whenever possible.
So recently I was asked to write a review of the new Sony MC50 video camera. In my professional business I mainly use 2 different camera rigs, both of which cost over $10,000 and are so complex I won’t recommend them to people without advanced degrees, a grip truck and a large budget. After spending some time with this camera I can say it is a great camera for students looking to make beautiful video who don’t want to spend all their time in manuals.
The camera is intelligent; it will produce great images in auto mode and can be trusted to continually produce great video in adverse conditions. I don’t shoot in auto but this camera is changing my mind about that because of its ability to work intelligently with the camera person instead of being a dumb box.
My high tech testing method was to hand the camera to my 8 year old daughter and tells her to shoot video of her mother getting her hair cut. A reasonable assignment considering she had no idea that she was going to be videotaping the event and she had never seen the video camera before. Up to now I would ask her to shoot a photo every now and then, but never trusted her with a video camera, and had never given her a shooting assignment. I stayed close to observe her and answer any questions that she might have. Nothing came up that she couldn’t figure out.
The video was excellent. She shot the action; the camera adjusted for the lighting and white balance, found a face and used it as the focus point. The cameras facial recognition software has been ported over from the still cameras and it will find a face or a smile and use that as the important area in the scene. It is also capable of remembering a face even when it leaves the screen and comes back.
The optical SteadyShot image stabilization allowed my daughters footage to be stable, steady and smooth. When she panned the camera to follow the action in the scene, the SteadyShot cleverly knew what was happening, it actively accelerated and decelerated for smooth pans without being abrupt. With a little practice I was able to make shots that looked like they were created on a crane or steady cam. The active optical SteadyShot is actually that good.
One of the biggest let downs with small cameras is that they have small sound. Any good film maker knows that if the audio is good, the video is forgivable. The MC50 with the large on-camera shotgun microphone is able to record in stereo or 5.1 surround. Even in situations where the video is highly compressed audio quality from the camera was exceptional.
The LCD monitor is large, 3.5 inches, and also acts as a touch screen menu system. This allows you to gain access to all of the cameras features. The camera contains almost no other buttons except for a lone silver dial under the lens. Pressing the dial makes it active and allows you to precisely manage the manual focus, exposure, white balance, iris and shutter speed controls. The adjustments were easy to make and the screen menu showed how my changes untouched the video.
I showed my daughter the finished video. She was proud of her accomplishment and I was impressed with the fact that someone with zero training could create such quality video. To the creative engineers at Sony I give big kudos. My point in this is to show that for every job there is a tool. The MC50 is a great tool it does what it does elegantly and effortlessly. The camera contains an excellent blend of both manual and automatic functions. My hope is that some of the functions found on cameras like these will someday find their way into the higher end line of Sony products.
• Lens Type: Sony G Lens™
• Focal Distance: 3.8 ~ 38.0mm
• 35mm Equivalent: Video:29.8 - 298mm (16:9), 36.5 - 365mm (4:3)
Photo: 28.7 - 287mm(16:9), 26.3 - 263mm (4:3)
• Aperture: F1.8 ~ 3.4
• Filter Diameter: 37mm
• Focus: Full range Auto / Manual (Touch Panel)
• Optical Zoom: 10x
• Resolution: 12 megapixel
Exmor R image sensor
• ½.8 –inch second generation Exmor R sensor (double the sensitivity)
• Pixel Gross: 6631K
• Video Active: 4150K Pixels (16:9), 3110K Pixels (4:3)
• Video captured image resolution: 1920 x 1080
• Still Actual: 4500K Pixels (16:9), 6000K Pixels (4:3)
• Still Picture Resolution: 12 megapixel
• Recording Media: 64GB (non-removable) Hard Disk Drive and Memory Stick PRO Duo™ Media or SD/SDHC(Class 4) media
AVCHD Recording Modes ( 1080 59.94i/50i)
• HD-FX (1920 x 1080 @ 24Mbps)
・ SD-HQ (720x480 @ 9Mbps) similar to DVD Audio recording
• Audio/Video Remote multi-pin connector: Video / S Video / Audio / Component Out / Remote
• Analog Audio/Video Output(s): Included (via A/V Remote connector)
• Digital Audio/Video Output(s): HDMI (mini)
• USB Port(s): Hi-speed (2.0 compliant)
• Component Video (Y/Pb/Pr) Output: Supplied (via A/V Remote jack)
• Headphone Jack: Yes
• Microphone Input: Yes, with power
• S-Video Output(s): Optional cable (via A/V Remote jack)
• Active Interface Shoe: Yes
• Originally designed lens hood
• Professional Stereo shotgun microphone model ECM-CG1S
• AC adaptor (AC-L200)
• Component A/V Cable
• Application Software / USB Driver / (CD-ROM)
• High capacity rechargeable battery pack model NP-FV70.
• A/V Connecting Cable
• USB Cable VMC-UAM1