Sony Handycam CCD-TR818 Hi-8 Analog Camcorder Camcorders

Sony Handycam CCD-TR818 Hi-8 Analog Camcorder Camcorders 

DESCRIPTION

Enjoy the simplicity of Sony Worry-Free Recording with Sony's new Hi8 Handycam Camcorder! Features include Hi8 Video Recording as well as 20X Optical / 460 Digital Zoom, and an Advanced Color Viewfinder. Record until all hours of the night using Sony NightShot 0-Lux infrared system. Add the benefits of SteadyShot Picture Stabilization, then watch and listen as this Sony camcorder delivers superior picture and sound quality at an affordable price. Be the first to buy the best from Sony!

USER REVIEWS

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[May 30, 2009]
Junkman
Professional

Strength:

Real, optical 20x zoom.
Hi-8 recording format backwards compatible with regular 8mm tapes. (Can record with either type)
Night shot that works.
Ability to record in LP and SP, with no real noticeable loss in picture quality.
F3.6 lens at FULL (72mm) zoom. (Fast lens)
1/4 inch CCD sensor that is not on recall list.
Long run time on single battery charge, can use charger with/instead of battery while recording.
Chunky size and shape easier to hold steady than some really tiny camcorders. Tripod socket in good location.
Color viewfinder, with diopter correction plus and minus for individual eyes.
Fewer buttons to learn and confuse. Manual focus possible.
Zoom and record buttons logically placed. (One handed recording possible)
No screen (LCD) means longer battery life.
Output options include RCA composite and S-video, but you sill need the RCA cable to get the audio when using S-video out.
I like the top load much better than the bottom load of many models. I don't like the 'lid' you must open to get to the open button. I suppose this is to prevent accidental opening while in use. I just dislike it.
Can use as a web/security cam, using video/audio out functions while stationary. (Record to computer at set intervals) Can also use this for stop-motion, but is not 'built in' to camera, limiting when/where you can do this. (Can't watch rose bloom in time lapse)
16:9 mode, but this simply 'crops' off the top and bottom of sensor, (Letter box) making fewer actual pixels captured.
Thumb wheel to move through and select menu items. This one I like! Works like the third wheel-button on my mouse, and can be 'clicked' to select. Fast and intuitive. Sony got this part right.

Weakness:

As with ALL camcorders, forget digital zoom, this one claims 460 X... This is like ONE PIXEL!
No light. No provision for external light, nor flash.
No screen, can't review shot to see if you really got it, except in viewfinder.
Microphone tends to pick up person recording more than anything in front. (picks up sounds of hand holding it more than anything else) Not stereo. No provision for external mic. This is a real weakness.
Fewer features than other, similar camcorders costing about the same.
No 'snapshot' capability, aka, still. No memory card slot, period. (Can't capture to anything but tape)
S-video output requires you still have RCA cable (Composite cable) connected to get audio out) Can be awkward to have both cables in at once on this model, they are very close together. Frankly, I see little difference between RCA and S-video out for short cable runs.
No remote. Can not use unattended on tripod without manually touching, (and wiggling) camera.
No single frame mode. (no animation, or time lapse) No timer start or stop function.
Can not manually adjust shutter speeds, except via workaround, IE: set the 'EV' function to vary shutter speed somewhat. (EV= Exposure Value) Or use one of the 'modes' ( Beach and Sky,for example)
"Modes" instead of real settings. May be better for non-technical inclined users. In my trials, 'modes' are of limited use or value, and some don't work well at all. (Might be my personal camera... it WAS used)
No way to read out actual shutter or lens diaphragm (opening, aka F-stop) settings, even after the fact.
"Special effects' few and of very limited value. (Sepia, negative, etc.) 8 total.
menu allows you to set record lamp "ON", despite no lamp present.
This one really bugs me: The switch and lettering for the record or playback is under strap holder, making it very hard to see or read, to know if you are turning it to record or playback mode. One or the other needs moved.
On ALL of these similar models of Sony camcorders, I dislike the way you open it to place tape in, or remove tape. It's awkward and makes dropping camera easy. It is also easy to damage the tape loading mechanism as a result.
No tapes available for true long recording, IE: Security type use.



As a former newspaper photographer, I know what to look for in ANY camera, for my particular needs. Not yours, however.
Nonetheless, over the years, enough people have asked my advice on "Which camera they should buy that takes good pictures"
My answer: Cameras don't take pictures, photographers do. The camera is only a tool. And like any tool, one should use the right tool for the job.
The job for which this tool was designed is mainly the family wanting to capture basic events, graduations, weddings, first steps, etc.
In that, it works. It is somewhat feature limited, which can actually be a blessing, as too many buttons and such just add to the learning curve, and confuse one in an intense moment, hitting the wrong button at the wrong time. I like simple. And, I like the important buttons I WILL use to be easy to find and use. (Manual focus, for example) This camcorder has all that, and for most uses, it performs well. However, I would not buy one again. Some of the functions are hard, if not impossible, to figure out, at least not intuitively. I still can't set the time. I, of all people, can not set the blasted time! (I bought this used, so no manual)
The picture quality is adequate, for casual use. Prior to ATSC, this was just fine for standard NTSC TVs. But on a true High Definition screen, it will not do. (None of them will, to be fair) One thing I dislike, no screen. I DO use the viewfinder more than most people, and having full color in the viewfinder is a plus for me, but most people don't use that, they use the screen. (Which uses power faster, one reason I use it little) and this model has NO screen, for playback or recording. It's the viewfinder or hook it to a TV or computer. Many will find this limiting.
Another thing I dislike is the lack of a light. While it does have the ability to record in 0 lux, via what Sony calls 'Night Shot', it really could benefit from a light in normal, full color recording if it had a light. NightShot is a sort of 'starlight Scope' like experience. You see everything in shades of green. It does work rather well, especially if there is some ambient light left. the 10 foot range quoted is for total darkness, and you can easily see much farther than that in most situations.

Customer Service

Never had occasion to use it. Can't rate that.
The sensor in this one is NOT one of the many on the 'advisory' (not quite a recall) Sony make a bad batch, which ended up in many maker's products, Canon, Pentax, Nikon, etc. Both still cameras AND camcorders were affected. They would fail after some time, usually after warranty was expired. (They did fix many, even out of warranty... But Sony limited the time to get this done, and many did not fail until after the time limit expired. (Oct. 2007) They did not, and will not, call you if your camera is affected. You much know about it and check for yourself. A ding on them for this.

Similar Products Used:

Several other Sony Handy Cams in this range of products. I've had 5 total, including this one, and taught other people to use theirs. In all, I estimate I've handled about a dozen various models in this 'family'.
Some had remotes, some had record lamps, (white light, not IR) some had Night Shot, (most) some had image stabilization, (most) but that is of little real value. (Doesn't actually mechanically move elements like high end cameras do)
Some were just 8mm, some had High 8, I see little difference on NTSC equipment.
Many had LCD screens, some had viewfinders (most) one (this one) had only a color viewfinder. (No separate LCD screen)
This particular camcorder is OK for casual use, but most people, especially those wearing glasses, should look for a different model. If you are an advanced photographer, this is not for you. If you are a beginner, you may appreciate the less steep learning curve of this model. If you are on a budget, again, this would serve you well until you can afford to move up.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
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