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Sony XR100 Handycam Review

Sony’s entry-level HD video camera makes good in its promise of high definition footage but lacked some key features I thought should have been included. Let me share some of the footage and shots I got with the Sony HDR-XR100 Handycam.

sony handycam
The XR100 packs an 80GB HDD which contributed to the weight of the handycam (0.41kg) despite its small size. Fits just right with a clasp of the palm but since the grip-handle is beside the HDD enclosure, you’d always feel the whizzing sound of the drive’s spindle. That somestimes give an impression that the handycam is so fragile and you get worried you might bang it against something or drop it off your hands.

The built-in 80GB HDD is the main storage option that can record up to 580 minutes of full HD videos or up to 32 hours on LP but you can augment it with a Memory Stick PRO Duo (memory card sold separately).

The lens  is a  Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar powered by 1/5″ Exmor CMOS sensor with ClearVid array and has an effective resolution of 4-megapixel (this is the biggest resolution yet I’ve seen in a videocam).  The 35 equivalent is 42 – 497mm with an aspect ratio of 16:9. The aperture size is between F1.8 – 2.2 so you can really get some nice depth in the videos and photos.

sony xr100

I tested it out and took videos and still pictures. The zooming (10x optical zoom, 120x digital) and panning capabilities are both smooth and well-focused. Depending on lighting conditions, the autofocus function can be almost instantatenous to a few seconds. That being said, the shutter speed is good as long as you have enough light and is comparable to regular P&S cameras out there. 

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sony  pictures sony  pictures sony  pictures

Unfortunately, this model doesn’t have any built-in flash so taking photos at night without a good light source is close to impossible (the XR200 model has one though and there are external flash lights for this but that’s an extra expense already). However, the video recording easily adapts to whatever ambient light is available. Here’s a sample raw photo (1.1MB) and a sample MPEG2 exported clip (19MB, also available in HQ at YouTube). The exported clip has already degraded because the Sony software that came with it only allows for exporting into WMV or MPEG2 format.

Maximum video resolution is 1920×1080 pixels ( 1080/60i) and the quality is very good. The photo capture quality is impressive at 4MP and if you looked at the raw file, you will find very little graining or pixelation although edges are a bit smoothed out and not very crisp. The Carl-Zeiss optics did not disappoint.
sony hdr xr100

There’s not a lot of physical buttons on the videocam because the controls are on the screen. At first, I thought it will be a little hard to navigate the 2.7″ wide panel but it turns out the capacitive touchscreen works just fine. Of course, that goes without saying it’s a smudge/fingerprint magnet. The lens cover is manually opened/closed so much of the split-second missed/uncaptured moments are due to that (they have it automatic for the XR200) oversight.  

The handycam automatically turns on once you open the LCD and just turns off when it’s closed. That basically helps save power of the 1,000mAh Li-Ion battery pack. The battery size is kind of odd though for the rated capacity and protrudes at the back. On normal use, it takes about a whole day of use before it’s totally depleted. 

The Sony HDR-XR100 is a pretty solid videocam. The biggest turn-off I think is the list price (Php52,995 at Ansons) but HD quality handycams are still on the upper end of the spectrum although the 4MP CMOS sensor (biggest I’ve seen in most video cameras), Carl-Zeiss lens and 80GB HDD might justify the cost.

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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14 Responses

  1. Erin says:

    is the HDD replaceable?


  2. jojo says:

    i guess its smaller than those laptop drive,
    any tips on how to get 1.8″ drives ?

  3. Darren says:

    why no vendor put a 250G or 320G HDD since technique already advance to 1080p recording. I guess there is some commerce conspiracy hehe

  4. pacmanhatton says:

    nothing beats sony!

  5. Yes, Canon has better video quality pacman and a lot more features for videography ;)

  6. julie says:


    the hard drive is not replaceable.

    sony rules !!!

  7. Janice - SEO says:

    I bought this Sony XR100 and I love the quality, I tested it in my Bravia and color is superb! Now I’m waiting for another Sony… XPeria Rachael!

  8. Free Gadget says:

    Like your page, good reading, thanks.

  9. junephilippines says:

    mayabang tong si Janice – SEO

  10. vivo says:

    the only thing missed on every reviews were always the focus on the unit amenibility whether it is adoptable to attach with wide conversion lens, tele-conversion lens, flash, microphone, mic transmitters…

  11. gammie says:

    what handy cam do you recomend? i haven’t read a handy cam review from you which is an all out positive like convincing me to buy one.

  12. army mos says:

    Good blog, I am going to spend more time learning about this subject

  13. cisco says:

    Hi! I would just like to express my gratitude for the cool info you have here on this post. I will be coming back to your blog for more awesome information in the near future.

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