Sony Handycam DCR-SR88 Camcorder Review

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Sony Handycam DCR-SR88 HDD camcorder.  The Handycam DCR-SR88 is a mid-level compact hard disk camcorder with 120 GB of internal storage and a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens.  On the lowest quality setting that will give 91 hours of record time.  If that is not enough there is an SD/PRO Duo memory card slot for video and still image storage.  A 60x zoom and image stabilization make this camcorder great for sports and wildlife.


  • A built-in 120GB hard disk drive can record and store up to 91 hours of video footage in LP mode. In addition, “HDD Smart Protection” gives you peace of mind by preventing any recorded video and images from being lost if the camcorder is accidentally dropped.
  • The 60X optical zoom brings you closer to the action, so you can capture extremely tight shots, even from far away. In addition, Digital Zoom Interpolation means that extreme digital zooming (up to 2000X) is clearer, with less distortion than previous types of digital zooms.
  • The professional-quality Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens designed specifically for compact camcorders. Precision ground optics help maintain the sharpness and contrast of larger lenses, and SteadyShot image stabilization helps reduce blur caused by camera shake.
  • The 2.7″ Clear Photo LCD3 (230 K) display provides exceptional viewing clarity with 230K pixels of resolution. The display rotates up to 270 degrees for multiple viewing angles, as well as provides sharp, detailed images for monitoring or playback. The convenient touch panel allows easy access to menus and additional functionality such as spot focus and spot metering.
  • Direct Copy to external HDD allows storage of your memories in a whole new way with the ability to copy videos from your camcorder directly to an external hard disk drive (sold separately), all without a computer. Your camcorder can also access videos stored on the external hard drive for playback on your HDTV, allowing you to utilize the camcorder’s handy playback features.
  • Face Detection technology recognizes faces anywhere in the frame and automatically adjusts exposure to help capture faces brightly and clearly.
  • The DCR-SR88 features an LED light that can assist in low-light situations giving you more flexibility when capturing your video.
  • A 1/8″ Advanced HAD (Hole Accumulation Diode) CCD imager with 410K (effective) pixel resolution delivers stunning detail and clarity for exceptional video (up to 500 lines of horizontal resolution) and still image performance.
  • The built-in zoom microphone focuses audio recording on your subjects with the camera’s zoom lens, helping memories ring true with clear dialogue and crisp, discrete sounds.
  • With Film Roll Index, the camcorder previews the beginning of scenes and creates scene indexes set at specified display intervals (3, 6, or 12 seconds and 1 or 5 minutes). Face Index indexes your video footage according to the faces detected in each scene. When it’s time to play back video, simply search for what you want by selecting from among the detected faces displayed in the index.
  • SD Card Functionality allows for expansion of the DCR-SR88 video and still image capture capability.
  • USB2.0 makes video transfer quick and easy.
  • 13 Hour Battery Life

As I unboxed the Sony Handycam DCR-SR88, I was impressed by the look and feel.  I slid the battery in and plug the charger in and let the battery charge to capacity.  Once the charge was complete about 3 hours later, I flipped open the screen and immediately I fell in love with the high resolution screen and touch-screen interface.  Although, I am not a fan of silver I do like the fact that finger prints don’t show on the camera’s exterior.  The screen, however,  is a different story.  Not so say that finger prints are major annoyance, but a soft cloth is a good accessory to keep handy in your camera case for the occasional screen smudge.

Once I was able to shoot some video I immediately recognized the face detection at work.  The DCR-SR88 uses face detection to optimize image quality around a subjects face by continually adjusting things like focus to keep the picture  sharp.  The zoom microphone works in conjunction with the zooming of the lens to keep the subjects vocal volume matching visual distance.  I found this feature to work quite well.  If low light recording is needed the DCR-SR88 has a built-in LED light, which works well for close up, but use a secondary light source when possible.  The cameras built in light won’t stretch much farther than 10 feet.

The Handycam DCR-SR88 has a very nice feel and is easy to grip comfortably with one hand.  DCR-SR88 is not so small that large hands will find it awkward to use, and not too large for small hands either.  The recording controls can all be controlled with the forefinger and thumb, as designed and really the strap does the work of holding the camera.  The handjust steadies.

The DCR-SR88 menu layout is super easy to use. The touchscreen interface works well and is not overly sensitive. While capturing video I didn’t care for using the touchscreen zoom and record controls.  For me personally, I produced shakier video when using them and the zoom has only one speed.  Slow!  Fortunately, those features don’t have to be used.  I like the ability to change scene styles with the quick access button and the light button is nice also, making turning the light on and off almost thoughtless.

In the beginning I mention the storage capability of the camera.  The DCR-SR88 will internally store 120GB of data.  In the lowest quality that is 91 hours of record time and in the best quality setting that is 30 1/2 hours and if that is not enough Memory Sick Pro Duo / SD card slot is provided and can handle a 32GB card.  That is about 8 more hours.

Playback is very easy with the Sony handycam. Simply connect the Handycam to a televsion using the supplied A/V cable and press play. The playback / capture button is easily accesable with the screen open and one press of the “play” button will change modes. There is a 16:9 and 4:3 playback mode so the video will fit almost any TV without the black bars across the top or sides.  I would also like to note here that Sony has done a great job with the A/V and DC in covers.  They are easily removed and replaced.

Copying video or still images is a breeze. Once you have installed the supplied PMB software, one touch of the direct burn button will send precious memories straight to a DVD that has been preloaded in DVD recorder tray of course.  If the file needs to be copied to the computer make sure to use the import prompt that activates when the camera gets connected to the computer.  The direct burn button doesn’t save the files on the computer.

The supplied PMB software does a decent job of organizing and simple editing tasks, but don’t expect miracles. If you want to do anything more than trim a scene go to a more powerful editor.  PMB will make using services like YouTube, Picasa,Photobucket, Shutterfly and Dailymotion quick and easy with the ability to log in and upload files from one area.

Overall, I have been quite pleased with the performance of the Handycam DCR-SR88.  I really like the touch screen interface, the high resolution and comfortable grip.  The only thing that I would like to see Sony really improve in the package is with the software.  A more powerful video editor would make the package complete.

The Sony Handycam DCR-SR88 HDD camcorder is $399.00 with free shipping and is included with a free Sony LCS-X20 soft carrying case from  Tech Tilt’s trusted online retail partner B&H Photo-Video.

Sony LCS-X20 Case

DVDirect Express VRD-P1

In my opinion, a great accessory to have is the Sony DVDirect Express VRD-P1 DVD recorder.  Connect it to the DCR-SR88 and touch the direct burn button and that is all.  It will record your video wherever you are so long as your camera has power, because the DVDirect Express VRD-P1 uses the USB power from the video camera to operate.  At $119.42 I feel the VRD-P1 is a viable accessory, especially if you don’t like dealing with a computer.


  1. Larry Craig says

    Why don’t the say anything about the still picture quality. At .34 megapixel, they are awful. That was one of the main reasons I wanted a new camera, and this one is no better than the one I had.

  2. Corey says

    Is it lens attachable? I’m wonder because I would like to get a fisheye lens but not sure if I should buy it or not

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