Sony HDR-CX550V Hands-On Review

The Sony HDR-CX550V is a camcorder which features Full HD 1080 AVCHD video capture, 12MP still image capture and a 10x optical zoom.  It fits the prosumer category and price range at around $1200.  The CX550V features 64GB of internal flash memory, which can be expanded via Memory Stick or SD cards.

Sony HDR-CX550V Key Features

  • 1/2.88″ Exmor CMOS R Sensor
  • 1920 x 1080 HD Capture
  • AVCHD Format up to 24Mbps
  • 10x Optical Zoom
  • Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization
  • 64GB Internal Flash Memory
  • 3.5″ LCD Viewfinder (921k Dot Resolution)
  • GPS Receiver and Map Index
  • 12MP Still Image Capture

The CX550V is clearly bigger than its lower-end sibling, the Sony HDR-CX350V; however, it’s still rather compact.  It’s no so big that you wouldn’t want to carry it around on vacation or to a theme park.  The CX550V’s high-res LCD looks great.  At 3.5-inches, it’s on the large side, but really allows you to see the detail thanks to the high resolution of 921k dots.

The video quality from the CX550V is pretty impressive based on what I saw in my short time with the camera at PMA 2010.  The low light performance and motion tracking worked great as well.  Autofocus performance also impressed me, particularly in low and changing light settings.

Like the CX350V, the CX550V also offers embedded GPS, which allows content to be geo-tagged.  Another benefit of the GPS is that the camera automatically adjusts the clock for the appropriate time zone, so you don’t have to worry about changing it when you travel.

The image stabilization in Sony’s latest camcorders is quite impressive.  The Optical SteadyShot uses a gyro sensor to detect camera shake and prevent you videos from having the ’shaky-cam’ effect.  You can get a little flavor of just how well the camera stabilizes video, along with slow motion frame rates, in the following video.

For still images, the CX550V includes a built-in flash.

As noted above, the CX550V captures 12MP JPEG stills.  The 10x zoom lens provides a 35mm equivalent zoom range of 26.3-263mm.

The macro mode on the CX550V is truly remarkable.  It will focus on objects right up against the lens, which you can see in the image above.  The backlit $5 bill against the lens shows off the fibers in the paper.

Initial reports from other users confirm full compatibility with Mac workflows in iMovie, Final Cut Express and Final Cut Pro, including seamless transcoding into Pro Res 422.

The Sony HDR-CX550V looks to be a very solid performer in the prosumer market, particularly for those looking for a great HD picture, rock steady image stabilization and a high-res LCD viewfinder.  You can find the Sony HDR-CX550V at trusted online retailers like Amazon.com and B&H Photo Video.

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