Tuesday, March 25, 2008

First Look at Sony HDR-SR12 Camcorder

Finally, I got it, my new FullHD digital video recorder, Sony HDR-SR12. This is the most high-end of this spring's consumer series from Sony.

The camera is really small, much smaller than my previous digital camcorder, Sony DCR TRV-50E, which was also very small at the time when I got it. SR12 fits well in the pocket of my winter jacket and really well in my backpack.

The package did not include a real camera bag, just a think cloth pouch, which I think is probably better than a bag. I usually keep my kamera in my backbag, where it's already protected so there's no need for thick bag, but a thin cloth is good to keep scratches out.

The optical Super SteadyShot is better than the non-optical one in TRV50, but not much better. A tripod is still an essential aid for video camera.

I was quite disappointed that the camcorder did not include any kind of shoulder strap. This is really unusual. It can be purchased as an accessory, but the fastening does not look very good. I will try to use the shoulder strap from my TRV50 or some other camera.

The 3,5" display is really crisp and clear. No wonder, as the resolution is 1920x480. The horizontal resolution probably contains separate R, G, and B pixels, so it's not really that high resolution, but very good anyhow. It's a touchscreen, so I'm worried how it will look in a year, but at least so far it has seemed to repel the dirt from my fingers quite well.

Transferring the video files to my Linux computer was easy, just plug the cable in the computer and the camera appears on desktop as an external media device. The problem was that the AVCHD video files are mts files, which are not easily opened. Luckily, I found an excellent article on Transcoding MTS/M2TS AVCHD Video Into AVI Files. Installing the software was not straight-forward, as it required some badly documented manual work. For example, the ldecod had to be downloaded from an obscurely documented location. After that, the program worked on standard definition video files with 1440x1080 resolution. I had to fix the program to work with FullHD 1920x1080 resolution. After that, I got video. I was very pleased at the quality, which really was clear image at the full resolution. Even a still image capture from the video was really crisp, even in indoor light conditions.

(Click on the image for the full-size image.)

Notice that the image above is not a still photograph taken with the camera, but a still capture from the video stream.

Unfortunately the video is 1920x1080i, that is, interlaced, just like in old PAL camcorders such as my old TRV-50. This is the most prominent visual problem that makes the video look cheap if there is basicly any movement at all in the video. Luckily, interlacing can usually be removed quite well without halving the video resolution. Apparently, the conversion software doesn't remove the interlacing, so I'll have to study the problem closer.

Playback is another big issue. No program I have can decode the AVI fast enough. I removed scaling and interlacing from Kaffeine and now it almost works if there is very little movement in the video. If I can't get the playback fixed, I have to reduce the resolution of the videos I save.

The audio is rather badly out of sync. This seems to be a common problem for people using the program, so I will have to inspect it further. It may also be caused by the speed problem, as, for example, kaffeine plays audio just fine at normal speed but the video is slow.

I also got a bluetooth microphone for the camera. The problem is that the bluetooth transceiver is ridiculously big. Well, more about that later.

See also:


Anonymous said...

What about a full resolution snap shot instead of a video frame capture?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments. This is only review I found usefull for myself, and you are answering my questions in short but clear way.

I am still interesting to see what could be done for the deinterlacing... Is it possible to share some short video example?

thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

I own a HDR-SR12e with 140Gb hard drive. To my surprise I got an error message while on a vacation that the number of files recorded exceed the 4000 limit. I could not record any further scenes even that i had more than half of the hard drive free!!!


Anonymous said...

sorry for bad english is not my native language.
i have and old sony camcorder too (pc-101 or something like that) and was thinking i need a new one, i like the sr11, i think the only difference is the hdd size.
i have a question that cant get answered, maybe you can help me...
my last handycam have an input for analog sources (composite? the yellow video and red white audio) that i can connect to a vcr or others things, to both import and export video, i guess your older camcorder have the same capability.
can the sr12 do it, can i import video from analog sources like vcr, cablebox, others cams, etc and record it to the sr12, the export i think every camcorder do it and will do it, or maybe now that we are moving from tapes that only can be played in the camcorder to just files, the export thing will disappear.
i have many miniDV tapes that never edit or convert to files, can the sr12 help me with that?
i try last week transfer one tape to my computer by firewire, but i dont know what do wrong, the video captured was not the same quality as original, it has lines or look odd, i use kino, maybe i will try installing windows and use pinnacle studio or ulead, but if the sr-12 do the trick, better.

Anonymous said...

I just bought the SR12. My problem is that after I burn a DVD on myt computer, it is not recognized on my Sony DVD player (1 yr old)????

Anonymous said...

Yeah, apparently even though you're burning the files to dvds,the files are still in avchd format so they can only be played on a blu-ray player such as a PS3.

Saif said...

So how to watch them on reegular DVDs?

Do I neeed a blu ray player or an HDDVD player? Which formaT? How to convert it from silly AVCHD format to normal DVD or high definition DVD format so I can watch it on my Samsung 720p LCD.

Anonymous said...


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