Digital Camcorder: Sony HDR-CX500V Review

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Sony HDR Camcorders

The Sony HDR CX500V is part of Sony’s Handycam series of mid-range consumer camcorders. This camcorder sells for about $1,300 and comes with some specialty features. But, it also lacks a few things that could be deal breakers for those interested in consumer camcorders.

Body (4 out of 5)

Before moving on to the bad, let’s start with the good. The HDR CX500V is nice and compact. Its dimensions are 2 ½ inches wide by 2 5/8 inches high by 5 3/8 inches long. It is slightly heavy with the battery pack, weighing over 1 lb. This may be heavy for some people, but it’s


still small enough to fit into a backpack.

The camcorder, however, has a nice form and it’s easy to grip. You can easily access the controls, especially the photo and zoom buttons. These are located on the top of the camcorder. The zoom button is really responsive but it doesn’t zoom in or out too fast. You can also use the touch-screen to zoom in and out, but it’s better to use the regular button.

The only issue with the setup is the location of the manual dial. It’s on the back of the camcorder. So, you have to let go of the camcorder, and change the dial. This dial is usually located on the front of the camera, which is easier to access with your left hand. But, this also means that you have to cover up the large 3 inch LCD screen to get to it.

Further, this dial has all of your manual features. So, you need to access it. These features include the following:

  1. Exposure
  2. White Balance
  3. Automatic Exposure
  4. Focus

The other issue with the dial is that it’s not easy to manipulate. It feels very stiff.

Memory and Stabilization (4 out of 5)

In comparison to flash-based camcorders, this Sony camcorder has an extremely large 12x zoom lens. The f stop on this camera ranges from 1.8 to 3.4 f stops, and it’s a 4.3 -516 mm lens. It also features a 6 megapixel Exmor-R CMOS sensor.

The camera comes with 32 Gigabytes of internal memory but doesn’t have a SD expansion slot. This means that if you fill up your memory, your only recourse is to purchase a Sony’s proprietary Memory Stick, which isn’t as convenient as the SD card.

The camcorder comes with the Sony 5.1-channel microphone. But, the location of the mic at the front of the camcorder means the recording quality isn’t great. And, the accessory shoe is located right beneath the microphone.

This Sony HDR camcorder comes with the Active SteadyShot image stabilization technology. This technology keeps your video from looking noisy even when completely zoomed out.

Features (4 out of 5)

The major standout feature of the HDR CX500V is the ability to obtain the GPS information for your video. The camcorder can geotag both photos and videos, and this is accomplished via the built-in GPS antenna. The GPS information is limited in that you can only see maps of the location. You won’t get detailed information like street names and landmarks. But, you can get a general idea where the photo or video was taken.

You can get more information on the photos, including the metadata, parks and galleries. This information, however, won’t show up on your video files.

The image quality is quite sharp, especially in good lighting conditions. It doesn’t look very distorted even in low-light situations. Certain objects like animal fur will, however, look soft if you are not completely zoomed in on the object.

Generally, the exposure and focus works very well. It suffers a little bit when using the automatic exposure. But, overall the camcorder produces great video even in low-light situations. You may do better using the manual over the auto focus. It works OK, but it does easily mix up background and foreground images.

The camcorder does have some pretty amazing features. The Face Touch option automatically detects faces and keeps them in focus. The Smooth Slow Record option allows you to record slow-motion video.

Overall Value (4 out of 5)

Overall, the Sony HDR CX500V comes with a lot of amazing features. The image quality is quite good, and you can have a lot of fun with the geotagging option. The body is comfortable, but you may be disappointed with the location of some of the controls.

Another issue is that it doesn’t support SD cards, which can be problem for some consumers. And, you will need an external microphone, which is the case with many camcorders. This Sony, however, is a great mid-range camcorder, and it’s offered at a fairly reasonable price.


Grunin, Lori. “Sony HDR-CX500V”.