Skip to main content
  • Introduction

  • Video Review

  • Design & Usability

  • Features

  • Performance

  • Conclusion

  • Science Introduction

  • Low Light Capabilities

  • Motion and Image Stabilization

  • Noise

Introduction

Sony isn’t just giving the HDR-PJ710V away for free, so you have to decide if the better performance is worth the cash. With an initial launch price of $1299 (too high), the camcorder has since dropped to $1099 on Sony’s website. This puts it in roughly the same price range as the Canon HF G10, and it's just a bit more expensive than the Panasonic HC-X900M. If you have even more cash to blow, Sony does offer a step-up HDR-PJ760V Handycam for $1599. The PJ760V has three times as much internal memory (96GB) and includes an electronic viewfinder—otherwise it’s the same as the HDR-PJ710V.

Video Review

Design & Usability

Larger than your average consumer camcorder, the PJ710V's extra size gives it a more professional look.

The wobbly noise you can hear when you shake the camcorder is normal.

A huge chunk of the camcorders on the market these days are small enough to fit in your pocket—heck, some of them are small enough to mount on your bike helmet. The Sony HDR-PJ710V is not one of those camcorders. In fact, it’s one of the bulkiest camcorders I've worked with since last year's Canon HF G10 (ignoring pro models, of course). This extra size does make the PJ710V look more professional, and that should make you feel more like a pro when using it. The most unusual design implementation on the PJ710V is probably the camcorder’s built-in projector, but it’s not like this projector really gets in the way of the overall package. It’s just a little light on the back of the LCD panel, and it's easy to ignore if you have no use for it. The camcorder also has a strange lens wobble thanks to Sony’s new optical image SteadyShot feature. When you turn the PJ710V on, you may notice the lens snapping to attention like a robot that’s tuned-in on your face. It’s kinda creepy, but also kind of cool, and the stabilization performance from the camcorder was downright amazing. Just remember that the wobbly noise you can hear when you shake the camcorder is normal.

The user interface on the HDR-PJ710V is excellent in most aspects. The auto controls are easy to use and there are a bunch of simple features you can play around with. Our only issue is that the dedicated auto mode isn’t all that front-and-center; it should be easier to locate. The manual controls are just as extensive on the camcorder, although some pros may be miffed by the lack of a true manual mode that allows you to set every control independently from one another. That minor gripe aside, the camcorder functions very well with its control dial and better-than-average touchscreen.

Features

Plenty of record modes, good manual control options, and all the important connectivity features

In the end, Sony has all the really important bases covered.

Sony loaded the HDR-PJ710V with tons of features. Many are useful, like the traditional exposure controls and professional peaking and zebra pattern options, but some are silly or limited, like smile shutter and smooth slow record. Others, like the built-in projector, GPS, and Nightshot, fall somewhere in the middle. They have their uses, but they aren’t necessary for the average consumer. In the end, Sony has all the really important bases covered. The HDR-PJ710V has a bunch of record modes and quality options, and it has the necessary manual functions for you to take full control over your video production.

Performance

Sony pulled off some big improvements to low light performance compared to last year's flagship Handycams.

Honestly, I didn't expect Sony to make much of an improvement to the performance of the HDR-PJ710V. But the camcorder surely is improved over last year's models, and nearly all of the improvements resulted in enhanced low light performance. The HDR-PJ710V showed less noise, stronger colors, and a far better low light sensitivity than last year’s HDR-CX700V, effectively turning one of the CX700V's weaknesses into one of the PJ710V's greatest strengths.

Conclusion

This not-quite flagship Handycam is just as good than Sony's top models—and cheaper, too.

The HDR-PJ710V churned out one of the best low light performances seen so far this year, essentially turning last year’s biggest weakness into one of this year’s greatest strengths. The new Sony PJ710V not only produces brighter images than last year’s CX700V, but it also showed far less noise and better colors than its predecessor. Sony also improved its SteadyShot image stabilization system, which was another area where last year’s CX700V had some trouble.

The camcorder effortlessly combines automatic functions with a robust set of manual controls in order to appeal to beginners and pros alike.

Sony didn’t mess with the interface or controls on the PJ710 all that much, but they really didn’t need to. The camcorder effortlessly combines automatic functions with a robust set of manual controls in order to appeal to beginners and pros alike, and that’s something Sony is certainly developing a knack for. The camcorder still includes the best features from last year, including 24p and 60p record modes, the ability to record standard def video (in addition to HD), and a physical dial for setting manual controls. There’s also the built-in projector, which may be the PJ710V’s most unique feature. Compared to the improved low light and stabilization performance, however, the built-in projector isn’t that noteworthy. Yeah, it's fun to play around with, but it's certainly not a necessity, which is why the projector-less HDR-CX760V is another Sony option worth looking at.

Science Introduction

The Sony HDR-PJ710V has no major weaknesses in terms of performance. In our tests, colors were accurate and deep, noise was minimal, sharpness and detail were both impressive, and image stabilization was fantastic. The only test where the PJ710V did significantly worse than last year's HDR-CX700V was battery life, where the PJ710V lasted for a bit less than two hours (which is still a decent time). If you're looking for excellent performance, the Sony HDR-PJ710V should please you. And if you want even better quality, then you have to upgrade to a DSLR or a pro camcorder to shoot video.

Low Light Capabilities

The biggest area of improvement for Sony on the HDR-PJ710V compared to its predecessors

Here are some numbers to wrap your head around: the Sony HDR-PJ710V showed 100% improvement in our low light noise and sensitivity tests compared to last year's HDR-CX700V. In sensitivity, the new camcorder needed half as much light to produce a bright enough image than its predecessor. In noise, the PJ710V averaged just 0.5% in low light video—compared to over 1.0% on the HDR-CX700V. Color accuracy and saturation levels also improved, although not quite as much. These improvements aren't anything to sneeze at. Low light numbers like this promote the HDR-PJ710V from a very good camcorder to a great camcorder.

Motion and Image Stabilization

The new Optical SteadyShot feature isn't a gimmick. Neither is Sony's 1080/60p record mode.

If you want to get the best possible quality from the HDR-PJ710V, the camcorder's 1080/60p record mode will do that for you. The mode uses a high bitrate (28Mbps) and a 60p frame rate to capture sharp, smooth video that looks fantastic in all kinds of light. The mode's only flaw is that it's not compatible with many editing systems, so you need to have a workflow solution in place if you're planning on editing 1080/60p footage shot with the PJ170V. Looking for a more cinematic record mode? Sony includes a 1080/24p option on the HDR-PJ710V as well.

Sony's optical SteadyShot system has been reworked for the HDR-PJ710V, and the differences were noticeable in our tests. The camcorder consistently reduced image shake by 85% with SteadyShot engaged, which means you should have no trouble getting good shots even when using full zoom.

Noise

Noise-free images in bright and low light

The HDR-PJ710V's noise levels rarely cracked the 0.5% level in our test, and that's extremely good news if you like clean images. In fact, the camcorder showed the same exact noise levels in our bright light test as it did in our low light test, which means you shouldn't see any noise unless you shoot at very low light levels. Our low light test is shot at 60 lux, roughly equivalent to a dimly-lit bar, and images from that test looked clean as can be.

Meet the tester

Jeremy Stamas

Jeremy Stamas

Managing Editor, Video

@nematode9

Jeremy is the video expert of our imaging team and Reviewed.com's head of video production. Originally from Pennsylvania and upstate NY, he graduated from Bard college with a degree in film and electronic media. He has been living and working in New England since 2005.

See all of Jeremy Stamas's reviews

Checking our work.

Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.

Shoot us an email