Let's face it. The days of bulky video cameras for casual users are beginning to fade into oblivion, which is a really good thing, especially when everything's going the way of portability and mobility now. We've had our fair share of the smaller, lighter, and, not to mention, better-looking video cameras, and now, another member of the new breed has landed in our test lab, the Sony DCR-SX43. It looks good, feels good, but is it any "good"? Let's see.
Looks and feel
The DCR-SX43 model we got is a blazing-red beauty, something that fashionistas would like to get their hands on. If you prefer the macho look, however, be grateful that the model also comes in silver (see above) and black.
This Sony video camera feels light to the touch and is small enough to fit in your jeans' pocket, though it won't get the featherweight title from the Samsung SMX-C20 in terms of size.
There are no "clickety-clackety" noises and rickety feel that cheaper camcorders of similar size have. It also has a smooth and glossy facade that screams elegance. But be sure to keep your sweaty hands dry because it's a fingerprint magnet.
You don't need to be a professional videographer to play around with the DCR-SX43; it's user-friendly. The physical buttons are all laid out in a way that you won't get lost in figuring out which is for which. However, most of the menu controls are found on the camera's responsive touch screen. As for the physical controls, menu options on the display are intuitively arranged, and it only takes a few taps to change a setting or access an option.
However, we don't particularly like the small menu icons on the screen. Worse, they are placed near each other, something that may upset those with fat or large fingers.
Image and video quality
Of course, all the things that we find great so far about the DCR-SX43 will all be for naught if it sucked at the very thing that it is supposed to do. For something that's not targeted for professionals, video quality is really good. Details are sharp and colors are vivid. We especially find the DCR-SX43's performance best in well-lit situations. Oversaturation is not a problem. However, as with many portable videocams, the DCR-SX43's video quality dips with lesser light. Noise starts to appear in low-light situations, though the built-in video light certainly helps somehow in these circumstances.
One of the things that got us giddy about the DCR-SX43 is its outrageously generous 60x optical zoom. Yep, that's 60x optical zoom, which means even subjects that are quite far still come out fine in clips. Be careful not to max out the zoom, though; the stability of the video will become a huge problem. Unless, of course, you bring your own tripod.
Also, the zoom function isn't the fastest we've seen.
As for stills, we didn't expect much from the Sony DCR-SX43. For one, it isn't a digital camera; taking pictures isn't its bread and butter, especially since it can only manage VGA photo quality. That's not even a megapixel of image resolution, so you better look away if you want a video camera that can double as a good stills shooter.
Take note that this Sony can only manage to shoot in standard definition, so that's the trade-off you're getting for an affordable – P23,000 affordable – videocam like this one.
Memory and battery life
We managed to juice out more than 2 hours of recording from the DCR-SX43. A decent number of hours, if you ask us. But we're disappointed that there's no default internal memory and that a memory card is a must if you want to enjoy the DCR-SX43's capabilities.
For sure, the Sony DCR-SX43 has its own set of flaws. However, when it comes to doing the thing it is intended to do, we are pleasantly satisfied with its performance, given its target market. Add to the mix its good looks and other extras, and you've got a gadget that may be well worth your hard-earned money.
Click here to view the Sony DCR-SX43 in the Buyer's Guide.