I had the opportunity to play with the Sony Handycam PJ710 over the summer. I saw these Sony cameras at CES and was really excited to add this to my video arsenal. This is a camera that is also a video projector. Great for showing off those videos you just took of the kids, the parents or whatever you recorded.
The camera is part of the PJ7xx series. PJ710 and PJ790. The main difference between the two is the PJ790 comes with 96 GB internal flash memory – perfect for a few hours of recording.
I also have the Sony Handycam XR260 – a previous model with internal HD that records up to 24 hours in 1080p.
Advantages of Sony Handycam PJ710
The best advantage was the stabilization system. The balanced optical SteadyShot is a device that will actually stabilize the video by moving the lens. If you shake the camera, the lens stays in place. This makes for better walking shots and even more useable running shots.
I recorded a video without tripod and I was impressed to see the jitter-less result.
The PJ7xx series also adds Carl Zeiss lenses and IRIS to the mix from the 260V. Now, I can adjust Iris, focus, exposure and white balance manually if needed.
The dial in the front makes it easier to manually make changes. Press the button and turn the dial. The shoe on top allows for external light, microphone or even the Wifi adapter to turn your phone into a remote.
Sony has done an awesome job on their camera mics – I recorded B-roll of my band and when listening to the result, ended up using that audio over the other recording I made.
Get the Sony Handycam PJ710 from B&H
Get the Sony Handycam PJ790 from B&H
Disadvantages of Sony Handycam PJ710
The PJ7xx also comes with remote control, so you don’t have to touch the camera for recording or playback. However, the range on the remote was not there. I had to be a couple feet away and had to point the remote at specific areas for response.
The interface of the PJ7xx series is exactly the same of the 260v. Options are too close together and sometimes you fat-finger an option, then have to go back.
The focus option is a lot better, but can still use improvement. When I record, I have to set levels, then walk in front of the camera. I cannot use Auto focus, because at times it will try to re-focus a scene.
Using the internal microphone jack is problematic at times. Just like with the 260v, I cannot use my mixing board for it will buzz on the video. I end up using my Sony UDP-V6 microphone (which is why I bought it) and still have to kill a lot of external sound.
Overall – Sony Handycam PJ7xx
This is a great mid-camera for those podcasters, show creators, small budget cinematographers and more. You can not only get a great shot, but you might be able to use the internal mic for ambient sound.
The PJ790 is preferred since it comes with 96 GB of internal flash memory. The 710 has 32 GB of memory and the card slot can give you hours of interviews or other recordings. Add a long-life battery and you could literally go without plugging in for hours.