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If you want an SD Card for your camera - these are the ones I use and recommend. 

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A lot of HD cameras will not work properly with cards larger than 32GB (cards over 32GB are usually SDXC rather than the SDHC standard used by 32GB cards. SDXC cards use the ex-FAT system rather than FAT32 - in short they are a different standard). - so don't just buy the biggest card you can afford - read the specs in the manual to see what it accepts.

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SPECIAL DASHCAM CARDS

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VERY IMPORTANT. These links take you to the product, however Amazon have three different ways of selling. There's Amazon Direct - This means that you are only dealing with Amazon themselves, then there's other sellers that use Amazon's facilities - these show as Fulfilled By Amazon and finally there's Market Place sellers that advertise on Amazon, but operate independently.  I strongly recommend that you only use the first...the Amazon Direct - Sold By Amazon option. Even if it appears that you are paying a couple of £/$ more it is more than likely you are comparing the price of a real item against the price of a fake.

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« Budget Wireless HDMI Transmission - does it work? | Main | The 1080p Jumbo Camera »
Thursday
Mar012012

My next camcorder - The Sony HDR-GW55VE

HDR-GW55VE in SilverMy favourite camcorder from all the models that I've owned up till now is the Sony HDR-TG3 (aka the TG1 in the US & Japan) it came out in 2008 and I bought one pretty much the first day it was available. It's a 1080i50 premium quality pocket camcorder.2009's HDR-TG7

The next year, Sony brought out the HDR-TG7 (TG5 in the US and Japan). The upgrades were a Capacitive touch screen rather than the Resistive model of the TG3 and a new on-screen interface, GPS Photo and Video tagging and a slightly redesigned case. Strangely the camera downgraded its 5.1 sound to stereo during the upgrade. I stuck with my TG3, and thought I'd wait for the next year's model instead, hoping for a 1080p upgrade. However 2010 came and went as did 2011, both without an update. The TG7 was subsequently discontinued and I really thought that I had seen the last in the line of these upmarket Sony pocket camcorders. Perhaps, I guessed, that Sony assumed that as now people were recording video with their SLRs, compact cameras, smartphones or their bloggie range, there was no need for a camera like this.

Finally, last month I finally decided I couldn't wait any longer and bought a Sony HX100V superzoom. I needed a camcorder/camera that utilised 2011 rather than 2008 technology. A much wider angle lens, significantly better low light capability, GPS, AVCHD 50p, plus features like sweep panorama and a tilting screen all meant that this camera was the best replacement I could find. After using it for a while I began to wish that Sony had tried to find some way of incorporating this technology into their pocket-friendly TG style case. HDR-GW55VE in Black

Well to my surprise, the 1st March 2012 brought a long overdue and unexpected update. The catchily named HDR-GW55VE. Sony are touting the 5m water resistance as the headline feature of this camera, but to me the big features are all from my wishlist. 1080p 50 AVCHD video at 28Mbps, a wider angle 29.8-298mm lens and 20.4MP stills. Take that last spec with a pinch of salt it's only a 5MP sensor - albeit still a big step up from the old 2MP sensor. Most importantly to me though is the fact that its all still in that gorgeous pocketable case, with the vertical orientation that I insist on in all my camcorders (I explain why this is important at the start of this old video).

So thank you Sony for making my next camcorder, I was beginning to think that you'd forgotten about me.

Update 26 April 2012 It's going to be called the HDR-GW77V in Japan.

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Reader Comments (31)

Hey Techmoan
How r u? this Sony HDR-GW55VE camcorder seem really good. what is its price? and plz reply my e-mails about HD808#11 cam.
thanx & bye

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnees Ahmad

Just one question, being a Sony product, do you really own it?!

Question based on the fact that, according to Sony, no one owns their PS3 consoles, it's just loaned to them as part of a license to use the firmware and software, you just happen to get to keep it after the end of the warranty period, kindda like a router.

Sony makes good products, but they way they treated their gaming customers I suggest people boycott Sony!

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbigo93

I can't wait for a video review about your new cam ;-). I am looking forward ..
Best Regards.

March 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBlub

low light video will be terrible - not sure it will be a wise move - try n play with one before u buy

March 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermatt

I was wondering if you could a review between the Sony HX100V vs Sony HDR CX-260V or HDR-CX250E, just curious the difference in video. As one is primary camera and other is primary camcorder. Both camera use a different imaging sensor. Thanks in advance.

March 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSamual

@Samual. That's something that I would have been interested to see as well. Unfortunately I don't have access to those other camcorder models, and I usually only get to review things that I buy (unless Sony is reading this, then please get in touch).

March 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hi Techmoan thanks for your reviews, I to like the tilt swivel LCDs, I have a HDR-TG3, prior to that I had (still have) the pentax Optio 750z with a even better tilt swivel lcd arrangement in that it will angle sideways as well, but the technology is now dated.
I bought a new Sony Cyber-shot DSCHX9VB after seeing the incredible spec 16x optical zoom and 16 megapixals! but with a fixed LCD screen I just thought I'd try and see if I can use it but as I suspected I don't like it, plus the screen is very hard to see in bright sunny conditions.
But how do sony get away with saying the GW55VE has a 20.4MP stills capability when as you say the sensor is only 5MP surely thats a con trying to mislead buyers, is it not covered by the trade descriptions act?

March 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

@Jeff. The tilt screen is the reason I went for the Sony HX100v over the HX9V - that and the fact that it could use my spare batteries from the TG3. Other positives for studio work are that I can power and record at the same time whilst mounting it on a tripod. I believe that this isn't possible on the HX9V due to the power socket being too close to the tripod hole.
In case you don't already know - Binary Cafe's youtube channel is a great place to see everything about these cameras


Whilst the HX100V is ok for studio work, and it allows me to take stills and video on the same camera, it's still lacking some user friendly features when compared to the TG3 - I miss the touch screen and the ability to easily lock the exposure by tapping on the screen. The HX100v doesn't let me alter the exposure for videos - it's auto only, and as you'll see from my last couple of videos tends to underexpose black electronics when shot against my white photography table.

So I'm still very interested in the GW55VE - but based on previous experience, I'm probably going to wait for a couple of months after it comes out for the price to settle down to a sensible level.

March 31, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hi thanks for that link to binary cafe, the HX100v now 200v they talk about is an impressive piece of kit, spec wise, but not exactly pocketable.
Do you not find the bulkiness puts you off carrying it about with you after awhile?

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

Jeff...it's not as bulky as I thought., but it's very rarely left the house so far. I haven't been lucky, rich or well enough to go on holiday since I got the camera, so I haven't really field tested it. I've never been an SLR user, and I prefer a camera that can slip inside my pocket. I think I'll keep the HX100v for studio work and get the GW55VE just before I go on my next holiday, whenever that is.

April 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Yes I prefer the slip in the pocket camera size also, if the HX9V had a tilt and swivel screen and as you say a re-positioned power socket, it would be (dare I say it) "perfect" for me.
I've searched the web but can't find anything from any manufacturer to match that wish list!

April 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

Here's my question (and I should say that, like you, I want a small pocketable camera that I can always have with me): should I get this new little Sony GW55VE, or the equally small Canon S100? Both shoot 1080p. The Canon isn't specifically a video camera, but it's designed to shoot video easily (little 'record' button, just for videos); it also has manual controls for focus, exposure, etc.!
The other big plus, for me (I'm an editor, and Avid, which is what I use, is very slow to import AVCHD), is that the Canon S100 records video as H264. Now that may be a version of AVCHD, or something (I get confused with wrappers and codecs, etc.), but I tested it out the other day and Avid seems to import this H264 stuff pretty quickly, whereas any true AVCHD camera I've owned causes huge slowdowns when I'm importing footage.
Any comments or observations about these two cameras? I like the swivel screen on the small Sony (which the Canon S100 doesn't have, and I like the fact that the Sony is waterproof... but so far, for me, the ease-of-use of the H264 makes the Canon more enticing.
I would love to hear what others have to say.
Regards, malch

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermalch

@Malch To me, the reason I like the idea of this camera is almost entirely down to it's ergonomics. As I elaborated on in the video linked to in the post, my personal preference has always been towards single handed pistol grip style camcorders with a swivel screen. The Canon S100 is a traditional layout compact camera with a fixed screen. It's very possible that the video quality on the S100 might be better than the Sony, but the feel and design of a camcorder is always the first priority to me. I've never tried to take more than a few seconds of video on a compact camera, and I can't really comment on whether this would suit your needs, but it's not something I like doing.
I understand your reticence to record in AVCHD because of the need to convert the files to something more editor friendly, a process which is both time and memory consuming. Due to this I now choose to shoot in mp4 mode on my Sony HX100V, which restricts it to 1440x1080 30fps, but which makes editing a lot easier. This is a potential stumbling block for the GW55VE .The recording specs list it as: "Ver.2.0 standard compliant MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 AVCHD" but the video seems to either record in 60p (which iMovie doesn't edit) or 60i which would need deinterlacing. If the camera really doesn't have a 30fps mode, I may decide against getting one. I do get the feeling though that it shares a lot in common with my HX100V, so I would expect it to have an MP4 30fps mode.

May 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Techmoan,
Thank you for your thoughtful post. All very good points. And I agree that the ergonomics of the little Sony are better than the Canon S100's. I think for me, though, it's going to come down to the two different file formats they record in. AVCHD is just too much of a pain (even with a good Mac Pro with 24 GB of RAM!), at least for traditional Avid users like me, who don't like and trust AMA.
Anyway... there's no perfect camera, is there. I mean, neither of these cameras has an external mic jack. Would it be that hard to include such a thing?
Best Regards,
malch

May 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermalch

Hi there!

I really like to watch your videos and read xour blog.
I currently own a Sony DSC-HX5, a compact camera with video functionality.
I discovered that I shoot more videos than I actually take still pictures with the camera, so I think I am going
to buy the new Sony GW55VE.
I like that it is waterproof and somewhat shock resistant.

Do you think this is a good first time camera for a novice like me?
Is the still image functionality as good as a pocket camera?

With best regard from Austria
Ernst

June 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErnst

@Ernst. Well I don't have one yet, because it's not out in the UK yet. However I think that it would likely be the ideal video camera for you. A lot of the menus will be familiar to you coming from the HX5 too.

June 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Thank you for your fast reply. I ordered the GW55VE yesterday.
I'll post a sample video as soon as possible.
Ernst

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErnst

I just got my cam. It's really small and light.
It makes MTS files that I'm converting to mp4 via Wondershare Video converter.
I think its gonna be good. It will take a few days to find out.
And also; thank you techmoan for a great site! I want to see you review this cam.

best regards / anton from sweden

June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnton

@ Anton. Unfortunately the camera only came out in the UK this week - whilst I was away on my annual vacation. The next time I would need to use one of these will be next year, so I won't be getting one now. I'll make do with the camera I've already got for creating my yourtube videos.

June 16, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

I received one of these (Jul 30th 2012) and there was *significant* pick up of noise being generated inside the camera. I'm not sure if these have fans (I would have assumed just a heat sink) but filming in quiet locations isn't good at all with the whirring sound going on... Sounds like an old 8mm cine-camera, funilly enough. I thought I had activated some kind of retro sound effect!

I've RMA'd this now and ordered another from a different supplier (to avoid a potential 'bad batch' issue). I'll update this if I find the same problem with the new unit. If so, I'll be reporting it to Sony with my Victor Meldrew head on.

Apart from the 'deal-breaker' fault above, the camcorder is bang-tidy on all fronts. Image quality in both still and movie modes is excellent - crystal clear in fact. Features are very comprehensive, although I'd question the need for GPS... the very first thing I disabled. Only other very minor gripe is that it's very light. Would have preferred a little more weight but image stabilisation more than makes up for it.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark B

Mark B
I am eagerly waiting for your comments on the GW55VE.
Also what is the difference with the GW77VE. One a European version and the other an American version?

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChas C

I still haven't got one. I normally get a new camera before I go on holiday, but I haven't been on holiday since this camera came out. If I see a massive discount I may yet pick one up

October 17, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hiya-did you ever go for this in the end?

January 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCosmic68

I picked up a refurb model a few weeks ago. I haven't really used it enough yet to pass judgement. It is a bit too fiddly to use on anything other than Full Auto. The Photo Mode is as useless as it always has been but the video is much improved over the old TG3/TG7 when it comes to FOV and low-light. I'm not a fan of the zoom lever though.

January 15, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

We had lots of discussions yonks back about settings for deinterlacing TG3 footage. How much did a refurb cost (and where from)? You don't have to answer that.
Cheers.
Cos

January 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCosmic68

Cos, I remember that you were the first to try the TG5 lens on the TG3....

Anyway my Refurb GW55VE cost £289 from the Sony Outlet - it was a bundle pack including the official case. I've only ever seen them for sale here once - but it's worth checking every couple of days to see if they re-appear.

It was under the Camcorders Page - but you had to know what you were looking for to find it. Sony tend to only show pictures for the more common models and presumably they didn't know what category to put the GW55VE into - so they made up a "Camcorder Accessories category" (?) - and my GW55VE was in there on it's own with no picture.

You need to recognise the model number to be able to spot some of these cameras. I got an AS15 the other day - if you look today you'll see that with no picture listed under the 'High Definition Memory Stick' Category with the model number HDRAS15B.CEN.A - you can click the item link for more info though (They only had one in and I nabbed it).

Here is the link to the Sony Outlet.

January 15, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

What a shame about the photo mode. The easiest of things to get right surely? That was my problem with the TG3 too. You dont want to be carrying a second camera. A lot of phones have good enough photos now too.

January 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterchas c

Yes, carrying one device that did both jobs was my goal too, but you'll definitely still need a still camera as well if you want any holiday snaps actually worth looking at.

January 15, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Is the sound recording good/ As good as the TG3?
-Chas

March 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterchas c

did you do a review of this camcorder? I cannot find any video of it.

June 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteraxel

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