Sony Handycam DCR-HC96
Manufacturer: Sony Part number: DCR-HC96
- Bottom Line:
- Excellent video quality, a broad feature set, and decent photos make the Sony Handycam DCR-HC96 an excellent choice for those seeking a compact MiniDV camcorder. Navigating the small touch screen may encourage you to stick with its automatic features, however.
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as of 03/12/2014
CNET editors' review
price range: $1,299.95
- Reviewed by: Denny Atkin
- Edited by: Lori Grunin
- Reviewed on: 03/31/2006
- Released on: 01/19/2006
The good: Sharp, colorful video; compact size; decent photo quality.
The bad: Poor battery life; cumbersome menus poorly matched with the small touch-screen LCD.
The bottom line: Excellent video quality, a broad feature set, and decent photos make the Sony Handycam DCR-HC96 an excellent choice for those seeking a compact MiniDV camcorder. Navigating the small touch screen may encourage you to stick with its automatic features, however.
Very good video quality, lightweight and compact camcorder
by Cyborg_ on July 3, 2006
Pros: Video quality, compact size, decent battery life
Cons: Very sensitive zoom button, indecisive auto focusing in low light conditions
Summary: Very good camcorder for amateurs interested in shooting high quality video using the default settings of the camcorder. The audio and video quality of this camcorder stands out, offering balanced ...
Summary: Very good camcorder for amateurs interested in shooting high quality video using the default settings of the camcorder. The audio and video quality of this camcorder stands out, offering balanced colour rendering, vivid colours, very good detail in a wide range of lighting conditions and good capturing of sounds both indoors and outdoors. The video quality remained very good even in cases of abrupt light transitions (e.g. shooting from outdoor to indoor) but showed some "noise" under poorly lit conditions (e.g. shady indoors with indirect light at dawn). The HC96 exports .avi video files that do not require decompression for editing. The results I got after editing a 30-minute footage with Pinnacle Studio, adding transitions and other digital effects were very satisfactory.
On the other hand, the HC96 seemed slow or indecisive in auto focusing under low lighting (i.e. indoors in late afternoon light) and in some cases when panning quickly across objects lying in varying distances from the camcorder.
Also, you may need some practice before managing to control the zoom button well, as it is very sensitive and tends to zoom rather fast. The touch-screen menus are functional once you familiarize yourself with the menu tree or decide to customize the menus to your preference. Battery life with the supplied battery (NP-FP50)is decent and lasts just over an hour (65 min) if shooting using only the viewfinder.
Although this camcorder is less noisy that previous high-end Sony camcorders (PC-350 or PC-1000), the motor noise is still present as a medium-pitch hum. However, I did not notice his noise to be captured by the microphone.
The quality of still pictures is agreeable, but I would think of still pictures as a secondary feature of a camcorder, that should be judged primarily by the quality of its video performance.
10 out of 10 users found this user opinion helpful.
What's not to like?
by letitgosouth on March 24, 2006
Pros: Small, easy to use, great video and great pictures
Cons: Somewhat grainy in low light.
Summary: This camera is amazing for the mom or dad who needs a high quality video camera that can capture the moments of your life in vivid color. The optics are ...
Summary: This camera is amazing for the mom or dad who needs a high quality video camera that can capture the moments of your life in vivid color. The optics are great and the still camera takes very crisp pictures. This camera is so easy to use and has great features for more experienced video folk. With fire wire on your computer the transfer is fantistic. You can convert you old 8mm tapes by connecting to the camera then running the fire wire from the camera to the computer. Top rate product that is simply a blast to use (I love the night vision). The indoor low light shooting leaves a little more to be desired, but with that said it is still better than my old Sony 8mm. The normal light shooting and outdoor is simply amazing. The colors are brilliant and crisp. Make sure you get the filter set (UV,Polorized and Florescent). These are a simple must have. The UV filter screws on the lense of the camera and you just leave it on. If you scratch it just by a new one (rather than have it permanently scratched on the camera). The other filters simply screw on right on top of it, so it is very simple. I love the burst rate of the photo camera function. It bursts about 10 pictures in one second. For the money ($800, included regular battery, FP70 long life battery, 3 lense kit shipping and tax)this camera is simply a fantastic buy.
8 out of 8 users found this user opinion helpful.
Good Little Camcorder!
by annhebert on March 24, 2006
Pros: Size, Alot of Features & Assesories
Cons: The extra Lens I purchased blocks the flash.
Summary: I love Sony Handycams. I bought my 1st 1 when I was 16 and partied hard with it. It has yet to brake down almost 15 years later. I wanted ...
Summary: I love Sony Handycams. I bought my 1st 1 when I was 16 and partied hard with it. It has yet to brake down almost 15 years later. I wanted something smaller a few years ago and got a JVC it broke at Disney World after I dropped it. It was not a hard fall at all so it surpised me. So this time I saved my money and got the DCR-HC96 bundled with all the extras from eBay with the sony warranty & shipping for under $900. I'm talking Lens, filters, Memory Stick, car/rapid charger, extra long play battery, bag & alot more. The Lens ring size is 30mm so all the lens and filters also work on my Sony DSC-P93A Cyber-Shot. So I was ready to go and it was Mardi Gras so it gave it a work out. This little Camcorder is awesome I have 3 kids so I want to get everything on film, something well built and not have to lug arround both a camera & camcorder. I'm also a computer geek/shutterbug so I wanted the techie side to be pretty advanced. So this was perfect. Well I love the dock feature. It makes it so easy to upload my video & photos. Plus anytime I need it, it's ready to just grab and go. I love the nightvision. The battery charge checker is awesome you don't even have to power it up to see your results. It's so easy to use my 9yr old was running with in minutes. We really get a kick out of the D. Effect we spent hours just acting goofy watching ourselves on the display.
Here's a few minor problems. My telephoto and wideangle lens block the flash in very low lighting. But with the wide screen option you can get a regular sized photo out of it. The extra battery i got from merkury designed to replace the NP90 isn't compatiable but the power 2000 replacement NP70 one is. The tranfer video quailty from tape to pc through the supplied USB is not as good as I would expect. But they do offer a iLink cable that they say will bring up the quailty. Because of the low tranfer quailty & the fact you only can record low quailty video to the memory stick I only gave it a 9.Updated
Well after 10 months of use, a few family trips & lots of fun, I stand firm in in my first reveiw. I would like to admit I do get size envy when I see those smaller DVD types. I did some traveling since my last review & I had it right by my side the whole time. The only problem I ran into was in Jamaica, I put it in my dive bag and it got really humid & the water built up in it. (I learned my lesson I do need those Anti-Humidity Packs.) Plus it took a really hard hit. I thought it was a dead for sure, I was really mad at myself & it was useless the rest of the trip. But it dried out a week later & works as good as new and that's why I still love Handycams.
7 out of 7 users found this user opinion helpful.
Best MiniDV camcorder for its price
by zibistor on January 30, 2007
Pros: Supreme audio and video quality (seeing its size) , compact , cool features , wireless(irDa) and great customizability with loads of options
Cons: Battery life (can be fixed)
Summary: First of all, if any of you are getting lured by Panasonic's 3CCD camcorders, let me tell you (I've used Panasonic NV-GS180) , it hardly makes a difference. It ...
Summary: First of all, if any of you are getting lured by Panasonic's 3CCD camcorders, let me tell you (I've used Panasonic NV-GS180) , it hardly makes a difference. It just makes your colours a bit more vivid , which you can do with the vivid colour setting in the HC96.
As for the clustered menu, let me tell you that it is fully costumizable and spending 15 minutes fixing it will do the trick.
Bottom line : perfect for a camcorder geek
5 out of 5 users found this user opinion helpful.
by generalpdw on July 30, 2006
Pros: (Not enough room to list everything. Awesome camcorder!)
Cons: Can't seem to get it to be a webcam with Yahoo Messenger, Sony support of no help with that issue (and a little slow), don't like having to use docking station for certain functions
Summary: Dispite the comment in the "Cons" section, the camera itself has NO problems. Only Pros!
Great zoom, great touch-screen LCD, nice docking station even though annoying to use at times, ...
Summary: Dispite the comment in the "Cons" section, the camera itself has NO problems. Only Pros!
Great zoom, great touch-screen LCD, nice docking station even though annoying to use at times, nice to have a place to add a better mic or flash/light, light, small, every control is within reach when it's on your hand, attractive styling and great manual.
I wish it had a built-in light and that the flash bulb was positioned differently, but I can change that later with a combo unit on top. (but I'm just a little picky at times)
I looked for 2 months through the Panasonics, JVCs, Canons, and other top brands. This was the best for the money. The stabalization is amazing too. And it has awesome low-light and nightshot options.
There are just so many good things to say about it that I could go on forever. If you buy it and don't like it, then you either don't know how to use it, or you just want something more expensive. It's the best camcorder made for the money!
5 out of 5 users found this user opinion helpful.
High Quality Combined With Real Convenience
by pastorjep on January 27, 2007
Pros: Video quality, ergonomic compact design, good stills
Cons: Need to buy better battery, real mastery of all features and functions takes time
Summary: We've now used the camera for about a year. Including on trips to Niagra Falls and a three month stay in India. We've shots many hours of video ...
Summary: We've now used the camera for about a year. Including on trips to Niagra Falls and a three month stay in India. We've shots many hours of video and some 800 stills. For such, it is a wonderful companion. You'll realize that, especially on long trips with lots of walking around and touring, compact size is much appreciated. And indeed, this camera is ergonomically sound. But more importantly, it gives you the high quality video (including better than average stills) that you paid for. That's been our experience. I would only suggest doing the two things we did. Firstly, instead of buying the camera from those retailers listed at this website, choose a reputable seller from EBay. That way, you can get a number of helpful accessories, along with your camera (making it so much more usable and fun), for about what the camera itself will cost you in any of these stores. And believe me, you will eventually want a good case, telephoto and wide angle lens, more memory, and a tripod. If not, it will simply be because you don't know what you are missing! Unfortunately, you will also need a better, longer-lasting battery than the one provided. Since it lasts less than an hour. Here, EBay can also be a help in getting a good deal. And secondly, we'd recommend getting some practice in, experimenting with the camera, getting used to it, before heading out on that important trip. Happy shooting!
4 out of 4 users found this user opinion helpful.
Good video quality, confusing menu, difficult to use with computer
by kumyster on July 13, 2006
Pros: Good video quality, lightweight, compact size
Cons: average design, confusing menu, user help guide for computer interface near useless
Summary: I am satisfied with the camcorder overall. Although learning to download videos onto your computer and transferring still images off the memory stick to the computer is confusing. I would ...
Summary: I am satisfied with the camcorder overall. Although learning to download videos onto your computer and transferring still images off the memory stick to the computer is confusing. I would recommend this product. Just be patient initially with learning how to use this product.
4 out of 4 users found this user opinion helpful.
good camcorder as regard image quality but I expect more compared with the price
by samehfarouk on January 11, 2007
Pros: Good image quality & resolution of video & still photo, small compact size
Cons: Poor battery life , difficult with computer,also the auto focus is slow in dim light .
Summary: When I choose the handycam I decide to buy the best image quality which is still better in mini DV camcorders , I choose also high mega pixels for better resolution , ...
Summary: When I choose the handycam I decide to buy the best image quality which is still better in mini DV camcorders , I choose also high mega pixels for better resolution , when I brought it I found it is good as regard image quality & resolution however , I was expecting more with high quality Sony Handycam & I have some comment about weak points including poor battery life , Difficult to manipulate with computer, the zoom button is very sensitive that make it difficult to control & also the auto focus is slow in dim light .
3 out of 3 users found this user opinion helpful.
love my camcorder
by mzkink on March 30, 2007
Pros: excellent video and picture quality
Cons: cheesy software
Summary: I'm very glad I finally decided on the HC-96. The video quality is excellent, and the photos are very good too! Its small and lightweight, and despite what cnet'...
Summary: I'm very glad I finally decided on the HC-96. The video quality is excellent, and the photos are very good too! Its small and lightweight, and despite what cnet's review said, I didnt have a problem with the menu on the screen.
The software that comes with the camcorder is really cheesy. I am normally REALLY good at reading, understanding, and implementing instructions, but I had a heck of a time with their software. I think most people will want to transfer videos and pics to their PC but the instructions to do that barely exist.
But over all, I am VERY happy with the camera. An added note, I bought mine through Dell.com. They had a very reasonable price, and I know they can be trusted.
2 out of 2 users found this user opinion helpful.
Sony Has Made and AMAZING Mini DV Camcorder!
by 9allenw9 on June 30, 2006
Pros: LCD, SIZE, DESIGN, VIDEO QUALITY, LOWLIGHT PERFORMANCE, WIDE SCREEN, OVERALL PERFORMANCE AMAZING!
Cons: Feals a little plasticy but still nice design
Summary: Sony has created an AMAZING Mini DV camcorder and i think it is truly wonderful and the best thing of course is it's OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD vdieo quality. It looks awesome ...
Summary: Sony has created an AMAZING Mini DV camcorder and i think it is truly wonderful and the best thing of course is it's OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD vdieo quality. It looks awesome on my HDTV and i make movies and have my own video and DVd service and this camcorder is amazing and realy trust worthy and it's wide screen is great! And it's touch screen LCD is so high tech! AN this camcorer is loaded with extra features! And it's also an AMAZING vacation and family camcorder. VERY easy to use thanks to the easy button. And availible now $550-650, it's an aming deal you won't be dissapointed with!
3 out of 5 users found this user opinion helpful.
- Manufacturer: Sony
- Part number: DCR-HC96
- Description: This small, compact device houses incredibly powerful performance features. A whopping 3.0 Megapixel Imager combined with a Primary Color Filter captures brilliant detail in both still and video recordings. The DCR-HC96 MiniDV Handycam camcorder also makes monitoring and playback more pleasurable and user-friendly with its 2.7" widescreen LCD Touch Panel display. Difficult lighting conditions are no longer an issue with a Built-in Flash for recording the most challenging images in vivid detail and color. And sharing your creations is more versatile than ever with Memory Stick Duo compatibility and an Active Shoe Interface for connecting even more accessories.
- Packaged Quantity 1
- Product Type Camcorder
- Camcorder Sensor Resolution 3.3 megapixels
- Effective Video Resolution 2.1 megapixels
- Digital Zoom 120 x
- Effective Photo Resolution 3 megapixels
- Effective Sensor Resolution 2.05 megapixels
- Total Pixels 3.31 megapixels
- Progressive scan Yes
- Camcorder Media Type Mini DV
- Optical Sensor Size 1/3"
- Optical Sensor Type Advanced HAD CCD
- Min Illumination 0 lux
- Analog video format NTSC
- Special Effects Luminance Key,
- Image Stabilizer Electronic (Super Steady Shot)
- Video head qty 2
- Digital Scene Transition White fader,
- Min Shutter Speed 1/4 sec
- Max Shutter Speed 1/4000 sec
- Shooting modes Digital photo mode
- Shooting Programs Sunset & moon,
Beach & ski,
- White Balance Automatic,
- White Balance Presets Outdoor,
- Exposure Modes Program,
- Camera Flash Built-in
- Image Recording Format JPEG
- Widescreen Video Capture Yes
- AV Interfaces Composite video
- Type Carl Zeiss 10 x x Zoom lens - 5.1 mm - 51 mm - F/1.8-2.9
- Lens aperture F/1.8-2.9
- Optical Zoom 10 x
- Lens system type Zoom lens
- Min focal length 5.1 mm
- Max focal length 51 mm
- Auto Focus TTL contrast detection
- Filter Size 30 mm
- Focal Length Equivalent to 35mm Camera 45 - 450 mm
- Focus Adjustment Manual,
- Zoom Adjustment Motorized drive
- Low Lux / Night Mode Yes
- DV input Yes
- Additional Features Progressive shutter system,
Analog to digital conversion with pass through,
Accessories hot shoe ,
- Analog to digital conversion Yes
- Remote control Remote control - Infrared
- Software Sony Picture Package,
Drivers & Utilities
- Included Accessories Lens cap,
IR remote control,
Audio / video cable
- Viewfinder Type Electronic
- Viewfinder Resolution 123,000 pixels
- Type 2.7 in LCD display
- Connector Type 1 x Microphone,
1 x Composite video/audio (input/output),
1 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire/i.LINK),
1 x USB,
1 x Control-L (LANC),
1 x DC power input
Memory / Storage
- Media type Mini DV
- Memory Card Slot Memory Stick Duo card
- Image Storage JPEG 2016 x 1512
- Video Recording Modes LP,
System Requirements for PC Connection
- Operating System Support MS Windows ME,
MS Windows XP,
MS Windows 2000
- Supported Battery Sony NP-FP50
- Supported Battery 1 x Li-ion rechargeable battery ( Included )
- Audio input type Microphone
- Microphone type Built-in
- Service & Support 1 year warranty
- Service & Support Details Limited warranty - 1 year
- Min Operating Temperature 32 °F
- Max Operating Temperature 104 °F
- Battery type - Lithium ion
Viewfinder / Display
- Display Features Rotating
- Resolution 123,000 pixels
- Viewfinder Color Support Color
Expansion / Connectivity
- Wireless connectivity Yes (IrDA)
- Width 2.8 in
- Depth 4.7 in
- Height 3.6 in
- Weight 1.1 lbs
- Sony LCE X3TH - case for camcorder (34881135)344.95
- Sony SPK HCH - marine case for camcorder (35266605)299.00 - 299.99
- Porta-Brace Rain Slicker RS-55 - rain jacket for camcorder (31059775)239.84 - 242.17
- Canon HC 4100 - hard case for camcorder (30584700)239.95 - 256.30
- JVC KA-551U tripod adapter (32090695)295.00
- KATA PRO Video Collection CCC-10-A - carrying bag for camcorder (34400943)325.00
- KATA PRO Video Collection CCC-1A - case for camcorder (34931653)299.00
- Panasonic AG-HT30G - hard case for camcorder (30964047)270.34
- Portabrace P2HD-EFP-BAG - carrying bag for camcorder (34529516)351.95
- Sony LC-ZA1TH Hard Thermodyne Transit Case - hard case for camcorder (32464209)209.00 - 214.95