Sony Handycam HDR-CX550V
Manufacturer: Sony Part number: HDR-CX550V
- Bottom Line:
- The Sony Handycam HDR-CX550V fares well compared with the competition, though its video could be a bit sharper and the interface less cumbersome. Unless you absolutely need to store a lot of video on the camcorder--which I don't suggest--or if have large hands that could benefit from the extra grip that the hard drive provides, the CX550V is a better deal than its hard-disk-based sibling.
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as of 03/14/2014
CNET editors' review
price range: $1,399.99
- Reviewed by: Lori Grunin
- Reviewed on: 05/26/2010
- Released on: 03/15/2010
The good: Full manual feature set for video; geotagging for video is fun, if not very practical; autofocus system performs very well.
The bad: Annoying menu system; no wind filter or meaningful audio controls; relatively big and heavy; expensive; defaults to low resolution, not-full-HD video quality; cumbersome touch-screen interface.
The bottom line: The Sony Handycam HDR-CX550V fares well compared with the competition, though its video could be a bit sharper and the interface less cumbersome. Unless you absolutely need to store a lot of video on the camcorder--which I don't suggest--or if have large hands that could benefit from the extra grip that the hard drive provides, the CX550V is a better deal than its hard-disk-based sibling.
Not Perfect, but important differentiating features
by AetherL on June 1, 2010
Pros: - Image Stabilization capability is best in class
- Wide(r) angle lens (28mm equivalent) then competitors
- SDHC cards now accepted
- Best in class low-light performance
- 24 MB/sec recording rate now standard for 1080i filming
Cons: - No wind filter, which is frustrating for outdoor use
- Does not include 24p Processing
- Panasonic 700 Camcorder includes Time Lapse Recording, which is neat but not present on the Sony. And yes, the Panasonic TM700 includes a Wind Filter as well.
Summary: No offense to the CNET reviewer, but the quality of this review is very poor and even inaccurate. CNET's camcorder reviews are now significantly lacking, and I strongly recommend ...
Summary: No offense to the CNET reviewer, but the quality of this review is very poor and even inaccurate. CNET's camcorder reviews are now significantly lacking, and I strongly recommend potential buyers read such websites as SlashCam or CamcorderInfo (CCI) for more detailed reviews, and empirical test results. CCI (as is CNET) is incorrect in their low light performance measures, as the test performed was flawed (see User Comments for F-Stop errors), but SlashCam has an accurate review related to Low Light Performance, and the Sony's single chip actually outperforms the 3 chips of even the Panasonic TM-700. Sample images are provided to prove the performance statements, which are given here.
Now to the camcorder: The low-light performance and better image stabilization as well as wide angle lens combination sealed the deal for me after a lengthy research period over this camcorder's main competitor, the Panasonic HDC-TM700. The Panasonic includes 1080p60p recording, and a 3 chip sensor which offers better colour accuracy and sharpness (marginal, and likely indiscernible to 99% of viewers). But the Panasonic's 1080p video will seriously slow down all but the fastest of computers for editing, and the Panasonic version is getting reports of fan noise from the camcorder creeping into the audio mic on the cam when the scene being filmed is quiet.
The Sony cam is not perfect, and I would like to see them add in some of the features now being offered by their competitors, but the image stabilization and low light recording (2 very important performance aspects of a cam) make this the cam to beat in 2010, from my perspective.
8 out of 8 users found this user opinion helpful.
Best overall Camcorder in its class. Most bang for Buck
by hdm1080p on June 16, 2010
Pros: The best Features, ranked in order of what I thought was best for my needs.
1. the wide angle lens (29.8-298mm).
2. large 3.5 inch screen
3. Very good Low Light / IR Night Mode
4. 64 GB Flash Memory
5. EVF at high quality
6. 5.1 Stereo Mic
Cons: Features I wished the Sony had:
1. 8 or 12 Megapixel CMOS instead of the 6 Megapixel. HD still looks amazing though
2. 12x or 15x zoom I like the wide angle more so not a big deal to give up big zooms.
3. No wind screen
4. Dont find GPS useful
Summary: I was looking for a camera that had the most features, for the best price. I ended up looking at Panasonic HDC-TM700, Canon Vixia HF S20 and Sony HDR-CX550V. I ...
Summary: I was looking for a camera that had the most features, for the best price. I ended up looking at Panasonic HDC-TM700, Canon Vixia HF S20 and Sony HDR-CX550V. I actually went to a store that had all 3 models so I could compare.
All were around $1000-1100 in price, but I found the Sony to be the most comfortable, and had the best overall features. The features that sold me on the Sony was the wide angle lens (29.8-298mm), the good low light/night shot IR mode, 3.5 inch screen, 64 GB Flash memory, EVF, and Comfort in my hand.
The Canon has a 43-435mm zoom, not wide enough for my taste, but good zoom for distance. Anything beyond 200mm does not interest me as I am rarely that far away to make that matter.
Touch Screen / EVF
The large 3.5 inch screen was amazing, sharp and easy to use for my fat fingers, compared to the Panasonic and Canon. Panasonic being the worst of the 3 for size, and the Canon touch screen was hard to use I thought.
EVF is a must, Panasonic had it but the Sony looked sharper and cleaner. Canon only has it on the S21 model for $300 more
I tested the low light option by having the sales guy take all 3 cameras into a back stock room and shut off the lights, then recorded some footage, then turned on my cell phone as a low light source in the room, and shot some more footage. The Sony did the best overall with this test. Sharp clear well lit images compared to the other two, but the Panasonic did a decent job as well.
Autofocus was great on the Sony, and image stabilization worked better than I expected.
I cannot speak to the quality of the pictures from the Canon/Panasonic on my home TV, but on a 42" HDTV the Sony playback looks amazing. Sharp, clean, and clear.
I also liked the 5.1 audio, which the Panasonic had, but Canon did not. Outside the Sony does pickup wind if it is a particularly windy day (20+mph winds) The Panasonic seems to have a wind screen feature that the Sony Lacks.
Optical SteadyShot image stabilization w/ Active Mode
64GB on the Sony, 32 on the Panasonic and 32 for Canon unless you go with the HF S21 but that model is $300 more, and not worth that price for only 32 more GB and nothing else that I could see.
All of them take still photos while recording, which is also nice.
To re-cap, I went with the Sony cx550V because in every category that I could see, Sony tied or exceeded the other camcorders in the same price range. And my number one feature was the extra wide angle lens and built in light and night mode ability. For me these are most important. 64GB is more than enough, but I have a 8gb backup chip in the camcorder. It was the most comfortable in my hand as well, and feels like a solid camera. Hope this review helps you out, as you will not be disappointed with the Sony CX550V if you have ~$1100 or so to spend.
4 out of 4 users found this user opinion helpful.
Not the best for recording sports
by r975video on October 28, 2010
Pros: Good customer support from Sony, large screen, plenty of flash memory.
Cons: Viewfinder could be a little larger and with rubber cups versus hard plastic, intellifocus and image stabilizer works but not suitable for action sports, video software is very limited in what it can do. Factory battery lasts less than an hour.
Summary: I am very disappointed in this camera's ability to record action sports. Tried using both viewfinder and screen to track the action. Tried using all three image stabilzer settings, ...
Summary: I am very disappointed in this camera's ability to record action sports. Tried using both viewfinder and screen to track the action. Tried using all three image stabilzer settings, using monopod and tripod. The software is very limited in what it can do compared to off the shelf software video software. Contacted customer support and they were helpful but acknowledged software cannot do many things I was wanting to do with video clips.Just got done reviewing 16 hours of game footage to put together a collection of video clips for the team. Converted the AVCHD video clips to high quality DVD and I was surprised at the poor quality of the DVD when played on my 1080 HDTV. Called customer support and they acknowledged that the conversion process degrades the quality of the video and the larger the screen, the grainer the picture will be. Should have a bought a Canon.
Updated on Nov 9, 2010
2 out of 2 users found this user opinion helpful.
Not bad but not great.
by swingweb2 on April 1, 2012
Pros: Wide lens. Touchscreen easy to use. Viewfinder nice to have. Image stabilization top notch. Compact size and weight.
Cons: Lens cover mechanism. Image quality when played back on HDTV not as great as expected. Windcutter helped with wind noise reduction. Occasional infamous blue dot problem. Photos- eh. PMB software limitations. Could use lens hood accessory.
Fantastic Video and Audio Quality
by lhauch on April 28, 2011
Pros: Excellent automatic white balance - colour is actually better than real life when shooting under incandescent lights. The zoom microphone works well - no need for a shotgun mic to pickup speakers over 50' away.
Cons: PBM software isn't great. It takes a long time to download the images to the computer - would have been better to have USB 3.0 connections. When shooting spinning objects, you have to remember to switch to manual focus mode.
Summary: I have used camcorder for capturing demonstrations at woodturning symposiums, and with the extra capacity battery (that actually fits better than the supplied one) I was able to record over ...
Summary: I have used camcorder for capturing demonstrations at woodturning symposiums, and with the extra capacity battery (that actually fits better than the supplied one) I was able to record over 8+ hours without changing battery or having to find a plug.
The video and audio quality was so good, that we were able to produce commercial DVDs. The remote works great when you can't get up on a crane to shoot down on a subject.
by SteveCannon on January 2, 2011
Pros: Image stabilizer is excellent
Huge 64GB flash memory
Fast boot up time
Great quality video
Cons: None noted so far.
Summary: Bought this camera for oversees travel, before I would lug around my Sony DVX-2100
but its way to big for travel and tapes are a pain to lug around. I ...
Summary: Bought this camera for oversees travel, before I would lug around my Sony DVX-2100
but its way to big for travel and tapes are a pain to lug around. I love the quality of its 3CCDS, but its not
This little Sony is awesome, don't know what more I can say about it.
Great camera, reccomended.
by Ruffneck101 on January 2, 2011
Pros: Image Stabilization is spectacular
Low light recording, top notch
Video quality is great
loaded with great accessories specific to your needs
Has night vision
Cons: Optical zoom is only 12x
Needs a good system to run
Slow motion setting degrades quality
Summary: Go to this link for a look at the video quality you can expect from this camera, all recent videos on this account are using sony hdrxr500v: http://www.youtube....
Summary: Go to this link for a look at the video quality you can expect from this camera, all recent videos on this account are using sony hdrxr500v: http://www.youtube.com/Ruffneck101
All-in-all, great camera. All of the people who complain about issues with this camera is only due to lack of knowledge on their part. Become familiar with AVCHD and this camera is a great tool. The image stabilization is phenomenal, the quality is top of the line, also has great video quality at 1080p, and shoots 5.1 dolby digital surround sound. Has many accessories to suit your needs, and once familiar with the menu style, the touch screen menu is easy to navigate, especially with the EASY HANDYCAM setting on the camera. The low light is great for evening shots to reduce pixelation, and nightvision is great for cool effects. I use Adobe After Effects and Sony Vegas Pro 9 with this camera, both programs are perfect for any job with no hassle of configuration. GPS has limitations, but can be handy if you like to travel. Has face detection and zoom-mic as well for easier audio recording. NOTE: this camera is great for travelling and everyday use, if you are looking for near professional quality on different movie productions, then you need to put in at least $3000 for a camera, the fact that the image quality on this camera actually compares to some professional productions just goes to show that this product is not overpriced.
Picture quality alright. Having compatibility problem.
by Mur99 on December 26, 2010
Pros: I am a beginner and this is my first Handycam. Happy with the picture quality, easy to use, functionalities and options etc.
Cons: Camcorder records video in Sony proprietary format that can't be played back in other non-Sony HD TV or HD Home Theater System. PMB SW provided with the package convert it to MPEG-2 format, but downgrades the HD 1080i format to Standard Definition.
Summary: As I have got non-Sony TV and Home Theater System, I am having lots of problem with playing back those video recording on TV and Home Theater. Camcorder records video ...
Summary: As I have got non-Sony TV and Home Theater System, I am having lots of problem with playing back those video recording on TV and Home Theater. Camcorder records video in Sony proprietary format that can't be played back in other non-Sony HD TV or HD Home Theater System. The PMB Software CD provided with the package should be able to convert it to MPEG-2 format, but it downgrades the HD 1080i format to Standard Definition format. Hence, though camcorder records in HD 1080i format, by the time I can playback them on my LED TV from my hard disc, I get only Standard Definition 720x480 resolution. If you try to convert the recorded video to other HD format, supplied SW with the camcorder does not support it, and is good only for Standard Definition conversions. There is no SW provided with the camcorder that can convert video files from Sony proprietary to other HD video file format like MEPG-2 HD. Called up the support about my options, and they told me to purchase and experiment with 3rd part SW, that costs between $60 to $100.
So from my experience, make sure you have Sony HD TV or Sony HD Home Theater, if you want to have this camcorder. Or be ready to face lots of trouble in converting those HD video clips from Sony proprietary format to other market standard HD formats.
Lots to like. But some really bad issues.
by gchancel on December 22, 2010
Pros: Love the image stabilization. To address wind noise, I added a windcutter screen (looks weird but works well). Low light performance is very good. Wide screen is wide, but sometimes not quite enough for me. Software is pretty useful. GPS is cool.
Cons: Major optics problem. The right third of the image is blurry. Up close and focused less than 20 m, it is not noticable. At 20+m worse. With the Sony wide angle lens accessory, it is unbelievably bad. Sony Support was rude and hung up on me.
Summary: If most of your pictures/videos are up close and personal, it works very well. Unless my problem is unique, in large outdoor settings you may have partially out of ...
Summary: If most of your pictures/videos are up close and personal, it works very well. Unless my problem is unique, in large outdoor settings you may have partially out of focus images. I like the Sony products, but my support experiences have not been good. If I didn't have the optic quality problems, I would rate it 5 stars.
Awesome camcorder (/digital camera) , compact and rich
by maheshtv on April 1, 2010
Pros: compact and rich in features like pro cams . Wide bright videos and pictures (8.3 MP photos while video and 12 MP photo mode). More over Direct ?Copy to External Hard Disk? and ?Intelligent Auto (iAUTO)? features are great
Cons: Viewfinder not comfortable compare the older sony camcorder
Summary: Awesome camcorder (/digital camera) , compact and rich in features like pro cams . Wide bright videos and pictures (8.3 MP photos while video and 12 MP photo mode). More over ...
Summary: Awesome camcorder (/digital camera) , compact and rich in features like pro cams . Wide bright videos and pictures (8.3 MP photos while video and 12 MP photo mode). More over Direct ?Copy to External Hard Disk? and ?Intelligent Auto (iAUTO)? features are great
0 out of 1 users found this user opinion helpful.
- Manufacturer: Sony
- Part number: HDR-CX550V
- Description: Capture stunning 1920 x 1080 high-definition video and 12 megapixel still images with the HDR-CX550V, which employs an "Exmor R" CMOS sensor for superior low-light performance and 64GB of embedded flash memory. Optical SteadyShot image stabilization with Active Mode and 3-way Shake Canceling enables you to record remarkably smooth video from wide angle to full telephoto shooting.
- Packaged Quantity 1
- Product Type Camcorder - 1080i
- Enclosure Color Black
- Camcorder Sensor Resolution 6.631 megapixels
- Effective Video Resolution 4.15 megapixels
- Digital Zoom 120 x
- Effective Photo Resolution 6 megapixels
- Camcorder Interpolated Photo Resolution 12 megapixels
- Camcorder Media Type Flash card
- Optical Sensor Size 1/2.88"
- Optical Sensor Type Exmor R CMOS
- Min Illumination 0 lux
- Analog video format NTSC
- Digital Video Format MPEG-2,
- Image Stabilizer Optical (Steady Shot with Active Mode)
- Digital Scene Transition White fader,
- Min Shutter Speed 1/8 sec
- Image Processor BIONZ
- Max Shutter Speed 1/1500 sec
- Shooting modes Digital photo mode
- Shooting Programs Snow,
- White Balance Automatic,
- White Balance Presets Outdoor,
- Exposure Modes Program,
- Camera Flash Built-in flash
- Image Recording Format JPEG
- Widescreen Video Capture Yes
- AV Interfaces S-Video,
- Type 10 x x Zoom lens - 3.8 mm - 38 mm - F/1.8-3.4
- Lens aperture F/1.8-3.4
- Features Built-in lens shield
- Optical Zoom 10 x
- Lens system type Zoom lens
- Min focal length 3.8 mm
- Max focal length 38 mm
- Auto Focus TTL contrast detection
- Filter Size 37 mm
- Focus Adjustment Manual,
- Zoom Adjustment Motorized drive
- Built-in Light Yes
- Low Lux / Night Mode Yes
- Additional Features Golf Shot function,
Built-in GPS ,
Accessories hot shoe ,
Dolby Digital AC-3 (2 channel) recording,
Dynamic Range Optimizer,
Intelligent Scene Selector,
Takes photos while movie recording,
Smile Detection technology,
USB 2.0 compatibility,
Dolby Digital 5.1 channel recording
- Remote control Remote control - Infrared
- Software Drivers & Utilities,
Sony Picture Motion Browser
- Included Accessories Component video / audio cable,
IR remote control,
Audio / video cable
- Effective Flash Range 1 ft - 6.6 ft
- Viewfinder Type Electronic
- Viewfinder Diagonal Size 0.27 in
- Viewfinder Resolution 201,000 pixels
- Type 3.5 in LCD display
- Connector Type 1 x Composite video/audio output,
1 x USB,
1 x Component video output,
1 x HDMI output,
1 x S-Video output,
1 x Remote control,
1 x Headphones,
1 x Microphone
- Microphone Features Zoom
Memory / Storage
- Media type Flash card
- Memory Card Slot SD card,
Memory Stick PRO Duo card
- Supported Memory Cards SD Memory Card
- Internal Storage 64 GB Flash
- Included Memory Card 64 GB
- Image Storage JPEG 4000 x 3000,
JPEG 4000 x 2250,
JPEG 640 x 480
- Video Recording Modes HQ,
System Requirements for PC Connection
- Operating System Support MS Windows XP SP3,
MS Windows 7,
MS Windows Vista
- Peripheral Devices USB port,
- Supported Battery Sony NP-FV50
- Supported Battery 1 x Li-ion rechargeable battery ( Included )
- Audio input type Microphone
- Microphone type Built-in
- Microphone Operation Mode Surround
- Microphone technology Electret condenser
- Service & Support 1 year warranty
- Service & Support Details Limited warranty - Parts - 1 year,
Limited warranty - Labor - 90 days
- Min Operating Temperature 32 °F
- Max Operating Temperature 104 °F
- Battery type - Lithium ion
Viewfinder / Display
- Display Features Rotating
- Resolution 921,000 pixels
- Viewfinder Color Support Color
- Width 2.6 in
- Depth 5.6 in
- Height 2.9 in
- Weight 15.5 oz
- Canon WP V3 - marine case for camcorder (34930183)449.95 - 499.99
- Porta-Brace Hiker Backpack Camera Case HK-1 - case for camcorder (31058034)441.81 - 459.17
- Porta-Brace Quick-Draw Camera Case CC-210-PW - case for camcorder (31039932)399.00
- Porta-Brace Shoulder Case SC-D500 - case for camcorder (31026190)372.37 - 429.00
- Canon WP V2 - marine case for camcorder (33984051)367.76 - 499.00
- CANON XL1S VIDEO CAMCORDER CASE (7032423)399.99
- Canon WP V4 - marine case for camcorder (35138638)499.00
- Panasonic SHAN-TM700 - tripod adapter (31027498)249.95 - 399.95
- Porta-Brace Smuggler Camera Case SMG-2 - case for camcorder (31053838)424.45 - 441.81
- Portabrace PKB-275PV - hard case for camcorder (35112263)578.95 - 589.00