The Sony HDR-SR8E is a well built camcorder, with very high built-in storage capacity, that produces high-ish resolution stills - but it is pricey.
Of a similar size and control layout to Canon’s HG10, the Sony HDR-SR8E is a sleek-looking if expensive HD Handycam that features a whopping 100GB built-in hard drive – allowing up to 38 hours of footage in LP mode – plus removable storage with the optional Sony Pro Duo Memory Stick.
The Sony HDR-SR8E is the flagship model in Sony’s range, and as well as full HD video (again AVCHD format) courtesy of a ClearVid CMOS sensor, you get a respectable stills resolution of 6.1mp, plus a 10x optical zoom with renowned Carl Zeiss optics.
This is supported by Super SteadyShot image stabilisation (Sony’s anti-shake feature) that results in a smooth, judder-free image even at maximum zoom when shooting one-handed. The Sony HDR-SR8E's touchscreen LCD also helps it to stand out from the crowd, avoiding a plethora of attendant buttons and speeding up operation.
With a small zoom lever on the camera hood just forward of a raised shutter release button, the Sony HDR-SR8E's operation is as fast as greased lightning, while a manual button and camera control wheel to the left side of the lens provide more hands-on operation than less expensive models. Included in the Sony HDR-SR8E's box is a desktop docking cradle and remote control, but removable media is for stills only.
Delivering 5.1-channel surround sound for home cinema buffs, Sony is making a feature of the Sony HDR-SR8E’s ability to capture images in dimly lit interiors and twilight (down to 2 lux), although this requires a slower shutter speed to be set.
Similarly, although stills can be taken while shooting video, these are in fact lower resolution ‘grabs’ at 4.6Mp – you must switch to the dedicated photo mode for the full 6.1Mp shots.
The Sony HDR-SR8E supports the new xv colour standard, which delivers results closer to that which the human eye perceives – and of course makes it a good fit for the latest Bravia TVs and Blu-ray players. It seems a bit stingy, therefore, that you have to pay extra for an HDMI lead.
The Sony HDR-SR8E delivers an impressively sharp picture, with natural colours, plus its night mode bathes everything in an eerie green light perfect for that ‘slasher’ movie feel. Sound quality is, however, merely adequate.