The Sony HDR-CX160 is one of the most popular mid-range camcorders of 2012. The first redeeming feature the Sony HDR-CX160 has when you take it out the box is the small compact size which will fit like a dream into the palm of your hand. The zoom button is positioned very handily so that you will not have to move your palm position hardly at all to implement this function. The Sony HDR-CX160 has an incredible zoom which boasts a 42-time magnification. The powerful image crispness is also a joy to see when you video edit and playback on your PC or DVD.
You may want to invest in some upgrading of memory as the compact Sony HDR-CX160 will only give you a standard 16GB. However there are plenty of 32GB or 64GB SD Cards that will more than sufficiently cover any memory issues you may encounter. Sony has always had a good reputation for quality, crisp viewing pictures and video playback. The Sony HDR-CX160 camcorder continues in that vein. This small, compact camcorder is really a starter camcorder.
Another smart feature on the Sony HDR-CX160 is the method by which it can steady those shaking jerky movements you encounter when zooming in. Let’s say for example you are seal spotting just off a small cliff close and you spot a sea lion cub dipping in and out of a rock pool around 100 metres away. You naturally zoom in and even the slightest movement by your hand means the camera moves wildly about ten feet in any direction; but not with the Sony HDR-CX160, a clean steady shot function minimizes this jerk effect and gives you a nice neat smooth playback on high zoom.
The handy USB cable allows you to charge the camcorder through your car’s lighter socket. This is always a handy feature as the playback time is around three hours of constant use before the charger is needed again. If you are out for the whole day and intend to do a great deal of filming then having this option is crucial.
Performance and Quality
There is some colour error of the Sony HDR-CX160. This is normal though for a camcorder that is entry-level as this model is. The low light performance does impress however. In conditions where the light is fading the predecessor model – the Sony HDR-CX150 – always performed poorly in using this function but the Sony HDR-CX160 does compensate neatly for low light and impress considering it is an entry level camcorder.
The CX160 has an impressive motion quality thanks to its 60p record mode. It is this 1080/60p mode that is a very impressive picture motion quality when viewing. To see the kind of playback quality we mean simply select any YouTube video and see if it has a high quality mode option of 1080 x 60 and then play the video to feel its quality; this will give you some evidence surrounding the high quality motion the Sony HDR-CX160 enjoys.
The Sony HDR-CX160 has a small three-inch touch screen but it is suggested you try and follow the manual before mucking around on the menu and going in blind. The layers of different menu options can be a bit of a minefield to the untrained eye but once you master its menu functions you will discover it has a powerful and user-friendly menu layout.
The Sony HDR-CX160 does take some time to power up so if you are on safari or at a baseball match and you want to catch some quick action it may be an issue. You could keep it in ready mode but this will naturally impact on the camera. It is worth noting that the playback quality on the viewfinder can appear far more distorted than when you play back on your PC or dump onto a DVD. Many will be critical of the quality simply because they are viewing it as it displays on the small 3-inch viewer. However, once downloaded this issue is largely resolved as the camcorder does come up well after downloading.
As an entry level high definition camcorder it is probably the best gadget to go for. Stability is very impressive and it picks up low level sounds very easily even when there is background noise. It’s a friendly camera that even has a unique smile feature where once a smile is detected it will produce an image. This all happens alongside the video so you will be blissfully unaware it is happening. Perhaps this is more a gimmicky feature but it does make you smile once you are the subject of the camcorder.