View Full Version : Review: Sony Handycam HDR-SR10

Cookies N' Milk
03-26-2008, 07:01 AM
Sony Handycam HDR-SR10

Before I start this review let me just say this, I had to take the batteries out of my TV remote and my smoke detector to power my camera. Not only do I have to get up to change the channel now, but I have also risked having no fire detector to warn me if my house is burning down around me. That being said I should get a medal for writing this at three in the morning.


As always I have gone the extra step to provide the highest quality pictures I can. Just click the images included in the review to view them at 3072x2304px.

If you are in the market for a regular camcorder then you are best off to not even bother looking at the Sony Handycam HDR-SR10. No wait, let me reword that. If you are in the market for a regular camcorder and you are not willing to give up your soul to pay for it then you are best off not looking at the Sony Handycam HDR-SR10. Besides, the HDR-SR10 can hardly be called a regular camcorder.


This "camcorder" is about as high end as they come without going into professional units. To be perfectly honest, this camcorder puts a lot of professional units to shame. Just take a look at the specs on this beast.

Resolution: 1080i (1920x1080px)
Video Format: MPEG2-PS, AVCHD
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1ch Recording
Lens: Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T Lens
Optical Zoom: 15x
Digital Zoom: 30x, 180x
Memory Stick Capacity: 8GB
Hard Drive Capacity: 40GB
Battery Life (Default Battery): 90Minutes
LCD Size: 2.7"
Weight: 530g with battery

Included Accessories:
Video Cable
A/V Cable
AC Adapter
Docking Station
USB Cable
Drivers and Software

What Accessories are Missing (That you may need):
Bigger battery
Someone willing to buy this for you

The Review:

Not really sure where to start with this gem, so let me just say this. If you do buy this model or a higher up one, make sure you buy one of these.


What is it you ask? Extended warranty from the store you get your unit at. Why? The next picture explains that.


Yes, $899.99 on a camcorder AND it was $100 off. The reason for this unit's cost is because of a few things. First, it is Sony. You do pay a premium for Sony products but for good reason. They are some of the electronics ever. Some may disagree but I have been a regular in The Sony Store for the last four years and have yet to have a single problem with any of my Sony products. Although, I can't say that I have not had a problem with the Handycam HDR-SR10 since it is brand new and there has been little time for something to go wrong with it. End of Sony fan boy paragraph.

Yes at nearly a grand for a camcorder we are truly dealing with a monster. Or are we? At first glance it looks like a very nice device. But there is something missing.


No view finder. You know, one of those old school put your eye to the little hole to see what you are doing thingys. Instead it has been completely removed and you are to solely use the LCD screen. To the average user this doesn't matter, but I'm not an average user and I expect a camcorder to have a damned view finder. Even a cheapo $100 camcorder that takes worse quality video than my *cough*Sony*cough* cell phone has a damned view finder.


Alright maybe I am being too picky about the view finder so let's move on. Time to be picky about accessories, which happens to be a big selling point with me. The more accessories a device includes, the more likely I am to buy it. The Handycam HDR-SR10 has plenty of accessories. Just look.

Hot damn! All the cables you will ever need.


Manuals and information cards anyone?


Alright, we got accessories! HDTV cables, check. Old school A/V cables, check. AC adapter, check. USB cable, check. Docking station, check. Battery, check. Remote, check. Tripod, negative :( I was very happy to see that everything I need is included, minus a tripod. But if you go to SonyStyle.ca (or .com if you are in the USA) then you can buy a motorized tripod for only $100.

Enough about accessories. Camcorder time!

When you open the LCD display you are greeted by a lot of buttons. They even have a place for a Pro Duo memory stick.


The screen is very large and has insane picture quality. And who ever at Sony decided to make the LCD screen touchable needs a raise. I love touch screens. I have had the unit for less than 48hours and already and my finger prints are all over the screen. There are a lot of settings for you to play with. Everything from lighting to quality. I won't bother going into the menu for this review as it would add a full page to it. That should give you an idea on how many settings there are ;)


Moving to the back of the camcorder there are several more buttons and a slot for the battery. Also note are DC in is at the back.


At the top of the unit a door slides forward to allow us to connect external mics, lights and thingys. To the right you will see the zoom slider.


Now to one of the coolest things ever. The unit can recorder sound in 5.1. I didn't really believe it at first. I thought it could be simulated 5.1 surround sound so I gave it a shot. I walked around the camera while recording and then downloaded the video to my computer and played it over my 5.1 sound system. It really did work. The sound panned around me perfectly.


And now to the main show.

The front of the unit is where the lens is, naturally. It has an auto cover for when the device is not in use. Also on the front is the flash, IR receiver for the remote and the record light. The picture quality is impressive to say the least. As I said at the beginning of the review this camcorder puts some professional units to shame. I have used cameras where they record 720/1080i/p and cost upwards of three to four grand. The HDR-SR10's picture quality is almost the same as some of those professional units. Although it may not be suitable for TV broadcasting, the HDR-SR10 can without a doubt hold its own against professional cameras.


Part of the insane video quality is because the camcorder does not record in 1920x1080px. Instead it records in 2304x1296 and then crams that image into a 1920x1080px frame. The result is more detail in the video.


Now let's talk storage. I'm going to start laughing at all those who have to record using tape, DVD, flash card, etc. The HDR-SR10 has a 40GB hard drive built right in. 40Gigs is enough space to store 290minutes, that's 4.8hours of 1080i Video. Now that might seem like the files are rather big, and they are. Why? They are uncompressed. once you download them to your computer and convert them to a video format that is playable by DVD players and so on, you will find that file sizes shrink a lot.


While we are on the topic of storage and file size... Make sure you have a lot of room on your computer. 40Gig file dump to your PC and then converting those and blah blah blah. It will take up a lot of space. Also you will need a beefy processor and lots of RAM to convert the files in a timely fashion.

Review Continued in next post.

Cookies N' Milk
03-26-2008, 07:01 AM
On to the ports. Flip the covers and BAM! Port city. It has TV out, USB and yes, HDMI ports built into the camcorder. On the bottom of the camcorder is a data transfer port for the docking station.



Back to accessories. The remote has a lot on it. Stop/Start record, take picture, zoom and so on. Paired with a motorized tripod and you will never have to get up to move your camcorder around again.


The docking station is great to have. Plug in the AC adapter and USB cable to make your life super easy. Charge your camera while downloading the videos.



Cables, not a lot to say. HDTV out, USB, A/V out. That is pretty much it.


AC adapter.


Battery sits in the back like so.


I think it is about time to rate the Handycam HDR-SR10, and no I won't sugar coat it just cause I bow down to Sony.

Style and Appearance:
This is one sharp looking camcorder. Sporting a very very nice paint job and silver accents it is sure to turn a few heads. The battery sticking out the back of it does look ugly but what would you expect. Diamonds studs on a battery pack? Although that would be a nice touch. I give it a 10/10 on looks.

It has everything. Oh wait, not it doesn't. No view finder means it loses a mark. 9/10

Storage Capacity:
4.8 Hours of HD quality videos? Can't really complain about that. If you don't want to get the highest quality videos you can always step it back to the lowest quality for 910minutes of video. BTW 910minutes is roughly 15.2hours. 10/10

Picture Quality:
Having used cameras that are considered to be broadcast quality I am very impressed by the picture quality of the Handycam HDR-SR10. You can easily pass it off as a top of the line camera, which it is, in the average consumer market. This could easily be a viable solution for professionals. It is lightweight, provides awesome video quality and it stores all the video on a hard drive. It performs almost as good as cameras that cost three times as much. Without a doubt it gets a 10/10 in video quality.

Audio Quality:
It doesn't get much better than 5.1 surround sound. The HDR-SR10 records in 5.1 by default. It does a very good job of it too. There is one thing I must say, I noticed the audio started to crackle when there was a loud, steady noise. This is a shame because up until that happened I was really impressed with the unit. Now don't get me wrong, by no means is the audio quality bad, but it could use some improvement. The addition of an external microphone would cure the crackling problem I'm sure. 8/10

There is not a lot of included software. But the little bit that is included is pretty damned good. Pretty much you download you videos, it inspects them to check for quality problems or corruption, then converts the raw HD files to a readable format by DVD players and finally it checks the files again for quality problems or corruption. Now the conversion is very CPU intensive as is all video editing/ anything to do with videos. It can take hours to convert a full HDD worth of HD video. I give the software a 9/10

Ok now you can really only give the price a score if there is something to compare it to. If you ask me, the HDR-SR10 is in a class of its own. There are other HD camcorders out there in the same price range but none of them can even come close to touching Sony's HDR line. Price wise I give it a 9/10. Given everything you get with it, that score seems rather fair. Then again at a grand it is out of the price range of many.

Overall: 9.3/10

If I had to sum up the Sony handycam HDR-SR10 in one word it would be Wow. Everything about it is perfect. The only thing I do not like about it is no view finder, but I am going to avoid another rant about it. The HDR-SR11 and HDR-SR12 have the view finder and a few extras on them, but the HDR-SR10 seems to have everything 99% of the people who buy it need. I have decided to over look the sound issue with loud noises as a lot of camcorders have the same problem. Often times adding an external microphone fixes it.

I highly recommend buying the Sony Handycam HDR-SR10 to anyone who is willing to forgo eating for a month... or two.

As always my review is not over yet. I will be reviewing the model up very shortly. The Sony Handycam HDR-SR11 will be up next and I am sure it will be better than the HDR-SR10.

A quick video download: http://projectascension.com/reviews/server1/videos/001.m2ts
Filesize 374MB
3minutes long
Format: 1920x1080i@60fps (Pretty sure the M2TS extension uses the Blu-Ray codec. You will need the k-lite codec pack to view the file.)

03-26-2008, 09:16 AM
:ovoh: Drool. . I got to get myself on of those. Great Review! +Rep
Can't wait to see some videos.

Cookies N' Milk
03-26-2008, 10:16 AM
:ovoh: Drool. . I got to get myself on of those. Great Review! +Rep
Can't wait to see some videos.

I think everyone should have one of these. Wicked little unit. I will most likely go in tomorrow and exchange it for the 60GB version. As for wanting to see some videos, yeah... it takes awhile to upload the HD videos. A 3minute long video in max quality is 374MB. Mind you max quality is 1920x1080i@60FPS and in Blu-Ray format I believe. Took me awhile to find the codecs to play the M2TS extension :P

I am uploading that 3minute video right now and will post it as soon as it is done uploading (53minutes left on the upload :(). I might take the camera out for a trip down the road later today and get some better videos IF I can pull myself away from the server I am building. Mainboard gets here today so expect a review on that soon too ^^

EDIT: Forgot to say in my review, that 10K character limit is bugging me :P Making my split the review up into two posts, tsk tsk

03-26-2008, 10:41 AM
Very nice review. I recently got a Cybershot DSC-H7 (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonyh7/) and I'll agree. You can't beat the quality of these cameras. +rep

Cookies N' Milk
03-26-2008, 11:16 AM
3minute long video is up.

Filesize 374MB
3minutes long
Format: 1920x1080i@60fps

It uses the M2TS extension which (I think) means it is Blu-Ray codec thingy. At least that is what I gathered from the codec pack needed. It would make sense that it is Blu-ray as it is a Sony product and it is the newest line. You need the K-lite codec pack. Google it or google M2TS codec.

The picture quality seems a bit shotty in places but that is mainly due to the poor lighting in that room.

Crimson Sky
03-27-2008, 10:55 AM
I have the Sony HDR-HC7 HiDef that I use for my Airgun Reporter (http://www.pyramydair.com/video) show--It takes GREAT video, only complaint is the slow focusing speed.

The hard drive version is a nice gimmick for consumers, but I wanted the reliability of mini dv tape. A Crashed HDD is the last thing iwant for critical work ;)

03-27-2008, 04:30 PM
How are data transfer rates? Most of the cameras (nothing anything close to this level) I work with have a IEEE1394 connection for faster transfer. They are MiniDV cameras which is going to take longer to transfer than from a hard drive for sure but I know just copying to/from a USB external with USB is a lot slower than either IEEE1394 or eSATA.

Oh and you made a typo you forget the S in the name in the first heading, i tried to look it up in google and the only result i got was this thread, until I looked down a few lines are realize the typo.

Cookies N' Milk
03-27-2008, 06:32 PM
How are data transfer rates? Most of the cameras (nothing anything close to this level) I work with have a IEEE1394 connection for faster transfer. They are MiniDV cameras which is going to take longer to transfer than from a hard drive for sure but I know just copying to/from a USB external with USB is a lot slower than either IEEE1394 or eSATA.

Oh and you made a typo you forget the S in the name in the first heading, i tried to look it up in google and the only result i got was this thread, until I looked down a few lines are realize the typo.

Transfer rates are pretty good. I just downloaded 2hours worth of HD video using the docking station and it took roughly 11minutes.

Yes that is a typo :( I read over the review so many times before posting. Dunno how I missed that.

@Crimson Sky, The focus speed on the SR10 isn't too bad. Only thing I don't like about the focus is that there is no wheel or buttons that I can push to manually adjust it.

03-28-2008, 04:44 PM
i suppose it's probably alright, 1394a specification which is what I believe is used on myost computer isn't any faster than USB 2.0 might even be a tad slower, the only benefit of it then is the peer-to-peer networking ability, rather than host based like USB. I doubt it make too much of a difference for this anyway.

Cookies N' Milk
03-28-2008, 11:44 PM
Ok, here we go again. Another Sony Handcam review. This time it is the model up from the HDR-SR10.

As always if you click the pictures in the review you will be taken to a high-res 3072x2304px picture. Let's begin.

Sony Handycam HDR-SR11

So here I am with another HD camcorder. This time it is the HDR-SR11, which is a beefier version of the HDR-SR10.

http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/001b.jpg (http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/001.JPG)

Let's compare the two.
Resolution: 1080i (1920x1080px)
Video Format: MPEG2-PS, AVCHD
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1ch Recording
Lens: Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T Lens
Optical Zoom: 15x
Digital Zoom: 30x, 180x
Memory Stick Capacity: 8GB
Hard Drive Capacity: 40GB
Battery Life (Default Battery): 90Minutes
LCD Size: 2.7"
Weight: 530g with battery
Price: $999

Resolution: 1080i (1920x1080px)
Video Format: MPEG2-PS, AVCHD
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1ch Recording
Lens: Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T Lens
Optical Zoom: 12x
Digital Zoom: 30x, 180x
Memory Stick Capacity: 8GB
Hard Drive Capacity: 60GB
Battery Life (Default Battery): 85Minutes
LCD Size: 3.2"
Weight: 560g with battery
Price: $1299

Ok now $300 more for a slightly bigger screen, 20 more gigs of space, lower zoom and less battery life seems like it wouldn't be worth it. Well truth be told it is worth it. There are a lot more "little" things on the SR11 than on the SR10.

Let's open the box.

http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/002b.jpg (http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/002.JPG)
http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/003b.jpg (http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/003.JPG)

At this point I would normally take out all the accessories. However I know for a fact that all the accessories are the exact same as in the HDR-SR10 box. For that reason I am not going to review them again :P

http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/004b.jpg (http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/004.JPG)

As you can see it is a brand new unit. Let's remove those tags.

http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/005b.jpg (http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/005.JPG)

You can clearly see that the SR11 is a bigger unit than the SR10. At first glance I noticed that the attachment clip was moved forward and they added a view finder. The old school one. Which means I can no longer rant about not having one.

http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/006b.jpg (http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/006.JPG)

The viewfinder tilts up and even has a focus adjustment on the underside of it. This allows you to adjust the viewfinder's screen for your eyes.

http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/007b.jpg (http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/007.JPG)

Back to the top of the SR11. Sony changed the color on the SR11 slightly. The top was light silver on the SR10 but now it is a darker grey.

http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/008b.jpg (http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/008.JPG)

Here is where the new attachment clip is located. The door slides to the back of the camcorder rather than to the front like on the SR10.

http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/009b.jpg (http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/009.JPG)

On to the side of the SR11.

http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/010b.jpg (http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/010.JPG)

There are two new ports on the SR11, one of a headset and the other for a mic. They are located near the HDMI port. This is a very nice addition.

http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/011b.jpg (http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/011.JPG)

At the front of the camcorder they have added three things. One of them I don't know what it is for. If you look closely on the left had side of the lens there is a switch which was not on the SR10. It could be a sensor for when you add on a filter or lens.

http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/012b.jpg (http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/012.JPG)

They also relocated the lighting button to the front. Before it was beside the LCD screen.

The biggest addition is the manual focus wheel. This is a must in my eyes ;) I found it annoying when the SR10 auto adjusted when I didn't want it too. Now with the manual adjust on the SR11 I can set it where I want without it changing randomly.

http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/013b.jpg (http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/013.JPG)

There isn't much more to show other than the LCD screen which is a whole 0.5" bigger now.

http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/014b.jpg (http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/014.JPG)

And yes, the screen is still touchable.

Next to the LCD screen nothing has really changed.

http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/015b.jpg (http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/015.JPG)

There is one more picture that I took. Which is the camera with the battery pack installed. The default battery fits in the SR11 much better. On the SR10 it stuck out a fair bit.

http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/016b.jpg (http://projectascension.com/reviews/sonysr11/pics/016.JPG)

Rating time.

Style and Appearance:
Well this rating isn't going to change. The SR10 was a very nice looking unit and the SR11 looks even better. I would give it an 11/10 but that isn't possible. 10/10 on looks.

All the same accessories as it's little brother, PLUS it has that viewfinder I complained about and a manual focus. 10/10

Storage Capacity:
Alright so I thought 4.8hours of HD video on the 40GB version was a lot. This thing holds over 7.1hours of HD video and get this, 41.8Hours of SD video. Also note, I was wrong about the SR10 holding only 15hours of SD video. It is really 27.66hours of SD video, and 15hours of low quality AVCHD format video. 10/10

Picture Quality:
Picture quality hasn't really changed between the two models. The SR11 does do 10.2MP still pictures where as the SR10 did 4.0. Doesn't matter than much really. 10/10 still.

Audio Quality:
I have to say that the crackling audio during playback is gone. The audio is pretty much all the same other than that. 9/10

Software is the same as the SR10. No point in reviewing it again ;) 9/10

While the SR11 is a lot more than the SR10 I have to say it is worth it. That is, unless you are an average user. With the addition of manual focus adjustment wheel and a viewfinder being the biggest upgrades over the 40GB version, it seems that the SR11 is aiming more towards the semi-pro user. Which would explain the $1299 price tag. I'm thinking a 9/10 for price (yet again.)

Overall: 9.6/10

With all the new addons I am wanting to give the unit a 10/10 but here are a few things than would need to be taken care of before that happens. First, the on board speaker needs some work. At times it isn't loud enough. Second it would have been nice if Sony provided a dumbed down version of Vegas in the software, or a full version :D. And last is one I'm not really sure about. I wanted to give the price a 10/10 because of how close to a pro camera the SR11 is. The only problem is that I'm pretty sure it is classed as a consumer camera which means $1299 is getting to be a bit pricey. Now, if this classes as a pro camera I will be changing that rating to a 10.

Either way the SR11 is a nice upgrade from the SR10. If you are wanting an HD camcorder and you don't want to spend upwards of three grand than the SR10 and SR11 should be first on your list to check out.