Sony HDR-TG7E pocket camcorder review
Pricey, but superior movies, stills and styling make this the pocket camcorder to beat
Sony’s burgeoning team of Full HD camcorders now includes two models with built-in GPS, which give you the chance to geo-tag movies and stills. The TG7 is the newest arrival, and with a street price of under £800 it’s also the most affordable – the Sony HDR-XR520 costing over £1,300 on its launch.
The TG7 is actually an upgrade to the Sony TG3 launched last year, so as well as its smart, new GPS feature it also boasts a sleeker shape and a titanium body with scratch-resistant coating. And its memory capacity has also been doubled.
Flash and sticks
While the TG3 captured high-def video to Memory Stick only, the TG7 has a 16GB internal flash memory and the capacity to store to Sony’s memory cards.
In effect, 32GB could be at your disposal – representing six hours of video at Full HD’s 1920×1080 resolution, or more if you’re prepared to shoot using lower HD settings.
The TG7 isn’t super-light, but the fact that it’s no flyweight means it stays steady when you’re shooting. The zoom lever and recording interface have been redesigned from the TG3, and are now easier to use; it’s all very simple and intuitive.
One annoying aspect of video recording is missing ‘big’ moments, and manufacturers have addressed this with a variety of quick-start options. The TG7 is no exception: fold out the 2.7in touchscreen LCD and, without needing to press any buttons, you’re ready to record.
This quick operation is aided by an ability to shoot video and stills simultaneously; there is no need to swap modes. Admittedly, this pegs stills resolution at 2.3MP instead of the 4MP you get if you opt to place the TG7 in its ‘proper’ stills mode, but it can be a worthwhile trade-off.
The right location
GPS is a neat addition, allowing you to see where you are on a map that’s displayed on the LCD, and to then track your journey.
Even better is that through geo-tagging you can look on the map and see at which locations you pressed ‘record’; select a location by pressing a marker on the touchscreen LCD and the video you shot there will play back. Our only gripe is that the GPS doesn’t always work and when it doesn’t it can’t log your position.
The TG7’s footage is, though, superb. Almost faultless, in fact. Vivid, colourful, sharp, it’s all there, in detail. What’s also pleasing is that the audio quality matches that of the movies, so you get a perfect combination.
Handily, there’s also an optional clip-on wide-angle lens available for the TG7. Called the High Grade 0.7x Wide End Conversion Lens, it’ll set you back a cool US$120 from the Sony store, but shop around and you’ll be able to pick it up for nearer US$75.
Yes, the TG7 is pricey – too pricey, quite possibly – and the touchscreen can be unresponsive, but for compact dimensions and superior quality you’ll struggle to beat this shooter.