Sony HDR-TG3 review

£450
Price when reviewed

At around the same size as a point-and-shoot digital camera, and under 300g, the HDR-TG3 is incredibly portable. You can drop it into a pocket comfortably, which isn’t something you can say for many other HD camcorders. Our current A List choice, the Canon HF10, is much bulkier.

Despite the tiny size and weight, though, it’s surprisingly capable; the camera can record video at up to 1,920 by 1,080, accompanied with 5.1 channel audio and also snap still images at a respectable four megapixels.

Because of its size it is marketed as a carry-everywhere camera, so it’s a sensible design choice that the case well-built as well as being compact. The body is constructed of desirably sturdy titanium, which reduces the weight as much as it must increase the price, but also adds a great deal of protection for the vulnerable innards. But though there is no fragile hard disk (the camera relies entirely on Sony Memory Stick flash cards) the optics are still the weak link, and susceptible to rough treatment.

The small size does mean that some useful features have been dropped. There is no hot shoe, for example, so it’s impossible to add an external flash or light, and there is also no way to connect an external microphone or set of headphones. Thankfully, Sony has seen fit to include a built-in flash and 5.1 channel microphone which do a decent job of making sure that most users won’t need to add any external peripherals.

Unfortunately there are other limitations that Sony has not been able to compensate for. Its single CCD sensor is only 1/5in in size, and although the Sony captures a large number of pixels, the quality of image is lower than that of other cameras we have seen, such as the recommended Canon HF10 with its 1/3.2in sensor.

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As well as limiting the capabilities of the camera, the small size has another unfortunate effect – it ups the price. While £450 may be competitive with high-end camcorders such as the Canon HF10, the image quality isn’t, and the cost is far higher than cheaper models that are similarly portable, such as the Sanyo HD700.

Because of this it fits into a rather untenable niche; it’s expensive as high-end cameras but with lower quality imaging; and it’s far more expensive than similarly portable models with lower resolutions but has comparable quality.

This makes it a difficult camera to recommend unless portability and design is more important to you than cost.

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