Sony Handycam HDR-TG7VE review

Price when reviewed

The HDR-TG3 was the sexiest thing ever to hit the world of camcorders when it was launched last summer. Its smooth-as-silk, scratch resistant titanium casing, coupled with a pocketably slim profile, made it very hard to resist. The follow up, Sony’s HDR-TG7, is even more alluring.

Formerly sharp corners and edges have now been smoothed off, making it even easier to slip into a pocket, and to add to the already-attractive full HD 1080/50i at 16Mbits/sec there’s a host of new features to attract the gadget-obsessed.

The principal among these is GPS. We’ve seen this feature before, built into the Nikon Coolpix P6000, but unlike that camera the GPS function here is more than simply a geotagging tool. Enter the menu system in playback mode, and you’ll be able to view an overview map displaying map pins where video and photographs have been shot. Tap one of those pins using the TG7VE’s touchscreen and all your shots from that location pop up.

It’s a bit of a gimmick and one that will drain your battery quickly, but there are more useful features. You can tap the screen to set the focus and metering, and there’s a super slow motion mode too.

It doesn’t end there. You also get face detection, which exposes footage for faces identified in shot, and a smile detector too, which when set will automatically snap smiley faces at 2.3-megapixels as you’re shooting movies. In standalone stills mode, you can shoot at up to four-megapixels.

And once you venture into to camera’s playback mode there are even more features on offer. In face index view you select a clip for a thumbnail index, which allows you to skip to parts of the clip where faces were detected. You can arrange clips by date, or view them in film roll view. Meanwhile, an automated highlights package mode, (which trims and assembles clips into a music-backed medley) and a docking cradle with HDMI output turns the HDR-TG7VE into an incredibly powerful, self-contained home movie playback device.

When we pitched the TG7VE’s predecessor against the best the competition could muster last year, it didn’t fare too well, but the TG7VE with its new 1/5in Exmor CMOS sensor fares better. On the face of it, that sensor looks rather small, but as with its smaller sibling, the HDR-CX105E, it copes in low light rather well, with noise kept to a minimum and colours that have a touch more depth and impact. We’ve seen better, but not to any significant degree.

The 10x zoom isn’t anything to write home about in terms of its power, but the optical stabiliser works very well to reduce shake all the way through the range. And in tests in good light, colours were reproduced accurately, and detail captured crisply and cleanly. Footage looked very real, with a solidity that cheaper cameras just can’t muster.

it_photo_28880There are small disappointments. The first is that there are no external audio sockets nor any accessory shoe; both are features you’d expect to see in such an expensive camera. The second is that it takes Sony’s proprietary Memory Stick Pro Duo cards

But we can forgive these omissions. First, because the camera has a massive 16GB of memory built in so you’re unlikely to need to add to it. And second, because in the HDR-TG7VE we think Sony has come up with the ultimate consumer camcorder. It’s desirable, easy to use, produces great results and is absolutely stuffed with advanced features. More critically, perhaps, it turns the playback experience from one of drudgery to something that’s easy and fun to do. It’s expensive, but if you’ve got the cash to spare, well worth it.


Camcorder HD standard1080i
Camcorder maximum video resolution1920 x 1080
Camera megapixel rating4.0mp
Camcorder recording formatAVCHD
Accessory shoe?no
Camera optical zoom range10x
Camera optical image stabilisationyes
Electronic image stabilisation?yes
Screen size2.7in
Built-in flash?yes
Number of sensors1


Internal mic typeStereo
External mic socket?no


Dimensions width30
Dimensions depth62
Dimensions height117
Dimensions30 x 62 x 117mm (WDH)


Integrated memory16.0GB
Camcorder internal storage typeFlash memory
Memory card supportMemory Stick Pro


Data connectionUSB
Composite video output?yes
Component video output?yes


Remote control?no

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