Sony HDR-PJ620 review

So I bought a new camcorder on 22th January. Some might say it’s a stupid thing to buy a camcorder in 2015, as every phone, compact and DSLR camera can record videos in great quality, but here are the reasons I think a camcorder is the best tool for me to record everyday videos:

  • I hate making videos with my phone.
  • I need autofocus and wide zoom range, I only have old manual fixed Nikon lenses so recording videos with my Canon DSLR is not an option.
  • I don’t need a large sensor as I want to focus on content, not recording artistic videos with shallow depth of field.
  • I want to record my videos with high bitrates to get rid of compression artifacts.

I looked at the following cameras and camcorders:

  • Canon Powershot S120
  • Panasonic HC-V770
  • Sony PJ620

Canon has some consumer camcorders but I didn’t like that you have to open and close the lens cover manually each time you power the camcorder on or off. The Powershot S120 would be a good choice as it’s pretty small and used by a lot of people for video recording, but I found out that it has very noisy sound and no mic input. An even bigger problem is that it can record only about 14 minutes in one take as the maximum file size per clip cannot be larger than 4 gigabytes.

Panasonic HC-V770 and Sony PJ620 can be bought at nearly the same price, but the former one won’t be available here in Hungary until spring. Their specs are nearly the same, as Sony added 50mbps recording capability to the PJ620. The biggest difference is that Sony has the Balanced Optical Steadyshot feature.

So I bought the Sony PJ620. Here are some thoughts after more than a week of usage:

  • Balanced Optical Steadyshot is the best thing happened to consumer camcorders in these years. From now on, I will only buy camcorders/cameras which have at least the same stabilization capability as Sony camcorders.
  • The camcorder turns on very fast. I can start recording about 2 seconds after opening the display. After a few days this time has increased gradually, but formatting the SD card helped it. Maybe a bug in the firmware? :)
  • The built-in USB cable is a great feature.
  • I had to buy a 64GB SDXC card, as it didn’t let me record in 50mbps XAVC-S with a 32GB SDHC card.
  • 50mbps recording is as fast as recording in lower bitrates. It creates .mp4 files which can be edited nicely in Vegas. 50mbps videos have much better quality, I’d recommend that you shouldn’t buy a camcorder which can’t record in 50mbps.
  • The built-in projector is surprisingly bright and it’s resolution is quite good, but I don’t think I will use it more than once a year.
  • Copying files over Wi-Fi are slow if you have big 50mbps .mp4 files, so I don’t use that and airplane mode is always turned on. This might save me battery power as well.
  • I can’t see the display correctly if it’s not pointing nearly exactly at me. It has a narrow viewing angle. It also has a fairly low resolution, so I’m not satisfied with it. It’s touch interface is a resistive one so you have to press it with force, touching it isn’t enough.
  • It’s annoying that the OSD can’t be turned off while recording (I mean the OSD zoom and rec start/stop buttons).
  • Sound quality is good. I didn’t try multichannel recording, I’m ok with two channels.
  • Zooming could be faster but it’s ok anyway. At least it’s sound can’t be heard during recording.
  • Background sound cancellation is a totally useless feature.
  • The camcorder is pretty light, it has good build quality. The leather surface at the handling side is comfortable.

I hope this post helps others choosing which camcorder to buy. If you are looking for a good consumer camcorder, buy the PJ620.

Sigrid 2015-03-25 15:31:37

Thank you for your review

What is you experienced with recording motion in low light? Is it satisfying? Do you by any chance have a video on YouTube recorded with the PJ620 of motion in low light?

I’m looking for camera to record dancing in low light (not extremely low – but still…)


Nonoo 2015-03-25 19:05:56

This was shot in low light conditions.

Sigrid 2015-03-26 10:59:42

Thank you for your quick reply :)

Feri 2015-12-08 22:32:45

Köszönöm ezt a tárgyilagos és nagyon hasznos értékelést.
A hangminÅ‘ség milyen, amikor egy szobában emberek beszélgetését veszed fel és nem közvetlenül a kamera elÅ‘tt van aki beszél? Nem mély és “kong” a hang? Elég érzékeny a mikrofonja? Elég hangos a felvétel?

Nonoo 2015-12-08 22:43:51

Nagyobb szobában, teremben már külső mikrofont kell használni, de egy lakás nappalijában megfelelő minőségű hangfelvételt tudsz készíteni vele. A felvétel amúgy elég hangos, de igazából nem ez számít, hanem hogy mennyire zajos, mert ugye ez határolja be, hogy mennyire tudod szoftverből felhangosítani. Egyébként tűrhető a zaj mennyisége, nekem nincs vele gondom, de nem is szokott kelleni utólag szoftverből hangosítani, jó szokott lenni a hang.

Feri 2015-12-08 22:50:14

Thank you for your reply…

Sas 2016-04-04 20:40:52

vásároltunk egy PJ620. Fix felállítással, állványról használjuk, nincs mozgatva a kamera. Nem vagyunk megelégedve vele, mert nagyon sokszor elveszti a fókuszt, majd nagy nehezen megtalálja. Ezt produkálja minden beállításnál. Nagyon zavarók a felvett anyagban a “behomályosodások”.
A Sony vevőszolgálat egy gyári visszaállítást javasolt, de ez nem segített semmit. Lehet, hogy hibás darabbal akadtunk össze?

Nonoo 2016-04-04 21:17:34

Szia, nekem nincs ilyen problemam, valoszinuleg gyari hibas keszulekrol van szo. Felismeri az arcokat a kepen? Ha bekeretezi oket, akkor felismeri. Ha nem, akkor probaljatok meg full auto uzemmodba tenni, mert ha felismeri az arcokat, akkor mindig rajuk fog fokuszalni, folyamatosan, ennek hiba nelkul kell mennie.

Sas 2016-04-04 21:31:02

Köszi a gyors választ.
Felismeri az arcokat, keretet rak rá, mégis elveszti a fókuszt időnként.

G.Martin 2017-01-17 13:43:57

Is it possible to fold the display along the camerabody to hide the display, and still do recorings without turning the camara off?

Nonoo 2017-01-17 13:52:07

Yes, linking of display folding and camera on/off can be switched off in the setup menu.

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