Buying a new entry-level camcorder can be a little bit confusing because some manufacturers like Sony have various models in the sub-$500 price point and the differences between the several inexpensive models aren’t always obvious. Sony, in particular, offers 4 different models with two of them priced under $300 while the other two being more expensive yet all of them boast 1080p Full HD recording capabilities still leaving the 4K front to the high-end models. The Sony HDR-CX455 is one of the two models that is at the $399 level and it is important to know what you get by spending roughly $100 to $170 more than the cheaper models.
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About the Sony HDR-CX455
From Sony’s current selection of casual shooting camcorders, the Sony HDR-CX455 is the third cheapest camcorder tied with the HDR-PJ440 although that camcorder sacrificed features in exchange for its built-in projector. The FDR-CX455 more of the “bang for your buck” type of camcorder where you can get some impressive midrange features that make this inexpensive camcorder far more advanced than the video recording capabilities of any of today’s smartphones.
When comparing the Sony HDR-CX455 with something a bit cheaper like the Sony HDR-CX440, the differences aren’t too obvious at first glance. Both camcorders are compact, very easy to use and boast a 26.8mm wide-angle lens with a 30x optical zoom. But once you take a closer look and/or dive into the specifications, you will notice that the FDR-CX455 is a little bit heavier weighing close to 9 ounces with the battery inserted. One of the main reasons as to why that is the case is because of the slightly larger display. That might not be a big deal but the 460k-dot screen resolution looks far better than mediocre 230k-dot resolution. This is most important if you want to playback full HD video and appreciate the finer details.
The Sony HDR-CX455 is also the cheapest Sony camcorder to have the Optical SteadyShot image stabilization system with 5-axis Intelligent Active mode. 5-axis basically means that it tries to keep the video stable by compensating for vibrations in 5 directions. As a result, videos look smoother even when walking while recording video.
Autofocus is another huge focus on the FDR-CX455. It is a lot faster than the cheaper models thanks to the Fast Intelligent AF technology which works by amplifying the speed of the lens drive and effectively predicting the AF range. The improved autofocus also comes with a cool and highly useful trick. You can have the camcorder lock on to a specific subject keeping that area of the frame constantly in focus. You can change the size of the frame too. Because the screen is touch-sensitive, using this feature is fun and easy which should appeal to accustomed smartphone users.
Audio capturing capabilities are superior on the Sony HDR-CX455 too as this model possesses a 5.1-channel microphone. This is great for recording outdoor scenes as the mic effectively captures ambient noise and other stuff going on throughout the scene. Obviously, to appreciate this improvement, you will have to play back the video on a TV with a connected 5.1-channel home theater system. While capturing ambient noise can be nice for a lot of scenarios, wind noise is a distraction and fortunately, the FDR-CX455 comes with a feature called Auto Wind Noise Reduction. It is also a zoom microphone which means that the audio quality adapts to the current zoom level. Since entry-level camcorders are often picked over smartphones because of their zooming capabilities, this is a welcome feature to have. Finally, there is a neat feature called My Voice Cancelling which reduces the intensity of the voice just a little bit so your voice remains clear while you are recording video while other subjects talking don’t get picked up.
One of the embarrassing things about Sony’s entry-level camcorders is that they don’t have any kind of time-lapse capturing capability. This makes modern smartphones like the iPhone 6s series a bit more appealing as there are apps and built-in features that easily lets you make time lapses. In order to have this feature on a camcorder, you have to consider the Sony HDR-CX455. A slight downside is that you need to download the PlayMemories Home software to actually put the time lapse together as a process within the camcorder works by rapidly taking photos at a set interval of your choosing.
Other Features and Performance
The FDR-CX455 also takes some of the great things you get with older and cheaper models. The 30x optical zoom is not by any means the maximum zoom. Digitally, you can go up to 350x which isn’t recommended as it will distort the video but if you really want to get closer, you can still use the extended 60x zoom which should still keep the overall video quality intact thanks to some special algorithms.
Video quality is good for the price especially if you use Sony’s proprietary XAVC S format and the file sizes of videos in this format are pretty good too. You also have the option to record a single video stream and have it same in two formats in case you need a high-quality video and an MP4 video which is more share-friendly. Other great features include built-in Wi-Fi and NFC along with live streaming support to the USTREAM service.
• Fast and effective autofocus.
• Great audio recording capabilities.
• Powerful image stabilization.
• Reasonably priced at $399.
• Video quality doesn’t really stand out compared to similarly priced camcorders.
• Time lapses cannot be made directly from the camcorder.
• Unable to record slow motion video.
The Sony HDR-CX455 is a great camcorder to consider if you don’t want to spend too much and you are not satisfied with the video recording performance of your smartphone. If any of the aforementioned strong points of this camera fit your needs, this camcorder won’t disappoint one bit.