Camera-equipped gadgets are getting more versatile than ever every year and the easiest way to witness it is to go to your favorite video sharing sites like YouTube and find all those cool videos made by DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, and even high-end smartphones. Smartphones are the exclamation point of video recording these days as lens technologies become more advanced and software developers are getting more creative with apps that harnesses the phone’s camera. While these versatile camera systems should be more than sufficient for the average customer, enthusiasts and folks with special needs will likely consider them as a “jack of all trades”. These cameras may have their specialties but not leaning towards their needs. Sony wants to make that case for folks who are into making music videos and it wants their Sony HDR-MV1 to be the company’s top budget product of choice.
About the Sony HDR-MV1
Sony announced the HDR-MV1 back in September 2013 and its focus on music videos is pretty obvious the “MV1” model name alone shows that this camera is really for the budding musician. The sole focus on music videos rather than something a bit broader like movies is a curious choice but it is music-inclined for a reason and the highly unique design shows. The innovation is on the way the microphone system is designed. The HDR-MV1 is actually equipped with two mics and they are so out there situated just below the lens and they are specially engineered to capture studio-quality sound.
At the same time, the Sony HDR-MV1 is not exactly made for the serious professional and the compact design shows. This can be a good or bad thing but one things for certain, you won’t be buying this over say a Sony AX100 if you have lots of other expensive equipment for recording more elaborate music videos. The HDR-MV1 has the body and lens of a compact camcorder. It is for the entry-level musician looking to make his or her first music video without being restricted by the shackles of a smartphone. The $299 price also shows that it’s not going to be too expensive to get started either.
The Sony HDR-MV1 has two major features that it apart from the average camcorder. The first is the stereo microphone array and the second is its wide-angle lens. Sony refers to this as the “X/Y mic” and its biggest feature is its ability to record full stereo sound which is absolutely necessary in making natural music videos without the need of post-processing or that tedious task of merging studio-quality music streams with recorded video. The cool thing too is that if you have a superior microphone, you can plug it right into the MIC IN terminal found at the rear of the camcorder.
On the video recording side, comes equipped with a 120-degree wide-angle Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens giving the HDR-MV1 an edge in recording live bands and stages at whatever distance. It is worth noting that the mic array is 120-degree as well.
The 2.7-inch LCD display on the side of the HDR-MV1 is quite small compared to modern pocket-sized camcorder but it has special overlays that once again focus on music video creators. There is an on-screen meter that lets musicians check the input levels with the option to adjust accordingly depending on the environment. There is also an auto audio level for starters and an option for manual audio level control for more advanced users. A dedicated meter for framing shots is featured as well. There is even this cool Audio Lip Sync function which should help greatly in postproduction.
The Sony HDR-MV1 is also geared towards the social media crowd featuring onboard Wi-Fi to make it easy for the camcorder to connect to mobile devices for easy uploading of videos. Like most Sony gadgets, NFC can be used as well for simple mobile pairing.
Audio capture on the HDR-MV1 is stellar considering the price and size of the camera and it isn’t just because of that cool-looking mic array. It is also because of the fact that the Sony HDR-MV1 can record in uncompressed Linear PCM. That’s pure CD quality at its finest although it makes for very large video sizes too. There is also an option for AAC recording which is more social media-friendly.
Video recording performance is a bit more on the average side with the best setting being 1080p at 30 fps and a mediocre 4x optical zoom. This cements the HDR-MV1 as a casual music video creation tool for the YouTube generation. Of course, the Sony HDR-MV1 doesn’t need those fancy 4K technologies but it goes to show how much better a 2016 version could be and low-light performance could use some improving. On the upside, the battery life is adequate at 3.5 hours and it uses the standard USB port for charging.
• Excellent stereo mic array.
• Has a MIC IN for external microphone support.
• Auto Lip Sync function works well.
• Sound check friendly thanks to the special interface and overlays.
• Wi-Fi and NFC onboard.
• Average video quality.
• Launched back in 2013.
The fact that Sony hasn’t announced a successor to the Sony HDR-MV1 goes to show that the target audience of this product is quite limited. But as it stands, the HDR-MV1 is in a unique category of its own and it is impossible to ignore those cool built-in microphones.