Published on April 29th,2009 at 12:46 PM
By >Daimaou - G.G-B

TG5V (TG7) Quick review… Nice Add-ons but Still Need Works on Video

Earlier this month Sony introduced the latest upgrade of their ACVHD camcorder the TG5V, the TG1’s big brother that we reviewed last year Sony Handycam HDR-TG1 Review.

Before going down quickly to the review of the new TG5V, we stress that its just a TG1 in disguise with some minor improvements, It’s not a brand new product, but rather a nice little upgrade.

Don’t get us wrong, the TG5V and TG1 are decent Full HD cameras, but if you scratch the surface you won’t really see much improvement here.

So what’s new?
There are in fact four new major changes in the TG5V compared to the TG1,
– The first and the most interesting maybe the addition of a GPS module, allowing you to Geotag your video while travelling around (this obviously only works outdoors).
– The second interesting improvement is the 16GB of internal memory on the TG5V, giving you in full HD Mode up to 100hrs worth, and still allowing you to record video on a Memory Stick Duo if necessary…
– A new BIONZ Image processor that apparently provides improved video in low light. This is what Sony says, reality is very different.
– A new scratch proof coating body, that’s better resistant to scratches. Same here, reality and marketing are two different things.

So what about video?
The TG1 was a decent camera for its time and we had a good Xacti 1000 challenger… But with the arrival of the TG5V we expected to see a little bump in video quality, after all Sony announced a new Bionz image processor capable of giving better video including in low light… We are a bit disappointed, we didn’t see much improvement…

We used the camera in different settings with the regular swing test and average landscape video shot as well as shooting video at several press conferences (this video was shot with the TG5V Mebius NJ70A Hands-on Video. The Optical Sensor LCD Pad ROCKS!), allowing us to fully evaluate the camera, and we have mixed feeling about it.

The two biggest gripes we have are first the overall video quality, and you can see below some screenshots and on the video that it’s not always pretty. Basically while images look crispy sharp on the TG5V’s tiny LCD, once plugged to your Full HD TV you will often see some video artifacts and sometimes a disappointing results.

The other gripe is the dead slow auto-focus that has difficulty following moving objects like when panning between things…

If outdoors on a cloudy day the TG5V is not at its best, in low light and at sundown, 40 minutes before full darkness the TG5V like many other entry lever HD cameras does not stand out and and even when set on a tripod focus is off giving us a blurry result.

Since most of you are not capable of watching .MTS files (AVCHD videos) we exported some samples above using Eduis Broadcast 5 NLE… The process was as follows: once the video was edited, we exported the whole project in RAW to avoid as much compression as possible This gave us a 15GB AVI file that we later converted in MKV using DivX 7 HD high quality settings… The result is acceptable but not perfect.

TG5V Full HD 1920×1080/30p MKV video sample

Ok, videos are not that great, but what about the GPS thingy?
Really dedicated for those who travel a lot and record lots of videos, the GPS module is pretty accurate if used outside of major cities and in open spaces. Like any GPS, this module does not like having skyscrapers around and may give you inaccurate readings, but beside this obvious statement, we admit it works pretty much has expected, and once Sony’s proprietary software is installed on your PC or Mac (did not try Mac) you can Geotag video and put down your trip on Google Map.

Photo mode and other stuff
Like the TG1, the TG5V photo mode is too be avoided. You want to take a photo, get yourself a Cybershot…
In an effort to the TG5V keep as simple as possible, Sony’s designers removed most of visible buttons leaving you with just a tiny shutter button for photos, a Start and Stop button for video and a scrolling wheel for zooming, that’s pretty much it… Don’t even start searching for a power off button there isn’t one we could find. You just have to flip back the LCD to its original position to turn on sleep and off mode… Less buttons is definitely a good thing for the average Joe, but it may be difficult for anyone who wants to play with the White Balance, Shutter Speed, AF and so on.

Another disappointing part is the new hard coating body that the TG5V was supposed to get, it was suppose to protect from scratches, and well after a week we got tiny ones on the camera’s edge. It looks like our traveling bag’s zipper was the culprit…

Well, what can we say? Yes the addition of 16GB of internal memory is a nice thing. Yes the GPS module, but interesting only if you travel a lot and shoot video mainly outdoors. Now if the TG1 was a good camera for its time, the lack of major video quality improvement on the TG5V makes the price not worth the camera… Personally, if we at Akihabara News strong supporters of the AVCHD codec, we admit that we expected MUCH more from this new camera espeically in terms of video quality.

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