Tired of the Flip and Kodak’s success, Sony is issuing a pocket-camcorder challenge by launching three new models: the MHS-PM5K, PM5 and CM5. The daddy of this trio is the PM5K, which offers Full HD MP4 video, 5MP stills plus the nifty ability to record 360-degree clips.
The PM5K, which Sony calls the ‘bloggie’, is an update to the PM1 launched last autumn. However, there’s been a lot of tinkering – the maximum res has gone from 1440x1080 to 1920x1080, the LCD up to 2.4in from 1.8in and, dramatically, the bloggie accepts SD/SDHC cards not just Sony’s own Memory Stick. Hell has officially frozen over.
Lens rotation policy
Lightweight and pocket friendly, the PM5K has a limited amount of controls, making it a cinch to use. But Sony needs to look again at the design of the video-record button, which is too small and unresponsive when quick reactions are required. You also can’t use the 4x digital zoom in the Full HD mode.
The lens rotates 270 degrees, making it perfect for spinning round when you want to deliver a piece to camera – and hence why the cam’s known as the ‘bloggie’.
The lens is also centre of attention when it comes to 360-degree movies. Clip the supplied accessory over the main lens and the LCD displays a bizarre circular image. It all makes sense at the editing stage as the bundled PC and Mac software lets you ‘unwrap’ clips, displaying them as sweeping, panoramic shots.
YouTube and Facebook uploads
Like rivals such as Kodak’s Zi8 and the Samsung HMX-U10, clips are easy to upload and share. There’s a built-in USB arm that slides out from the base and embedded software loads as soon as you connect the PM5K to a computer. It’s all beautifully simple and works seamlessly.
The software even makes it possible to log-on to YouTube, Dailymotion or Picasa, and to upload to these sites. Sony is also promising integration with Facebook, via a downloadable update, in April.
There’s still room for improvement in image quality though. As with the PM1, the PM5K can often deliver jerky movement, noticeably so when using the zoom in 1280x720 mode. And, while colours are faithfully reproduced, the low-light performance displays a lot of picture noise.
Video-quality wise, the PM5K is still in the shadow of JVC’s Picsio and Kodak’s impressive Zi8. But if you’re an inveterate video blogger or have a collection of Memory Sticks, it’s still worthy of investigation.