Great camcorder for digitizing older 8mm & Hi8 tapes
| Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
|Picture and sound quality|
|Ease of use|
|Value for money|
I purchased this camcorder for a very specific need: to transfer 15-year-old Hi8 wedding tapes to DVD and/or computer archive. The Sony Digital-8 system plays my Hi8 tapes with less interference or jitter than my original Hi8 camcorders did. (BTW, this camera can record on the older Hi8 tapes but the Digital-8 system records 60 min. on a 120 min. tape.)
The camera has Sony's iLink (FireWire) so I've been able to capture the old tapes directly into 2 different computers without using any external capture or conversion devices. On a Mac, iMovie has no trouble importing and editing the movies. (This camera can also accept the analog audio/video input from another source--VHS, for example--and pass that through the iLink/FireWire into a computer for capture.)
I also opted for this camcorder vs. a higher-end VCR/VTR unit so I could use it as a backup camera if I ever need it. In my brief experience with the Digital-8 format, the recorded footage from this camera is almost indistinguishable from consumer DV (miniDV) camcorders. Its 16x9 widescreen mode is comparable to any current, non-HiDef consumer camcorders. (Being non-HiDef, the footage from this camera would be ideal for small, web-based video uses.)
Apple's iMovie automatically recognizes and captures either 4x3 or 16x9 footage from this camera, depending on what aspect the footage was shot in. (I would hope that Windows apps should respond the same way.)
As a backup camcorder, this unit is very flexible, including manual (menu-selected) overrides and adjustments for focus & exposure. There is an external mic input but I haven't needed it yet. 20x optical zoom lens is great for 99% of situations. It has Sony's NightShot system so you can shoot greenish footage in totally dark environments.
My one big gripe about this and many other Sony taped-based consumer camcorders is that the tape compartment is accessed and opened on the bottom of the unit. This makes it impossible to change a tape when it is secured to most tripods or camera mounts.
I currently have it secured to my computer desk using a Bogen super-clamp, articulated arm & extended mounting stud. (The stud is narrow enough to screw into the tripod mount but not overlap the tape door; the arm allows me to swing the camera sideways or almost upside down to switch tapes. Hence the gripe!)
I would recommend this camcorder to anyone who needs to digitize a library of--or even just a few--important videos on 8mm or Hi8 tape.
Since this model is older and parts are probably rare, I suggest finding a seller that has multiple units or can repair/replace parts if needed.
Great older workhorse videocamera
The Sony digital 8 camera line is a real workhorse videocamera. The TRV350 is near the top of the line, one of a number of models with audio input jack, manual focus, and a few other special features. Only problem I ever had with this model and other later models is they open on the bottom to admit the tape, so you have to remove it from tripod every time you change the tape. Buying a used camera, be sure the video capture port works. I have owned several of these and that is the feature that is most likely to go bad -- besides the tape transport mechanism, which is another story. If that goes bad, the camera is just junk.
Rated 5 for Hi8 Handycam Owners and 4 for All Others
If you can get hold of a lightly used Sony Handycam DCR TRV350 for around $250, then as a consumer-level camcorder it's a definite buy. This model records MPEG1 motion and JPG stills on memory stick, and DV motion on Digital8 tape, and can playback and convert analog 8mm recordings to DV files. This is a very cool tool especially for those currently using older 8mm video equipment. Beware that to operate D8 cameras requires two hands. The two-and-a-half inch LCD monitor covers several controls including menu, display and manual exposure. The TRV350 compensates for small amounts of camera-shake. There is a small light to illuminate very dark areas to useable levels, but only at a distance of five feet. The excellent remote control is a standard accessory.
A disappointing feature is that the CCD is very small and does not qualify as a solution for the professional or serious amateur. The pictures are grainy in low light. However the audio is quite acceptable. A couple of extra and larger batteries are necessary because of the insufficient one-hour capacity of the supplied one. Hi8 120 minute cassette tapes have a record time of 60 minutes in standard play mode and 90 minutes in long play mode. Note that the DV cable is not a supplied accessory.
Sony doesn't sell this model anymore. If you are interested in upgrading to digital format on a budget, or if you want to insure that your collection of analog 8mm tapes can be played after your worn analog Handycam stops working, then find a gently used TRV350 to do the job. It performs camera/vcr functions admirably, and interfaces with the computer flawlessly.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful.
Sony Handycam DCR - TRV350
I bought this to transfer 25 years of 8mm, HI8, and Digital 8 tapes to an external hard drive. Works good but be aware, the standard video streaming is not compatible with windows vista or windows 7. Luckily I have an old computer still running windows XP and it works great using the firewire connection. I am not sure how you would use it with more recent operating systems, probably would have to buy some type of editing software. I got the driver disk with the camera but the driver is not compatible with the newer operating systems. I researched it for a while but did not find an answer so I am working with the easy solution. I still have a lot of work to do but it is progressing well.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Sony Handycam DCR - TRV350
We bought this to transfer our older 8MM analog tapes to DVD/Hard Drive.
It is the most advanced camera produced by Sony in 2003 with both memory stick and 8MM tape capabilities. The camera automatically digitalizes your analog tapes as it transfers the picture and sound.
If you want to convert your old VHS tapes to DVD/Hard Drive, you can also run it through the camera, between your VHS player and the computer or DVR.
Make sure you get the remote, batteries, power cables, signal cables, transfer cables and software which includes the driver for the USB port on your computer.
This camera makes it easy to transfer; it's a 'plug and play' situation.
It also has a lot of whistles and bells which we didn't need, but are nice to have.