A year ago a High-Definition (HD) video camera would have cost you $5,000.00 USD; six months ago the same HD camera would have cost you $3,000.00 USD; today, the Sony Handycam HDR-HC3 HD camera costs just over $1,000.00 USD.

Sony HDV image

As viewing inspires creation, the HD television craze has pressed
consumers into wanting to create HD-quality home videos to watch on
their 52-inch HD televisions and the Sony Handycam HDR-HC3 is the right
camera for the right time.
Never before has it been so easy for “regular consumers” like us to
create, edit, publish and watch pro-quality HD video in the HDV 1080i

When I first purchased the Sony Handycam HDR-HC3 I could not
find a Sony Mini-DV tape on sale because the supply chain was dry!
Everyone was buying HD cameras and the HDV tapes were being being sold
on the grey market for double their value. It took a full eight weeks
for the supply chain to get re-stocked and then you could only purchase
a limited number of tapes at a time.
The Sony Handycam HDR-HC3 works great with Final Cut Express HD and
Final Cut Studio 5.1 and setting up the camera to talk to your computer
and software was easy on my MacBook Pro.

Sony Handycam HDR-HC3 is small and light and it takes beautiful video.
I created a fast QuickTime 7 movie to show you the high-res 16:9 aspect
ratio of the HD video experience.
You must have QuickTime 7 — or a similar video client — installed on
your Windows or Mac computer to watch the video because it uses the new
H.264 video compression format for rendering really beautiful video in
small file sizes.

The video is 11 seconds long and is 1.1 MB in size. That’s about 6 MB
per minute of video and while that might seem like a large file size,
that is a reasonable trade-off between clarity and quality for web
Here are a few things to remember while watching the video. The sound
is ambient and unfocused in that I didn’t care about the sound. You
will hear my Vornado on its highest setting, the television and, I believe, Big Brother 7
is playing in the background as well.

The lighting is as it is because this was a test video to put the Sony
Handycam HDR-HC3 to its bones to see what it could and could not do as
a camera.
There is no natural light streaming into the room. The reproduction of
what you see in the video and what you see in real life is identical —
so the dark corners in the videos are just that dark in real life.
Perhaps we should have a contest to see how many things in the video
you can name that have either been reviewed here or mentioned on this

I couldn’t embed the movie in this review because WordPress doesn’t
have a native way to put movie files in articles, so if you choose to
watch the movie, the link will take you away to BolesBooks Writing & Publishing and you’ll have to hit the Back Button in your browser to continue reading this review. Here’s the video link:
The Sony Handycam HDR-HC3 also lets you take up to three still images
in that widescreen format while you are shooting your video!

ou are able to use the Sony Handycam HDR-HC3 to just take still images
instead of video if you wish.
Here’s an example of a still image I captured. Remember the image you
see here is greatly reduced in size and quality for publication.
The image below was originally 2340 x 1296 and 17.1 MB in size. The
image you see now is only 500 x 261 and 21.3 KB in size with 90% JPEG
quality enabled. I really love the “widescreen format.” I did no image

 Sony HDV image

Sony Handycam HDR-HC3 is an outstanding HD camera for creating gorgeous
video and still images.
Your home movies, cinema presentations and other creative efforts will
shine on forever in HD — or, if you prefer, you can shoot it in HD and
watch all your memories in standard video mode.
With the Sony HDR-HC3, the choice is in your handycam.


  1. Hiya Simms!
    Nice to hear from you again.
    Yes, it is actual HD video. Watch the video I put online and you’ll be able to see for yourself.

  2. Not sure Dave what your meaning about stores being in short supplies of tapes.. I’ve found lots of websites that have the Sony HDV High Definition MINIDV tapes in stock..

  3. Hi Brad —
    I see you’re writing from Durham College in Canada.
    In the Unites States when the Sony Handycam HDR-HC3 was first available for purchase — I bought mine the first day it was available — it was hard to find any Sony MiniDV-63 tapes to use with the camera. Amazon, PCConnection, SonyStyle, Circuit City… were all sold out.
    As of about a month ago the supply chain seems to be full again although you can’t buy more than five double packs from Circuit City online “due to high demand for this product.”

  4. No Problem, thanks for your extensive review…
    I have been on google all day trying to read up as many reviews as possible..
    I Will let you know when I get the camera..

  5. Good to know, Brad!
    It’s an excellent camera. It’s easy to use and it takes fabulous video and still images.
    Buy the big battery. Then you’ll want for nothing.
    Good luck!

  6. Dave, Seems like technology is moving right along. Sony just announced today that they are coming out with a new High Definition Camcorder with a 30gig Harddrive, which is also able to record in Digital 5.1 Surrond Sound, coming this september..
    I think I will now be turning my attention to that unit instead.. check out the news.

  7. Hi Brad —
    I saw that announcement yesterday.
    That’s the problem with technology — it just keeps getting better and faster!
    You’ll buy your cool camera in September and in December there will be an even better version available! That’s why you can’t wait. Just buy when you’re ready because the moment you buy your technology is already outdated.

  8. Hi Alex!
    Welcome to the blog!
    The built-in microphone is pretty awful. If you want to do more serious production you’d need to buy an external microphone.

  9. Hey David:
    Did you really use the HDR-HC3 with Final Cut Express HD? I can’t get it to do anything but it does work with iMovie HD.

  10. Hello
    I was wonderin how many minutes of HD video you can get on a regular 60 min. MiniDV tape?
    The HD content is much bigger so it can’t be 60 min.
    Thanks a lot
    Greetings from Switzerland
    Leo Z.

  11. Does this camera have digital input capability? I want to be able to record HD from my TV or cable box, something not addressed in the usual connectivity discussion. If the camera can do this I won’t need to buy a separate HD-DVD or BluRay recorder.

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