The company is taking aim at Canon, Sony and Panasonic with the DXG-A85V, an ultra-affordable 1080p HD camcorder that’s loaded with features, including 12X zoom, touch-to-focus, Eye-Fi Wireless ready and a 10MP still camera. And while it may find notable success with non-discriminating consumers and entry-level shooters, discerning lensmen and pro-ams can pass this one by.
It’s not that the DXG-A85V doesn’t shoot good video. On the contrary, the pictures are crisp and run at 30fps at maximum 1080p settings (60fps if you shoot at 720p). Do they stand up to high-end cameras from more recognizable names? Not entirely, but they’re a lot closer than you might expect.
Audio is where the camera completely collapses, however. Recording levels are minimal and bound to disappoint any user – whether they’re indie filmmakers trying to shoot on a budget or families on vacation. Unless you’re directly in the subject’s face, you’ll be saddled with muddy, distant sounds you’ll have to strain to hear.
The microphone, it turns out, is a pair of pinholes, each roughly the same size as you’d find on an iPhone. It’s not an uncommon design – and might lead you to believe the audio qualities would be stronger. They’re not. And ultimately, that detracts from any positive elements of the camera.
The biggest positive, actually, is price. Whereas high-end camcorders from Canon and the like run for $800 to $1300, the DXG-A85V has a retail price of just $319 – and can easily be found for $200 online.
That’s a ridiculously good price for the video quality – and if your main objective is to shoot video to overlay with music or an external soundtrack, it’s a bargain. But the target audience for the DXG-A85V is families recording their vacation – and the muted audio will make it less than an ideal choice.
Other pluses: the still camera takes quality shots – and the DXG-A85V’s dual-capture recording allows you to film and take still shots simultaneously. The interface is fairly straightforward (though it suffers when compared to higher-end cameras). And the battery life on the system is impressive. It would be nice if the camera accepted 32 GB SDHC cards, but the 16 GB capacity is hardly a terrible one.
Overall, the DXG-A85V is a bit better than you might expect, but hardly something that will turn heads. It’s well worth the price, but is the embodiment of the shopper cliché “you get what you pay for”. If video quality is your only concern, it’s worth a spin – but when capturing important memories, you’ll likely want to spend a bit more for a more proven brand.