Sony HDR-TD10E 3D camcorder review

Say hello to the world's first full HD 3D camcorder

For

  • Easy to use
  • Great 3D visuals
  • Impressive still shots

Against

  • Disappointing 3D touchpanel
  • Bit pricey
  • Slightly heavy build

The Sony HDR-TD10E 3D camcorder is a great way to start making 3D movies with ease, thanks to its high-performing lens and a generous 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen

Earning early bragging rights the Sony HDR-TD10E was announced before the JVC GS-TD1 making it the world’s first full HD 3D camcorder. Sony have given 3D its full support from the start, and as 3D TVs continue to trickle into homes and more Hollywood movies get the 3D treatment, the HDR-TD10E hopes to have consumers making their very own 3D films with ease.

Named in the T3 Hot 100 gadgets on the planet, is it worth its scorching status? We took a closer look to find out.

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Sony HDR-TD10E: Design and build

The first thing you’ll notice is the square-like design which dictated by the necessity to house the dual lens system required to create the stereoscopic footage, can prove difficult to find a natural grip. The extra lens also adds significant weight to the device, and while the TD10E does include a softer, more textured finish on the gripping side of the camcorder, an extended period of recording did prove a little tiring on the arm.

The 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen panel which allows you to view 3D as you record without the need for 3D glasses, has a 16:9 ratio which is an ideal size for reviewing your fooage. The touchscreen interface is by no means iPhone-like in responsiveness, but navigating through menus is generally a very straightforward process.

Sony HDR-TD10E: 3D shooting

With no need to calibrate the device for 3D recording, simply flick the switch at the rear of the device and begin shooting. Those concerned about staring at a 3D screen for long periods of time, will be happy to know that you can switch back to a 2D display whilst continuing to film in 3D. Essentially though, it’s a case of filming as you would do with a standard 2D camcorder, with the addition of a manual zoom to adjust image depth. The Optical SteadyShot Active mode is a welcome inclusion during 3D shooting mode and works excellently leaving you to concentrate on getting the very best 3D footage. The 10X optical zoom (compared to the TD1’s 5x optical zoom) means you can get up nice and close without losing clarity, which is ideal for 3D filming where close-up shots can be most effective.

Sony HDR-TD10E: 3D playback

The first port of call for viewing your 3D footage is the LCD touchpanel, which reminded us a lot of our experiences with the Nintendo 3DS. The 3D ‘sweet spot’ took some time adjusting to, while we noticed a 'ghosting' effect around subject matter during 3D playback mode. The TD10E does allow you to adjust the 3D during playback, but we found this process quite complex to master.

3D was of course made to be best appreciated on larger screen surroundings and that is where the TD10E really begins to excel. We hooked it up to the Sharp Aquos Quattron 3D TV and were surprised by the contrasting results when compared to playback on the touchpanel. There's no need to play around with depth adjustments or anything else for that matter as footage displayed 3D as we'd hoped, with the Exmor CMOS sensors doing an excellent job of reducing noise to produce clear, eye-popping 3D content. That visual performance is well matched by the 5.1 channel surround sound which delivers rich audio and adds to the overall impact of the recording.

Sony HDR-TD10E: 2D shooting

The TD10E also delivers full HD 2D recording and while footage was generally decent, it did have a slight grainy element which was evident in playback leaving us a little disappointed especailly when the 3D performance was so strong. Unlike the Sony Bloggie 3D, you cannot take 3D pictures, but you can take 2D photographs. The combination of a 7.1-megapixel sensor and 12X optical zoom makes for sharp images, picking up great levels of detail like the smudges on a smartphone for instance. The built-in flash also means its a great performer in dimly lit areas.

Sony HDR-TD10E: Verdict

Many are likely to bulk at the price, but if you want to start shooting in 3D and have little knowledge about filming in the format, the TD10E takes many of those complex aspects out of your hands. While we were left a little disappointed with the touchscreen panel in 3D mode and the 2D shooting performance, but the TD10E earns its spurs with some great additional features and most importantly delivering rich 3D content with minimal fuss.