Sony Handycam DCR-HC26

The Sony DCR-HC26 provides impressive size, zoom power and features for a bargain-basement camcorder, but its substandard video quality is disappointing.

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The Sony Handycam DCR-HC26 packs a powerful 20x zoom into an extremely compact, lightweight chassis at a very low price. But while this easy-to-use, touch-screen-controlled MiniDV camcorder won't break the bank, its grainy footage and poor low-light performance won't win any awards, either.

It wasn't long ago that you'd have paid a premium for a camcorder this compact. Weighing just 419g with tape and battery, the Sony DCR-HC26 slips easily into a small bag or a jacket pocket. In a nice improvement over last year's Handycam DCR-HC21, this camcorder has a top-ejecting tape slot that lets you change tapes without removing the unit from a tripod.

The Sony Handycam DCR-HC26 has few buttons or controls, handling most functions with touch-screen menus

Press the Easy button and everything's fully automatic. Turn off Easy mode, and you'll find that the DCR-HC26 gives you a reasonable amount of manual control. It offers a variety of program autoexposure modes, such as Sports and Portrait, as well as manual settings for exposure and focus. The spot-focus and spot-meter controls let you specify a portion of the touch-screen image for the camera to use when determining focus or exposure. The NightShot Plus infrared mode lets you shoot in total darkness. While it gives everything a ghostly, greenish cast, it's generally more effective than the slow-shutter modes on many camcorders, which result in unusable and blurry footage.

Though the DCR-HC26's 2.5-inch LCD screen is on the small side, it's reasonably sharp and viewable, even in direct sunlight. You can give your subject a look at the shot by flipping over the LCD -- however, doing that doesn't activate the colour viewfinder, so you have to shoot blind.

While the camera includes video and S-Video outputs, it lacks analog inputs, which means you can't use it to transfer your old analogue tapes to digital format. There's no memory-card slot, either, so you're limited to shooting VGA-resolution stills on MiniDV tape.

For features on an entry-level camera, the Sony Handycam DCR-HC26's automatic focus and exposure perform reasonably well, reacting quickly and accurately after you pan to a new subject. Image stabilisation works effectively through the first half of the zoom range, though shake becomes increasingly evident as you approach 20x magnification. The included battery is rated for just 45 to 55 minutes of typical shooting, so a larger-capacity battery would be a wise purchase for the holiday-bound.

Image quality
The Sony DCR-HC26's low-end design is most evident, unfortunately, in its video quality, which is noticeably grainy even in bright light and extremely so under dimmer conditions. Colour hues are accurate but overly vibrant. The small 1/6-inch, 640,000-pixel CCD can't capture the level of detail obtained by higher-end cameras -- a limitation evidenced by a general fuzziness in areas of high detail, such as grass, hair and textured cloth.

Unless your budget is extremely tight, we suggest you move up a price class to around AU$1,000; the video quality of products priced below that mark is unlikely to please even casual users.

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mubak posted a comment   

The Good:i thought to buy it

The Bad:i realy bought it

poor, very poor machine


simon downey posted a comment   

The Good:i have one

The Bad:not working

i'm selling it to ebay coz its pain in the **** mate and one thing is i didn't know how to use it


Amit posted a review   

The Good:compact, light-weight, well featured, easy to use, nightshot, 20x zoom

The Bad:none really for the price you pay to get this one

Anyone purchasing this product would know that this is an entry level camcorder and is not the best one to buy.

But for those ones without a camcorder and wanting to get one at a reasonable price, this is not a bad option at all.

The picture quality may not be the best but its pretty acceptable. Its good to have this handycam and capture moments rather than not having one at all.


Mikey posted a review   

The Good:Light, Easy to use

The Bad:Video Quality, No Light, Hard to Capture onto PC using cables provided. etc.etc.



Conrad posted a review   

The Good:its small its perfect for what im going to need it for, it has enough little features to keep me happy

The Bad:no memory card but if u want that u gotta pay for it!

i love this machine

Jain Thomas Pala

Jain Thomas Pala posted a review   

The Good:Handy...Light...easy 2use

The Bad:Poor Video quality
No remote
No accessory cables

Poor Video


posted a review   

Very Poor Video Quality


ROHIT posted a review   

This product is easy to use
and a good piece for home vedio and not profetional

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User Reviews / Comments  Sony Handycam DCR-HC26

  • mubak


    "poor, very poor machine"

  • simon downey

    simon downey

    "i'm selling it to ebay coz its pain in the **** mate and one thing is i didn't know how to use it"

  • Amit



    "Anyone purchasing this product would know that this is an entry level camcorder and is not the best one to buy.

    But for those ones without a camcorder and wanting to get one at a r..."

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