Sony Handycam HDR-CX130

The CX130 is an impressive camcorder within its price range, featuring a stylish exterior and large LCD screen, though its image and video quality don't quite live up to the aesthetics.

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Design and features

There's no doubt that Sony is adept at launching products that are nicely designed and pleasing to the eye. The plastic on the CX130 is well made and doesn't feel too cheap, but still manages to remain lightweight and smooth. While it's small and compact enough, the small size might be an issue for someone who has larger hands, as the strap isn't ideally equipped to fit an adult hand.

Controlling the CX130 is a pleasure. There are very few buttons, which makes it extremely simple to control and doesn't overcrowd the user's senses with too much information. The flip-out LCD screen is 3 inches, which is a suitable size for viewing, as it capitalises on the size of the body of the camera itself, taking up almost the entire left-hand side of the device. It features a touchscreen menu, which is simple and effective to use, unlike some of its more clumsy competitors, not to mention that the size and design of the screen adds to the overall aesthetic appeal of the camera itself.

Unfortunately, there's no external microphone input for anyone who wants to go bolder than everyday filming, although the inbuilt microphone will be adequate for most prospective users.

Compared to

Sony HDR-CX130 Panasonic HDC-HS80 Canon Legria HF M400 Panasonic HDC-HS900
30x optical zoom 37x optical zoom 10x optical zoom 12x optical zoom
MemoryStick Pro Duo/SD cards SD cards 120GB internal storage/SD cards 220GB internal storage/SD cards
AU$399 AU$899 AU$799 AU$1899

Performance, image and video quality

The video quality on this camera is, overall, more than adequate when considering its price range. If you're looking for amazing quality, you won't find it for this price, but on a budget it's towards the top of its field.

A still image from the CX130. Click for full size version.
(Credit: Gavin Owen/CBSi)

Putting the camera settings onto automatic will usually produce very satisfying results. The movement from light to dark in automatic mode is almost unnoticeable, although the camera works best under lower light settings. This is probably why Sony did not include an inbuilt LED light, due to its resilience under darker conditions. The noise performance is satisfactory for a camera of this quality, as the grain only tends to increase or become a problem to the video quality when under extremely dark conditions.

When zooming in from a great distance, the video suffers from obvious rolling shutter, making the cameraman appear to have caught a sudden chill. However, this problem could easily be solved by the use of a tripod.

One of the big drawing points of this particular camera is that it shoots at full 1080p HD at 50 frames per second, meaning that there are twice as many frames as some other cameras. This makes the motion much more smooth and realistic with very little blur, which has a big impact on the video's movement and quality.

Another plus for buyers of this camera is the wide lens, allowing more to be fit in the frame, widening the spectrum for what you can include in your videos if you're filming larger-scale landscapes or groups of people, especially in cramped locations.

The battery life is outstanding on this camera, so users can relax and take it out for a whole day without the stress of changing batteries midway through filming.

A still image from the CX130. Click for full size version.
(Credit: Gavin Owen/CBSi)

The biggest detriment to the performance quality is the colour spectrum of the video. The video could appear warmer, since using it on a hot Australian summer's day produced a slightly disappointing greyish-coloured picture.


Overall, the Sony HDR-CX130 is an impressive camcorder within its price range. Predictably, Sony has mastered the art of the camera's appearance, making it smooth and sleek with a trendy touchscreen menu and large LCD screen. The functionality of the camera is also a selling point, as any user should be able to pick it up, point and shoot. The image and video quality doesn't necessarily live up to the aesthetics of the camera; however, it performs satisfactorily in comparison to its competitors.

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