At the recent CES show, Sony have introduced their “Bloggie” range of pocket-sized video cameras. Of most interest to me are the MHS-PM5 and MHS-PM5K models. (It’s my blog, so you have to live with the fact I’m going to skip over the new pistol-grip MHS-CM5 model!)
Looking no chunkier than the Flip Ultra cameras (thicker than the slimline Flip Mino) the PM5 features a retractable USB arm, tripod mount point, 4x digital zoom and uses SD/SDHC as well as Memory Stick (PRO) Duo cards for storage. The NP-BK1 Lithium Ion battery is rechargeable (via USB) and also removable – best of both worlds.
Video is recorded at up to 1920x1080 HD (1080/30p compared to the Flip HD’s 720/30p). Being a Sony product, it comes with SteadyShot stabilisation and face detection “so faces are captured more clearly and skin tones look more natural.” You can capture stills as well as moving images. Sound recording is mono. (Flip Mino HD is mono, though Flip Ultra HD is stereo.)
According to Sony, an 8GB memory card (not included) would hold a fair amount of video: 1080/30p = 80 minutes, 720/60p = 160 minutes, 720/30p = 240 minutes,VGA/30p = 480 minutes.
The unique selling points are a top mounted lens that swivels 270 degrees, allowing you to film forwards as well as backwards. (Filming yourself? Weird!) The even more unique selling point is that the PM5K comes with a 360 degree attachment that plugs on the top of the swivel lens.
360° Video recording lets you capture the world around you. Just attach the included 360° Video Accessory to record a high-quality, panoramic video that encompasses a 360° field of view. Once you’re done shooting, you can play back your 360° videos with the included Picture Motion Browser software [requires Windows XP SP3, Vista SP2 or Windows 7; not supported by Mac OS], as well as share them over e-mail or upload them to popular video sharing sites.
The jury’s out on whether 360 degree is just a gimmick or actually a valuable feature. I can’t find any examples of the output – not even from Sony – and the one review I’ve seen that actually mentions using the 360 degree in anger, explained the reviewer’s disappointment with the quality of the 360 degree imaging. But I’d love to try it out to see for myself.
Some of the models are listed on Amazon UK as being available from mid-February, though the pricing hasn’t been fixed.
More widely, it’ll be interesting to see how pocket-sized HD video cameras develop over the next 12 months. Flip were bought over by Cisco, and it would be no surprise if their range of cameras started to take advantage of wireless network connectivity. Meanwhile Sony are introducing swivel lens and panoramic views with the Bloggie. And other manufacturers are starting to take sound seriously, and add external mix sockets to compensate to the poor quality/low level audio on some of today’s cameras.