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Equipment Review

Sony HDR-CX12 Camcorder

The Sony HDR-CX12 is the big brother of the CX7 so I won't say much about this camera other than the differences between it and the CX7. For more background read our review of the CX7. The CX12 combines the small size and flash card memory of the CX7 with the excellent lens, cam control dial, and other features of the Sony HDR-SR12.




The most noticeable improvement of the Sony HDR-CX12 over its little sibling is that the CX12 has a dial - called the "cam control dial" - on the front which allows you to relatively easily manually focus the camera, control the iris, and control white balance. Its a nice feature, but frankly, I find it hard to use because of its small size and my big fingers.

In terms of picture quality the CX12 has a 1/2.9 inch CMOS chip (the CX7 has a 1/3.13 inch chip) which should theoretically increase picture quality, although to be honest the difference is likely to be negligible. Similarly, the CX12 has a 16Mbps bit rate versus a bit rate of 15Mbps for the CX7. Other improvements for the CX12 include a 12x optical zoom (versus a 10x on the CX7) and a 10MP still image camera (even though the still images are saved at 10MP they still won't equal your SLR digital camera). The CX12 uses the AVCHD format like the CX7, but on the CX12 video is saved a full HD of 1920x1080 versus the 1440x1080 anamorphic format used by the CX7. We think that is a noteworthy improvement (but see the note above about only a marginal increase in bit rate; once again, this large increase in resolution while getting a dispropotionately smaller increase in bit rate makes once wonder if image quality has suffered, but to be honest, I haven't noticed it). One addition to the CX12 that I've frankly never used is the "quick on" button located next to the one switch. For wildlife work I use this camera for unique situations, such as filming in a burrow using the infrared mode, so I've never had a need for the "quick on" feature.


CX7 CX12 SR12

The Sony HDR-SR12, CX12, and CX7.

Consumers now have a choice between a CX7 and a CX12 (although the CX7 is being discontinued). Everything considered, the CX12 is worth paying a few hundred more dollars for. (To make things even more confusing, Sony markets a HDR-CX11 which is essentially the European version of the CX12.)


IIncredibly small and light. Very good picture quality. Uses flash memory. Has Sony's infrared nightshot capability.


Expensive Sony proprietary flash memory cards. No rear viewfinder. Marginal bit rate.

UPDATE - I've now used this camera for a couple of years. Whereas I had problems with the CX7 turning itself off whenever I opened the LCD door, I've had no such problem with the CX12.


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