Sony's standard-definition (SD) camcorders sell for substantially less than Canon's, and the Sony DCR-SX45 is the cheapest in the lineup. It doesn't have any built-in memory -- you have to buy your own memory cards -- but Sony does sell two otherwise identical versions with built-in flash memory, the 16 GB Sony DCR-SX85 (*Est. $250) and 4 GB Sony DCR-SX65 (*Est. $220).
Experts say these Sony camcorders offer practically identical video quality, compact size and ease of use as the pricier Canon models -- including the top-rated Canon FS40 (*Est. $290) -- but the Canon camcorders shoot steadier footage, with longer battery life and an easier-to-see LCD screen (Sony's can be hard to see in bright sunlight). The Sonys do offer a longer optical zoom -- 60x versus 37x for Canon -- but testers say you'll definitely need a tripod to keep the Sony steady if you want to zoom in all the way. And although video from both Sony and Canon look good in tests (for SD camcorders), critics are quick to point out that it's fuzzier, grainier and blotchier than high-definition footage.
ConsumerReports.org does the best job showing how the Sony DCR-SX45 stacks up against other standard-definition camcorders, comparing it to 11 others in a handy chart. CNET doesn't compare the Sony with other cameras, but tester Joshua Goldman gives more narrative description than ConsumerReports.org does. Amazon.com has collected more than 20 owner reviews for this camcorder, both positive and negative.
ConsumerReports.org includes the Sony DCR-SX45, SX65 and SX85 in its latest rankings of 12 standard-definition camcorders. Editors rate each camcorder's video quality (in regular and low light), audio quality, photo quality, ease of use and more before picking the best buys.
Review: Camcorder Ratings and Reliability, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
Joshua Goldman gives the Sony DCR-SX85/65/45 a 3-star rating, saying it's easy to use and fits in a coat pocket, with a megazoom lens and good electronic image stabilizer. But it is standard-definition, and "you might regret not spending more for an HD model."
Review: Sony Handycam DCR-SX45 (Black), Joshua Goldman, June 14, 2011
Most of the owners who post reviews here give the Sony DCR-SX45 high marks for being inexpensive and easy to use, with decent video quality. But some owners downgrade it, saying the video just looks too grainy and low-def.
Review: Sony DCR-SX45 Handycam Camcorder (Silver), Contributors to Amazon.com