The Sony Handycam DCR-PC1000 is an odd camera, both in the sense that it has some unusual characteristics and in the more negative sense that it's quirky, in an annoying way. It's unusual for a three-chip camera not only because of its small size, but also because it uses CMOS sensors rather than the CCDs found in almost all other camcorders. Its blend of advanced capabilities with a clumsy point-and-shoot user interface makes it odd in the second sense.
Experienced videographers looking for a compact three-chip MiniDV camera might do better to check out competitors from Panasonic, such as the NVGS250B, that offer more practical physical controls. However, for the technophile who wants a stylish, cutting-edge camera and will fiddle with the controls only occasionally, this capable Handycam merits a close look.
On the outside, the Sony Handycam DCR-PC1000's dark-grey body is streamlined and low-key, with little to distinguish it from the company's small, vertically oriented one-chip MiniDV cameras. The fit and the finish of the camera are very good. Weighing 400g, it feels solid and well balanced in the hand.
This camcorder's most prominent feature is the silver-ringed 10x Zeiss Vario-Sonnar lens, which protrudes slightly from the front. There's a tiny flash directly above the lens, which is protected by shutters that open and close automatically when you hit the power button, eliminating the need for a lens cap.
From top to bottom, the back of the DCR-PC1000 is filled with a nonpivoting viewfinder eyepiece, a Memory Stick Pro Duo card slot, a record button, a power switch and four basic camera-control buttons: display, backlight, flash and Easy mode. You'll find a stereo microphone on top of the camera. Behind it, under a cover, sits a proprietary hotshoe mount for external mics and lights. Finally, the camera bottom incorporates a tripod mount and a special connector that interfaces with the included Handycam Station dock.
Under the hand strap, the right side consists primarily of a tape door. Oddly, the door itself contains the camera battery, which you insert into a slot in the door bottom. The top of the right side provides the zoom control, a still-photo button and ports for A/V cables and LANC control.