Truly major innovations in camera hardware appear only once in a blue moon, which is the reason we’re excited about Sony’s Handycam HDR-CX430V ($700). As the most affordable Sony camcorder with Balanced Optical SteadyShot (BOSS)—a remarkable image stabilization technology that is all but impossible to include in slim smartphones or tablets—the HDR-CX430V re-justifies toting around a dedicated device for video recording. While the 8.9-Megapixel still image capture won’t wow iPhone 5 owners, the backlit EXMOR R sensor, 30X optical zoom, and 1080/24-60fps/Dolby 5.1-channel video/audio recording modes all blow past Apple’s latest devices, using a novel moving lens system to capture stable videos despite shaky hands.
The key element in HDR-CX430V is the BOSS image stabilizer, which remarkably moves the entire 26.8mm wide focal length lens and CMOS sensor system around inside the housing to compensate for unintentional hand movements. Using motion sensors in conjunction with the moving lens and sensor, BOSS locks on to the scene you’re trying to shoot, making micro-adjustments to hold the scene steady even as the camera moves slightly—an amazing feat that reduces shake by 13 times relative to earlier stabilization techniques. Sony includes 32GB of memory to hold nearly 12 hours of high-resolution video footage, a 3” touchscreen to compose videos, and numerous software optimizations including a MP4/AVCHD recording toggle, face detection, and object-specific automatic focusing.