Sony DCR TRV-260 Camcorder...

David Sallee

Hey all,

I'm needing feedback on this camcorder...

Was wondering if any of you have used or useing this camcorder... if not, look at the specs and tell me if it would be a decent one for chasing... I know it's not that expensive but it's got some good features I think... and my pocketbook isn't that thick.. lol

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Some of the features are:

Digital8® Video Recording
USB Streaming
i.LINK® Interface
NightShot® Plus Infrared System
20X Optical/990X Digital Zoom
Photo Mode
Plus more...

You can check it out at the link below..

Sony DCR TRV-260 Camcorder

I just found this one too... it's got a few more bells and only 50 bucks more... hmmm?

This one uses Memeory stick for pics, MPEG Movie EX mode and remote control...

Sony DCR TRV-460 Camcorder

Thanks for the input...

Re: DCR TRV 260

I am currently using this camcorder, but I am an amateur and am not knowledgeable enough to give expert advice. I just followed the electronics guy's advice at the local Wal-Mart where I purchased mine.
I would advise getting a camcorder with optional manual focus. Most auto focus systems have a hard time with getting a sharp focus in low contrast situations like clouds - and it's somewhat difficult even with manual focus. And check for motor noise - the Sony DCR TRV 38 , that I got this past winter, has a very annoying motor/tape noise coming through in quiet situations.
These both have manual focus option and from the reviews I have found, there is some motor hum (while in operation but it not picked up in the recorded tapes.... I'm kinda steering towards the TRV-460...

Anyone else got an opinion on this camcorder??


I also have this camera. My biggest complaints are, one, you must make an additional purchase to get the NP-QM91D battery - about 90 bucks. The battery that comes with the camera simply wont do. It only gives you like 30 mins record time with the monitor open. And two, the auto stabilization is not the greatest I have seen. Using it on a tripod in my vehicle this hasen't been too much of a problem, but it can become annoying in hand held situations when you zoom in. Also, the digital zooms are a useless. Everything becomes don't even consider that as a purchasing bonus. Theres an option to disable the digital zoom in the settings with I did so as to only use the optical zoom. The camera does have a manual focus which works OK, and will be required for low light situations, and has a button and focus wheel for it located in a convenient location. I'm sure the biggest problem for most experts here would be the low light performace due to the small size of the ccd's on the camera. Thats the price of performance however. From what I have read and seen, you almost need to spend 800 to 1000 dollars to get into that bracket which my wallet just won't allow at this time.

The night shot feature is kinda cool, allbeit useless for storm chasing. The range of this feature is about 10 feet if that. They do sell a long range beam if wanted, but its rather pricy. Might be worth it if your a real night time nature person.

Not thrilled with the still shot feature either. It rolls tape and sound to record the still. I prefer grabbing stills with software on a pc over the stills on the camera. You can step through each frame of video and grab the one you want that way, just don't expect 35 mm quality stills.

Between the two cameras, it seem the biggest difference is the memory stick feature of the 460. Since I have no way of reading that kind of media on my PC it was not purchasing point for me. You can still stream video via firewire or usb from camera to PC and manipulate it on the pc. And don't foget you still need to spend 90 bucks for a decent battery.

Overall, I am fairly happy with the camera. It takes decent images, and good to great sound, and allows you to stream your video into to your pc with Windows Movie Maker, all at an affordable price for me. The way I see it, its better than no camcorder at all, and it wont cost you an arm and a leg. Overall, I would say its a decent starter for the price. I just really hated that a good battery didn't come with the camera.

Hope this helps some.
Price was also a limiting factor for me when I purchased the 260. As far as camcorder capability, I have sold a couple of events to a local TV station and they seemed to be pleased with the video and image quality.
Thanks for the feedback guys.. I'm concidering the 260, I need to look at the specs again though... I also found out about the 460.... the MPEG Movie EX will just record 60 sec at a time to put on PC or in emails... not really what I was thinking it was.. would probably be useless to me in a chase... the memory stick option, well, It would be better to put images on BUT if you can grab the same images from the movie later, then this also would be useless to me, it would just add more work in the field while trying to concentrate an what I'm chasing... the only positive thing I can see with the 460 would be the remote control feature... it would be easier to control the zoom and such... hmmm... but is it worth the extra 50 bucks over the 260...

Hey David.. Im speaking from somewhat of a professional opinion.. I am I guess humbley considered a professional videographer. I have never used that camera in particular however.

I have heard good things about digital 8. it is im sorry to say somewhat antiquated though. Kinda like an 8 track.. Recording Media may be a problem in the near future. This would be the only issue with the camera I could think of in your budget.

If you can.. i would look into Mini DV.. Im sure you can find a comparable product in the newer Mini DV format with a similiar price.. 350 - 450 Im guessing.. ??
You have to take it off the tripod and remove the tripod mount from it to load a tape. That is a HUGE negative for me. I tried one of these actually and returned it even with best buy nailing me for a $50 restocking charge. Digital8 is fine, just save your money and pick you up a nice TRV520 on Ebay for less than the cost of that. You won't regret it.
good info Dave.. the bottom loading tape mechanisms is an extreme in-convenience and for some reason some brilliant engineer came up with that silly idea.
Ya know, I did notice that it loads from the bottom.. but I never really thought about it on a chase situation... That would be a big PITA to deal with, wouldn't it.... Thanks David for the insight.. That is definately a CON factor for me too ... I'll look into some miniDV's and the TRV520...

Thanks again guys..

I just found a few TRV-520's on ebay... mostly going for aprox $300.00 ... from what I read, it really seems like a good camcorder.... some of the feature are actually better than the 260 & 460 ..

David, is this the camcorder you are useing?? If so, do you have any vids from it on the net I can see??

fplowman, I have been considering a miniDV but I think that will be probably in the future hopefully.... cause the one I want is about 2Gs.. way to steep for my wallet at this moment... lol

What I had considered doing is getting the Digital8 first as a starter camcorder ... save my money .... get the, 2100 I think it is, and use the Digital8 for backup or a second cam for other shots ect....

Another thing to look at is the lux rating of a camera. The lower the lux rating, the better picture quality it will obtain in low light situations - which are very common in the storm environment. The lower the lux, the later you can keep getting decent video after daylight fades. This is very helpful as a large percentage of storm observing/photography is done in the late evening and after sunset. A lower lux is better than having nightshot feature (which IMO is not very useful for chasing purposes).

A lux rating in the single digits is desirable, though cams with this rating tend to be more expensive. A used TRV900 (lux of 4) might be a good option, though the price may be a stretch ($900 average for a used unit).

If a low lux cam is out of your price range, a camera with an adjustable shutter speed that can go slower than 1/60 sec will also help in low light.
Dan is right about the lux rating.. Daves problem though is hes on a budget,.. To get a 3 lux or better you need to spend $3500 on a 3 chipper 1/3 or larger..

Actually the least expensive 1/3 chipper Im aware of is the Sony VX2100 for about 2,400... about 1 or 2 lux.. ( i think they measure that with full gain) Full gain isnt something you want to use for quality video..

Try EVSonline.. i can attest to their dependability. i have purchased about 8 k dollars worth of equipment from them. they are authorized sellers no grey market..Ask for Rush.. tell him Fred sent you..

I assure you that when you go to buy online you will easily be sold on these incredibly low prices some resellers have.. They arent real though.. Theyll steal from you.. Trust me.. I have had sleepless nights while some bastard in NY had my money for 5 weeks playing games and toying with me..

Another good company whom i would recommend is B&H photo .. they have a NY style of customer service..(very brash) but they dont give you the reach around.. You get your product as purchased with NO BS

My next camera im buying is a panasonic prosumer camera..

it wont have as good lux as the 1/3 chipper camera.. but people who have used it say its close..

I use the DVX100A Panasonic camera which is a higher end progressive camera(emulates film),.. problem is though it kinda big up there mounted in your vehicle.. most of the munts readily availabe it seems are for smaller cameras like the DVC 30 I have my eye set on.. Im ramblin.. its late and im tired/... :lol:
Find an old 8mm for your night video and process it back thru the mini-dv to digitalize it.
At least this works for me. I use my 10yr old Canon es 8mm on the dash and for most night video. Afterwards I connect it to the digital cam and record it to digital.
I just found a few TRV-520's on ebay... mostly going for aprox $300.00 ... from what I read, it really seems like a good camcorder.... some of the feature are actually better than the 260 & 460 ..

David, is this the camcorder you are useing?? If so, do you have any vids from it on the net I can see??

What I had considered doing is getting the Digital8 first as a starter camcorder ... save my money .... get the, 2100 I think it is, and use the Digital8 for backup or a second cam for other shots ect....


Yes I use a TRV520. This is my second one. IMO it was the last of the really Digital8 camcorders before moving on to DV. My last one took a TON of abuse anywhere from sand, to constantly getting wet to that lightning strike back in April. It finally started giving me some errors during editing so I had to replace it. I bought one of the ones you mentioned about in an emergency in KS, but promptly returned it almost completely because of that bottom loading features. It also felt toyish compared to my 520. I picked up another barely used (seems brand new) 520 for a little over $300 on Ebay. It's certainly been a good enough camera for broadcast TV work, at least they haven't had any objections. :) It has an easy to use infinity focus (important!), has firewire (very important) and I use the higher end Sony 8mm tapes. You can also get a battery for these that last an entire chase. IMO if you are on a budget you can't go wrong with this camera! And yes, any video you have seen from me, online or not, came from a 520! There are a couple on the front page of my site right now. Keep in mind they are compressed a little. If you get really serious about getting one I could put up a short full digital video file. Too long of one would be huge by at least you could see the quality.

Graham and I were amazed by the low light shooting you could do with it. It does get grainy, but it sees in much darker light than his DV camera.

If you can't afford to go higher end and get a 900, VX1000, or VX2100 I firmly believe this is the way to go. I personally would never own anything but a sony when it comes to video cameras. They have always gone way beyond anything I asked of them.
Thanks David, I think I just might go with the 520 ... I have seen alot of your footage and even though it's compressed, it looks very good...

Thanks for the input everyone...
I bought a similar model the Sony DCR-TRV350 last year before chase season. I went with this Digital 8 model because it would make it easier to transfer old 8mm content to digital. Also, it was priced low (about $400 if I recall correctly) which allowed me to replace my 4 year old Canon 8mm. (Before that I had a Minolta 8mm camcorder that didn't have an easy way to turn off the autofocus.)

This camcorder is very easy to use and transfer the video off the camcorder into the computer using either USB or IEEE1394 (aka Firewire or I-link). The factory battery life is far superior to any other camcorder I've owned. (Of course it is Li-ion compared to NiCds)

While I'm very pleased with the machine, I only have one complaint. The "digital picture" feature which takes a capture onto the MemoryStick sucks. The pictures aren't useful. It will also do a MPEG video recording onto the stick from either the live video (w/o tape or with tape) or from the tape. It's consistent with other .mpgs you might create. However, it's not nearly as good as you can make putting video on the computer and
use the software.

Another thing I'd remind any less experienced camcorder buyers is that you will never use digital zoom. When you are looking at specs, only look at the optical zoom. This is the actual magnification provided by the lenses of the camera. Digital zoom is just "blowing it up" which quickly degrades the quality. This Sony may have 700X digital zoom, but it hasn't been on since the 2nd day I owned the camcorder when I was still playing with it. Honestly, I don't know what use ANYBODY (chaser or not) would ever have with that crap. It's marketing BS.

I spent about $50 on that upgrade to get that "picture" feature and about $50 on the MemoryStick. That is $100 I would like to have back.

And to echo the other comments, there is no feature (outside of video quality) more important to camcorders and chasing than an autofocus that stays off when you turn the camera on and off. Or at least the autofocus is easy to turn off again. Chasing involves a lot of turning the camcorder on and off and rarely do you want it to be on autofocus. (Something I didn't consider when I bought that Minolta in 1996)

Overall....this Sony is a very good camcorder for its price. I intend to use it until at least next year when I hope to replace it with a 3 CCD camcorder.