Sony Bloggie MHS-FS1 Review
I have no idea whether this is the first review you’ve read of Sony’s new Bloggie MHS-FS1, but I’m here to give you some unbiased opinions on this product. I recently went to one of those big chain stores in search for a decent camera, and my main emphasis was on filming short segments for the internet. I’m producing a simple animated series, but anyway, I won’t bore you with those details.
The salesman could have cared less that I was going to buy a camera from him. I asked him what his opinion was, and he told me flat out that the Bloggie was it. There was no other camera worth my time. It wasn’t an overly expensive camera, and I liked the fact that it had HD capability and 4 Gigabytes of memory built-in. How could I possibly lose with a name like Sony? Well… in some respects, I might have.
I liked the look of the sleek black camera, and I’ll be honest – I got home totally excited to plug the thing in and get started. The camera comes with a nice little storage box, and the Sony logo is eloquently displayed on top. I opened the case and found little inside other than the camera. There was a short USB cord (and I mean SHORT… a couple of INCHES??), and a piece of paper that proudly stated that the camera contained the instruction manual on it. I looked all around the camera for a way to charge the thing. I found nothing. Could they not have at least told me that the darn thing charges through the USB cable? I’m savvy with electronics, but I’m not a sage or a mind reader. I need to be told these things, and I’m not interested in screwing the BUILT-IN battery up! (And no, they didn’t tell me the battery was built-in, I had to guess that).
Well, finally, I got the Bloggie MHS-FS1 plugged into my USB port, and the camera installed the instructions and some Bloggie software. Nothing too fancy or special, and I haven’t used the software yet. I use Adobe products, and I just pull the files directly out of the camera.
In case you’re like me and don’t want to sift through a mountain of instructions (A.K.A. the PDF file that comes with the camera), the Bloggie takes around 200 minutes to charge. The “charging light” on the power button turns off when the charge cycle is complete. Simple stuff, but not at all simple without directions. Sony really screwed up on the directions front.
Okay, okay, I know, all this stuff is sort of irrelevant. How does the camera fare as a camera? Well, I’ll give you my reactions.
I have no intention of boring you with technical specifications. I could list out the specifications of a Gutenberg press, or the engine onboard a Wright Brothers’ Plane, and they would sound fancy. I’m not going in that direction.
Once you get the Bloggie up and running, you’ll notice something RIGHT away – and I mean RIGHT away. The thing is about as simple as a camera can get. If you’re used to the world of digital cameras, the Bloggie is going to just blow your mind. About the only thing you can do is pick your resolution, and there are essentially High, Medium, and Low resolutions for both Photography and Full Motion Video. There’s got to be advanced options or at least hidden menus, right? Nope. The good Folks at Sony feel that they have mastered the art of auto-everything. You can adjust brightness, turn flicker protection on and off, enable time stamping, and toggle a host of even more useless options.
Okay, so, the camera is dirt simple, but how does it actually fare in the trenches? It’s pretty average. For a camera boasting quality in the tens of megapixel range, it sure doesn’t seem much better than my old trusty 6.0 megapixel name brand camera. The microphone is particularly poor, and seems to create a lot of unnecessary noise, as it even picks up the noise of the lens zooming in and out. The pictures are a bit grainy at best, even with hundreds of watts of studio light.
You know, it doesn’t make it any easier that they didn’t include options for a single person taking photos. After all, this is the BLOGGIE, right? It’s for someone to use solo? There’s a time-delay function, but the camera only takes one picture. My trusty old camera could take 10 or 20 pictures in a row! That’s much more efficient than having to take one at a time.
There’s another issue with the Bloggie. If you intend to use it solo, it has 2 basic filming modes. The camera senses whether you are using it horizontally or vertically, and adjusts the picture’s orientation to suit the style of filming. This is fine, but they only added a tripod screw hole for the vertical position. Now I can barely fit myself in a shot! Who thought of this, and why? The camera’s tripod mount should allow for the wider angle!! Oh well.
Anyway, will the Bloggie do what I intended to do with it? As a matter of fact, it will. The HD video looks very good, too. The camera has no flash or light, so if you plan to do work with it, you had better have ample lighting. Under poor lighting conditions, the camera produces images that can seem grainy; but, for use outdoors at night, the images look surprisingly good. It’s a mixed bag, and it depends what your ultimate purpose will be. Is the camera going to deliver something near studio quality video? That’s highly debatable, and depends on a lot more than your camera. It might, but only with a separate microphone, and extremely good lighting. I think we all know that great cameras cost thousands, but a reality check is always nice.
It’s hard to say whether this is the camera for you or not. I have been dogging it because the interface and packaging deserve it, but as far as how it ranks as a camera – I have little to say that is good or bad. I don’t feel that the MHS-FS1 is that big of an improvement over older technology, but your mileage may vary. Bottom line: There’s a lot more to film than just resolution. The Bloggie camera seems to run with the idea that higher resolution equals better film. This just isn’t true. There are many, many factors in play. My experiments with the Bloggie have shown it to be ordinary rather than extraordinary. It flat out falls short on features, too.