I am the President of the Omaha Bee Club. The Omaha Bee Club purchased a Sony HandyCam CX240 video camera earlier this year. The purpose for the camera was to be able to create educational videos for beekeepers and to record presentations made at the monthly bee club meetings.
Sony Handycam CX240 Features
This is referred to as an “Entry Level” camera by Sony and for the price, about $220.00 at the time of purchase at a local Walmart, that was all we felt was necessary. We aren’t trying to compete for an Oscar or anything.
We started using it almost immediately. I myself use it the most, if not entirely, because I am also the bee club media specialist and librarian to boot (we wear many hats in a bee club). We also bought a 6 foot tripod to use with the camera which has helped out tremendously. We also bought two 32GB memory cards to be able to have enough storage to hold multiple recordings at once. On a busy bee day, things can steamroll quickly.
The camera allows for HD recording and recording in MP4 simultaneously. It also offers the option to just shoot in HD. For our intents and purposes, we prefer to shoot in MP4 because it takes less memory. However, up to this point, the only way to get MP$ recording is to also shoot HD simultaneously. Good thing we have the bigger memory cards, eh? Actually, even with shooting both formats simultaneously, it seems to be sufficient for multiple recordings anyway.
As I mentioned earlier, we use this camera a lot to record educational videos for beekeepers. I record in segments whenever possible so as to accommodate some limited editing before we put the videos up on our YouTube Channel. I am not a short person. The feature of allowing the viewscreen to turn up or down is very much appreciated and useful. I can stand and record at the tripod without having to bend in half just to see what the camera sees in the viewer. Recording is a one touch button setup and that works nicely as well.
We have recorded indoors and outdoors many times. The camera is able to select settings for high light levels and low light levels on it’s own which makes it easier for us to just aim and go regardless of where we are recording.
There is the still camera feature which we discovered is very handy to have and it takes excellent still pictures. There are many times we will be recording in segments outdoors and while in between segments, we will see some kind of bee activity nearby and snap some stills at the same time. We love that feature. The still photo feature is a one button set up as well on top of the back of the camera. I like the placement a lot. There seems to be some small delay as the camera takes the photo, but it’s not that big of a deal. Here is an example of a recent still taken with the camera.
One feature we have come to appreciate greatly is the zoom feature. Often, beekeepers do live bee removals from buildings and structures. A great many of those bee calls, we arrive to find the bees crawling into a space that is 2 to 5 stories up. Most often near a wall or along a roofline. Climbing a ladder to just determine what is going on that high up isn’t always easily done. We have discovered that by using the camera viewscreen and zooming in on the spot where bees can be seen flying in and out that we can also see exactly where the entrance hole is very clearly.
This has helped us to re-determine our approach to doing the removal whereas otherwise, we wouldn’t have known until ladders or scaffolding were put into place to climb up that high. Here is a photo of one of those situations (also taken with the photo feature of this camera.)
Using a screenshot from the video camera gives us more zoom but gives less clarity. This doesn’t matter too much to us because for our purposes, we can see the entrance well enough to work with.
I review products for practical use. This camera has come to be a very valuable tool for us at the Omaha Bee Club because the main features of the camera are relatively easy to figure out and use in a short amount of time. The added bonus of realizing how useful the 54x zoom in bee removal assessments has made it nearly invaluable. This alone has saved us time and money in preparations to do the bee removals. Taking this camera from a convenient tool to have in education to a necessary tool used in day to day beekeeping activity.
I use a particular grading scale when I review beekeeping specific products. If I were to apply that grading system to this product, it would go as follows:
Usability: How easy is it to use? Are things easy to figure out or is there training/learning curve to figure out how to use it?
This camera gets a grade of a “B” (Not too hard to figure out, simple instructions help.) from me for usability. It isn’t too hard to figure out for general use and if you have trouble, the instructions are actually helpful in figuring the rest out.
Appearance: Does it look like it should or as we expect it too?
In this category, I give the Sony HandyCam CX240 a grade of A (It is nice, clean, and professional.) it looks sharp, it appears sleek and all the buttons seem well placed and made for easy functionality.
Effectiveness: How well does it meet the need? Does it do what it is supposed to do? Does it do it well?
Once again, in this category, I give this camera an “A” grade (It does exactly as it says it will do, no question.) As an “Entry level” camera, I have to say I think it actually exceeds it’s advertized expectations.
Cost/Value: Does the price match up to it’s value?
In this category, I‘ve given the CX240 a grade of “B” (The cost is just right. Almost surprised it doesn’t cost more.) As I said above, I would think this camera exceeds just being an “Entry level” camera.
All in all, This camera rates a summary grade of a “B+” from me. The B’s bring it down a little, but on the whole, the effectiveness of it swings it up in it’s favor.