Sony HDR-CX405 Handycam review: a cheap, compact HD camcorder

The Sony HDR-CX405 offers a long zoom range on a budget, but its video quality is variable

A front-on view of the Sony HDR-CX405 camcorder
(Image: © Lauren Scott)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The Sony HDR-CX405 HD Handycam is a compact pick-up-and-go option, which handles like a traditional camcorder and adapts to most general filming situations easily. It can't compete with flagship smartphones for content creation specs, or features, and is limited to Full HD footage. But if you've got a basic mobile device and want something portable with a long zoom range – either for filming family time or trips out – the HDR-CX405 is a cute and affordable option.


  • +

    Tiny dimensions and weight

  • +

    Very affordably priced

  • +

    Built-in USB cable


  • -

    No headphone or mic sockets

  • -

    Build quality is plasticky

  • -

    Joystick fiddly for big hands

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It seems sensible to think that as smartphones have become such advanced all-in-one content creators, the best camcorders would be redundant. And yet, the compact Sony HDR-CX405 continues to sell and review well. With an asking price of under $300/£300, the CX405 doesn't go toe-to-toe with the best 4K camera for filmmaking or dedicated cinema cameras like the Sony FX30. Instead, you get modest Full HD (1920x1080 resolution) video at 60p and 9.2MP stills, plus some limited options to change settings between automatic or manual exposure. 

Its appeal lies in its simplicity and portability. You don't have to be a seasoned videographer to use the CX405. Sony has designed it for people who want to make home movies or capture their family on holiday. At its release, smartphone cameras were still in their infancy and nowhere near the quality of the latest flagships, making the CX405 a more straightforward choice.


Panasonic's cheap, compact Panasonic HC-V180 camcorder is almost the same price as the Sony HDR-CX405, with an identical sensor size. At almost the same price, it's better if you want to take it traveling, thanks to its longer 50x optical zoom and battery life. An added bonus is that the LCD is  a touchscreen.


If you like the brand but not the resolution, I'd recommend spending a little more on the 4K-capable Sony FDR-AX43 camcorder. It's a more advanced all-rounder. As well as higher resolution, it also has two 3.5mm jacks for a microphone and a pair of headphones, plus Wi-Fi for greater connectivity.

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Lauren Scott
Freelance contributor/former Managing Editor

Lauren is a writer, reviewer, and photographer with ten years of experience in the camera industry. She's the former Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, and previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, Technique editor for PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, and Deputy Editor of our sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine. An experienced journalist and freelance photographer, Lauren also has bylines at Tech Radar,, Canon Europe, PCGamesN, T3, Stuff, and British Airways' in-flight magazine (among others). When she's not testing gear for DCW, she's probably in the kitchen testing yet another new curry recipe or walking in the Cotswolds with her Flat-coated Retriever.