This is a product review of the SONY HDR-PJ540 Camcorder, which will also cover base with earlier and later model(s), all which have minor variations in viewfinder and CMOS sizes, as well as internal memory. All models have the same projector and function.
Setting up can be a challenge, as how you do things sometimes aren't as accurate as other models. Manual focus is one aspect, where you have to aim and target your focal point. This usually ends up with undesirable results between one extreme to another, but mid-range settings can be a good compromise, especially in dark or similar-looking areas, where auto focus will not do so well.
Auto focus seems to do very well, and doesn't seem to drop out, although in the dark, it does a little here and there, but most cameras do that.
It appears the image quality overall is very good, and in spite of the viewfinder's display of dark areas, the sensor will pick up things said viewfinder may not, as highlighted in the dark test in the video.
Photo quality is good with it's 9.2 Megapixel shots (better than 4K) resolution). It will not replace a bonifide camera for great photos, but for stills while recording video, does the job. The "Photo Mode" option softens up the sharpness to hide the noise in dark scenes, but seems to not look as good. Probably a good idea to snap a shot with the Photo and Video mode, and save what's best.
It does "Dual Recording", which records AVCHD and MP4 video. This is pointless in my opinion, as having both take up needless space on the 32GB internal memory (or up to 64GB with MicroSD card installed, not included outside of potential package deals). It's best to disable it, only making AVCHD files (or delete them if you leave MP4s, leaving more space, but making it a pain to go in and delete often, especially when space is low).
It's best not to go over the 9Mb/s setting for quality, as it becomes bloat, rather than quality past that mark. YouTube squashes it down even more, for that purpose, 9 is good enough.
Take note that there is NO FLASH on this model, so if it's dark, you'll need to purchase one, or a video light, if you need the brightness. A shoe mount atop the device allows just that.
The projector is a 640x360 DLP Light Engine projector, with an RGB LED light array, producing a 25-lumen image (all models) and about a 1,500:1 contrast ratio. Albeit somewhat negligable, the clean room standards are a bit sub-par putting them together, as there can be particles within. As you see in this video, one in particular does not show up, but it's there on a pitch black screen. It may not appear in the video for the review, as it is very faint. Keep in mind to never touch the projector window, as any streaks or film will show greatly on the image. Make sure you have a good lens cleaner or lens cloth before use. Quality will suffer (shown in video).
Audio is a tad tinny, mostly because of one microphone's placement, and a mostly hollow case (reverb).Quality is still fairly high, and better than other full-sized camcorder out there, even their own. This really becomes apparent when aiming at something on the ground.
There's also a feature to reduce the audio level from the person recording, by focusing the sound straight out front. The end result is HORRIBLE, making a drive-through speaker sound like a high-end sound system in comparison. Highly NOT recommended to use that feature.
Overall, it is a good camera, very good image quality, stabilization, but seems a bit cheap and cheezy on the build quality. While the projector is a nice touch, it's more of a novelty, and the balanced optics is the real star of this product.