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Canon Vixia HV30

>> Thursday, August 20, 2009

Canon Vixia HV30's user interface is similar to that of Canon point and shoot cameras like the PowerShot SD790 IS. It's flat, uses big block text, and has only four colors. The menus are drab compared with those of the Sony and Samsung camcorders, which are projected over images on colorful touch screens in a way that gives them a 3D feeling. What's worse, Canon Vixia HV30, unlike the hard drive based Sony or JVC Everio GZ-HD10, can bog you down with its in video navigation.

You can't jump through recorded video via DVD style chapter menus, but instead need to fast forward and rewind manually to get to the spot you're looking for on the miniDV tape. For some people, though, tape based recording is preferable. If you're the kind of person who will rarely have your camcorder cross paths with your computer, then the miniDV format of Canon Vixia HV30 isn't a major drawback. MiniDV requires much less maintenance than drive based camcorders do.

When you run out of room on a tape (each one holds 60 to 120 minutes of video, depending on quality), you just slap in a new one in and you're good to go. Once the memory on, say, the Sony HD-SR11 is full, you have transfer the video to your computer before you can shoot more. Image quality in video produced by Canon Vixia HV30 was terrific. The only flaw was that, like the Samsung SC-HMZ20C and JVC Everio GZ-HD10, Canon Vixia HV30 produced images that showed a trace amount of purple fringing in high contrast areas (where ceiling lights meet dark ceilings, for example), but the fringing was not as pronounced as with the other two models.

(Sony's HDR-SR11, on the other hand, showed no fringing whatsoever.) When moving from indoor to outdoor lighting, Canon Vixia HV30 had no trouble auto adjusting white balance, so colors always looked accurate. Even though it doesn't feature face detection, as the Samsung and the Sony do, the camcorder was still quick to autofocus on faces. Images were sharp, too 0.75 inch text was legible on screen in footage that was shot from more than 10 feet away. Canon Vixia HV30 has some interesting recording options. It can capture 1.920 by 1.080 high def video in three different modes 60 fps interlaced, 30 fps progressive, and 24 fps progressive.

Thirty fps, the speed at which many TV shows are shot, is great for extracting frames from the video to use as still images. The 24 fps option simulates motion captured on film a very cool effect. In test video shot at 24 fps, the on camera motion did look noticeably different than in comparable 60 fps video. Video editing software isn't included. Canon's bundled "Digital Video Solutions Disc" is misleadingly titled at best. The software doesn't capture video, only still images. The camcorder's HDV video format, though, is compatible with many third party video editing programs.

Mac users can rely on Apple's iMovie '08 (included on newer Macs running Leopard), and PC users should turn to Microsoft's Movie Maker 6 (part of Windows Vista). The top of the camcorder houses a slot Canon calls the "Accessory Shoe." Canon branded accessories, such as lights and shotgun stereo microphones, can snap onto this slot to add more functionality to Canon Vixia HV30. You may not need an extra mic, though. Sound produced by the built in stereo recording on the HV30 was superb not as outstanding as the Sony HD-SR11's built in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround recording, but remarkable nonetheless.

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