Friday, December 5, 2008

HV30, the Best Consumer Camcorder

Note: I'm not getting checks from Canon to say this; I'm just excited about my new toy.

I think the HV30 is the best you can do without going into the prosumer +$2000 level. Here is what sets it apart from the average cheap camcorder:

1. The ability to shoot progressive frames. This is invaluable for those filming for the internet. Plus, progressive frames compress better; one of the reasons store bought movies look better than average joe's.
2. The ability to white balance. Especially with blue/green screening, this is very helpful. Good luck finding it on the average consumer camcorder.
3. Native 1920x1080 sensor times 3. This camera is not FakeD - it's real HD. When it scales, it scales DOWN, not up. It has three sensors for each primary color of light, and the sensors are larger than the Panasonic DVX100's (which is around $2,300). Granted the DVX100 is an SD camera, but it sure helps.
4. External mic jack. This feature is seldom found on consumer cameras.

Drawbacks: Viewfinder doesn't move and doesn't have impressive detail. Low light video with a CCD would probably come out better than with this camera's CMOS sensor, so keep in mind you'll want to light well for great video (as usual). The running of the tape mechanism will mess with your audio, so either use the external mic jack or record audio separately. The included battery isn't so hot. Order the better one when you buy this camera.

It does not have all the ease of control that a prosumer camera would, but notice I'm comparing it to cameras of that caliber to show its shortcomings. My rave review is based on other cameras in the HV30's price range; and of them I think it is the best. Also keep in mind that with prosumer cameras, an accessory like a tripod is going to cost you a lot more than it will with this little camera. And with its current Christmas price, if you don't have the budget for a high end camera but want a picture that is just as good or better, this is the one for you! Seriously, even if I did have the budget for one of those high-priced cameras, I'd still get an extra HV30 because this price is so good and it wouldn't be bad to have around as a very portable spare.

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