The pretenders to DV's crown are lining up for battle. One of the first to enter the fray was recordable DVD, with Sony currently the most enthusiastic backer. But Canon has finally joined the ranks with a new DVD camcorder range, currently consisting of the DC20 and the cheaper DC10.

The main difference between the two models is the CCD (charge-coupled device). While the DC20 has a 1/3.9in sensor offering 2.2Mp (megapixels), the DC10 has a slightly smaller 1/4in unit providing just 1.33Mp.
The DC20 also incorporates a built-in video light and flash, so will be more functional in poorly lit interiors.

One big selling point is the ability to record to DVD. The smaller 8cm discs are used, and both -R and -RW are supported. The -R format is more DVD-player-compatible, but has to be finalised before you can watch the disc on anything other than the camcorder itself. DVD-RW discs can use VR format, which reduces compatibility in favour of the ability to edit on disc and add footage incrementally. The problem is, both discs can store only 21 minutes of video at the top settings, less than a DV tape or hard disk.

The DC20 offers a decent range of options. The more popular ones are available via an innovative menu that wraps around the edge of the LCD panel.

Despite its obvious consumer orientation, the DC20 proved itself more than capable in terms of quality. In daylight, colour fidelity was very good, and low-light performance was acceptable, marred only by a slight red over-emphasis. But more serious videomakers won't be impressed by the lack of an accessory shoe, mic input or headphone socket. Discs load from the back, so tripod use isn't hindered.

Canon DC20: Specs

  • 2.2Mp CCD
  • Mpeg2 recording to 8cm DVD-R or -RW
  • f1.8, 10x optical zoom
  • 1,632x1,224 still resolution
  • USB 2.0
  • A/V-out
  • 2.2Mp CCD
  • Mpeg2 recording to 8cm DVD-R or -RW
  • f1.8, 10x optical zoom
  • 1,632x1,224 still resolution
  • USB 2.0
  • A/V-out

OUR VERDICT

The DC20 is easy to use and capable of above-average video quality, but you're paying for the privilege of recording straight to disc. There's a clear benefit to being able to stick media straight in your DVD player to watch or into your PC for editing, but capacity is a step back from DV, making hard disk-based camcorders a better choice for lengthy holiday videos.

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