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Hardware Reviews
15,669 Reviews

Canon HV20 HD camcorder

£999 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Canon

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

Compared to Panasonic's sleek HDC-SD1, the Canon HV20 HD camcorder looks a bit ungainly, mostly because it has a large MiniDV tape mechanism grafted onto one side.

Compared to Panasonic's sleek HDC-SD1, the Canon HV20 HD camcorder looks a bit ungainly, mostly because it has a large MiniDV tape mechanism grafted on to one side.

The Canon HV20 records 1,920x1,080-pixel HDV-formatted high-definition footage or standard-definition footage to MiniDV tapes, whereas the Panasonic HDC-SD1 (review here) records in AVCHD format to SDHC Cards.

However, the Canon and the Panasonic weigh almost the same. The Canon HV20 weighs 0.51kg, the HDC-SD1, 0.48kg. (Canon will release its first AVCHD camcorder, the HR10, in August 2007.)

The Canon HV20 has some tiny buttons - an avoidable design decision given the size of its body; the start/stop button and the zoom button are particularly small, although the latter has a variable-speed setting, which helps smooth zooming.

The Canon HV20's lens cover is integrated into the body - and it's motorised, so it slides open when you power up and slides shut when you power down. That way, you don't have to worry about a lens cap intruding into your shot or getting yanked by a curious toddler.

The Canon HV20 came out on top of our August 2007 issue's chart mainly because it has more features and costs quite a bit less than the Panasonic HDC-SD1. The Canon HV20 offers a 24p mode to simulate the look of film recording; this setting adds a certain lushness to video, as long as you don't use it to capture fast-action or low-light clips. This camcorder doesn't have a full-manual mode, but it does have aperture- and shutter-priority modes.

However, unlike past Canon models, the Canon HV20 lacks a mode dial on its body, so you must scroll through a menu and use a tiny joystick to select different capture modes. Having to use this method slowed us down. A dedicated button on the camera body is supposed to enable the camcorder to compensate for a backlit subject, but it didn't even out the exposure as much as we would have liked (in fact, it lightened both dark areas and bright areas).

Canon HV20 Expert Verdict »

Canon HV20 reviews verified by Reevoo

Canon HV20Scores 8.6 out of 10 based on 7 reviews
Analogue line-in
built in stereo microphone (MPEG1 Audio Layer 2 stereo)
2.76Mp still photography
no built-in memory, miniSD card slot included
night recording mode
rechargeable battery
2.7in widescreen LCD
13 shooting modes
video input/output HDMI, DV (in/out)
(40x digital zoom), 10x optical zoom
2-year guarantee
  • Build Quality: We give this item 8 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 7 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 8 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Since the HDV format demands less computing power than the AVCHD format does, we would steer clear of AVCHD models unless we had an extremely powerful PC. And the Canon HV20 is one of the better HDV models on the market, at a pretty good price to boot.

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