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Canon MV500i Digital Video Camcorder
The compact design and impressive features of the Canon MV500i make it an entry level camera worth recommending for anyone wanting to get into digital video.
The Camera fits comfortably in the hand and is easy to operate. The Image Stabilizer function gets rid of amateur camera wobble and even scenes shot from moving vehicles are steady.
Typical of Canon cameras the MV500i features a high-performance lens with an 18x optical zoom. The digital zoom takes this all the way to 360x. Impressive even if a bit grainy.
For those who prefer close ups the camera has no trouble automatically focusing on objects only 1cm away
This camera practically operates on auto-pilot. There are seven recording modes for different shooting conditions including Easy Recording, Auto, Sports, Portrait, Spotlight, Surf and Snow, and Low Light recording modes.
A low light mode for filming in poor light is common on cameras these days. The Canon MV500i goes one better with Night Mode and good recordings can be made even with light levels as low as 0.5 lux.
A number of manual options are provided for those who like to pretend they are in control. Focusing, white balance and shutter speed can be adjusted manually.
I found the controls very easy to operate. There are not many buttons to press on this camera and a small button wheel helps with menu navigation and selection.
The fold out 6cm LCD screen rotates and can even be closed with the screen facing outwards. This is useful when playing back footage.
Unfortunately the main menu button is only accessible when the LCD screen is open. The DV cassette is inserted from the base of the camera which could be tricky if using a tripod. But these are minor quibbles.
There is a photo button for taking still pictures. However, there is no memory card. When the photo button is pressed the camcorder records the photo as a 6 second freeze frame. Any sound is also recorded.
The built-in microphone works well and is sensibly positioned at the front of the camera so there is less chance of picking up motor noise. There is an accessory shoe for an external microphone.
The MV500i has a number of basic fades, wipes and other digital effects that can be used when recording.
However most users would probably prefer to edit footage on a PC. The MV500i supports Firewire (IEEE 1394 ) so transferring footage to a PC is quick and easy. Firewire ports are not that common on PCs but are easy to add. I used an Adaptec Firewire card that worked fine.
The MV500i Series provides DV In/Out so users can upload edited footage or graphics from a computer, or other digital device, to the camera. This makes it possible to incorporate analog video data into new digital recordings.
An analogue-digital converter lets users convert analog video and audio signals, on VHS or 8mm tape, into digital signals for real-time output.
Canon provides two other cameras in the MV500 range. All three are worth looking at by anyone wanting a basic, good quality digital video camera.
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