09-18-2009 05:11 PM
The new HD camcorder shoots sharp and clear video at 1080p and 720p. Its auto white balance is fairly accurate, though it skews to the cooler end of the spectrum. It is easy to use the camera, although the user will have to get used to significant lag in response after buttons are pressed. It performs well in good light, loses shadow detail in average light and shows plenty of vertical banding in low-light.
It has some important features such as giving the user the ability to bump up the video's gain in touch lighting situations, even while recording is engaged. The built-in light is useful for close subjects. Its battery life can accommodate more than two hours of straight shooting and about two days of casual shooting and video reviewing, in the manner than a vacationer might behave. White balance can be user-selected (tungsten, florescent, outdoor) as can the shooting scene (face, night, landscape).
It lacks a true wide angle, features a choppy digital zoom that degrades the image quality throughout its range and has a microphone that is not very sensitive.
It is a poor digital camera for several reasons. There is substantial shutter lag, forcing the user to anticipate the moment, almost like a fortune teller. The auto expsoure over reacts to low light or dark subjects in the frame by slowing the shutter too much, causing motion blur and blown-out highlights. And finally, because the LCD defaults its view to the aspect ratio of the video mode, users cannot accurately frame their shot since the finished photo is always in 4:3 ratio. This means, when a user is in the widescreen format (16:9) but wants to take a photo, he/she must frame the shot in the LCD as if he/she was too close to the subject. When the shutter button is pressed, the camcorder widens its view out to fill the screen, giving the user a brief glimpse of the framing he/she actually accomplished. There is not enough time for the user to reframe his/her shot at that point. If the user wants an LCD that more accurately shows what he/she is shooting, the user must change video modes to non-widescreen SD and then take the shot. This doesn't help users who want to shoot video in HD but still take still images.
Being able to output MOV and AVI files (user selected) makes it a great cross-platform camcorder. However, my question is why isn't the camcorder bundled with software that can handle 1080p? If it's a budget camcorder, why are users expected to shell out for software that costs more than the camcorder in order to edit the video they shoot? The bundled ArcSoft Media Impressions is an older version. Other budget camcorders in this same class bundle a newer version of that software, allowing at least 720p support.