"Most Bang for your Buck"4.5 starson by tonydj49
Pros: Easy Menus, Upload Video & Photo to PC, Widescreen, Decent in low light and Amazing in good light, lightweight, long last battery, wireless remote, great zoom and image stability, Great Overall Value
Cons: Placement of W/T Zoom for people w/big hands, does not include firewire cable, color viewfinder is a plus but neck of viewfinder is short and not very comfortable.
Summary: I researched like most people do for quite some time and decided on this model as the camcorder that offered all the great features available, good performance of actual recording and was most affordable. I ended up purchasing from an online store for $314.00 including shipping and tax compared to $409.00 at my local electronics store.
I've been playing around with the camera for a few days now and I still have much to learn about it though nothing seems too overwhelming. The Manual is very clear and simple. You can record in widescreen or regular depending on what type of TV you have at home. You can take a still photo while you are recording video without any interruption to the video. You can also go back through the playback of one of your videos and record a still image later. Included is the video cable so you can connect and watch your videos on the tv, then sit back on your couch and control the camera w/the wireless remote. Probably the best feature is being able to upload to your PC w/the included USB so you can burn your movies to DVD. (Assuming you have a DVD burner on your PC. If not you can also burn using a DVD burner and your TV.)
For recording in different light situations there are 9 different modes that all help w/focus and clarity. Specially like NIGHT mode that helps a lot in low light situations. Makes recording w/as little as a reading lamp possible if needed. There's also a "fireworks" mode that I plan on using on my upcoming trip to Disney during Independence weekend. Also has 9 different ways to fade in and out of recording along w/9 different special effects for recording such as black & white and sepia. Navigating back and forth between different modes is very easy as there is not too much bunched up in the menu. Also, navigating is mostly w/the joy stick that is really cool and makes it easy to work your way around. (Sony and their touch LCD screens sound cool but seemed more difficult and harmful to the screen. Waiters sometimes struggle entering your order onto a 20inch screen. Your camcorder screen is 2.7 inches people!)
Color viewfinder helps for recording in extra bright situations where the LCD screen might not look so well, though this LCD screen out performs the color, brightness and clarity of many other similar camcorders. The 20X zoom is more than enough to zoom to objects more than a city block away. Obviously you might not need to do that very often but just imagine how well it can perform for objects within close/average range. The batter is hidden inside where the LCD screen opens from to keep it from getting bulkier on the outside. Audio has two options, regular and extra sensitive. Both are good depending on the situation. LCD light is very bright to look at but it does help a bit in low light situations. I have yet to see a camera w/an excellent light on this type of camera. You'll have to go back to the old VHS cameras for a good light. If needed, there are mounts available for sale on the net to add an extra light for about $20 though they dont look very attractive in terms of appearance. All of the jacks for charging, viewing, cards and batteries are all hidden or blend in to keep it looking sleek inside and out. Go out to your local store and pick up and handle all the cameras available. Many, specially those by Samsung and JVC seem to be made of cheap plastic. The Canon is very solid and sturdy that makes you feel like you have a higher end camcorder. Which in terms of what you get, you practically do have a higher end camcorder. There is also a cover that slides over the lens to protect it.
Now the negatives.The viewfinder, though it is in color which is good, does not have any kind of extension or comfort piece for your eye socket. You literally place the camera on your face. For some this might actually be a positive though so it's up to you. The strap is not as big or attractive as the Sony strap. This was my wife's only complaint. She didnt care so much about the specs as she did about how it looked. I do agree w/her though that it could probably be a little bigger. I found it easier to not use the strap and instead put my hand over the strap in order to get a good grip angle on the Zoom lever. Which means the zoom lever may be the only piece that could benefit from being moved or enlarged a bit. Specially for folks w/bigger hands or long fingers. Still this is not enough of a problem for me to even complain about it. All of the other features plus the ability to find it just over $300 is more than I can ask for.