- Nice features, compact frame
- Image quality could be improved, interface a little cluttered
A fairly decent camera that struggles to find a balance between quality and usability
Price$ 1,099.00 (AUD)
Canon makes some interesting claims about the DC10 DVD camcorder. The side of the box proclaims it to be "Super Slim". We'd pretty much agree with them there, it is fairly small for a DVD model. Next they point out that it has a Megapixel CCD sensor. We can't argue with them there either. Finally, in bold capital letters, they make the bizarre claim that the DC10 is "RANDOM & EASY". This left us a little confused. Is the camera liable to do unexpected things without notice, perhaps belting out "Diamonds are Forever" or mutating into a duck? That would qualify as random in our books. As for it being easy, maybe if you take the camera out on a date it will go home with you after swigging a few Bacardi Breezers. Despite our affection towards all things digital, we can't confess to taking cameras out on dates, so we're afraid this feature remains untested.
Whatever Canon actually meant, the DC10 is a decent enough camera with some nice features. To start with, the DC10 really is quite small for a DVD camera. Correspondingly, the camera is lightweight and comfortable to hold. All the major buttons are positioned in convenient places and recording is made very easy. We do have one complaint regarding the buttons though, which is that there are far too many of them. We prefer it when manufacturers keep things simple, tidying away all the lesser used buttons into an on screen menu. In this case though, that may not have been ideal as the multi-directional toggle that's used to navigate the menus isn't all that great to use.
Canon have included a good range of features with the DC10, including a multitude of special effects, white balancing settings and manual modes. These special effects range from standard sepia tones to psychedelic laser beams and split screen mirror images. Just how useful these really are depends on how creative you want to be, but it's a nice feature nonetheless.
We were a little disappointed with the quality of the hardware features, however. As this is at the budget end of DVD cameras, it is only to be expected that the quality won't be the greatest. The video quality was good enough at the highest settings, though not as good as we recently saw on the Panasonic VDR-D300 . That camera costs a great deal more, so this isn't a big surprise. At the highest quality settings, you only get about 20 minutes of recording time on a 2.8GB DVD, whereas the Panasonic camera produced higher quality images during its 20 minute record time. We also felt it would have been nice to have a larger zoom; the 10x optical zoom is a little on the small side for a video camera. The still camera functionality is also a let down. Decent video cameras are now equipped with at least a three megapixel sensor, so the one megapixel CCD on the DC10 is certainly substandard. At this resolution you'd be better off using an old 35mm point-and-shoot camera. The DC10 does have an inbuilt miniSD slot, but seeing as the quality of the pictures is so poor there's little point in using it.
On the upside, one of the great features of DVD cameras is the ease of playing back your recordings. Traditional tape-based MiniDV camcorders are a bit of a hassle to use, requiring the video camera to be used whenever you want to play back any footage and still needing fast forward and rewind. DVD cameras skip this necessity by allowing playback on any DVD device. Once you have finished recording on the DVD, the disc can be finalised (admittedly a fairly lengthy process) and then is ready for use. The camera creates its own title screen allowing each section of footage to be viewed in the same way as chapters on a regular DVD.
The DC10 presents a mixed bag. On the one hand, its DVD functionality means much greater flexibility than MiniDV camcorders. Conversely, the quality of its images could be better and its price tag is much greater than a similar MiniDV camcorder. Overall, the budget conscious consumer may be better off with a MiniDV system and the DVD aficionado with a better quality version of the camera.
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