- Excellent cinematic mode, plenty of different modes, great picture quality.
- Finicky interface, a little bulky for our tastes.
The Canon HV20 offers an affordable introduction to high-definition video. While not particularly outstanding, it performs solidly in every area and will satisfy the majority of users.
Price$ 1,999.00 (AUD)
Compared to Panasonic's sleek HDC-SD1, the Canon HV20 HD camcorder looks a bit ungainly, mostly because of the large tape mechanism grafted on to one side. It records 1920 x 1080-pixel HDV-formatted high definition footage to Mini DV tapes, whereas the HDC-SD1 records in AVCHD format to SDHC Cards. However, it has more features and costs quite a bit less than Panasonic's model, and despite its size, they both weigh about the same.
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 with smooth zooming. The motorised lens cover is integrated into the body and automatically slides open when you power up the unit. In other words, you don't have to worry about a lens cap intruding into your shot or getting yanked by a curious toddler.
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 which are always a big plus.
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 considerably. 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. Nevertheless, because it's a dedicated button, you can push it at the first sign that your subject is too dark, rather than fiddling with one of the priority modes.
We conducted our lab tests with ambient lighting, which often proves pretty challenging for camcorders. The Canon HV20 came in third place out of four high-definition models we tested at the same time, but it wasn't far behind the second-place Sony HDR-SR1, which also records HDV to Mini DV tapes.
Nothing stood out in the Canon HV20's output as a serious failing, but its performance in low light (where we dim the lights to simulate a poorly lit indoors setting) lagged somewhat. In less-challenging, well-lit settings -- for example, a sunny outdoor park scene -- the Canon HV20 produced superb-looking video (although most camcorders do pretty well in such an environment).
The Canon HV20 earned top marks for its still-image shots, and its sound quality earned very good scores. We got nearly 2 hours out of its battery, an outstanding mark. Like most high-definition camcorders, the Canon HV20 has HDMI (high definition multimedia interface) and component-out connectors for connecting it to an HDTV. An accessory shoe, which you can attach a video light or a microphone to (without having to use an additional battery pack) hides beneath a removable plastic panel on top of the camcorder.
Canon offers telephoto and wide-angle adaptors for this camera: if we were planning to buy the HV20, we'd probably invest in the wide-angle adapter, because more than once, we found ourselves trying to zoom out after already reaching the camcorder's widest setting.
Canon provides software for transferring still images from the Canon HV20 to your computer, but none for transferring video. To import and edit the HV20's HDV footage, you will need a third-party editing package (check out our review of Vegas Movie Studio + DVD 7 (Platinum Edition) ).
We found that even highly compressed web videos looked better when we used footage from the Canon HV20 instead of video from a standard-definition camcorder, but we had to invest much more time to render them, because editing high-definition footage requires a very powerful computer.
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. Nevertheless, the Canon HV20 is one of the better HDV models on the market, at a pretty good price to boot.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Google Daydream VR headset
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Acer Swift 7
Lexar® Portable SSD
Huawei Mate 9
Dell XPS 13 laptop
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Surface Pro 4
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- AT&T will acquire Time Warner for US$85.4b in content play
- Facebook adds Apple TV and Chromecast support as video push ramps up
- Remocam review: This security camera can control your home appliances
- Logitech's C922 webcam is the revered C920's vastly upgraded successor
- Jump the line for the newest Chromecast features with Google's new preview program
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- The top 10 best and worst tech gadgets and products of 2016
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCSAP Consultant - SAP Native HANA to DesignWA
- CCContract - System Access Administrator - major Telco in MelbourneVIC
- FTSystem AdministratorNSW
- TPTechnical WriterQLD
- CCUser ResearcherNSW
- TPDigital Process Business Analyst - Digital Transformation**NSW
- CCSalesforce DeveloperNSW
- FTDynamics AX Functional ConsultantQLD
- TPHRIS Business AnalystQLD
- FT.Net DeveloperVIC
- CCTechnical Consultant - ITSM/HP Service ManagerACT
- FTSenior Network AdministratorNSW
- CCSenior Technical SpecialistNSW
- CCSenior Storage System Engineer -NetApp & TSMNSW
- CCFront-End DeveloperQLD
- CCSenior Business Analyst - AgileQLD
- CCTechnical Consultant - ITSM/HP Service ManagerVIC
- CCBusiness/Process AnalystNSW
- FTSenior Java Developers (Several positions available)QLD
- TPSpatial Science OfficerQLD
- FTSolution Designer l Microsoft SMENSW
- TPProject Technical LeadQLD
- FTSenior Security Sales SpecialistVIC
- CCTest ManagerWA
- TPNodeJS DeveloperNSW