Canon MV800i

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Canon MV800i
  • Canon MV800i
  • Canon MV800i
  • Canon MV800i
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5


  • Great performance for the price, DiG!C II colour quality


  • The MV800i records stills to tape only

Bottom Line

The Canon MV800i series of MiniDV cameras offer fantastic features and quality for the price. If you also want to take the occasional still image photo and take video using a remote control, the MV830i is the best value of the three.

Would you buy this?

More than 20 percent lighter than the Canon MV300i series, models in the MV800i series nonetheless pack more features than their predecessors. The three video cameras in the range share the same compact dimensions (53 x 91 x 130mm) and light weight (430 grams for the body), making them perfectly sized for travel video or even teenagers getting starting with video.

Cameras in the MV800i series won't intimidate beginners at video photography. The Easy button performs exactly as the name implies, attempting to make all of the decisions, leaving you to simply point and shoot the scene. Once you become a little more experienced, a range of creative features are at your disposal to alter the exposure and white balance.

The MV800i series cameras sit comfortably in the right hand, with the zoom, record, photo and exposure controls within easy reach of the index finger and thumb. There is a series of buttons on the left-hand side of the cameras with more extensive menu and playback controls. These are located behind a fold-out 2.4" LCD viewfinder, which is a big improvement over the MV300i's tiny 1.8" screen. An optical viewfinder with dioptric adjustment provides a good viewing option when conditions become too bright. You can pull the optical viewfinder straight out, but you can't adjust it vertically.

The 20X optical zoom lens on the MV800i and MV830i is fast and allows you to get close to the action without intruding on a scene. The MV850i has a slightly larger optical zoom, at 22X, which may appeal to those wanting to get that little bit closer to a scene.

The electronics are the same throughout the range, and Canon's DiG!C II processor allows you to focus quickly and accurately on a scene. Colour was vibrant, with reds and greens extremely bright and saturated. Low-light performance was reasonable, with good quality in most daylight situations. A night mode is also available.

A FireWire (or IEEE 1394) cable is used to transfer DV quality files. If you want to work with Web-quality motion JPEG video via a USB 2.0 connection, you need to choose either the MV830i or MV850i. There is no S-Video connection on the MV800i, but you do get an AV plug allowing stereo audio and composite video input and output. A tripod is always a handy tool when travelling, particularly if you want to be part of the action, and the MV800i series allows you to comfortably access all the relevant controls either directly while using a tripod or, when using the MV830i or MV850i, with a supplied remote control. Remote videoing is not an option with the MV800i as it lacks wireless remote capabilities.

The MV830i and MV850i allow you to capture digital still images to a removable SD memory card at 1024 x 768 pixel resolution, also known as XGA resolution, which is just enough for a good quality 4" x 6" print. However, many other camcorders priced at less than $1000 offer two megapixel resolution, which allows you to comfortably print photos at 5" x 7".

On balance, the best option for performance, value and the occasional digital still photo is the MV830i. At less than $800 at the time of writing, it offers a lot of useful features not available on the MV800i, and represents one of the best options for new video photographers who want Canon quality and performance.

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