Canon Legria HV40 HDV video camera
A feature-packed high-definition camcorder that records to (gasp!) MiniDV tape
- Superb 1080i video quality, good low-light performer, plenty of advanced features and controls
- Slightly fiddly control scheme, limitations of MiniDV
The Canon Legria HV40 must surely be the HDV format’s last hurrah in the consumer sector -- and what a send-off it is! If you’re keen to stick with MiniDV, you won’t find a better camcorder than this.
Price$ 1,699.00 (AUD)
The Canon Legria HV40 is a high-end HDV camcorder that records in the MiniDV format. It’s essentially a tweaked version of last year’s Canon HV30 with some minor extras thrown in, including native 24p recording and a multipurpose Custom Key on the side of the lens barrel. As product refreshes go, it’s pretty nominal stuff — which makes the $250 markup more than a bit cheeky. Nevertheless, if you require a tape-based camcorder for serious videography, the Canon Legria HV40 is unquestionably the best performer on the market.
So why go HDV? We have to admit; we were a little surprised to see the Legria HV40 in Canon’s 2009 camcorder line-up. Most vendors have turned their backs on the sturdy workhorse that made their fortunes, with consumers all too eager to embrace newer technology. (Indeed, the HV40 has just one serious rival in the consumer space: Sony’s HDR-HC9.) However, before you shriek and whinny at the thought of using a tape-based camcorder, there are a few points to consider.
Despite being the oldest high-def video format, HDV more than holds its own when it comes to image quality; in fact, it’s often superior to AVCHD due to its higher bit rate (25 megabits per second vs. 16-24Mbps) and fewer compression artefacts. HDV is also more widely supported by editing programs and will offer a smoother ride on older PCs. You don’t have to worry about the format becoming obsolete either: MiniDV tapes will continue to be manufactured long after compatible camcorders have disappeared from the shelves (hell, you can still buy analog Super 8 tapes from most supermarkets). While MiniDV tapes will only store around 90 minutes of HD video, they’re a lot cheaper than removable flash memory.
But there is, of course, a downside. MiniDV is a lot less convenient than the inbuilt hard drives and removable flash memory found in most modern camcorders. In addition to being fiddly and cumbersome, you have to transfer footage to your computer in real time (i.e. you can’t simply drag and drop files). On top of this, you may end up looking like a big antiquated ninny, which is never a good thing. Still, if you can get past these notable deficiencies, you’ll find an excellent camcorder in the Canon Legria HV40. It truly does produce some of the best video on the market.
The Canon Legria HV40’s core specifications are identical to its HV30 predecessor, with the same DigicDV II processor, 3.1-megapixel CMOS sensor and 10x optical zoom lens. All of the same modes and features have also been carried over, including a comprehensive suite of manual options. Unlike some of its flash memory equivalents, the Legria HV40 is much more than a point-and-shoot camcorder. The inclusion of a manual servo ring will be especially prized amongst serious videographers — it allows you to make minute adjustments to focus and exposure for perfect video.
To test the Canon Legria HV40, we shot video in a variety of environments and lighting conditions, before playing the footage back on a Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A307112 plasma TV. As expected, Canon has pulled another winner out of its hat with the HV40, which performed just as well as its illustrious predecessor. Colours were bright and accurate, especially outdoors, while images remained razor-sharp and full of detail in all but the dimmest environments. We were particularly impressed by the HV40’s performance in low-light conditions, with less image noise than we are typically used to. (This is courtesy of an enlarged 1/2.7in CMOS sensor.)
The Canon Legria HV40’s video performance is impeccable, yet it handled a little awkwardly during operation. The shape simply didn’t feel right in our hands, with some of the controls difficult to locate by touch. While Canon has begun to embrace touch-screen LCDs with its recent camcorder offerings, the Legria HV40 sticks with a traditional joystick interface. (This has nothing to do with the HV40’s adherence to MiniDV — Sony was flogging a tape-based camcorder with an inbuilt touch screen almost 10 years ago).
But these are relatively minor quibbles. If you require HD video in the MiniDV format, you won’t find a better camcorder than the Canon Legria HV40. Get it, before the chance disappears forever.
Follow GoodGearGuide on Twitter: @GoodGearGuide
Join the newsletter!
So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Nova 3e: P20 in a pinch
- 2 Oppo R15 Pro review: A compelling mid-tier option with lots of value and few compromises
- 3 LG E8 OLED TV (2018) and SK10Y soundbar review: If you've been on the fence about OLED, now might be the time to jump it
- 4 Nokia 6 (2018) review: Simple. Solid. Supreme.
- 5 Samsung Q9F Series QLED: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Swann launches Voice Control via Google Assistant for 4K DVR Series
- D-Link Launches new Wi-Fi cameras and enhanced Mydlink App
- Swann launches voice integrations via Google Assistant for multi-camera wired systems
- Swann refine their smart security solution with new solar panel
- Netgear recall Arlo power adapters
PCW Evaluation Team
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.
Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category
The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Panasonic FZ1000U OLED TV: Full, in-depth, review
- Oppo Find X: Full, in-depth review
- 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