Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Easy to use, small and lightweight, fun extras
- Included computer kit useless, still pictures awful
A good budget purchase for anyone who is new to digital video
Price$ 699.00 (AUD)
We were initially very impressed by the MV940; it has a wide range of features, good quality video and is excellent value for money. However, there are some aspects to the camcorder that have left us bemused and bewildered, leaving us to wonder what the camera's designers must have been drinking when they made certain decisions. It's still a very good camcorder, but it could, and should, have been better still.
The MV940 is another budget Mini DV camera. These tape based players are as popular as ever despite the move towards DVD and hard disk technology. While they lack the random access capabilities of those newer technologies, meaning that fast forward and rewind aren't yet banished to the oblivion where they belong, Mini DV is still a viable alternative. Its main advantage is price, Mini DV costing considerably less than DVD and hard disk video camcorders. The MV940 is a perfect example of what a budget camcorder should be like; it may be light on the pocket but it's heavy in functionality.
Canon has managed to pack a surprising amount of camera in to such a small frame. The MV940 is one of the smallest Mini DV camcorders we've tested yet boasts a 2.7 inch widescreen display, 25x optical zoom, SD card reader and more besides. The SD card reader is actually one of the features that have left us confused. It is all well and good having the ability to save images to SD, but when they're only 0.7 mega pixels, is there really much point? It's certainly nothing to write home about; even the cheapest digital cameras these days boast 4 mega pixel resolutions.
Thankfully the quality of the MV940's video is much better. The image is smooth, the colour good and the picture clear. The MV940's native recording mode is 16:9 widescreen, hence the inclusion of a widescreen LCD, which is a nice touch for a budget camera. We also liked the amount of special effects and customisation that was possible to apply to video. Sometimes the option for black and white or sepia effect is included, but Canon have gone the whole hog and included some much more interesting options. Should you wish, it's now possible to have your video displayed on a rotating 3D cube or to ripple in a wave effect. This may seem to be a tad gimmicky, which it is, but it still kept us amused. Anyone who has ever wanted to make an 80s style music video will undoubtedly be thrilled.
One of the more irritating aspects of the camera was Canon's boast on the packaging that the computer kit was included. This is a nice inclusion for a budget camera - or so we thought. Seeing as the MV940 is a video camera, we were not unreasonably under the impression that using the included kit we could transfer video to our computer. This is certainly the impression given on the packaging. Annoyingly, it turns out that the only thing that can be transferred is still images. Now, as we have already lambasted the poor quality of the stills, we were left wondering what the point was. If we wanted to transfer video it was necessary to purchase a Firewire cable. This is especially annoying as not all computers come with Firewire access as standard.
Overall the MV940 is a good budget purchase. The lack of a useful computer kit is annoying, but not unusual for a camera in this price range. Other than that Canon have produced a fun, small and easy to use camcorder.
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