Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Canon HV20: HD and More for $1000


"If you are on a strict budget, you will find solace in the fact that your independent film will still look great shot with an HV20 in 24P mode."
--CamcorderInfo.com review

My little Canon Optura Pi has served me well. I bought a refurbished model over five years ago, mostly due to the progressive scan mode. It's a good one-chip camera that still records a solid image when proper lighting is available. It still has life in it (it's been repaired once) and would still be great for stuff destined for video sharing sites like YouTube. Video quality isn't that big of an issue there, but for stuff I want to release on DVD, it's time for a better image capturer, especially for that low light dramatic stuff.

I would love to purchase a high end Sony or Canon or Panasonic prosumer camera, but the sad fact is that the money just isn't there. The $3000-5000 dollars it would take wouldn't make good sense to me. Working within the $1000 Film ethic, I cant' spend much more than that for a camera. Not to mention that I don't have any more to spend.

Then I started hearing about the Canon HV20. I read a typically super in-depth review from Camcorder Info, which touted the excellent video quality and true 24p mode, which provides for a good low light image. I also like the fact that it apparently uses the same processor from the XH A1, the next-to-best model from Canon. Another review from Videomaker confirms the excellence of this camera, and also see this link to DVXuser, where Barry Green demonstrates how to properly control the exposure of the HV20.

I think I am sold on getting this camera. It can be had for just above $1k at Circuit City, even though availability seems to be scarce. No matter, I'll nab one of these babies and give some Film Flap feedback shortly thereafter. Has anyone else out there already used this camera? What do you think?

6 comments:

Bill Cunningham said...

As DVXuser goes through all the hoops to get a "range of exposure" and not a dead-on accurate one, I have to throw my hands up and say, "No" to the HV20...

I'll buy a used DVX100A on craigslist, get the optics and controls checked at Sammy's camera, get some accessories and still spend less than $1000 total. Then I'll be able to manually control everything to get the image I want, and not have half the headaches it seems DVXuser went through.

Now if they come out with a HV20A and add a manual interface that's accurate and easy to use ---

that's another story entirely.

Scott Eggleston said...

I realize you'll lose some functionality with the lower price tag, but if you can't afford a DVX100a (and I can't right now) the HV20 looks pretty good...

However, if could find a deal like you mention, Bill, I'd take it also. I see nothing like that in my area or on eBay. Got one you want to sell me?

Bill Cunningham said...

Craigslist.org has listings for every major city in the western world.

their photo and video listings are quite extensive and you can post a "wanted" listing with what you're looking for, how much you can spend, etc...

Be ready to negotiate and get some sort of verification clause in place. Ideally, you'd want to find someone local where you can go over and shoot some quick test footage. There are also some Canon XL1's around that go for good prices.

And yes, it might take you a couple of weeks to find the right camera, but it would be worth it, right?

Tracey said...

I used a Canon GL2 and replaced it withthe HV20. I hav ehad no regrets. I wanted really sharp, clear, images in HDV to work with and I got it. THe HV20 has enough control to make it worth the purchase. I think I would buy the HV20 over any other DV camera no matter how "pro" it is.

Christopher said...

The HV20 is so little and cute that I really want one, but the controls really bug me. The DVX100 is SO nice to actually use. I love the way the camera is laid out - especially the focus ring.

That being said, mines been beat to hell and I need to get it in for some repairs.

Anonymous said...

There is a slightly different take in regards to Canon manual exposure control. The link deals with a cheaper Elura 100, and the exposure scale on HV20 goes bonkers at f/5.6 but basic principle is the same. The approach seems to work without need to use cell phones or other weird contraptions.

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