My review of the Canon Optura 60 at DVinfo.net

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Canon Optura Junior Watchdog
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Old September 12th, 2005, 06:00 PM   #1
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My review of the Canon Optura 60

Hereís my review of the Canon Optura 60, with the Rode Videomic....

Keep in mind that Iím an aspiring documentary filmmaker, a one-man show with a shoot-from-the-hip style and a limited budget, for dvd distribution. A major priority was compact equipment that would allow me maximum mobility and spontaneity. I ended up with the Canon Optura 60 combined with the Rode Videomic.

While researching camcorders I found very little truly helpful information for a complete novice such as myself. Or rather, the info is out there, but I had to wade through a lot of fluff and confusion to get to the nuggets.

After shooting ten hours of tape over the past three months I feel Iím in a position to pass along a review of the equipment myself, as someone out in the field using it consistently instead of some magazine writer reviewing it from behind his desk.

Overall, the Optura 60 has all the features I need, but since itís already been in the shop for repair twice, the reliability of the camcorder is questionable, and Canon factory service is unacceptable. I'm satisfied with the Rode Vidoemic, chose it mainly because it's designed to mount on top of a camcorder for simple point and shoot camera-work.

More detailed comments on specific camcorder features:

Manual control of audio level and video exposure.
Anyone who is remotely serious about good picture and sound quality will want these two features. Itís a little awkward to adjust the audio on the Optura, but Iíve gotten used to it. With the video, it always seems to want to over-expose the image and blow out the highlights, so Iím always lowering the exposure level. But again, I've gotten used to it.

Manual focus.
I donít use this except when something in the foreground distracts the auto-focus. Iím more concerned with good composition and good audio. A film-look with short depth of field isnít important in my documentaries.

Low light.
Some prominent reviews warn about Opturaís low light performance, and I really agonized over this. But guess what. ALL camcorders in this price range have the same low light limitations, so Iíd ignore the low light hyperbole. As a rule of thumb, the larger the chip, the more light gets to the tape, and the Opturaís 1/3Ē chip is as good as it gets in this price range. Iíve gotten acceptable footage around a campfire at dusk without any other lighting.

Video light.
Opturaís mini light isnít much, but better than nothing, and in the right circumstances might add just enough light to get the shot.

Built-in mic.
Worthless for good audio. Picks up a lot of motor noise. Itís my understanding that other camcorder brands have similar problems. External mic is a must for good audio. The Rode videomic improves the sound and for me is fine in most circumstances, but in a quiet setting some motor noise is still apparent.

Body design.
I do like the way the Optura feels in my hand. I wanted something compact and unobtrusive, but some of the smaller cameras out there are too small and awkward to use. For me the Optura feels just right. One thing that annoys me is the finger grips are on top of the tape loading door, and the door doesnít latch snug but has a slight bit of play, which can put clicks in the audio. I donít recall if it was like this new out of the box, or if itís a sign of wear on the latch. Or maybe the Canon factory service techs didnít put it back together quite right (I wouldnít be surprised).

Which brings me to....

Canon Customer Service.
As I said, my camcorder has been to Canonís factory service center twice already. Both times it blew the fuse and died, but the first time apparently it never occurred to them to figure out WHY the fuse blew, they just replaced the fuse and sent it back it me, and within five minutes of using it the thing died again! So I returned it again, inadvertantly including a Lenmar battery pack. The second time they replaced the chassis assembly (whatever that is), but then VOIDED THE WARRANTY with the excuse that I was using a non-Canon battery. Canon actually blamed this Lenmar battery for blowing the fuse, when in fact it died while I was using the Canon battery shipped with the camcorder. I canít prove that to them, of course, but I know what happened. And why replace the chassis assembly if a non-canon battery is causing the problem? They simply found an excuse to get out from under their warranty and took it. Anyone who thinks Canon actually gives a damn about their customers is kidding themselves.

Iíve had the camera back for a month now, and so far so good, and I truly hope these problems are behind me. But based on my experience, Canon would be my last choice over any other brand with similar features and price.
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Old September 12th, 2005, 10:40 PM   #2
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Thanks for the review Kevin. It's good to hear real world experiences with the Optura 60, both good and bad. It was bad luck about the Canon warranty, but your experience will benefit many others who come to these forums.
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Old October 17th, 2005, 07:13 PM   #3
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The CCD size is 1/3.4" or .294" (1/3" = .333")

Re: "...and the Opturaís 1/3Ē chip is as good as it gets in this price range."
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Old October 19th, 2005, 02:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
I ended up with the Canon Optura 60 combined with the Rode Videomic.
i'm curious how you mounted the mic to the camera. it's got no hotshoe, or cold shoe for that matter, right?

thanks,
phb
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Old October 19th, 2005, 04:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Bravmann
i'm curious how you mounted the mic to the camera. it's got no hotshoe, or cold shoe for that matter, right?
Shoe is on top, hot I believe.

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Old October 19th, 2005, 05:36 PM   #6
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That's right,

- the Optura 60 has an advanced accessory shoe on the top
- the Optura 600 does NOT have a shoe.
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Old October 19th, 2005, 05:38 PM   #7
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Hot on the 60, cold on the 50. I know it, I just won one! :)
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