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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
For VIXIA / LEGRIA Series (HF G, HF S, HF and HV) consumer camcorders.


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Old May 1st, 2007, 08:44 PM   #1
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HC7 user with an HV20

Thought I'd post a few first impressions - having an HC7 in hand and quite happy with it, I was interested in the HV20 primarily for the low light capability (and that so far appears to be quite good).

First thing out of the box...

The HV20 has "sexy" lines, as opposed to a more boxy vibe off the HC7 - points to the Canon for style... but who cares what it looks like?

Pick it up...
Sorry, the HV20 just feels "cheap" compared to the Sony - cheap and sexy... HMMM.... OK I guess I can like it <wink>!

Plastic vs metal shell... covers that are far cheezier than average, and whats up with the mini toboggan on the top there???? Yeah, that's going to get lost... viewfinder is actually almost usable considering - the HC7 "pull out" VF is far more usable. ALL these go hands down to the Sony.

Controls...
UGH, who designed the W/T zoom toggle?? point to Sony.
Somehow for me the controls clustered on the back don't line up well with my thumb, but still with a bit of effort they are workable. I'm giving the focus wheel to the HV20 - seemed to be more responsive than the HC7 by a smidge. AH yes, no LANC on the HV20, so not going to be easy to adjust remotely... sigh

Don't point that mini-video light at your eyes when you turn it on! Might be good in a pinch, but seems a bit hokey.

Battery... DANG that sucker is LOOOSE! Stock battery and 2L14 both rattle around as bad as my old '66 Plymouth (yeah, the one in the Foster Farms ads - owned one just like it "back in the day") - going to go find some felt pad disks right away!! There is something that rattles around inside the cam TOO (lens area), but that battery sure makes a racket. Wonder if whatever is rattling inside is shock resistant or maybe that's the "jumpy video" source if the camera gets bounced the wrong way...?

Mechanical/tape noise - seems about "normal", will have to test more there.

SO overall, as far as build quality the Sony is the winner here, no doubt about that.

Menus - still learning those, don't seem quite as adjustable as the Sony, but it's a new piece of equipment, so need more time to dig - wasn't impressed with the HC7 at first either, then found out how to dial it in.

Picture quality...
OK, have a LOT of testing to do here but my initial impression is this has the "blown out" reds I always see in Canon cameras - they are definitely hotter than "reality", and I saw some odd colorations in greens and purples... the sony with xvcolor feels more "true" offhand, but adjustments may bring them to a draw. HV20 picture looks VERY good and very sharp overall, definitely something GOOD there. Hoping I will be able to fine tune the picture - WB looked promising, the other options seemed sparse, but time will tell.

Didn't see any noticeable barrel distortion at full wide or with the Raynox .66x HD lens. Field of view seems to be nearly identical - coulda sworn the HV20 was supposed to be wider...

Low light...
Early tests showed an immediate win to the HV20... smoother, less noisy picture than the HC7, and apparently better handling of low light conditions overall - point to Canon, and ultimately why I bought one (Wolfgang's night videos were pretty convincing). It isn't in the league of a Z1U, but then again, at this price point... it's not bad!


Anyhow, based on all the things I've read, this is about as expected - some VERY strong points to the HV20 for PQ and low light, and most of the rest to Sony - side by side, at the same price point I'd pick the Sony and some sort of auxiliary lighting... but the two couldn't possibly be a more difficult decision!! Street prices on the Sony seem to be drifting towards the Canon price point, so it's a tough call...


I expect to warm up to the Canon - only real worry is those REDS, but I can definitely see the low light capability making this worth keeping. Will have to do lots more testing... but thought these first impressions might be of some interest!


Dave
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Old May 1st, 2007, 11:52 PM   #2
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Sony HC-1 user with an HV20

Hi Dave. I have the HC-1 and just purchased the HV20 a week ago. I love the way the HC-1 handles, and its solid feel. The HV20 feels cheap - its a plastic body, and it is EXTREMELY NOISY by comparison. The HC-1's built in stero mics are seperated by the hotshoe and are on each side of the lens barrel. It defintely gives more of a stereo effect.
The image between the two is much closer then I expected them to be, and the low light capabilites are more of a draw then I would have expected. The Canon is sharper in low light, but it looses more shadow and highlight detail in night scenes. The HV20 seems to have a more neutral and consistent white balance then the Sony. I agree that the Reds are maybe a bit more intense then reality with the Canon, but the HC-1 has a tendency to go towards the blue/cyan spectrum, even after setting the white balance to +2 to the warm side. On the Canon HV20 you have the extra flexibility of adjustable contrast and the Cine gamma, and 24p - which looks great as long as you and your subject are not moving very much, otherwise 60i seems better. While I like not having to touch the LCD screen for menu items, the exposure compensation control is hard to use while using the viewfinder (which I usually use vs the LCD). The eye view finder is too small, too low a resolution to use for focus, not adjustable, and does not have a rubber eye cup.
To sum up; the image, 24p, etc., for the price - its a great little camera. I'd love it if they had something kind of in between this and Canon A-1. That's my 2 cents. Have a great day - PK
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Old May 1st, 2007, 11:57 PM   #3
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already going back...

I decided to try the still functions on the camera... the first brand new Sandisk miniSD card (which I tested a week ago) gave a "card error" message and is now totally dead... a second one worked intermittently, and while I was able to take some sample pix, the camera ended up erasing the card (at least it still reads on the computer, so I guess it's OK...)

Beginning to wonder about Canon QC... killed a brand new 1G memory card, and there's obviously some other issues as there are some odd stripes on the bottom edge of some pix...

As much as I WANT to like this camera this was not a good first "exposure" (pun intended). I might not use the still function that much but I expect it to work out of the box, not fry a brand new SD card - if this was "defective" it makes me very nervous about the "next one"...

FWIW, the stills (before the camera somehow magically erased the card) looked pretty good...

Guess I have to call the seller and Canon tomorrow and figure out who is getting a fresh cam on the truck along with a replacement memory card...

After I sleep on it, I may just return this and stick with the better built camera, but darn if the HV20 can't pull light out of near darkness (and the "overstated" colors do look far beter in low light - it's a decent tradeoff), and that silly little light actually helps! They have some good things going here, but couldn't they have put it in a more professionally built package??? Makes me want to go "Dr. Frankenstein" and try to figure out how to stuff the Canon guts in the Sony casing!!!

Anyone care to comment on Canon QC in general, not just as to this model? I hate to think I might end up on a first name basis with someone in the customer service/repair department...

DB>)
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Old May 2nd, 2007, 12:52 AM   #4
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I have not tried the still picture mode yet. I owned a 'matchbox' style Cannon Optura something about 5 years ago. It was small and light weight, but build quality seemed better. At least the body was metal, or metal like instead of plastic. I never had any problems with it, other then the noisy mechanism - just like the HV20. The 2 other camera's I've owned (a Sony and a Panasonic) were both much quieter. This one is so loud, that even an external mic wouldn't help if it was mounted on the camera - cause it is quite audible in a quiet room from 6 feet away. It seemes theytried to pack a lot of performance in the HV20 for the price. The performance is great, but the build quality suffered to bring this baby to market below the competitions price.
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Old May 2nd, 2007, 01:41 PM   #5
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I have a Sony HC3, and also a Canon HV20.

There are elements I prefer about each camera.

The Sony has solid build quality for sure. I actually like using the Nightshot function on occasion. The touch screen interface is nice. The zoom lever is better. The video in good light is crisp and crowd pleasing.

However, my HV20 cost $300 less than my HC3...and it does 24p. And (unlike the HC3) has a mic input. I like the Canon joystick controller by the record button -- handy for adjusting audio levels on the fly. Build quality is fine. Perhaps not as rugged as the HC3, but I have no complaints.

If you want 24p, there's obviously no contest.

If you're shooting 60i, I can see how this might be a more difficult decision. But I always get the sense that Sony is holding back features for the sake of its product line (case-in-point: lack of mic input in the HC3), and that Sony upcharges X% for its branded products (under the assumption that consumers will simply pay more for the Sony brand).

Sure, all manufacturers protect their premium product lines to a certain degree -- but Canon is delivering incredible value with the HV20. I paid $925 for my HV20!
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Old May 2nd, 2007, 03:49 PM   #6
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Yep - the price point is pretty nice, but I didn't pay much more for my HC7... and it blows the HC3 out of the water (Sony brought quite a bit back to the table with the 7). So does the HV20 from my experience EXCEPT for build quality... so it's a good time to be in the market for a camera - competition is GOOD!

My main concern right now is the build quality/QC of the Canon- I've got the hassle of swapping out a bad cam, when I'd like to be USING it - I'm slowly figuring out the functions (who needs to unwrap that manual??), and it does what I wanted it to do - gives me a "low light" camera with good PQ. But frying a memory card and not working properly for stills... argh!

Just wish it didn't clunk around like an old washing machine - I'm still sorta leery of the noises this thing makes if you gently shake it... not used to high end ANYTHING having the innards audibly moving about - that's usually a BAD sign, but perhaps it's the suspension system they use for the OIS? Not a big confidence builder - I aready notice that I feel like I HAVE to "baby" this cam. I have to wonder how well it will hold up in "real world" usage.

Dave
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Old May 2nd, 2007, 04:01 PM   #7
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A few months ago, I sprained my ankle while filming. As a result, my HC3 had an unfortunate "camera-meets-pavement" experience. Aside from a new battle scar, it emerged unscathed and works perfectly. So I can vouch for Sony build quality.

My HV20 doesn't seem to rattle much. But as you mention, internal rattles are common with OIS (it's the classic first post of Panasonic DVX owners: why does my camera rattle!?).

Overall I'm satisfied with HV20 build quality, but I hope to avoid spraining any more ankles. If I had the same accident with the HV20, I think the WD-H43 lens would probably crack.
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Old May 3rd, 2007, 10:36 AM   #8
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I guess I'll have to turn a deaf ear to the internal noises - the Sony has OIS, it makes little or no noise if you shake it. The Canon sounds like the sensor assembly is on springs or something and can bounce off the inside of the shell - would be interesting to get a service manual or open one up...

I'd be afraid to subject the HV20 to the sort of "use" that my Sony gear has endured over the years, but time wil tell. I hope that I can talk the vendor into cross shipping today, sent mine back because of the still malfunction, maybe I just got a bad one - wouldn't be the first time "I'm" the "lucky" guy...

Overall aside from the build quality, I liked what the camera CAN do - wish I had had a bit more time to test, but a few more days and I'll see if I can control those reds (seemed like setting the color to "-" helped), and the menu/joystick seems to provide a decent set of controls, although a bit more "depth/range" would seem like an easy firmware addition that would make his camera FAR more adjustable.

Wonder whether they will make a "2.0" model w/"upgraded" firmware once the initial hype dies down and they need more features to compete? Seems like the adjustments are there, but limited in range - wouldn't it be cool if a firmware update later allowed even more control!

The one thing the HV20 CAN do most impressively is pull light seemingly out of nowhere and still get usable picture quality - it shines in that department, and that's what I was after, so IF the next one arrives 100% functional, it has a place in my camera case (alongside the HC7!).

DB>)
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Old May 3rd, 2007, 04:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
...Wonder whether they will make a "2.0" model w/"upgraded" firmware once the initial hype dies down and they need more features to compete?...
I think the limitation is very deliberately put in, simply not to cannibalize the pro cams, or... by that time a HV30 will kick in... :)
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