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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 April 22nd, 2007, 09:24 AM   #1
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HV20 Need To Know

Making an index of opinions, facts and topics that are of interest to HV20 users/buyers. From the perspective of a consumer camcorder user ...

Why the hype?
HV20 is $1099 list for the NTSC model (some sold as low as sub-$999). The HC7 is $1399.99 (some as high as 1449.95 and low as $1138). The HV20 adds some of the missing features in the HV10. It has been touted (by users and a review) as a good "lower cost" playback device to the Canon XH-A1/G1 camcorders ($3999+, 3CCD HDV). This price point brings good quality HDV closer to what a discerning consumer can afford (compare to 2006-2007 cost of an HDTV display).

Historical side note
By comparison the original Canon Elura (MiniDV 680Kpixel, 1 Progressive CCD) was compared against the Sony PC-100 of its generation (circa 1999-2000). It was also touted as a good b-deck for the Canon XL-1 due to its comparable daylight performance. The Elura once listed at about $1799 and was considered "affordable". Seems Canon is doing a repeat

HV20 vs HC7
The HV20 won for 24p and better low light grain. Complaints were lack of LANC and placement of battery. Which should you get? Ask yourself which features are important to you and look at the cameras for yourself.

HV20 vs HV10
HV10 could go down to 5lux while the HV20 can do 3lux (on paper). HV20 adds Microphone In, HDMI out, and 24p mode (see caveats below). Form factor change from vertical to horizontal. Low light grain is still there but improved. OIS is good but like the HV10 does not lend well to jarring movements (-- extreme sports -- more on this later)


How good is lowlight?
Excellent for a consumer camera (to do better you need to go 3CCD, in HD format you need to step up to prosumer/professional level). HV20 has no "Nightshot" mode (ala IR) that you get out of Sony but does give you a built in video light (ghost hunting anyone?). The grain is finer on the HV20 but can still be spotted by discerning users. Users have noted that HDV24PF mode and adjustments to gain and contrast reduces the grain.

The other alternative is to get more light on the environment! Turn on more lights or shoot outdoors in daylight for the best pictures. This is true of any camera.


Why do we talk about lowlight and grain?
Consumer users don't have controlled lighting environments. Shots done indoors with past cameras in dim lighting tends to show low or no detail (black blobs!) vs naked eye. The recorded image on this camcorder is subjectively a big improvement for users of other consumer camcorders using 1-CCD. Admittedly there is a large gap in price ($500 and below vs $1100 and below) but there is a corresponding jump in resolution and included features.

What's this about jarring movements and OIS?
Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) is accepted as superior to the electronic kind typical of consumer camcorders. It is smoother and more tenacious in keeping the image from jumping around and giving you a headache. Even with professional camcorders that also use OIS, jarring movement isn't easy to counter. That's why professionals invest in products like steadicam/glidecam/xxxcam. With the increased resolution of an HD camera, fast movement of the camera lens in random directions result in jumpy video. Therefore jerking the camera body (typical when you run with it handheld) tends to give headache inducing video. This can be attenuated when shooting in 24p because of lower frame rate (bigger jumps between pictures). The OIS was made to counter handheld shaking while you're standing up (to make up for when you don't have a tripod) not as a gyro-stabilized unit.

Don't mistake this to mean the camcorder is unusable outside of standing shots. For kicks, I walked through Times Square with the camcorder mounted on a monopod (retracted, right hand grasping lightly, my attempt to keep it stable). When I don't attempt to frame my subject or hold it too tightly the image is jarring (probably because of yaw to go with the bob). But when I pay attention to what I'm trying to shoot (another person I've been following -- no I'm not stalking strangers I'm with them!) the image still bobs and leans but the picture doesn't have that white water rafting feel.

What's in the box and what else will I need?
The HV20 comes with the camera, 1 battery, a software disk, remote plus battery, manual, component cable, av-in, and mini-usb to usb cable.

You will need to get your own MiniDv tapes. I'm using high-grade TDK minidv tapes (from Costco) with no problem. An extra battery would be good if you need to record more than 1 tape at a time.

If you have a recent laptop its firewire (IEEE1394) port may be 4-pin so you will need a 4-pin to 4-pin cable. If you have a desktop you probably need a 6-pin to 4-pin cable. You need this cable if you intend to edit on a PC. You also need quite a bit of space (more later).

What other things would I "need?"

If you don't already have a tripod, go get one. The camcorder is light enough to work with almost anything. Just watch how stable it is since you don't want a stiff breeze to blow your tripod down along with your new camcorder.

A 43mm UV protective filter would be good. The camera has an electronic cover but if you ever shoot near the ocean, rainy day, dusty area, you want a piece of glass to sacrifice instead of your built-in HD lens.

A camera bag is convenient if you have accessories to carry. I've survived with a regular backpack and a clean unused tupperware container plus some padding if you want waterproofing. I do have real camera bags with padding too though.

What other things would I "want"
An external microphone if you're picky with sound. In a quiet room you can hear the camcorder's motor hum. Outdoors you won't notice it much.

Everyone seems to want the WD-H43 Wide Angle Lens.

A good PC if you want to edit HDV. See other sections of DVInfo. Windows, Mac, or Linux is your choice. If you can view HD video on it already you can probably suffer the editing times.

For Windows software you can use Windows Movie Maker which comes with windows vista home premium (don't know about 2000 and XP). The extracted format has the extension dvr-ms. Other NLEs produce m2t. For a slower "free" solution there are a collection of freeware tools that allow you to extract and edit the video.

Don't know much about Macs but I hear of Final Cut Pro a lot.

For editing and storing all your HDV on a computer, get good size harddrives. Figure on about 15GB per hour of video.

Caveat with 24p/25p
The HV20's sensor is progressive. But the HDV standard for 1080i is interlaced. So the camcorder saves its progressive images in an interlaced container. When viewed raw the m2t files generated will show interlace lines and its effects (horizontal lines showing during panning movement). Viewing this on interlaced displays is no problem. But for PCs (which are progressive displays) you tend to notice. To extract the true 24p image you need to go through a process called reverse telecine/pulldown. You'll hear the word cadence thrown around. This is can be confusing and overwhelming for beginners trying their hand with fancy new tools like Sony Vegas (can't do the pulldown correctly just yet). But not all is lost.

Windows Movie Maker (Vista Home Premium) appears to handle the extraction nicely (dvr-ms format) and conveniently blends the frames into a progressive image when displayed in Windows Media Center. For those viewing raw m2t you can use VLC player to see the image without interlace. No choice for Media Player Classic though. Windows Media Player won't open m2t.

If you want to share your video without the interlace, you can recompress using your choice of NLE. Select progressive. These are all simplistic suggestions. Watch the forums if you're into serious editing to learn all about converting to true 24p.


Everyone jump in!
DIY, 35mm, HV20:

Last edited by Mike Dulay; April 22nd, 2007 at 12:40 PM. Reason: fixing my dyslexia; spelling errors
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 09:46 AM   #2
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Wow Mike -- now that's what I call an instant "sticky." Much appreciated,

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Old April 22nd, 2007, 10:08 AM   #3
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Thanks Mike

Once possible change -not sure if you will see interlacing artifacts with 25p material on progressive displays?

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Old April 22nd, 2007, 12:29 PM   #4
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Thanks very much Mike!!!
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 12:34 PM   #5
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Your PAL HDV is 50i native from what I have read so you may see it for playback devices/displays with no deinterlacing. The best way to be sure is to ask someone with a PAL unit to extract a 25p clip in m2t then download it unchanged. Then try it on your choice of playback device.

Bottom line, the image you get in the end depends on the source format and the display.

I have tried this combination of playback devices and displays:

A) HP Pavillion dv9000 + built-in LCD (1440x900) [progressive] -- gets interlace lines with MPC + M2T; good with WMC + WMM extract; VLC with deinterlace/blend looks great

B) HP Pavillion dv9000 + Infocus Screenplay 4805 (848x400 -- VGA in) [progressive] -- not good! squishing causes blocking and accents the horizontal interlace lines with MPC + M2T; WMC + WMM extract appears blocky ... but so do the sample clips to its the fault of my Nvidia chip (I miss my radeon); not tested with VLC, fullscreen mode keeps spilling to the LCD

C) HV20 Component out + Infocus Screenplay 4805 [progressive] (848x400 -- 1080i with deinterlacer and scaler) -- looks great! no interlace lines

D) HV20 AV out + SD 20" Color TV (320x200 -- NTSC interlaced) -- horizontally squished (it's a 4:3 display afterall) but no interlace lines

I don't have an HD displaywith HDMI input, so I can't speak to that. Incidentally both my laptop and HV20 have HDMI out. It's worth mentioning that my 4805 is a 16:9 EDTV DLP projector which has a deinterlacer and scaler (Faroudja DCDi). When you go through the VGA it appears to let your graphics card do all the work. But going through component-in there is processing done by the display which makes the output look better.

Back to your question, I think the concern for the interlace lines will only apply to users of Mediacenter PCs attempting to playback raw M2Ts with a non-deinterlacing software player (e.g. Media Player Classic).
If you want to use an mediacenter you should be able to solve the interlace by looking for software player that can do deinterlace before sending to the screen.
DIY, 35mm, HV20:

Last edited by Mike Dulay; April 22nd, 2007 at 01:23 PM. Reason: Got VLC working
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 01:58 PM   #6
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Very comprehensive Mike, great information. Thanks!
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 02:17 PM   #7
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well hopefully I will recieve my HV20 tomorrow so I can confirm the issue with interlacing artifacts on 25p footage. I am hoping that when played back with VLC there will be no need for deinterlacing.
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Old April 24th, 2007, 09:11 PM   #8
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I've been able to open .m2t files in Windows Media Player version 11 in Vista, although initially the image aspect was off. I de-installed ffdshow and it worked fine afterwards!
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Old April 26th, 2007, 10:39 PM   #9
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Where can I hear more about the limitations when using Vegas with this camera? Are there differences between this cam and the A1 when using Vegas?
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Old April 27th, 2007, 09:24 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Gentry View Post
Where can I hear more about the limitations when using Vegas with this camera? Are there differences between this cam and the A1 when using Vegas?
Jonathan - just check the various forums - staring with DVInfoNet of course :-) - we've talked plenty about the issues with Vegas. The A1 24F files are indeed different than the HV20 24p files. Apparently the 24F files come in over firewire at 23.97 fps. There are no pulldown issues and working in a 24p timeline is fine (even though technically the 24F are not progressive). HV20 24p files on the other hand come in a 60i stream over firewire and are captured as 60i files. The absence of pulldown flags does not allow the NLE to do automatic pulldown removal. There are some workarounds but none as elegant as having the NLE do it itself. (BTW - the above pertains to Vegas for sure. May also be true of other NLE's right now.) (Also, if you're interested in 60i HDV from the HV20, those files appear to play fine with Vegas.)
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Old April 27th, 2007, 02:25 PM   #11
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Wow. That was totally unexpected. I just bought an HV20 to go with my A1 to do steadicam work with. It sounds like I may have problems mixing the footage of these two cameras in the same timeline in Vegas? Are we thinking that Vegas is going to make some changes in the next release/update to address this?

I will do some searching but if you guys know the best thread that details this issue please inform...
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Old June 15th, 2007, 02:06 PM   #12
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Hd20 Headache Video On Panning

Hi read long article above HV20 panning jerkiness. Having just purchased the HV20 I am very dissapointed with the results of panning. A friend wants me to film his wedding & I bought a pack of 3 sony HD tapes. I went to the church which was large & had a lot of natural light through very large stained glass windows which were all around and produced very vivid colours of glass, there are also ? halogen lamps above,
I usually try to avoid panning although it was a test I thought I'd panned quite controlled & slow. But results are terrible - You would get a headache if you kept watching on my sony HD 40". Now outside in daylight the following day I filmed my brothers daughter running away from me & I panned quickly but trying to keep stationery. The results were ok.
Any help advice appreciated. I plan to get a monopod or change my old noisy velbone tripod

Last edited by Joe Rogers; June 15th, 2007 at 04:10 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old June 15th, 2007, 02:32 PM   #13
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You didn't mention what you were filming in, or camera settings and whether you had optical image stabilzation on. First, if you are shooting in the full auto mode, OIS will be on, so you have to select the P mode to turn it off. My experience with OIS on this camera has led me to shut it off in most situation- except when I am in pure full automatic. Certainly when tripod mounted and panning, you have to turn it off. OIS in any camera actually is attempt to track an image and keep it in place by using the overscanned portion of the chip and keep it where it was on prior frame. As you keep scanning, the OIS processor has to eventually recognize that the image it is trying to keep steady has moved to far to keep steady, and it lets it go, creating that jump or jerk. In hand held situation that works, but when you are doing a pan, you don't want that happening, so you have to turn it off.

Second, if you are shooting in 24p, you can expect stutter and jerkiness when panning. That is the nature of 24 frames per second filming. I have seen it in quick pans in regular motion pictures. The resolution to this problem is in learning to slow your pans. The same applies in hand held situations. Rapid movements in 24p will produce a jumpy look.

Third, I am guessing that the difference you saw indoors to the outdoor shot, also had to do with shutter speed. Depending on your mode selection, the shutter speed can be knocked down considerably, creating another potential for issues.
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Old June 15th, 2007, 04:19 PM   #14
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OIS does not work that way. It does not use image anything to determine motion...that is electronic image stabilization. Motion is determined by gyroscopic sensors in OIS.
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Old June 15th, 2007, 04:54 PM   #15
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HV20 Jerkyness

Thank's Chris.That has cleared things a bit, seems obvious now. I was messing with settings & as I was testing in HDV mode. AWB I believe was on auto. I am wondering if I had A.SL SHUTTER ON. but can not be sure at time. I.AF INSTANT AF. IMG STAB ON. I was swithing from P mode to cine mode.
I dont seem to notice a difference between cine mode & normal.
To play safe on the day I'd better avoid cine mode altogether as I only get one shot. I can see I'm going to have to do a few practice shots in readyness for the day. But any advice on the cams setings I should use and or practice on would be great. From your comments did you mean I should actually shut off OIS ?
I'm also worried being a church with many people that the mic will pick up lots of noise & how close I need to get to the couple for the important bits with preist. I'm doing this as a friend for no gain- Of course he has photographers also - I checked out the canon external mike over £100. and the reviews are not good. My feeling right now is have tripod as much as poss & switch to a mono pod to discreetly wonder around. Something tells me I'm going to have a lot of editing. And I have not done HD before. Priority is to get best footage possible as at least editing can wait and can always be improved from master tape. When I veiwed the initial panning jerkyness & compared with footage next day of faster panning which was ok. I thought it was due to the many coloured large glass windows ie a much greater amount of detail the sensor had to cope with. I need to get hands on a more detailed HV20 manual asap.

Last edited by Joe Rogers; June 15th, 2007 at 05:12 PM. Reason: EXTRA INFO
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