Canon DC220 Camcorder Review
The Canon DC220 records standard definition video using MPEG-2 compression to 3.5" DVDs at three quality settings. XP produces the highest-quality video, at an average bit rate of about 9Mbps. The SP setting compresses video at a lower average bit rate of 6Mbps and produces lower quality video, while LP reduces the average bit rate to 3Mbps. The benefit of the lower bit rate settings is that they extend the maximum recording time available on a DVD, roughly in proportion to their bit rate. When the XP mode is selected, a single-layer DVD-RW or DVD-R can store only about 20 minutes of video. A dual-layer DVD-R DL holds about 36 minutes of XP footage. SP increases recording time to 30 and 54 minutes for single and dual layer discs respectively. LP mode offers the longest recording times, at 60 minutes for single layer and 108 minutes for dual-layer discs.
MPEG-2 compression is used in all standard definition DVD camcorders, while DV compression is used in standard definition camcorders that record video to MiniDV tape. MiniDV camcorders consistently perform better than DVD camcorders with otherwise identical specifications, in part due to the higher bit rate of DV, which, at 25Mbps is nearly three times the bit rate of MPEG-2. The performance gap has narrowed in recent years as manufacturers have improved their compression algorithms and image processors, but standard definition MPEG-2 remains a consumer technology.
Canon’s entire 2007 DVD camcorder line, including the DC220, is compatible with 3.5" (8cm) single-layer DVD-R and DVD-RW discs, and dual-layer DVD-R DL discs. Single-layer discs are relatively inexpensive, and have been around since the introduction of DVD-based camcorders. DL, or dual-layer DVDs debuted in mid-2006, and offer a dramatic increase in recording time over single-layer discs – i.e. from 20 to 36 minutes in the DC220’s XP recording mode. DVD-R DL discs cost more than single-layer discs, and are less widely available.
Single-layer DVDs are compatible with most home DVD players and non-slot-loading DVD drives for PCs because the discs are well-established in the market. DL discs can be played on many newer DVD players, but you should check your device’s compatibility if you plan on using DVD-R DL discs.
The Canon DC220 ships with the Digital Video Solution Disc for Windows & Macintosh, but it does not include MyDVD, a basic NLE and disc authoring application for Windows users that ships only with the Canon DC50. To actually edit DC220 MPEG-2 footage, you’ll need to search out your own solution, and there are many consumer applications available including Avid Liquid and Adobe Premiere Elements for PC. We are not aware of any full-featured Mac MPEG-2 editors, but MPEG Streamclip is a freeware OS X solution that converts from and to nearly any video format.
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