Canon DC220 Camcorder Review
Still Features* (5.0)*
The Canon DC220 features a ton of still photo options – and a maximum image size of only 1024 x 768. Like most of Canon’s other consumer camcorders, the DC220 records stills to DVD or MiniSD flash memory cards but does not ship with one. MiniSD cards are more difficult to find than their SD counterparts, so you’d be advised to call ahead before hitting a store or to order them online.
In addition to 1024 x 768, stills can also be captured at VGA-quality 640 x 480. Each has three quality options, Normal, Fine, and Superfine. The DC220 only takes stills in the 4:3 aspect ratio.
Most options available during video recording can be applied to still photos as well, including white balance, Image Effects, Auto Slow Shutter, P mode, TV mode, and Scene Modes. Automatic Focus Priority is the default auto focus mode when the Mode Switch is set to Auto, and it only allows the camcorder to record a still after the image is in focus. When the Mode Switch is set to P, you can select either from the AiAF option, which evaluates nine sectors of the frame or the Center option, which uses the center of the frame for auto focus adjustments. It is also possible to disable Automatic Focus Priority (by selecting the Off option) in order to capture a still as soon as the Photo button is pressed.
The DC220 also includes a histogram display option that can be used to check the exposure of still photos. Reading the histogram takes some practice – but for those obsessive enough to strive for perfect 1024 x 768 photos, it’s a handy addition. Finally, it is possible to capture a still during active video recording – but this feature comes with strings attached. Simultaneous Recording of photos can only be done to a MiniSD card (not to DVD), cannot be used when any Digital Effect is enabled, and does not function when the camcorder is set to 16:9 widescreen mode. Cutting some of these encumbering Simultaneous Recording strings requires a big step up to the top-of-the-line DC50, which does include a 16:9 still photo option.
Still Performance* (6.56)*
To determine the Canon DC220’s still performance, we shot a Gretag McBeth Color Checker chart and ran the results through Imatest imaging software. At best, the camcorder produced a color error of 9.14, with a noise of 1.625% and a saturation of 105.9%. In order to get this score, we had to leave auto mode and manually drop the exposure level by -1, which the EXIF data revealed to be -0.50EV. (The camcorder’s onscreen display does not specify the actual EV value, instead giving an arbitrary interval.)
To the eye, the pictures appear rather noisy – not unlike the video. The colors were also oversaturated… again, not unlike the video that we saw under the same lighting conditions. The photos would be good enough to capture the necessary details of a shot – "yes, that is Bigfoot going through our cooler" – but a real still camera would go a long way in convincing them.
Still Resolution* (4.1)
*The Canon DC220’s stills were tested for their resolution by shooting an Applied Image ISO 122233 resolution chart and running those stills through Imatest imaging software. At best, the camcorder produced a horizontal resolution of 553.2 line widths per picture height (lw/ph) – with 1.86% clipping and 1.98% oversharpening – and a vertical resolution of 431.0 lw/ph – with a 2.71% clipping and 5.59% oversharpening. To get this best score, we manually raised the exposure compensation by +2 (an actual increase of +0.50EV).
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