Canon DC220 Camcorder Review
Last year’s version of the DC220, the DC100 ($499 MSRP), is just not worth it. Both camcorders share a similar 1/6" imager (though it may not be the exact same chip, given the performance differences). They also share a similar body, menu, and lack of video light and flash. The DC100’s catch is that it does not have a rear-mounted joystick but rather a Hitachi-esque side control panel that forces you to constantly look at the left side of the camcorder. The DC100 also retails for $50 more. In our eyes, the DC220 has slightly diminished performance, but vastly better handling, and therefore takes a small edge.
*Canon DC230 *
For $50 more, the DC220’s step-up sibling, the DC230 ($499 MSRP), will give you a remote, larger stills, and twice the gross pixel count. Although remotes are not essential amongst seasoned intermediates, consumers think they’re "cool," therefore the DC230 might seem more attractive to a slightly more accessory-starved point-and-shooter. The DC220 offers a maximum still size of 1024 x 768, while the DC230 maxes out at 1152 x 864. Okay, so far these are not monumental upgrades. The most notable enhancement on the DC230 is its 1,070,000 pixel count vs. the DC220’s 680,000. Now, we’re talking. Keep in mind that both camcorders have identical 1/6' CCDs. But will increasing the pixel count help in low light? History speaks of camcorders with many tiny pixels accompanied by oodles and oodles of noise. The bigger pixels, the more light gathering capabilities. The DC230 will give better resolution, but don’t be surprised if you’re caught in a torrential downpour of noise. This is a tough one. We recommend trying before buying.
We’re dealing with two standard definition DVD camcorders with the exact same price tag, so the playing field is even. Like the DC220, the Panasonic VDR-D210 ($449 MSRP) has a 1/6" imager with a 680,000 gross pixel count. Therefore, you can expect virtually the same image, save minor color palette differentiations. Both camcorders sport a 2.7" wide LCD screen and rear-mounted joysticks. However, the VDR-D210 has an extendable viewfinder, mic input, optical image stabilization, better manual controls, an accessory shoe, and an upgradable battery. The DC220 answers with a slightly larger 35x zoom, more digital image effects, and a comprehensive still photo feature set. The VDR-D210 has NO DIGITAL STILL FEATURE! Still photo/hybrid freaks beware.
We’ll tell you one thing right now—the Sony DCR-DVD308 ($499 MSRP) certainly looks hotter than the DC220. But will its killer looks match its performance? For one, the DVD308 boasts a 1.07 MP advanced HAD imager, Dolby Digital 5.1 channel built-in stereo microphone, bigger upgradable battery, accessory shoe, and extendable viewfinder. The DC220 answers with a bigger 35x optical zoom, and that’s about it. This is pretty sad. On top of that, Sony camcorders are just easier to use. Touch DVD camcorders with touch screens are all the rage amongst soccer moms and Spielberg wannabe dads. In addition, Sony’s Easy button sets the DVD308 into autopilot, allowing the shooter to sit back and let the camcorder do all the work. The DC220 is definitely not the popular kid when standing next to the DCR-DVD308.
Who It’s For
As a standard definition DVD camcorder with a 1/6" imager, limited connectivity options, and no mic or headphone jacks, the DC220 could possibly be the point-and-shooter to end all point-and-shooters.
In this price range, there are too many other camcorders offering more—much more. Salvage your piggy banks, budget consumers.
Still Photo / Video Camera Hybrid
Although the maximum still resolution is 1024 x 768, the DC220 provides happy snappers enough still features to make this camcorder a contender. The ability to choose between disc and card recording is a plus, too.
Gadget Freaks. Gadget freaks are too busy dreaming of the AVCHD format and peanut M&M’s to worry about a standard definition DVD camcorder.
Manual Control Freaks
The DC220 offers a decent selection of manual controls, and the rear-mounted joystick will make it all the more worthwhile. However, manual control freaks will long for a cam control dial, ring, accessory shoe, or increased number of external buttons.
Pros / Serious Hobbyists
Not a chance—well, maybe the DC220 could function as a doorstop for loading equipment.
**The Canon DC220 ($449 MSRP) is targeted towards beginning and casual camcorder users. For ease of use concerns, it’s right on target. We were disappointed with performance overall, which produced decent, saturated colors, but lots of noise. As for low light, an entry-level chip like this is just not going to cut it, so don’t expect to see stellar performance here. The rear-mounted joystick makes handling a treat, and Canon’s menu structure is hard to top for clarity and simplicity. On the downside, battery performance was weak, and the viewfinder is designed for the least possible usability. Overall, it’s suitable for the target audience of indiscriminate camcorder users, but you can certainly find better for a little more money.
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