camcorders

Canon DC330 Camcorder Review

Canon DC330 Camcorder Review

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Performance

Video Performance* (3.0)*

The Canon DC330 is equipped with a 1/6-inch CCD with a gross pixel count of 1,070,000. The effective pixel count in 16:9 (widescreen) mode is 550,000. In 4:3, that effective pixel count is increased to 690,000. These specs are slightly better than we find on entry-level camcorders. The sensor size is the same, but the pixel count is higher, so we should expect to see a higher resolution image.

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Canon DC330 at 3000 lux in auto mode

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Sony DCR-DVD810 at 3000 lux in auto mode

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JVC GZ-MG330 at 3000 lux in auto mode

We tested the video performance of Canon DC330 by shooting in and out of the lab. First, we shot a DSC Labs Chroma DuMonde chart at an even 3000 lux, then compared it to other camcorders in the same price range. Our first impression of the DC330 is vibrancy of the color and sharpness. It's a pleasing image, no doubt about that. Of course, it pales in comparison to high definition camcorders (a fact that's getting harder to ignore with each passing month).

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Sony DCR-DVD810

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Canon DC330

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Panasonic VDR-D230

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Comparatively, the Sony DCR-DVD810 was even bolder in its color, perhaps too bold. Mind you, neither of these camcorders have completely accurate colors. Both oversaturate to emphasize the colors of the world around you (which are apparently too dull to render accurately). Looking carefully, we determined that the Canon produced slightly more fine detail than the Sony, perhaps due in part to the more visible compression artifacts on the Sony.

The JVC GZ-MG330 was slightly less saturated than the Canon DC330, though the sharpness was just as good. We named the GZ-MG330 a top pick for 2008, and we thought the performance here bested the Canon.

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Canon DC330

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Sony DCR-DVD810

Out of the lab, the Canon DC330 proved to be a very good performer. We shot simultaneously with the DC330 and the Sony DCR-DVD810. The Canon retained more fine detail, though the difference was not large. The color differences were not significant, though the Canon had slightly warmer and arguably more pleasing colors. In the images above, looking at the bricks, you can notice the different amount of detail the two camcorders pick up.

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Canon DC330

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Sony DCR-DVD810

The DC330 provided a smooth, crisp image outside in bright light—which is something the Sony had trouble with. There was very little compression artifacting noticeable on the Canon, which was the main difference between the two camcorders.

Overall, the Canon DC330 is a very good performer for its price range.

Video Resolution* (4.47)*

The video performance of the Canon DC330 was tested by shooting a DSC Labs video resolution chart at an even, bright light. At best, the camcorder produced an approximate horizontal resolution of 325 line widths per picture height (lw/ph) and a vertical resolution of 275 lw/ph. These are average scores for a standard def camcorder in this price range, and they are very similar to the results we got from the Canon DC220, Canon FS100, and Sony DCR-DVD810.

Low Light Performance* (5.02)*

The low light performance of the Canon DC330 was tested in three stages: comparative analysis, sensitivity, and color error/noise. First, we shoot the DSC Labs Chroma DuMonde chart at an even 60 lux and 15 lux, then compare those results with the results of similar camcorders.

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Canon DC330 at 60 lux in auto mode

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Sony DCR-DVD810 at 60 lux in auto mode

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JVC GZ-MG330 at 60 lux in auto mode

At 60 lux, the Canon DC330 lost a lot of color information compared to its bright light testing, and the noise increased significantly. However, it faired rather well compared to the competition. The Sony DCR-DVD810 appeared sharper overall, but the colors were not quite as defined. The JVC GZ-MG330 was sharp, but even with a manual white balance the colors were shifted towards a bluish hue. The Panasonic VDR-D230 was the odd performer out, performing much brighter, but completely washing out the color.

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Canon DC330 at 15 lux in auto mode

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Sony DCR-DVD810 at 15 lux in auto mode

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JVC GZ-MG330 at 15 lux in auto mode

At 15 lux, the Canon DC330 got much noisier, but you could still determine which colors were which. By comparison, the Sony DCR-DVD810 was sharper and retained more fine detail. However, the Sony's whites were not as bright, which explains why the sensitivity score of the Canon DC330 was actually higher. The Panasonic VDR-D230 was, again, completely washed out.

The second stage of the test measures sensitivity. We shoot the same Chroma DuMonde chart while steadily lowering the light. The camcorder's exposure output is determined by a waveform monitor, and measured in IRE. The Canon DC330 was able to produce a peak of 50 IRE at a light level of 13 lux.

By comparison, the Canon FS11 produced the same score. The JVC GZ-MG330 was also the same score of 13 lux.  The Sony DCR-DVD810 and the Sony DCR-SR85 both required 18 lux of light to produce the same exposure.

The final test examined the color accuracy, noise, and saturation in low light shooting. We shoot an X-Rite Color Checker chart at an even 60 lux, then run frame grabs through Imatest imaging software. According to Imatest, the Canon DC330 produced a color error of 12.4, a noise score of 1.225%, and a saturation of 71.31%.

By comparison, the Sony DCR-DVD810 produced a larger color error of 14.9 and a higher noise of 1.6025%. The JVC GZ-MG330 produced an even larger color error of 15.7, but a better noise score of 1.11%. The Panasonic VDR-D230 produced the largest color error of 17.2, but a better noise score of 1.22%.

Overall, the Canon DC330 is a decent low light performer. It had one of the best color accuracies amongst standard definition camcorders and its noise and light sensativity scores were on par with the competition. Even in very low light, the Canon DC330 should proivde a decent image with strong colors.

Stabilization* (3.75)

*We test stabilization by attaching camcorders to our shake simulation device. The device runs at two different speeds—speed one is roughly equivalent to an unsteady hand, while speed two is more like the motion produced by a jog or rocky car ride. At speed one, the DC330's image stabilization system reduced 62.5% of the shake. At speed two it reduced only 12.5%. These are average scores for a camcorder in this price range, but they are somewhat worse than the results from last year's DC220.

The Canon DC330 is equipped with an electronic image stabilization system (EIS) that digitally smooths the image. Using the system can result in a loss of image quality, so it's not recommended unless you really need a steady picture.

Wide Angle* (9.00)

*To determine the camcorder's maximum viewing angle we do the following: pull the zoom all the way out, put the camcorder on a tripod, turn image stabilization off, and measure the angle width using a vertical laser. The wide angle of the DC330 measured at 45 degrees, which is slightly below average for a consumer camcorder. The Canon DC220, which had a different lens, had a wide angle of 50 degrees.

Comparable Products

Before you buy the Canon DC330, take a look at these other camcorders.

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Sections

  1. Performance
  2. Format
  3. Auto / Manual Controls
  4. Still Features
  5. Handling and Use
  6. Audio / Playback / Connectivity
  7. Other Features
  8. Conclusion & Comparisons
  9. Photo Gallery