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HDV for Everyone

Canon's new HV10 camcorder captures 1080i HDV video for under $1,500 By Frank Moldstad

HV10 in use.
The age of Hi Def home movies for the average person has arrived. Barely a week after announcing a pair of new professional HD camcorders [see story here], Canon dropped the other shoe by unveiling the HV10, a palm-sized camcorder that shoots 1080i HDV video.

?This is the smallest, lightest and least expensive high-definition camera on the market, says Jon Sagud, video consultant for Canons Consumer Imaging Group Video Division. ?In its performance category, lets say under-$2,000 high-definition cameras, it's the only camera to employ a true-to-spec 1920x1080 high-definition image.

The HV10 carries a suggested retail price of $1,499, and Canon estimates the street price will be about $1,299 upon its September release. Those who are more economy-minded, meanwhile, can opt instead for Canons other new offering, the DC22 (MSRP $799), a DVD-based camera that records directly to three-inch DVD-R/-RW discs. It, too, is able to capture 16x9 images, although not at the full 1920x1080 resolution of the HV10 (more below).

Canon developed a special sensor for the HV10, drawing from its CMOS technology in DSLR still cameras. In addition to giving the HV10 a unique combination of a sensor, processor and lens all manufactured by the same company, Sagud says, the CMOS technology offers more than 50% higher resolution than anything else on the market.

The CMOS sensor is extremely light sensitive, and one of its big advantages compared to CCDs is very low noise, which results in a high dynamic range video, according to Sagud. Helping with those issues is DIGIC DV2, Canons second-generation DIGIC processors.

HV10 at rest
Like a lot of Canon camcorders, the HV10 has the ability to capture video and still images at the same time or independently. But the HV10 goes a little further, Sagud says.

?We've made cameras now for years that have the ability to capture simultaneous video and still pictures, not only independently but at the same time, he says. ?But the caveat has been that while I'm shooting video, if I reach up and grab off a shot, that still capture is a VGA 640x480 capture. It's standard definition video, even in the still.  Now that I've got a 1920x1080 camera, when I reach up and hit that still I'm grabbing a two megapixel still. So I'm shooting continuous video and grabbing images that I can print at 8 x 10. 

?And then, if I switch the camera into a card-only mode, so that now it is a still camera, I'm employing the full size of that CMOS imaging device, and now I'm getting a 2048x1536 3 megapixel still picture with its 10 power optically stabilized zoom lens, he adds.

Both the HV10 and the DC22 incorporate a brand new autofocus technology, which actually uses both infrared and passive phase detection for high accuracy.

Explains Sagud, ?Up till now, if you go back through the generations of video designs, one of the very early technologies for establishing autofocus was what we called an active system, basically an infrared triangulation system. Infrared worked very well, it was very accurate, but it used up a lot of real estate.  It was more expensive to manufacture -- you had basically a transmitter and a receiver, and the electronics to process that data usually involved an infrared window of some kind. It was a big deal.  The industry tried to get away from that in the late -80s, in an effort to scale down the cameras, and they went to what is called a passive phase detection technology, which focuses kind of the way our eyes focus, it looks for something dark and light in this scene to try and find the contrast division between them and focus on that contrast. 

DC22 gets an hour of recording from three-in. mini discs
?The issue with contrast phase detection is that as light levels dim, it becomes more and more difficult for the passive systems to work as accurately, he adds. ?In the world of high-definition, where now the resolution has become an issue, we felt that to keep the focusing as quick as it needs to be and as accurate as it needs to be, that the ideal scenario would be a hybrid technology.  That's exactly what we've done.  Both of these cameras include both a passive and an active system that work in concert with one other.  The active system basically sets the camera up to the correct zone, and then the passive system takes over to do the fine detail work. So it's an assist, if you will. But it's an extraordinarily accurate technology and that's brand-new to both these cameras.

The DVD-based DC22, meanwhile, uses dual-layer discs developed in association with Verbatim to get up to 60 minutes of record time on a mini-DVD, almost double what a single layer disc can accommodate. DVD camcorders currently represent about a quarter of the camcorder market, and will reach about a third of the market by the end of this year, says Sagud.

?The reason is pretty clear -- it's the VHS of the 21st century.  People want to pop the disc out, throw it in their player and be done with it., he says.

And when the DC22s 16x9 recording mode is used, consumers can watch high resolution widescreen images on their TVs. The DC22 has a built-in 16x9 viewfinder with guides for high res or 4x3 pictures. It can also record a two megapixel still picture to either its removable card or to the DVD.  With a single layer disc, it can hold about 1,100 pictures.

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Related Keywords:Canon, HV10, HDV, camcorder, 1080, HD, CMOS, Hi Def, DC22, DVD


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