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Canon HV20 3MP High Definition MiniDV Camcorder with 10x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom
List Price: $849.99

Our Price: $849.99

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Product Description

You've heard of HDTV and expect to get one if you haven't already. Here's a camcorder that lets you record your own HDTV-compatible images. The stylish Canon HV20 gives you the ultimate in HD video and digital photo quality with advanced features. Its 10x optical zoom lens, 2.96 Megapixel CMOS image sensor and Canon's advanced DIGIC DVII image processor ensures meticulous detail and superior color reproduction. 24p Cinema Mode brings Film-Look options to the HV20 owner. And, with its HD and Standard Definition recording modes, you can make the move to HD without making your SD equipment obsolete. The HV20 is easy to use and delivers the high level of performance you've come to expect from Canon. Focal Length - f=6.1-61mm Zoom Speed - Variable/3 Fixed Zoom Speeds Max. F/Stop - f/1.8-3.0mm Filter Size - 43mm 2.7-inch Widescreen LCD Screen (Approx. 211,000 pixels) and color viewfinder High Definition miniDV (recommended) (63 minutes) or miniDV Cassette Recording Media Microphone Terminal - 3.5 mm Stereo Mini Jack HDMI USB 2.0 Full Speed Terminal for fast transfer of photos Analog-Digital Converter lets you share the precious video memories you have stored on analog videotapes Advanced Accessory Shoe Terminal - Attach extras such as a video light or directional microphone without additional wires or batteries to raise the production value of the video you shoot Dimensions - Width 3.5 x Height 3.2 x Depth 5.4 inch Weight - 1.2 pounds without lens and battery pack Canon 1 Year Parts And Labor Limited Warranty

  • HDV camcorder with 1/2.7-inch CMOS image sensor; 24p Cinema Mode
  • High-definition 10x optical zoom lens; super-range optical image stabilizer
  • Advanced photo features: up to 3-megapixel stills, histogram display, built-in flash, and more
  • 2.7-inch color widescreen LCD; color viewfinder
  • HDMI terminal; advanced accessory shoe

Customer Reviews:

  • Superb camera at an unbeatable price
    This is the best camera I have ever owned. The picture is flawless and my home videos taken in 24p truly look like they were made for television movies. I love it!...more info
  • Great Choice
    I know that these are no longer on the open market, so my review is simply to explain why I think these are an excellent value on the used market.

    Bottom line is this - while they keep adding features and improving paper specs, I haven't seen any need to upgrade from my HV20. The feature set is excellent and picture quality is as good as any I've seen on a pro-sumer HD camera. Further more, while I understand that hard drive recording can be useful, I actually prefer tape, as I can grab inexpensive 3 packs (right here on amazon) and never have to worry about running out. I like to keep my archives available as well (as opposed to re-recording over everything and depending on my computer versions) and don't want to have to worry about dumping to another drive before taking new footage.

    Frankly, I know that everyone wants the latest and greatest - which this was, not so long ago. My opinion is that if you can grab a reasonably priced HV20 on the used market, you won't be unhappy....more info
  • Great Camcorder
    This thing rocks, the only negative is the motor noise, but it is only noticeable when you first get it, you hardley even hear it while playing the footage on a TV. Also glad Canon has kept using the same batteries, makes it easy to purchase more and a lot cheaper too. You can't go wrong with this camcorder....more info
  • Spectacular High Definition Camcorder
    I purchased this camcorder almost 6 months ago, for both personal and professional uses. I made my decision because of the overwhelmingly positive professional reviews. You cannot go wrong with either a Canon HV20 or a Sony HC7, they have very similar characteristics. One thing that the Canon has is the true 24p mode which is important for indy filmmakers and also improves low light performance indoors and out.

    I can attest to the durability of this unit as I put it through a limited torture test over 6 months. Its been to Hawaii which actually has many different environments. Dry, hot, wet, humid, and rain. Yes, there were shots that I had to get of waterfalls that got the camcorder sprinkled with a light mist. The camcorder performed perfectly. I quickly wiped off any moisture after I got the shot. Its been on a boat and down hiking trails.

    The video in good lighting is spectacular. Lighting is the most important aspect of good video making. Even the best camcorder will perform poorly if the lighting is not good. The best time to video for the most spectacular results is either overcast days or where the sun is not visible. A sunny day is not the best for video, since you get extremes in contrast. Of course a dark environment is also not the best for video making. Canon's 24p mode is a great addition to help in the low light department, but I recommend a strong video light for very dark areas. The HV20 is the cheapest true 24p camcorder.

    I also had the opportunity to take video in standard definition (this camcorder will do both High Def, and standard. I needed to take some video of a professional sports team, and interview. The requirements were standard definition. The outdoor shot were the best I have ever seen from a camcorder in standard definition. I put it on a standard DVD and played it in the home player and it was excellent. So you can shoot either way. Standard def can be put directly to regular DVD today.

    Sound is very good, but I recommend that you get a wireless microphone for any interviews. I bought the Audio Technica wireless lavelier microphone. It can go up to 100 feet away and sounded very good.

    Still pictures were good. Its nice to have if you don't want to lug around a still camera. But as with any camcorder, you will get your best shots from a dedicated still camera.

    Overall this is a great camcorder. If you are doing editing, your best bet is to use a tape based HDV camcorder. They are less compressed (better quality) video than Hard Disk or memory card based camcorders. At least for now.

    Some more tips for this camcorder: use the sony high definition tapes (available here at amazon), if you want, you can get a wide angle adapter lens, get a good case that can hold your camcorder and accessories and get at least 1 extra battery. I also recommend that you get a clear filter and lens cap if you are going to be in conditions where the lens could get dust, dirt or water. Its much easier to clean the filter than to clean the primary lens. This camcorder does have an automatic lens cover, but since I was in rainy conditions I found the filter to be very useful.

    When in a car, you will many times see a reflection from the dash on the windshield. If you have ever worn polarized sunglasses you know that that will get rid of that glare. The same is true for the camcorder. Get a polarized lens if you plan to do filming in a car during the day, or are going to be outdoors in bright light, especially near the glare that comes off the ocean.

    ...more info
  • small but mighty
    the HV20 is so tiny and light, it's hard to believe the quality of image and sound it captures. i've used "pro" cameras that weigh several times as much and cost at least a couple grand more that do not give you the results the HV20 does (its 'cinema' setting shoots true 24 frames per second, much better than the 'frame mode' on many higher-end models). i've been using it for weeks now and am completely in love with it, and it works flawlessly with my mac editing software. i don't yet own a HD television, so if the HV20 footage looks this great on a regular set it's got nowhere to go but up. bottom line, if you're a filmmaker who can't afford the pro-grade cameras this is the closest you can get for the money....more info
  • Requires Firewire for to transfer from MiniDV
    I was excited to get this camera and I shot some footage. But I found out (too late) that the *only* way to get the video recorded to the MiniDV cassete is through firewire. That great. I don't have a MAC on hand and none of my laptops (bought in the last year) have firewire. So no joy.

    When I researched this camera, no where, and I mean no where, was it mentioned that the video from the MiniDV could only be transferred via Firewire. I might not have bought it if I had known that. Now I have to return it and fight to not pay a restocking fee.

    Btw, the manual shows that you can use a USB cable, but it doesn't even say that video from the MiniDV cassette can not be transferred over USB.

    Oh, and no video editing software? For $1000, Canon couldn't put something on the DVD. Sure, I can use Microsoft Movie Maker, but I can't say that I like it....more info
  • Canon HV20
    Completely satisfied; good value. But be sure to read the hdv download computer-tech-requirements for the video processing product you intend to use....more info
  • Great Camera
    This is a really good camcorder. I had it for a few month now and love every bit of it. The picture quality is flawless on my hd tv. ...more info
  • great camera
    I like this camera - very nice, big display, easy to handle with buttons easy to reach and logical....more info
  • Wow...great buy so far
    I received my HV20 a few days ago and I am extremely pleased with the picture quality and the true colors it produces. I give it 5 stars for video quality.

    I agree with some of the other reviews that some of the buttons are poorly placed and sized. The cover for the HDMI terminal is a pain. I'm pretty sure that it will break off with moderate use...or that I'll get fed up with it not staying put and rip it off myself.

    The build quailty looks good, but I'll reserve judgement on the long term ruggedness until I can get more time in with it....more info
  • PAL or NTSC
    Actually I'm looking for this Canon HV-20 Camcorder with PAL recording system. Please help....more info
  • Beware: motor noise ruins your sound recordings
    After 2 years with my HV20, I'm splurging on a new SDHC flash drive camera, because of all the HV20 motor noise, which ruins my video sound recordings. I love Canon & my HD video camcorder, and I bought all accessories from Day 1 including the DM-100 directional microphone. But it doesn't help the motor noise problem. It may even be worse with the DM-100, I can't quite tell. If anyone has ideas to solve, please post....more info
  • I'd Buy One
    I've shot for a few hours with this camera and plan to buy one as a backup for documentary work. It's extremely easy to use and the single chip works much better in low light than my high end 3 chip HD camera. There are compression artifacts that show up where there's a lot of motion in the frame, but it's a great deal for the price and there's a lot to be said for traveling with a camera this small. The only problem I've seen with it has been some RF interference with a low-end radio mic. ...more info
  • j&K cameras sent me a broken camera
    We spend $768 to buy this camera. However, when we first receive it. The camera box was not sealed. we were thinking the camera should be a new one, and continue to use it. End up the port upload to the computer didnot work, and the Company selling this camera (J&K)refused to provide any repair or help because it passed 7 days after the purchase. We are very disappointed with this seller. ...more info
  • Great HD Camcorder
    Very nice camera. Works great. Haven't had it long but our film school daughter is using it for class assignments and is very happy with it so far....more info
  • Excelent image but recording randomly freeze
    Hi, I just bought the canon HV20. The image is amazing.

    However, I went out for a test shoot. Then I rewinded the tape and playback. For some reason, the footage randomly freeze for a second, and then jump forward a second or two in time (always at the same point). In 10 minutes of shooting, it happens 4 times. I thought it was a tape defect, but it wasn't.

    I don't know if anyone else has the same problem....more info
  • Canon HV20 High Def. Camera
    This camera seems to be quite good in its picture quality. The zoom isn't that easy to use, but overall its a nice compact camera with good optics....more info
  • Great camera, but a pain to edit
    I bought this camera last may after extensive research. since then the price has dropped conciderably. I've also discovered that there are many things I like about this camera, but also some critical issues that I only found out in post.

    Lets start with the good. I love the size of the camera I backpacked through Thailand this summer and it wasn't cumbersome at all. I also LOVE the fact that this camera has an external mic jack. When I was searching for a camera this was one of FEW that offered that unbelievably, important feature. I also love all the features that this camera provides through its menu. White balancing, audio levels etc..

    Now for the bad. What I want to stress is that when you by an HD camera make sure that your computer, editing software etc... can handle this feature. Personally uploading my footage to the computer for editing has been such a headache to me that I wish I had just bought a 3CCD camera instead. HD is relatively new and not all the quirks are worked out yet for post. In fact, my computer was a few years old and it wouldn't even recognize my HD footage. This made editing a project an absolute nightmare and I've since had to upgrade to a newer computer. Please make sure that all this is in your budget before you buy the camera. Also note that footage needs to uploaded by mini 1394 cable and that DOES NOT come with the camera.

    However, if you are up to date on your software, hardware etc... then its a fine choice. As for me I'm not sure what I was thinking as I don't even have an HD TV set or an hd or blu-ray burner. So most of the time I've just been taping things in dv and not HD. Had I known all these dificulties originally I wouldn't have bought an HD camera at all. It's really something to think about before buying.

    ...more info
  • It does the job
    I stood in a shallow river in Mexico filming birds hand-held, and then watched it on my HDTV, and friends thought it was the Discovery channel. I don't really know what the complaining is about indoor ... yes it isn't as good as outdoor shooting, but is that a "new" issue?

    In three weeks I take it to Egypt! I'm waiting for someone to review a tele-extender for this before I buy one. Then watch out world here I come!...more info
  • Awesome camera!
    I did about a month of research, on Amazon, and several other sites before deciding to buy this camera.

    Let me first say i am NOT DISSAPOINTED AT ALL!!!!!

    This is by far the best camera I have used/owned. I purchased it for my own personal indie films, as well as for videography work at several clubs and for a magazine. It lacks a few manual controls, and sometimes i wish it "felt" more pro, but honestly the video quality, especiall during the day, is amazing.

    The first 45 minutes I shot with this camera were just of my friends hanging out.... no plot not even very interesting conversations, but my friends and I sat a watched the video twice now, simply because it LOOKS awesome. I mean it looks just like one of those True Life MTV shows....

    For the money, there is NOTHING better.

    it feels sorta cheap, and rattles slightly from the battery......more info
  • Very Nice for your first HD camera
    I am very happy with this camera. After doing quite a lot of research, I chose this one on the pricepoint and the fact that it has a microphone jack! It's amazing how hard it is to find a camera with a mic jack.
    Anyway, takes great footage. You can still use the standard mini dv tape or pay three times more for a mini HD tape. I guess it depends on how particular you are. I mainly record on the mini dv tape and get very impressive video quality. You can tell a big difference compared to a digital 8 video.
    The size is very nice as well. You don't have to have a huge 10 pound camera to have HD anymore.
    Has a firewire port to download directly to the computer for editing. User friendly.
    Feel free to contact me with any questions.

    Amy info
  • Excellent camera at a good price
    I am truly impressed with the quality of video I get with this camera. It's small and easy to use, and at an affordable price. However, the battery that comes with it doesn't have much capacity, even though larger/extra batteries are readily available. The "ho-hum-quality" still-photo feature is a waste to me and seems inconsistent with an HD video camera (if HD is important to someone, so would be hi-res stills that they would probably rely on getting from a second good quality still camera). I would much rather they included the accessory light and an inexpensive carrying case with a strap instead of the snapshot feature, even if it were a little more money. I can't imagine anyone not wanting the accessory light and a way to protect the camera, so I gave it four stars instead of five. ...more info
  • Fantastic Image Quality, But 24P Is Tough To Post-Process
    I used to own a Canon GL2 (prosumer SD 3CCD camera with Canon L lens) but got tired of carrying it around to take travel video which I rarely ended up editing. So I sold it and purchased this, looking forward to HD quality and 24P framerates.

    The HD quality does not disappoint in any way whatsoever. Hook this up to a 1080i/p HDTV via HDMI and the quality of the image will be indistinguishable from what you see on any of the HD channels. I was blown away.

    Build quality wise, it seems a little cheap, the tape loading door on my has a little play in it. It's extremely light, which makes it hard to hold steady; however, the optical image stabilization is surprisingly good. Attempting to hold the camera steady at full zoom results in nearly shake free video.

    The only reason I didn't give this 5 stars (and it may not matter to you) is that recording in 24p mode, doesn't actually record 24 progressive frames per second. Instead it records 18 progressive frames and 12 interlaced ones in succession, inside of a 60i stream. There are also no markers embedded in the video to signal to applications e.g. Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas, etc. the correct way to process the stream. In order to get a real 24p video you need to perform a pulldown. There are various ways to do this, but none of them are trivial (search the Internet for "Canon HV20 24p Pulldown").

    All in all, though, this is an amazing little device. The video I recently took of Upper Yosemite Falls looks better on my TV than I remember it. How often does that happen to you?!...more info
  • great camera
    Terrific camera with fantastic features. It was easy to learn and so easy to use. The video quality is great and I use it everywhere. I especially like that it is light and easy to hold. I have been using it nonstop for the past few months and have already got a lifetime of memories....more info
  • Can't connect to PC
    Picture is beautifull, but cannot connect to my PC via Firewire port, Windows looks for a AV/C Subunit software nowhere to be found, Canon tech support unable to help. Looked on various forums in the internet and this seems to be a common problem, with no solution so far.

    Nobody seems to know what is AV/C Subunit...more info
    I've been wanting to switch to High Definition format for some time, but when this camera debuted at $1299, it was a little out of my price range. Now the camera has dropped to $650 plus I got free shipping, what a great deal, so I decided to buy the camera and give it a try.

    Now I am a huge proponent of MiniDV tape systems over discs and hard drives, but that's another topic. This camera let's you shoot in standard definition and high definition, so you have choices and won't have to throw away your old equipment to be compatible. I've shot footage indoors and outdoors, and running it through the HDMI is gorgeous!

    Before HD, I had bought a number of cameras including more professional heavyweights, but I love this camera overall and it makes a great all purpose or backup camera. Very light, simple to use, the resolution and function is top quality. The sound is good but with the smart shoe, I plan to get an external microphone.

    A few little issues, I did not like the control buttons for zoom and menu stick, they are awfully small and could have extended out better, they also feel slightly plastic and weak. Also the viewfinder is too flat against the back, I wish it could extend out and offer a better feel. Also I did not like that the control functions are on the pullout videoscreen, as a righty the controls on the screen are on the left, I suppose I could just flip the screen...I prefer the controls to be intuitive on the menu stick, like my Panasonic GS300.

    Overall the sound is good, the picture is great, and the size and price are fantastic. The film 24 mode is okay, but I haven't used it too often, also white balance is not an option you can play with and overall, most of the functions are feature I do love, you can adjust the zoom speed to 3 variables or just leave it on auto!

    Another gripe which eludes the 5 stars, the camera saves photos on MicroSD, which kills the idea of using the ton of SD cards I have on hand and swapping easily between my devices.

    I have had problems editing the HD footage, Magix Pro 11 and 12 crashed and did not even work in Vista and XP, I did cut some stuff eventually but had problems with playback, and other methods used I lost quality, so it may be a little more work before I can edit beautiful HD movies.
    This is a short run month after purchase...will write again after 6 months.

    Thanks. John Dae...more info
  • Great HD Video Camera
    I'm very pleased with my purchase of the HV20. We bought it because our child was growing very quickly [as most do] and because we elected to take a big trip down to Argentina to see whales, penguins, mountains, vineyards, etc. The conclusion after the trip was that the camera performed beautifully for the most part.

    The video image quality is excellent. I have reviewed it directly on a HDTV as well as downloaded it to my computer to be chopped up in Premiere, and the resultant image quality is stunning [as expected].

    The image stabilization is quite good as long as you are not zoomed in, but as long as you keep that in mind, the camera performs well in that regard. The zoom for the camera is quite good, but you do have to be careful if you're panning [as expected].

    The camera does use SD mem for the single pictures and for the most part the single shot pictures are great. The biggest complaint I have about this feature is that the low light quality is relatively BAD and highly grainy. Again, as long as you realize the limitation, you will be happy with some of the other features. One related feature I used quite extensively is the ability to click single pictures WHILE I was shooting video -- excellent feature. You can select what grainy-ness and smoothing for this style of single shot, but the resolution will follow the video quality. Still, a very excellent feature

    I have large hands and although the buttons were small, after the first day or so, I had little to no problem using the camera.

    The camera uses miniDV tapes and I was pleased with that feature as well. I didn't want to have to make the HD video format choice and I didn't want a relatively fragile and limited storage harddrive inside. The tapes are cheap and the image quality is well-preserved.

    I am very glad I purchased the camera and am quite pleased with the results I procured from it....more info
  • My HV20 failed after 4 months
    I bought this camcorder four months ago. I was really happy with the image quality of my recordings. However, last week I needed to use the camera (after not having used it for about three weeks) and tried to turn it on only to find out that it wouldn't. Thinking the battery had run out, I left it to charge overnight. The next day and for a couple of days afterwards I tried a combination of things to try and get the camera to power-up, but nothing worked. Finally, I gave up and called Canon tech support. Tech support told me that I had to send the camera in for repair. I sent the camera in for repair paying $42 out of my own pocket to do so. Hopefully, it will be repaired and come back soon. Another person wrote of a similar problem with this model and I'm beginning to wonder if this model might be prone to such problems. ...more info
  • Firewire port has stopped working
    Had the camera less than a month and it suddenly stopped being recognized by any of my systems although they could access older sony fine. Camera is fine in all other aspects. I am generally careful in hooking up firewire devices (even in cases like this where no power should go to camera due to 6-to-4 pin connector). Fine print on Amazon affiliate says they do not provide service so I will have to contact Canon directly.

    BTW, J&K Camera delayed sending camera and made unsolicited sales call. See > for various complaints against them....more info
  • Real World Test: 7 Weeks Across Europe with the Canon HV20
    Hi Everyone,

    We got this camera to use on a 7 week tour we just completed across Europe. We're big Canon fans and own a Canon XL2 which we use to video a lot of live music events in the work we do. Because of the length of the tour and flying, we had to get a smaller camera and this seemed like a good choice. We are not pro's nor are we videophiles. We're just average users who shoot a lot of interesting places and footage. We do it to archive places and people and events. I doubt most average users shoot as much footage as we do, so perhaps this will be of help to others since we faced a wide variety of real world situations.

    Ruggedness: It gets a surprising 10 out of 10. We had this thing in all sorts of bad weather conditions including a solid week of heavy downpours across Belgium and Germany. We used it in the rain (with efforts to shield it a bit in the heaviest storms) and it chugged along with no problem. We took it in and out of pockets (it fits in sweatshirt and jacket pockets pretty easily.. I even got it to fit in my jeans pocket in a pinch (I am a big guy with big pockets) and I was worried that it would break with all the wear and tear. But it held up perfectly. (Which is more than I can say for my Canon G7 digital camera which completely fell apart or the Canon 30 D which had all sorts of dirt on the mirror problems during the same trip). We recorded over 30 hours of footage in the 7 weeks and it worked just as well at the end as the start. The camera feels very light and flimsy and I was sure it would break in some way. But it held up like a champ.

    Battery Life: It gets an average 7 out of 10. We started and stopped the camera constantly and left it in pause mode lot. The battery far surpassed our expectations. We had a back up battery but rarely ever had to use. (I think 1 time we drained the battery completely in one day's shooting of about 2 hours of footage). I think it would be very rare for a normal user (family, vacations, holidays) to need more than 2 batteries (we had extended life batteries, not the small one it comes with). Each night we usually just pulled the batter out of the camera and recharged it and put it back in. I do recall the back up battery draining down a bit faster after a few days of non use, so if you have a critical shoot coming up, check the power on the charged back up to make sure it's holding it's charge. Also, we did have 1 bad battery that we had to replace. (It was a name brand canon). But that's not the fault of the camera itself. For practical purposes, having 2 batteries should cover well over 3 hours of use. Not fantastic, but acceptable.

    Low Light Picture Quality: This gets a 7 out of 10. We shot at night and in a lot of really dark places. It doesn't have a "night shot" infrared feature (you know, that weird green lit footage you see on the Travel Channel ghost show?), but it does have a tiny built in light. And guess what? That little light actually works surprising well. It won't light up a room by any stretch but it will light up an item or subject pretty well. We used it for short commentary (we described a lot of places we visited travel channel style to help us remember who we met, what we did and what we saw for later) and even in pitch dark, you could light up the person enough for an interview. We even used it one night as a flash light at Pompeii when we stayed until after sundown and there were no lights in a building we visited. As for the video footage itself, in low light conditions it was shockingly good. It got grainy of course, but you could make out what was going on very clearly in every dark scene we shot. We didn't really expect it to do so well but it surpassed our hopes.

    Good Light Footage: It gets a 9 out of 10. We got really excellent footage all over Europe. The colors are vibrant. It even handled backlit situations well with the back light feature. (Not perfect.. but much better than without the feature). It didn't transition well from low light to bright light and back.. but overall it did correct itself acceptably fast to the light/shade conditions in daylight/bright light shooting.

    Focus: It gets an 8 out of 10. Focus was sometimes hit or miss. We found if we weren't closely monitoring what was being recorded, it would occasionally go out of focus and get hopelessly lost until we adjusted the zoom manually. So this was a bit less than we expected/hoped for as we aren't always able to monitor live action footage closely.

    Audio: It gets a miserable 1 out of 10. Sadly.. the Achilles heal on this camera is the audio. It's terrible on pretty much every level. The camera has an incredibly loud whine in the motor and the mic picks it up loudly. A pro might be able to go into the editing room and cut some of it out, but the average user is simply out of luck. In addition to the built in noise that can't be avoided, (tape mechanism and zoom are BOTH horribly loud) the mic is very sensitive and just amplifies the sound even more. If you are taping in a quiet setting, it's awful. If you're in a noisy place, it's better simply because the noise can drown a lot of it out (but it's still there). To make matters worse, if you're outside, it's almost impossible to record someone talking if there's the slightest breeze. If it's windy, forget it. The wind noise drowns out even loud and direct audio. (We couldn't even hear live music outside blasting if the wind was blowing at all). A little tip in desperation is to simply find the best angle to point the camera to avoid some of the brutal wind noise. But it's useless if you want to do anything with the tape beyond capture a video memory. We also purchased the Canon External Zoom Mic and guess what? It lessens the tape mechanism noise a little, but it makes the zoom noise even worse. So that purchase solved nothing at all. This little camera might have been the best on the market.. but the miserable audio capabilities just make it a nightmare if you hope to use the footage for anything other than video. (i.e. you'll need a non mounted external mic if you want to capture decent audio directly onto the tape... most pro's use external audio recordings, but most normal users don't). You can (and should) monitor the audio in real time when possible. The external mic jack can give you a scare if you haven't read the manual. You need to go into the settings and change the audio jack to headphones setting otherwise you'll get a horrible buzz when you put on the phones. It's several menus deep and a bad design. In addition, it kept resetting back to default (i.e. the buzzing came back) each time you shut it off, so you'd have to go back into the menu again (even though the little headphone icon would stay lit.. you still had to reset it manually via the menus). That was really annoying and time consuming if you wanted to get a quick spontaneous shot. Usually we went without monitoring the audio because of that and after the fact realized that was a grave mistake. If you care about the audio that will be on the tape, you have to monitor and adjust in real time as best you can. Also keep in mind even minimal directional changes vastly changes the sounds you'll pick up even without a directional mic attached. If you pan away from someone talking to show something over their shoulder for example, expect their audio level to lower dramatically. Again, Pro's will know this and handle it. Average users will find out when it's too late.

    Canon External Mic: 6 out of 10. As mentioned above, it didn't solve the mechanical noise problem. But it does cut back on the wind noise and it does cause the audio to be more directional than the built in mic. It didn't seem to boost the levels much though and if anything it was actually less sensitive than the built in mic. Sadly, I am not aware of any other solution if you want to keep the camera in one piece.

    Viewfinder: 8 out of 10. The LCD viewer is wide screen and looks great. It's quite easy to flip around in different angles and all the way around so you can tape yourself and view that you're on screen. It's got most of the controls on it at the bottom and seemed pretty rugged as we twisted and turned it all different ways for 7 weeks and had no problem with it. The only downside is that the manual viewfinder (i.e. not the LCD screen) is pretty bad and pretty useless to use much. It's always going out of focus and often when it was damp out it fogged up and was unusable. For most folks, you'll be using the LCD 95% of the time.

    Playback on the camera: This gets an 8 out of 10. It was pretty easy to view your shots back and the little built in speaker works surprisingly well to see what you got. You can turn the viewscreen all the way around and view it on the side of the camera. Unfortunately there's no rewind/play/forward buttons on the body of the camera. You can only find those functions on the viewscreen or access them via the little remote control. I suggest keeping that handy as it's a lot easier to do it that way. With the large viewscreen it was great to play back stuff throughout the trip and remember what we had done.

    Playback into something else: This doesn't get a rating but we have some comments. The camera has an HDMI output which allows for High Def video and audio to go directly into your HD TV without additional cables/cords. That's great. We can't rate it because we don't have a TV or device to hook it into so we don't know how well it works. We do have Component inputs and the camera comes with a cable for that purpose. The video doesn't look a good as I am sure it would look via an HDMI cable into a HD TV or computer but we can't fault the camera for that. Keep in mind to view this stuff you're going to need more gear at home.

    Working with HD On the Computer: Again, not rating here, but just a reminder that most video editing software and most computers in the average home won't deal with HD video. You probably already know that if you're looking at an HD Camera.. but some folks don't realize it. We're looking at getting a high end Mac or Windows machine that can handle HD Video with the software that supports HD. That's another big investment you'll likely have to make if you haven't already. Otherwise you'll have to be happy just playing stuff back using the camera as a VCR and your Hi Def TV as your viewer.

    Ergonomics: 6 out of 10. This camera doesn't feel great in your hand. The zoom slider is awkward and not easy to reach with your fingers (no matter what size your hand is.. my wife had trouble with a small hand, I had trouble with a large hand). We did get used to it during the trip and once we were, we didn't have too many problems.. but I wonder if anyone at Canon actually held this thing before it went to market. It's surprisingly non-ergonomic. We also couldn't ever find a setting on the hand strap that was good for both of us to use so we'd have to either grasp it awkwardly or change the velcro setting before each shot which also hurt spontaneous shooting.

    Start Up Time: 7 out of 10: This thing starts reasonably fast and you can usually start shooting video within a few seconds. Certainly not anywhere close to instant on like our 30D digital cam, but reasonably fast so you can get shots within about 5-6 seconds if you're quick at the trigger.

    Size: 10 out of 10: This camera is the right size. Though it's not ergonomic, you can definitely carry it in any coat pocket and even front jeans pants pockets if they/you are large. That was handy if I need to quickly set the camera down to switch to the digital camera. Sliding it into my jeans pocket was a great safe temporary place to put it when I didn't have a coat on.

    In summary, Canon got everything right on this camera except the audio. If you need to be able to hear what's going on without hum or whine or buzz, you're going to have issues with this camera. If you're a pro and have a separate audio recording on an external device, then this camera will be fantastic for quick and easy shots using a handheld. If you're just doing family stuff (Holidays etc..) and the audio is less important than the visuals, then you may still be happy. If you shoot stuff like kids sports games etc.. the wind noise is going to be a serious problem if you want ot hear anything. Getting the external mic will be helpful in that case. (Not sure that I've seen a wind screen solution for this camera anywhere). I don't know what's on the immediate horizon, but you may want to wait and see if there's another generation of Canon cameras coming and then hope they've solved some of these issues for the average user who wants acceptable built in sound.

    But dang.. the video quality is stunning!

    Good luck and happy videotaping!


    Brian Austin Whitney
    Just Plain Folks Music Organization...more info
  • Increible picture quality
    This is my first refurbished product, the camera looks like new, come with all their accesories, works perfect, I own a SONY HVR-HD1000u and the hv20 blow away the sony, low light is a lot better in the canon and 24p option is a plus for me.

    The construction is a little bit crappy but the picture quality is stunning.

    Best Regards....more info
  • Failed Camera, Failed Customer Service
    I bought the Canon HV20 4 months ago. The video quality is great, as many other reviews testify. But I have had major hardware problems.

    One day my camera would not power up. I called Canon Tech Support and they told me I would need to send it in. This cost me $40 and 4 weeks. Canon's policy is 7-10 business days to ship the unit back, however in my case they "were very busy" and didn't open the box for a week, then took the full 10 days to process and repair my camera, then ground shipping. 4 WEEKS until I had my camera back! This down-time was made especially aggravating because I am currently on a year-long trip around North America.

    What's worse than a new camera that fails? Answer: A new camera that fails twice.

    After having my camera back for less than a month, the same problem reoccurred. The HV20 will not power up under any circumstance. I call Canon, they tell me I need to ship it in again. The only consolation is that they will cover the shipping cost this time. Canon's policy is "repair, not replacement", the nice customer service man told me. His name was Sean.

    As a consumer, I am quite understanding of product failures, especially when the product is new to market. I accept some extra risk as an early adopter. But when a product fails twice, I want it replaced. I want Canon to ship me a new unit. I'm not willing to go without my new camera another 4 weeks of my trip. But this is all Canon is offering.

    Beware the HV20 and Beware the Canon Repair Policy....more info
  • excellent
    Canon HV20 excellent camera, easy to operate, and gives a very sharp image, unfortunately Canon does not supply editing software for High Definition HDV, the editing software that is available costs over $800 and it is impossible to produce HDV DVD's in a home computer....more info
  • I am very pleased
    So far I had no problems or complaints with my camera. I thought I will have difficulties with PC/TV connections and video editing. Everything came really easy and simple. The first day I received it, I made a small movie and converted it in DivX and watched it on my PS3. The camera has this cheap feeling quality, but you will get over it pretty soon. Other minuses like viewfinder, size, design and accessory shoe cover are not making me feel bad.. I am indifferent to them. That's why I would only recommend HV20. Great buy...more info
  • amazing and clear image
    this is my second camcorder and i am very glad with it, the image is amazing, if you watch in a high definition tv, the diference is high.
    I recommend use mini dv HD, you will see the diference...more info
  • Great Buy! Great Video!
    I wanted to do more with the camera before I wrote the review, but I haven't had time to do any video editing on the computer. All I know is that for my use, which is point and shoot video and playback on my HD TV, this camera works great. The picture quality is everything I expected and on 52 inches at high definition, I feel as if I were reliving the moment. I like the end search capability that automatically finds the last moment recorded and the remote control to playback the video. The remote control sensor on the camera is beneath the lens and I had to elevate the camera or turn it on its side to activate it though. Overall awesome buy at a reasonable price. Excellent video quality....more info
  • Excellent Camera
    I bought this camera for a carry-on only train trip around the country. It's tiny size allowed me to tuck it away in a corner of my carry-on, and yet it recorded fantastic video (3 1/2 hours) that I'm editing now. The video is flawless, bright, and vibrant. Even the stills are great. Though I haven't tried blowing them up above 4X6...more info