Canon HV20 HDV Camcorder


Canon HV20 HDV Camcorder

If you don’t mind dealing with miniDV tape, the Canon HV20 is a fine choice. However, we prefer having nonlinear random access to shots, rather than rolling through an anachronistic tape to find a shot. We also don’t care for the cheap, plastic feel of this unit or its “advanced accessory shoe” cover that pops off with little provocation. But the HV20’s HDV format is a lot easier to edit, with that same familiar, comfortable workflow you get with DV tape: Capture clips on the PC via a FireWire port and then you’re off and editing without a lot of annoying steps in between.

We like the transport controls located just below the viewscreen, but the start-stop button and too-small zoom lever are awkwardly placed.


We especially like the way Canon includes features normally reserved for pros, such as a 24p frame rate that can be combined with the camera’s CineLook setting in order to almost mimic film’s slower frame rate and slightly diffuse look. But the star of the show is the video—the HV20 produced the most buttah-smooth video of any camera in the bunch. While colors weren’t as saturated as those produced by other cameras, they were more realistic, and the camera’s silky yet sharp-looking video had fewer of the compression artifacts we saw with AVCHD. In bright light, its images were the most crisp and vivid of the bunch. In low light, there were a few artifacts, and other cameras were superior in this area. If only it had the convenience of flash-drive storage and better ergonomics, this would be the camcorder to beat.

Planetary Ion Cannon

buttah-smooth video, crisp and vivid in bright light.

Spud Cannon

Cheap-feeling plastic, stuck with miniDV tapes.


Video Signal
Recording Format/Medium/Highest Data Rate HDV and DV/ miniDV tape/ 25MBps
Image Sensor
One 1/2.7" CMOS
Lens Canon f/1.8 - f/3.0, 10x optical zoom
Size/Weight w/Battery
3.5" x 3.2" x 5.4"/21oz
2.7" (211K pixels), fixed viewfinder


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