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Sony has been a clear winner in this space for a long time. And truly speaking there is little initiative save for some half-assed scramble to somehow make it in the same space. Here we have the Canon DC230 Camcorder that is quite similar to most in this space, but comes with its fair share of drawbacks. Let me show you how.
The DC230 is a bit on the heavy side weighing 405g, however, the body is like a regular MiniDV camcorder with dimensions of 54 x 90 x 128 mm. Yet it's quite comfortable to simply slip your palms through the strap, and the carry it around. What I like is that all the functional buttons are easily accessible with your right hand thumb. This includes the On/Off slider that also changes modes, the navigational thumbstick that also acts like the Set button, and other functional buttons.
The screen swivels (like other camcorders) and has play/stop and forward/rewind buttons at the bottom. The screen is a 2.7-inch wide screen LCD displaying up to 123,000 pixels. The absence of a touch-screen feature puts me off, since mostly all camcorders in this category come with one. You will need to work with the thumbstick, function buttons etc. to get to anywhere. This just doesn’t work for me.
The camcorder, does however, have an internal sliding lens cover. This works better than the external one. The speakers are situated right below the cover, with stereo output. A small compartment beside the screen houses the Memory slot and AV out jack.
The camcorder features 35x optical zoom with 1000x digital zoom. Using the digital zoom on this camcorder isn’t that effective (I would suggest steer clear of this in any case).
Talking about the lens and sensors, the camcorder boasts a focal length of 2.6 to 91mm, with a maximum aperture of f2.0 to f5.0. The DC230 records video at the widescreen16:9 ratio by default, and can be adjusted to the traditional 4:3 ratio too.
While recording video you can directly save the data on a 3 inch DVD/DVD RW and even dual layer DVDs. You can playback the videos directly on the screen, although you will need to finalize the disc before you can view it on your computer or DVD player. Although to finalize you will need to attach the DC230 to the power source, it just won’t finalize on battery. If this was merely a precautionary move than a compulsion, I would have liked it. What really happens is that while finalizing, if the camcorder runs out of power then DVD will be rendered useless. But keep this in mind, what if you want to finalize the disk on the spot? I can think of a million situations where I'd want to do that.
The camcorder has a number of scene modes to avail vis-à-vis, Auto, Program, TV, Portrait, Sports, Night, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Spotlight and Fireworks. Apart from this, you can add effects to the opening of the video using the digital effects: Auto fade and Wipe. Like most camcorders this one too features image quality adjustments like vivid, neutral and soft skin detail. The DC230 also clicks pictures in two sizes: 1152 x 864 and 640 x 480. You can click pictures simultaneously while shooting videos.
Although, the image stabilization of the camcorder is good, you will find portions in the videos losing details (or appearing to have more grain). But this is more to do with the way it is handled than the way it shoots. The DC230 takes very little time to focus, and at the same time you can also choose manual focus. What I missed here was the touch-screen feature, since it allows you to simply tap the screen and focus on any portion of the screen. With the DC230 you will need to use the thumbstick.
Optimal lighting performance, that is to say during the day, is nice. The camera doesn't over expose the shots. The color production on the DC230 is decent, although it tends to over saturate colors. I’m not surprised, since everyone likes bright and vivid videos. The camcorder, however, doesn’t have infrared night vision for shooting in the night. It does have a night mode, but it only over exposes the sensors. The minimum focusing distance for the DC230 is 10mm.
Shooting with different shooting mode is quite enjoyable though. The camcorder offers the usual assortment of modes like sepia, Black and white, negative etc. You can add effects to your clips by selecting any of the modes while shooting itself. A suggestion here for people who are actually keen on getting more out of the experience — get an editing software like Adobe Premiere Elements. It's an easy-to-use editing tool that will allow you to overlay music, cut and merge different scenes etc.
The camera is a decent camcorder, and mainly for people who are not really looking for artsy purposes. As a point and shoot (all auto modes) you will find that the camcorder isn’t that bad after all. But for the same price, you will get a lot of other counterparts with many more features, like the touch-screen feature for one. The color composition is decent, as mentioned before, but the camcorder lacks night vision. For a street price of Rs. 31,000, it seems a bit steep.