It has a sensitive zoom control that with a little getting used to will allow you to zoom fast or very slow. The auto focus fought for a bit to lock onto distant objects but trimmed out and I didn't experience that again. It was an overcast day so i got little shot in sunshine. However in the overcast light the unit performed well. The few times I has sunlight it performed very well, compensating for glare and giving a crisp high quality image.
There are some issues I have with it but nothing I would say is major. It comes with a tiny LED light on the front which is nice but practically useless beyond about 5 feet. If you want a camcorder light you can do better for about $30.00. But if you happen to have the camera with you, and you lose your keys the little on board light will probably help you find them. ;-)
It did not come with a mini SD chip for the on board digital still camera function. I personally would have liked it to come with one installed. But that's just me. The camera and the shell that holds the mini-DV tape is a bit loose. Yes you can actually shift it in your hand. The shell is on the side where your hand goes in the strap. This does not appear to affect the function of the camera but is a bit shoddy when you consider the weight of the camera. With your hand in the strap you are holding the mini-DV shell, not the camera. Drop it, and that will likely be the first part to shatter.
I found the manual focus wheel to be a bit cumbersome. It works, but you need to be very gentle if you want to manually focus and not jar the camera. It's placed near the nose of the camera and takes a bit of "feeling for" to locate it and use it while filming. Same goes for the REC button on the back, its next to and slightly lower than the thumb stick for the menu. In a hurry you may press the wrong one.
There is only so much real estate on these little palm type cameras and I understand the manufacturer has to put buttons where they can. My issue is that just because you can make a camera tiny doesn't mean you should. I don't think people will care if you add some bulk to spread the buttons out. But again, that's just me.
If you get a Canon HV30 you will be impressed with the video. Nuff said. It Rocks. Don't even worry about that, especially if you are coming from a lesser camera. In SD mode it is on par with my Panasonic AG-DVC20. In HD mode I have to admit it is better than the DVC20. Mucho detail.
In low light it ain't so good. Ok, it ain't good at all. The AG-DVC20 will smoke it there. I've read many reviews on this camera and I will dispute some of them. This camera is quiet. I did not record any zoom motor noise or even the tape noise. Nor did it seem to pick up much handling noise or my finger on the zoom rocker lever. The audio is clear and did get me breathing when close but it is no where near as sensitive as the DVC20. Which is a good thing, the DVC20 will pick up a grasshopper sigh.
I didn't find the menu hard to maneuver. In fact before opening the manual I was able to find many of its functions and use them. No issues there. I'm sure I'll have some issues later when I need more detail so that is when I'll consult the manual.
After I brought it in I hooked it up to my firewire cable on the PC. Running Movie Edit Pro 14+ and Video Pro X I was able to import full HD with no dropped frames and no issues at all. None. It was a breeze. Watching the video in full screen mode on both MEP14+ & PRO X was easy too. It didn't shudder or skip a beat. Rendering of course took longer as the files are much bigger than SD footage.
My fiancé' and I both watched in awe as we played the footage from the HV30. When zoomed the image stabilizer worked well too and we were impressed with the focus and image capture. She travels around the country and this camera will be going with her to capture stock footage so it is important that it is small, easy to operate and something she can travel with, with no worries. The HV30 fits the bill.
Recharging the camera is one issue I do have. It takes a while to charge and you have to charge the battery in the camera, so I recommend getting an extra battery and keeping both charged so you can switch if you need to. It took over two hours to fully charge.
You know the old saying, "A camera is a little box you put money into." Well, that statement is true. You will probably want to buy extra batteries and maybe lenses or other things for any camera. This one is no different.
The Canon HV30 is overall a great camcorder. Well worth the price. It makes great video and could easily be a primary or secondary camera. As with all gadgets you will have to learn how to use it but that will not be hard. Consider it if you are looking for a new camera.
Here is some footage I shot with it. Since this is streaming flv video it by no means should be used to judge the quality of the images this camera is capable of. Out of the camera video will blow you away.
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