Hitachi DZ-MV730A DVD Camcorder
$500

Hitachi DZ-MV730A

1855 Dornoch Court

San Diego, CA 92154

www.hitachi.com

DVD for You and Me

The Hitachi DZ-MV730A makes a splash on our review desk with convenient features for beginner shooters. And it won't break the bank–what more can you ask for?

The Skinny

This camcorder has a slim profile, which makes is lightweight and relatively compact. But don't be fooled by its size, because it boasts a 16x optical zoom. The Electronic image stabilizer is just what you'll need to keep the telephoto shots from bouncing around too much. It performed as expected, allowing for smooth pans and tilts.
You'll find the controls on the camcorder easy to use and non-threatening. Hitachi has put a focus and exposure button conveniently located near the 2.5" LCD. These buttons will allow you to override the auto focus and exposure controls and give you manual control. The manual focus is a bit tricky to control via the buttons, but at least you have the option.

Speaking of options, this camcorder records to DVD-R and DVD-RAM. The latter of those two, gives you more in camera editing options and the DVD-R media will help insure a higher level of compatibility among DVD players. If that's not enough for you, you can also record movies and stills to a SD memory card. The DZ-MV730A capture stills at 640 by 480 pixels and on a 32 MB SD card, it can capture 232 images at the highest quality setting.

Where it lacks in options, however, is absence of a USB jack. The only way you're going to get files of your DVD media to a computer is through the 8cm disc itself. If you don't have a compatible DVD drive in your computer, that's going to be a difficult task.

Sound Waves

We found the audio quality of the on-board microphone to be rich, but the levels seem a little lower than normal. However, on the flip side, the signals sound extremely clean. If you want to doubly make sure your signals are at the right levels, you'll find the 1/8" mic input and cold accessory shoe a useful combination. Beyond the mic input and accessory shoe, the audio options are relatively limited. There is a mic filter option in the menu that will help reduce wind noise (built-in mic only). The camcorder records audio in MPEG-2, linear PCM, Dolby Digital–standard audio for a DVD camcorder.

Optical Oasis


The image quality of the DZ-MV730A is great considering the hardships of MPEG-2 compression and 1/6 inch chip. The playback of the highest quality setting is impressive. The footage was clean of blocky images. Even at the lowest quality setting, the footage appeared smooth, except scenes that include a high amount of motion.

The color reproduction is accurate and moderately bright. The camcorder responds well in the auto white balance mode throughout mixed lighting conditions. It also handles dark scenes decently and it comes equipped with a low light program mode.

Of all the image qualities, the resolution is the most impressive at the high quality recording mode. In extreme close-ups, small details show up real nice, which is always a pleasure to see on camcorders that have a 1/6" CCD. Unfortunately, at lower quality settings, the resolution takes a big hit. Overall, the we were pleased with the image quality.

Summary

If you're looking for a DVD camcorder to put through the paces of everyday life, the Hitachi DZ-MV730A is a well-built solution. The easy controls and note worthy features will win over any hobbyist shooter and it won't set you back, either.

TECH SPECS

Format: DVD-R/DVD-RAM

Number of CCDs: 1

Size of CCDs: 1/6"

Pixels on CCD: (k) 640

Video Effective Pixels (k):340

Focus: auto/manual

Shutter Speed: auto/manual

Maximum Shutter Speed:1/4000

Minimum Shutter Speed:1/4

Lens f Stop:f1.6-f2.3

Program Exposure Modes: 6

Optical Zoom: 16x

Focal Length: 2.78-43.3mm

Image Stabilization: Electronic

Manual White Balance: yes

Viewfinder: 0.2" color

LCD Monitor: 2.5" color TFT 120k

Progressive Scan: no

HD Modes: no

Video In: Composite

Video Out: Composite, S-Video

Mono/Stereo Recording:

Microphone In: Yes, mini jack

VU Meters: no

Manual Audio Level Controls: no

Headphone Jack: no

Speaker: yes

Still Shot Media: SD/MMC

Memory Card Included: no

Flash: no

Wireless Remote: no

External Battery Charger Provided: yes

Battery Type: Lithium-ion

Tape Loading Configuration: DVD, side

Onboard Video Light: no

Accessory Shoe: yes

STRENGTHS

  • Mic Input
  • S-Video Out
  • Good Image Quality

WEAKNESSES

  • No USB
  • Software Not Included
  • No remote

SUMMARY

It's a great camcorder that has some powerful features and, most importantly, it's easy to use.

Mark Montgomery is Videomaker's technical editor.

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