ArcSoft ZipShot is Astoundingly Cheap Digitizer

This month:






Cheap Shot

ArcSoft ZipShot Video/Still Digitizer
($129)
ArcSoft
4015 Clipper Court
Fremont, CA 94538
(510) 440-9901
www.arcsoft.com

tech specs

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any cheaper, products like the ArcSoft ZipShot come along. ZipShot is a small external digitizer that captures still images and moving video from any composite or S-video source. With a list price of just $129, the ZipShot is definitely positioned at the bottom end of the price scale. It is best used to digitize video for Web and CD-ROM uses.

What $129 Gets You
ZipShot’s MO (modus operandi) is a familiar one: it plugs into your computer’s parallel port between your computer and printer (if you have one). ZipShot also taps into your keyboard or mouse cable to draw a few milliamps of power. Plug a composite or S-video cable into the ZipShot, and the hardware installation is finished.

Allowing you to view your incoming video on a standard monitor or TV with an external, video input. ZipShot has a loop-through video output. You’ll get color loop-through when the composite input is used, and black & white when the S-video input is used. This is better than some digitizers, whose composite loopthrough is completely dead when using the S-video input.

ZipShot includes a pretty extensive suite of software, including still imaging, still print, multimedia e-mail, live-camera conferencing and portrait compositing packages. The software is designed well, with fresh looking and easy-to-use interfaces throughout. The image editing package (PhotoImpression) has plenty of capabilities for enhancing still images. Its photo album approach makes it easy to keep track of stills and video clips. We experienced a crash or two on our Micron Millennia 300MHz system with 64MB of RAM and a 4GB SCSI-2 hard drive, and the software was occasionally unable to locate the hardware. Unfortunately, "undocumented features" seem to be par for the course in multimedia software.

A TWAIN-compatible device, ZipShot will grab video or stills for any application you wish. The capture interface is cleverly designed and fun to use, with a video preview window and four basic modes. The first mode (setup) allows you to select between 160×120 and 320×240 preview window sizes, S-video or composite video source and NTSC, PAL or SECAM standards. You can also adjust brightness, contrast, hue and saturation from this screen. These color adjustments have a broad range, meaning you can get some pretty wild effects (crank the hue until a blue sky turns orange, for example).

The second mode is manual still capture. This mode allows you to select black and white or color images, image resolution, scan mode, parallel data pass-through mode and continuous capture. The latter control allows you to grab multiple sequential stills at one time, which is a handy way to be sure you get a useable frame from a fast-action sequence. Still image resolutions range from 320×240 pixels to a whopping 1600×1200 pixels. The third screen is for capturing time-lapse still images. With this feature, you set the start and end times, image size and number of frames per minute. ZipShot stores stills as JPEG images. There is no way to control quality or compression ratio in this mode.

The last mode is video capture. From this screen, you can select color or black and white, video resolution, capture time and compression quality. ZipShot will capture images in 160×120 and 320×240 resolutions only, with the video size and compression setting having a significant impact on the frame rate. ZipShot is not a true 30-frame per second video capture device, nor does it use the ultra-efficient MPEG CODEC. The video output format is AVI only. Audio is handled through a Windows-compatible sound card on your computer (if one is installed).

In the highest-quality compression setting with resolution designated at 320×240 (resulting in a data rate of about 300kB/sec), we were able to capture four or five frames per second. Increasing the compression improved the frame rate, but we were never able to exceed about 10fps, even with the compression maxed out and resolution at the smallest setting. Images at the latter quality (roughly 30kB/second) have a heavy mosaic effect, making subjects virtually unrecognizable. Putting the compression ratio slider at 50% or better results in minimal blockiness, but frame rates remain low. Remember that this is not a nonlinear editor. The ZipShot is best used for v-mail (video e-mail), Web application and CD-ROM content creation.

Stills captured with ZipShot are definitely on the soft end of the scale. This makes for smooth flesh tones with minimal video noise, but detail suffers. Regardless of capture size, ZipShot can’t resolve more than about 330 lines of horizontal resolution. Capture at 1600×1200 if you like, but you’re just parking a Yugo in an aircraft hangar. A resolution of 640×480 (or even 320×240) is all you’ll ever need with ZipShot. Compared to some other still capture cards, ZipShot’s output is soft and smooth instead of crisp and jaggie. Remember, you can always soften an image in software, but it’s impossible to create detail that’s not there to begin with.

Want Fries with That?
Bottom line: ZipShot’s image quality isn’t great. Still captures are soft regardless of source material, and the unit’s video frame rate is pretty dismal even at high compression ratios. If you need tiny video files that run smooth and look good, you’ll be better off with an MPEG.

But how much can you complain about a product that captures still images and rudimentary video for about $100? If you’re looking to get started in the world of digital imagery with a no-frills digitizer, skip a few fast food runs and pick up the ZipShot with the money you save.

–LA







A Versatile DV

Canon ZR Mini DV Camcorder
($1999)
One Canon Plaza
Lake Success, NY 11042-1113
(800) 828-4040
www.usa.canon.com

tech specs

Canon, a well-known name in photography, already has two DV camcorders on the market, the impressive prosumer XL1 and its smaller cousin the Optura. Now Canon has a new entry that is even smaller and more compact than the Optura, the ZR Mini DV digital camcorder.

To Be Still or Not To Be Still
Canon’s new ultra-compact mini DV camcorder looks and feels more like a still photo camera than a DV camcorder. It’s shaped much like an older 35mm film camera. In fact, the record button is even located on the top-right of the camera, the same place the shutter button would be on a film camera. With it’s still-shot ability the ZR can even double as a still camera.

Although it may look and feel like a still camera, the ZR has all the controls and features of a camcorder. Most of the ZR’s controls are located on the top. They include the power switch, the start/stop button, the movie/photo switch, the multi-switch and the zoom control. The zoom, which is located on top of the camcorder, is operated with the right thumb.

It Has The Power
The power button has four positions, off, VCR, easy recording and auto. The easy record position is for point-and-shoot operation, you cannot use digital effects, change shutter speeds or turn the image stabilizer off using this feature. The focus, exposure, white balance and image stabilization controls are automatic while in the easy-record mode. However, the auto position activates all operations of the camcorder. In the auto position the digital effects are available and include fade, wipe, scroll, art, black and white, sepia and strobe.

The auto position also gives you the ability to change the camcorder’s iris and shutter speed, either using the ZR’s pre-programmed exposure settings (sports, portrait, sand and snow, spotlight and low light) or manually using the multi-switch (for iris) and the menu (for shutter). Manual focus is only available in the auto position and is accessed through the multi-switch.

Multiple Abilities
Located on the top, left of the camera the multi-switch controls a number of functions. In addition to manual focus and iris, simple VCR functions are controlled through the multi-switch (advanced VCR functions such as frame advance and slow forward and reverse playback are controlled with the wireless remote).

Also located on the top of the ZR is the built-in microphone. This is not a very good place for the microphone. Instead of facing what the camcorder is shooting, the mike is in the perfect position to pick-up whatever is directly above the camcorder, usually the operator. We found that using the LCD monitor allows you to hold the camcorder in a slightly lower position, putting the operator’s mouth right over the mike.

People we taped sounded a bit distant and hollow, while the camcorder operator was recorded loudly and clearly. The ZR will accept an external mike, but only when the docking unit is attached to the bottom, which is inconvenient, but not a big problem.

The Test Drive
The ZR performed well. It has a smooth, variable speed zoom (not stepped, multi-speeds). The white balance was constant while in it’s auto mode and easy to set while in it’s manual mode. Autofocus is not only flawless; it has an amazing macro ability. While testing the ZR we discovered that it will focus on a finger placed directly in front of the lens (because of the ZR’s design, the left index finger winds up in front of the lens often). After we discovered the macro ability we put a 35mm slide in front of the lens, with a piece of white paper about a foot behind the slide. We got a beautiful recording of it, a great way to copy slides to tape.

Take Aim
Although the DV format is capable of recording 500 lines of resolution, the optics used in a camcorder may not be able to deliver that kind of performance. That seems to be the case here. When we aimed the ZR camcorder at our resolution test chart we were only able to read 350 lines of resolution. Not bad for a point and shoot camcorder, but not near what the DV format is able to record. Playback, however, was exactly the same, 350 lines.

The ZR is a great little, pocket-sized mini-DV camcorder. It can be operated as a point-and-shoot camcorder or with manual controls. Although it may not be the camcorder that you want to shoot for big productions, it would be great for shooting home videos.

–JM







A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Panasonic AG-EZ30U Mini DV Camcorder
($3995)
Panasonic Broadcast & Digital Systems
One Panasonic Way
Secaucus, NJ 07094
(800) 526-6610
www.panasonic.com/PBDS/

tech specs

Panasonic was one of the first companies to bring DV camcorders to the home video market. The consumer PV-DV1000 and its brother the AG-EZ1U, from Panasonic’s broadcast division, were two of the first. Now, Panasonic Broadcast and Digital Systems Division has released a new camcorder with features from both the consumer and professional worlds.

The AG-EZ30U is a professional camcorder disguised as a consumer unit. It may look small and simple but this camcorder is packed with professional features: three-1/3 inch CCDs for example.

Unlike its cousins the EZ1U and the DV1000, the EZ30U includes a 2.5-inch flip-out LCD color monitor in addition to a .5-inch color viewfinder. The LCD monitor is handy to have when shooting from odd angles or from a tripod. The EZ30U also features six built-in digital effects which include wipe, mix, strobe, gain-up, black and white and still.

Shapely Body
Although small and light, the EZ30U is very easy to operate. It has a nice shape that feels natural in the hand. Most of the manual exposure controls are located on the front lower-left corner of the camcorder’s body where they are easy to reach with the left hand. The power and zoom controls are located on the back where they are operated by the right thumb. VCR controls are on the top, as well as the stereo microphone.

The EZ30U displays its professional heritage again in its method of manual focus. Once a button is pressed, the manual focus is set with a focus ring around the outside of the lens, a very natural way to focus. Panasonic showed great foresight in designing the EZ30U’s lens with a bayonet mount for accessories and for shipping some of those accessories with the camcorder. Most notable is the wide-angle lens adapter. The camcorder’s lens shade comes off with a quick twist and the wide-angle adapter snaps on with another quick twist. This wide-angle adapter is helpful when shooting indoors in a confined location. It allows the camcorder a wider angle of view.

Easy Access
Off course the EZ30U has all the usual camcorder features; auto-focus, auto-white balance and auto-exposure (with five modes: sports, portrait, surf and snow, spotlight and low light). However, it also offers complete manual control, without having to go through a lot of menus. Even the manual white balance is set with just the push of a button.

Not only has Panasonic put the manual exposure controls on the EZ30U where they are easy to get to, they can be activated by the flip of a switch. You don’t even have to look away from the viewfinder to activate or change the iris setting and shutter speed, they are displayed right in the viewfinder. In addition, you have complete control over the iris setting and shutter speed by simply rotating a knob. With all that control over exposure, the EZ30U needs an accurate way to tell when a shot is properly exposed. Panasonic found it.

The option for "zebra bars" exposure display is the most impressive feature of this camcorder. Zebra bars, a feature commonly found only on expensive professional cameras, mark the areas in the shot that are at peak exposure (or over exposed) with black and white angled lines that are displayed in the viewfinder. Using the manual iris control or the shutter speed to reduce the brightness of the picture until the zebra bars are showing on only the brightest parts of the shot, it is very easy to get a properly exposed picture. We applaud Panasonic for including this option. When we put the camcorder on our test stand we were able to measure a horizontal resolution of 450 lines on the camcorder’s video output and 450 lines on tape playback.

Did You Hear That?
Unfortunately Panasonic didn’t put as much work into the audio controls. While the EZ30U has a stereo mike mounted on top and will except an external mike, it doesn’t have an accurate way to set the input level or monitor the audio. The only control you have over the input audio is to use one of five preset mike levels or use the camcorders AGC (automatic gain control). With all of the other manual controls, a microphone input level adjustment would seem only natural. In addition, the only way to check the level is with a red Light Emitting Diode (LED), that flashes when the audio over-modulates, or by using headphones.

Unfortunately, to use headphones you must attach the docking station (which supplies video, audio and headphone outputs), to the bottom of the camcorder. The most frustrating discovery we made when we attached the docking station to the camcorder was that the headphone jack was blocked by the operator’s right palm when holding it in a shooting position. It was very awkward to shoot with the headphone plug pressing against the palm and wrist.

Although it does have a few faults with audio, the EZ30U is one of the best prosumer digital camcorders that we’ve tested. Its combination of three CCDs and excellent exposure control enabled the EZ30U to deliver some of the sharpest images with the purest colors we’ve seen.

–JM







Cool Titles

Ulead Cool 3D animated titling program
($49.95)
970 W 190th Street Suite 520
Torrance, CA 90502
(800) 858-5323
www.ulead.com

tech specs

Known primarily for its nonlinear editing software, Ulead now has released an entry level 3D titling program, Cool 3D. Ulead claims that the program was designed to offer users a convenient, easy-to-use environment for creating sophisticated titles.

All of the Tools Needed
Cool 3D includes all the functions and tools that are usually found in a 3D titling and animation program including; beveling, texturing, reflections, light positioning and camera perspective. However, Cool 3D will also morph between different colors, lights, textures and backgrounds during the animated movement.

Installation is quick and painless, taking only a few minutes to complete. When you start the program, it opens to a pre-made default title that says "Cool 3D." The interface looks like a standard Windows 95 program with the tool bar across the top. Cool 3D’s Easy Palette menu (containing the color, bevel, texture and animation presets) is located across the bottom, and the title you are creating is displayed in the middle.

The first controls on the tool bar are the undo and redo buttons. Next is the text entry box. To enter or change the "Cool 3D" text just type in the text entry box and press return. After a few seconds of processing the text will change to the title that you typed in. Next to the text entry box are buttons to increase or decrease the size of the text and the spacing of the letters. The tool bar also has bold and italic buttons that are standard to the Windows platform. Two of the handiest buttons on the tool bar are for moving and rotating the text. These allow you to use the mouse to place the text exactly where you want it. Below the standard tool bar is the animation tool bar, which contains the first-frame and last-frame buttons, the ping button (which makes the animated movement repeat back and forth), the play button and the stop button.

An Artist Needs Palettes
The Easy Palette contains all of the presets for the look and shape of the text. Just find one you like and double click on it. In the Style Palette are combinations of colors, textures and beveling to choose from. The Animation Palette has 10 different settings for animating the text and 11 different movements for the virtual lights needed to illuminate the text. In addition to the many backgrounds, pictures and colors to choose from, you can load in your own .JPG or .BMP images to use as a background or as textures on the text.

Cool 3D uses true-type fonts to create the text. It comes with 48 different fonts, with enough variety to match just about any need. As you scroll through the fonts, the program shows you a 2D example of what the font will look like in 3D using the text that you entered. This feature really speeds things up while trying to find a font to use. It saves you from having to wait for the program to apply the font to the title you are creating.

The dimensions of the title frame or animation you’re creating can be set to the size you need in pixels, inches or centimeters. For video, however, 640×480 pixels are optimal.

Titles in Minutes
It takes only a matter of minutes to create a basic title with Cool 3D and just a little longer to make an animated one. Once you decide on the font, color, style and background of your title, you can animate it. The titles work fine as a single frame graphic. In fact, in many cases you will be better off with static titles, especially if you are in a hurry. However, animation adds another dimension to your titles, and takes only a few minutes to set up (rendering is another story).

Animating your titles can be as simple as double clicking on any of the animation presets. If you want a custom animation, place the text where you want it to start and press the first-frame button on the animation tool bar. Now move the text to the location where you want it to stop and press the last frame button. That’s it, simply press "play" to see a preview. The quality of the preview can be set to one of five different settings, from draft to optimal quality. The draft, of course, will be the quickest to preview.

Save Your Work
Once you are happy with your title you can save it as a still frame (.BMP, .GIF, .JPG or .TGA) or as an animated .GIF or .AVI file. We created an .AVI file with the word "Videomaker" turning around in the frame. The animation was created with a resolution of 500×480 pixels at 30 frames-per-second. The animation was only two seconds long. It took our Pentium 133MHz computer, with 16MB of memory, two hours to render this file. When we played it back, the animation was smooth with good resolution.

Cool 3D is not only inexpensive; it’s very easy and quick to learn. The program can create realistic looking still frame 3D titles in a matter of minutes. It will make great animated titles too, but you will need a lot of time to render them. This is a good 3D titler for the hobbyist and beginning prosumer.

–JM







A Camcorder with a View

Sharp VL-E660U 8mm Viewcam
($699.99)
Sharp Electronics Corporation
Sharp Plaza
Mahwah, NJ 07430
www.sharp-usa.com

tech specs

The idea of a color LCD monitor permanently mounted on a camcorder was pioneered by Sharp a few years ago. Since then, Sharp’s Viewcam line has become very popular. One of the newest additions to the family is the VL-E660U 8mm camcorder.

The VL-E660U offers no radical departures in design from Sharp’s other Viewcams. It is still basically a tape deck with an LCD monitor mounted on the back and a pivoting lens section. Sharp has found a successful formula and is sticking with it.

All of the controls for the VL-E660U are on the back of the camcorder. The power switch, zoom lever, start and stop button and the digital image stabilization button are all on the back of the lens section. The lens section will pivot 270 degrees, allowing it to shoot in nearly any angle while the LCD monitor is held level. All of the controls on the lens section can be operated with the right thumb. The rest of the controls (seven buttons) are mounted on the back of the recorder unit, placed just below the LCD viewfinder.

Would You Like to See a Menu?
One of the common problems with modern camcorders is that most functions are only available by scrolling through a big menu. Sharp has done an interesting thing to ease the problem of scrolling. The VL-E660U has four lists of menu items. You do have to push the menu button four times to get through all four lists. However, instead of scrolling through a long menu of items, each list is displayed across the bottom of the LCD screen. To pick any item from the list just press the button on the camcorder’s body directly under that item’s name in the LCD screen.

An audio/video output jack is also located on the back of the recorder section. It uses a special mini-plug which Sharp includes with the VL-E660U. The jack is located just to the left of the viewfinder.

As pioneers in LCD displays, both on and off camcorders, it’s no wonder that the LCD display Sharp uses on the VL-E660U is of such high quality. Sharp claims that the three-inch monitor on the VL-E660U has a one-percent reflectivity, which means that the view screen absorbs 99% of all reflected light. We tried the camcorder’s monitor in a number of different light conditions, including outside with the sunlight directly on it, and it was always easy to see. If, however, you don’t like the look of the display, the VL-E660U will let you adjust the brightness, color and tint of the LCD monitor through the menu system. The VL-E660U will even let you turn off the florescent light that provides the light for the LCD display when using an external monitor, thereby extending the lamp’s life. This is a nice feature that we haven’t seen on other camcorders. To turn it off just press and hold the mode button until the display goes off (in about six seconds).

Easy Point-and-Shoot
The VL-E660U is an easy to operate point and shoot camcorder. The only option for manual control is focus, which is operated with two of the buttons on the back. There are four programmed auto-exposure modes: sport, sand and snow, twilight and party, and backlight and gain-up. However, when we tested the VL-E660U, the exposure usually seemed a bit bright, almost overexposed. The auto white balance also seemed a bit too blue. We noticed that outdoor footage looked best when we used the twilight auto-exposure mode (which adds a little red to the image). The VL-E660U also has some digital picture effects including black and white, sepia, fade up and fade out, image stabilization and digital zoom. The fade was a bit slow.

The digital image stabilizer works well in taking the jitters out of the shots, but reduces the sharpness of the image in the process. However, The digital image stabilization, when in the sport mode, makes for some good stills. The digital zoom also reduced the sharpness of the picture noticeably. Fortunately the VL-E660U has a variable speed 16x optical zoom, so the digital zoom can be used sparingly.

Weak Audio
One of the weaknesses of most point-and-shoot camcorders is the lack of attention to audio, the VL-E660U is no exception. The microphone is mounted on the top of the camcorder, not the best location to pick-up sound from the front. The microphone, unfortunately, does pick up noises from the camcorder being held and operated. There is no external microphone input on the VL-E660U.

Image quality of the VL-E660U was good for a standard 8mm camcorder. On our test bench the E660U camcorder showed a horizontal resolution of 300 lines, and the VCR playback displayed 250 lines, not too bad for a low cost, standard 8mm camcorder.

The Sharp VL-E660U would be a good camcorder to keep around the house and grab for shooting everyday household events.

–JM


Tech Specs

ArcSoft ZipShot Video/Still Digitizer

CODEC:
INDIO, JPEG

Inputs:
S-video, composite video

Outputs:
composite video (loop-through)

Platform:
Windows PC

Digitizing resolutions (NTSC):
320×240, 160×120

Audio support:
Windows compatible sound card

Still image capture:
1600×1200 pixels max

Minimum System Requirements:

Processor:
486

System:
Windows 3.1x, 95 or NT

RAM:
8MB

Video:
16-bit VGA

Interface:
parallel port

Strengths
low cost
TWAIN capture driver
flexible software bundle

Weaknesses
poor resolution on still captures
low frame rate on video captures

Summary

A low-cost way to get started in the world of digital imagery.


Canon ZR Mini DV Camcorder

Format:
Mini-DV

Lens:
optical zoom variable-speed 11:1 (3.9-42.9mm), 44:1 digital zoom, variable speed power zoom, f/1.8, inner focus

Image sensor:
-inch CCD 470,000 pixels (304,000 effective)

Monitor:
2.5-inch LCD

Viewfinder:
adapter which fits on the LCD monitor

Focus:
auto, manual

Maximum shutter speed:
1/8,000

Exposure:
auto, full manual

White balance:
continuous auto, manual

Program modes:
5

Picture effects:
7

Audio:
user-selectable 12-bit or 16-bit digital stereo

Inputs:
DV FireWire, external microphone

Outputs:
DV FireWire, S-video, composite video, stereo audio, stereo headphone

Edit control:
LANC

Other features:
Photo mode, data code record, 16:9 mode, self-timer, built-in speaker, infoLithium battery

Dimensions:
4.7 (width) x 3.4 (height) x 2.2 (depth) inches

Weight (sans tape and battery):
1.2 pound

Video Performance (approx.):

Horizontal resolution (camera):
350

Horizontal resolution (playback):
350

Strengths:

compact, pocket-sized
easy point-and-shoot operation
manual controls

Weaknesses:

poor mike placement

low horizontal resolution

Summary:
A handy DV camcorder for home use.


Panasonic AG EZ30U camcorder

Format:
Mini-DV

Lens:
optical zoom 12:1, 30:1 digital zoom, 120:1 super digital zoom, variable speed power zoom, inner focus

Image sensors:
3 1/3-inch CCDs

Monitor:
2.5-inch LCD

Viewfinder:
color LCD

Focus:
auto, manual (lens-mounted ring)

Maximum shutter speed:
1/8,000

Exposure:
auto, full manual

White balance:
continuous auto, manual

Program modes:
5

Picture effects:
6

Audio:
four channels of 16-bit digital audio

Inputs:
DV FireWire, external microphone

Outputs:
DV FireWire, S-video, composite video, stereo audio, stereo headphone

Edit control:
Panasonic 5 pin

Other features:
Zebra exposure display, photo mode, white fade, data code record, 16:9 mode, audio dub, infrared remote.

Dimensions:
3 (width) x 4 (height) x 7.8 (depth) inches

Weight (sans tape and battery):
1.5 pounds

Video Performance (approx.):

Horizontal resolution (camera):
450

Horizontal resolution (playback):
450

Performance Times:

Pause to record:
less than 0.5 seconds

Power-up to record:
4 seconds

Fast-forward/rewind (60 min. tape):
150 seconds

Strengths:

Compact

three CCDs

zebra bars

lens-mounted manual focus control

good control of iris and shutter

LCD monitor

Weaknesses:

No mike level control

No on-board headphone jack

Summary:
A great prosumer camcorder with excellent controls


Ulead Cool 3D animated titling program

Platform:
PC (Windows 95/NT)

Minimum System Requirements:

Processor:
486 66Mhz

RAM:
16MB

Hard Drive:
7MB free space

CD-ROM:

Graphics card:
16-bit or above

File output:
BMP, GIF, JPEG or TGA) or as an animated GIF or AVI file

Recommended System:

CPU:
Pentium[TM]

RAM:
16MB (or more)

Hard Drive:
Over 7MB

Graphics card:
24-bit color capable

Strengths:

simple and quick for first-time users

pre-made templates

lighting control

high-quality image outputs in multiple formats

Weaknesses

long rendering time.

Summary

A great way for hobbyist and home producers to start creating 3D animated titles.


Sharp VL-E660U Viewcam

Format:
8mm

Lens:
optical zoom 16:1 (4-64mm), 40:1 digital zoom, variable speed power zoom, f/1.4,

Image sensors:
-inch CCD

Monitor:
3-inch LCD

Viewfinder:
none

Focus:
auto, manual

Exposure:
auto

White balance:
continuous auto

Program modes:
4

Picture effects:
5

Audio:
mono

Inputs:
composite video and mono audio

Outputs:
composite video and mono audio

Edit control:
none

Other features:
photo mode, white fade, 16:9 mode, titler, digital image stabilization, remote control.

Dimensions:
7.2 (width) x 4.3 (height) x 3.9 (depth) inches

Weight (sans tape and battery):
1.52 pounds

Video Performance (approx.):

Horizontal resolution (camera):
300

Horizontal resolution (playback):
250

Strengths

easy to operate

good LCD monitor

Weaknesses

few manual controls

auto exposure not accurate

poor image quality when using digital image stabilization no external mike input

Summary

A low-cost camcorder that’s best suited for use around

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