Canon Mini DV Camcorder Reviews:  Canon Elura 2 and Elura 2MC
$1,600/ $1,800

Canon

One Canon Plaza

Lake Success, NY 11042

(800) OK-CANON

www.usa.canon.com

Canons pair of "mini" Mini DV camcorders, the Elura 2 and the Elura 2 MC (with MultiMediaCard) are small on stature but large on features and ergonomic design. The Eluras are for the beginning to intermediate videographers who want a compact solid performer and do not have to skimp on price: the Elura 2 and Elura 2 MC are $1,600 and $1,800 respectively.


A Good Fit

Although not as perfect a fit to the larger hand, the Eluras palm design is very shooter friendly. With the thumb the user can easily negotiate all mode controls, access the menus and release the battery. The other hand needs to support the camera to use the manual focus and exposure buttons and to eject the tape, but these actions seem very natural. The record/pause button is a smooth raised chrome button that is easy to feel, but might accidentally be turned on or off when "thumbing" through the function menus. The index finger is in perfect position to use the Zoom and Photo controls (on the MC model), though some of us found it initially confusing using the Zoom (some intuitively thought "out" should be "in" on the zoom toggle). These cameras are solid. When you hold an Elura 2 it does not feel fragile, all buttons, controls and moving mechanical parts seem carefully chosen for quality. The remote control is fully functional: camera controls, VCR, audio dub and A/V insert all accessed the camera flawlessly.


Closer Look

Along with the well thought-out position of the controls on the Elura 2s, these camera siblings back up ease of use with functional performance. The optical zoom is at 10:1 while the digital is a modest 40:1, which falls short of usefulness at about half way. The Zoom control is extremely smooth. Super (and we mean super) slow pushes and pulls as well as quicker zooms are no problem. There are no jerky jumps and you do not feel like you have to do a finger-balancing act to keep a slow in or out move under control. You cannot hear the zoom motor working when listening to the audio tracks laid to tape. Although, we did notice some motor noise on tape from the head rotating, on footage shot in low sound level situations: i.e. quite nature sounds of birds singing.


Lock it Down

With the Elura 2 you can lock both exposure and focus with the pair of buttons supplied on the back of the camera body. As an example, if you have focused on your desired subject but you are afraid your camera might wander from that point of focus then you can press the focus lock button and hold that focal point. This also transfers manual control of the focus to the wheel for fine-tuning. The same functions are also true for the exposure control. If your camera has set the iris at a proper setting for your light situation but you are afraid that it may change, for example: if youre shooting a person standing in the surf at the ocean. The camcorder has set the exposure for the person and the sand. When the whitewater from the surf comes in around the legs of your subject your iris jumps to compensate for the new light situation and your subject goes dark. Hit the exposure lock button and the iris locks down before that annoying white whacks your setting. Now you can fine tune exposure from the wheel, and toggle back and forth from both exposure and focus functions (if both are engaged) by push clicking the wheel, very handy!

All auto exposure features (shutter and iris control) of the Elura 2 are also manual selectable along with white balance. The digital effects on board are usable and easy to implement.


Steady, Steady

The Elura 2 has Electronic Image Stabilization that works well. The Elura 2 is easy to keep still for such a small camera, but the EIS does a great job of taking the shakes out of your shots. At max optical telephoto the minute shaking that plagues such camera work is improved tremendously.


Picture This

The digital still mode of the Elura 2 MC allows the user to the option of digital image transfer via multimedia card of DV terminal with VGA quality JPEG images. A selection of effects are supplied for creative output of images. Chromakey and Luminance Key effects let you place your photos in a cartoon like setting to give the appearance of a greeting card (which could be fun a couple of times). The Elura 2 MC has no flash to support the photo function, so available light is what you get.


On-cam Audio

Stereo mike capsules are located on the top of the Elura 2. Audio record has two modes to choose from, 12bit and 16bit. The on-board stereo mikes provide nice stereo imaging, but in our tests, recorded a fair amount of motor noise from the tape transport in low audio level situations. Motor noise from the zoom did not come through the mikes. Though the mikes seem dangerously close to the operator, they pick-up little operator noise from the hand working the controls.


Whats Up Dock

The DU-300 docking unit incorporates nicely into the ergonomics of the Elura 2. The tape eject and media card slot (Elura 2 MC only) are accessed easily, unencumbered by the docking unit. The mike, headphone and LANC inputs are away from all camera controls and the 2.5 inch LCD view screen. The S-video jack (on the DU-300) and the IEEE-1394 jack (on the Elura 2 itself) are located on the back but surprisingly do not interfere with normal operation.


Other Notables

All auto exposure features (shutter and iris control) of the Elura 2 are also manual selectable along with white balance. The digital effects on board are usable and easy to implement.


Last Word

The Elura 2 and 2MC are tiny powerhouses of DV muscle. They are built to last and their features are well thought out and presented. The list prices of the Elura 2 and Elura 2 MC are high, but for those who want quality of workmanship with a truly palm-sized recorder the Elura 2 line deservers a close look.

TECH SPECS

Format: Mini DV

Lens: F/ 1.6-2.6, 10X Optical Zoom/ 40X

Digital Zoom

Image Sensor: 1/4-inch Progressive Scan

CCD (approx. 680,000 pixels/ approx. 360,000 effective pixels)

Viewfinder: 2.5-inch color LCD, 0.44-inch

color Eyepiece

Focus: auto, manual

Maximum Shutter Speed: 1/2,000 sec

White Balance: auto, manual

Digital Effects: Fade Trigger, Wipe, Scroll, Mosaic Fade, Art, B&W, Sepia, Mosaic / Multi-image screen 4, 9, 16 still photos/ fast, moderate, slow and manual speed options

Audio: 12- or 16-bit stereo

Inputs: on camera IEEE 1394, A/V; on docking unit S-video, mini mike

Outputs: on camera IEEE 1394, A/V; on docking unit S-video, headphone

Edit Interface: LANC, IEEE 1394

Other Features: Multimedia Card (on Elura 2 MC only), slow-motion playback, digital stills

Dimensions: 1 7/8X 4 1/8X 3 3/8 -inches

Weight (sans tape and battery): 13 3/4 oz (390g)

STRENGTHS

  • Ergonomic design
  • Sturdy construction
  • Digital still feature

    WEAKNESSES

  • Expensive
  • No flash for digital stills

    SUMMARY

  • A great little camera if you can foot the bill.
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