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Canon ZR500

Mini DV digital camcorder

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  • Canon ZR500

    Front

  • Canon ZR500

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  • Canon ZR500

    Back (LCD open)

  • Canon ZR500

    With golf ball (for scale)

Item #: 280ZR500
 

Review Summary

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Our take on the Canon ZR500

by Dave Bar
Canon

Shoot videos for posterity — or posting online

From birthday parties to YouTube™ antics, camcorders let you capture moments you can share with friends and family, or the world at large. Most newer camcorders save your videos to built-in digital memory or a removable memory card. Some models come with a built-in hard disk drive that gives you much more storage. For maximum portability, check out our smaller cams that fit into a pocket or purse. For high-def videos that look awesome on your HDTV, go for a slightly larger model with a better lens and image sensor.

Capture life's most important events as well as fun everyday moments with Canon's nimble ZR500. This budget-friendly camcorder offers intuitive, point-and-shoot operation, renowned Canon optics for a clear picture, and an advanced image processor for realistic colors — all in a thoughtful, palm-friendly design.

The ZR500 is packed with features for versatile shooting. The powerful 25X optical zoom lens easily erases the distance between you and your subject for great close-ups from far away. And it delivers footage that looks smooth and steady thanks to Canon's Image Stabilizer. If you've got a widescreen TV, you'll love the ZR500's widescreen mode. Instead of stretching the image, it gives you a true 16:9 picture that will fill your television screen with vivid, detailed video.

The large 2-11/16" widescreen LCD lets you quickly compose your shots and see exactly what you're recording. A handy four-way joystick controller located below the viewscreen makes it a snap to operate the cam's playback, focus, and exposure modes as well as navigate the easy-to-read menu system. With its slim, compact design, you'll want to take the ZR500 along everywhere to create lasting memories of whatever comes your way. This cam's rechargeable battery gives you up to 85 minutes of recording time per charge, and you can add a spare battery to extend your recording time.

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Highlights:

  • 680,000-pixel CCD (450K effective)
  • variable-speed 25X optical zoom lens (digital zoom to 800X)
  • 2-11/16" widescreen LCD
  • color viewfinder
  • records video on tiny Mini DV tapes
  • PCM stereo digital audio (12-bit or 16-bit)
  • DIGIC DV processor for true-to-life color reproduction
  • Image Stabilizer
  • auto and manual focus
  • omni-selector joystick control
  • shutter speeds: 1/60 – 1/2,000
  • 16:9 high-resolution widescreen mode
  • 8 AE modes, including Night mode
  • digital effects and scene transitions
  • IEEE 1394 digital audio/video jack
  • audio/video output
  • microphone input
  • 2-3/16"W x 3-5/8"H x 4-5/8"D
  • weight: 13.2 oz. without battery
  • warranty: 1 year (90 days video head)
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
Supplied Accessories:
  • rechargeable lithium ion battery (BP-2L5)
  • AC adapter/charger
  • audio/video cable

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Features and Specs
General
LCD Screen Size (inches)
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2.7
Viewfinder
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Color
Total Pixel Count
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680,000
Effective Pixel Count for Video
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450,000
High-Definition
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No
Aspect Ratio
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4:3, 16:9
Manual Focusing
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Yes
Filter Diameter
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N/A
Optical Zoom
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25 x
Digital Zoom
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32 x
Night Imaging
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Night Mode
Image Stabilization
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Image Stabilizer
Built-in Video Light
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No
Built-in Memory
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---
Max Recording Time w/ Included Battery
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90
Digital Still Camera Features
Effective Pixel Count for Stills
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---
Built-in Photo Flash
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No
Still Image Aspect Ratios
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N/A
Inputs and Outputs
USB Port
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---
HDMI Output
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Mic Input
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Yes
Dimensions
Weight With Battery (ounces)
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14.61
Width (inches)
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2-3/16
Height (inches)
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3-11/16
Depth (inches)
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4-5/8
Warranty
Parts Warranty
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1 Yr/90 Dys video head
Labor Warranty
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1 Year
Image Sensor Warranty
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---
Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • Canon ZR500 Mini DV digital camcorder
  • BP-2L5 Lithium-ion battery (7.4V/530mAh)
  • Plastic battery cover
  • CA-570 S Compact power adapter with attached 64" output cable (8.4V/1.5A)
  • 5' AC power cord
  • CR1616 Lithium battery
  • 5' STV-250N audio/video cable (stereo RCA and RCA composite video connectors on one end and mini-plug on the other end)
  • Instruction Manual (English/French/Spanish)
  • Manual correction
  • On-line product registration card
  • Cleaning of Video Heads information sheet
  • Canon accessory note

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features
Specifications
Warranty Note

Features

2.7" Color LCD Viewscreen: When the LCD viewscreen is open, it can be rotated up to 270° (180° forward/90° backward), allowing you to choose the best angle. When the screen is rotated 180° forward the image inverts, allowing the subject to see the correct view, or letting you fold the panel flat against the camcorder facing out. The LCD brightness is adjustable.

IEEE 1394 DV Terminal: The ZR500 is equipped with a 4-pin DV input/output terminal that conforms to IEEE 1394 standards. It takes just a single digital cable to transfer or copy your videos in pure digital form to your DV compatible computer, DVD recorder, or another Canon DV camcorder. Once you've transferred video images to your computer, you can edit your movies, send them over the Internet, or post them on your Web site.

Self Timer: The self timer is useful when you want to include yourself in the video. The camcorder starts to record after a 10-second countdown.

Auto Power Off: After 5 minutes without any operation when powered by the battery, the camcorder automatically powers off.

Backup Battery: The included CR1616 Lithium battery allows the camcorder to remember the date and time and other settings when main power source is removed. This back-up battery should last approximately one year.

Shutter Speed: You can set the shutter speed manually to take stable shots of quickly moving subjects or pictures in low light conditions. You can select one of the following shutter speeds: 1/60, 1/100, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, or 1/2000.

Zoom Speed: The zoom speed can be set to variable or one of three fixed speeds. In the variable position, the zoom speed depends on how far you push the lever. The purpose of the three fixed zoom speeds is a smoother zoom transition, at your choice of speeds.

Level Marker: The level marker displays a horizontal line across the LCD to help you keep the camcorder level.

Manual Focus: In addition to auto focus, you can manually adjust the focus.

Image Stabilizer: A high quality electronic image stabilization system corrects camera shake instantly, giving you smooth, stable pictures. It enables you to record shake-free images, even on long telephoto shots without a tripod.

Built-in Speaker: The camcorder has a built-in speaker so you can review the sound track alongside the picture when you're using the LCD screen to play back a tape. The built-in speaker is monaural.

Recording Mode: You can choose between SP (standard play) or LP (long play) recording modes. LP extends recording time by 1.5x relative to SP. You can't add sound (audio dubbing) or images (AV insert) to a tape that has been recorded in LP mode. If you plan to use either of these functions later, record in SP mode.

Widescreen TV Recording: If you generally play your camcorder footage on a widescreen TV, use this mode to record video in the 16:9 aspect ratio. The full width of the CCD imager is used to capture video in true 16:9 format. When playing widescreen footage with the camcorder output set for a 4:3 screen you'll have the letterbox black bars on the top and bottom of the screen.

Audio Recording: The camcorder can record sound on a tape in two audio modes - 16-bit and 12- bit. The 16-bit mode produces the higher sound quality while the 12-bit mode offers two stereo tracks (Stereo 1 & Stereo 2). The first is recorded along with the video, leaving the second for you to add new sound at a later time.

Audio Mix: When you play back a tape that was recorded in 12-bit mode, you can set the audio output to play Stereo 1 (the original sound), Stereo 2 (any new sound, dubbed to the tape after recording), or mix the balance between the two.

Note: The ZR500 cannot record the second audio track (Stereo 2)

AV Insert Editing: You can insert new scenes from another source equipped with DV in terminal. Original video and audio will be replaced with the new video and audio on that part of the tape.

Recording Programs: You can select from the following recording programs:

  • Easy Recording: Camcorder will adjust focus, exposure and other settings, leaving you free to point and shoot
  • AutoExposure: Similar to Easy Recording, except you have the option of using any of the camcorder's manual functions
  • Portrait: Accents subject by softening the foreground and background
  • Sports: Useful for recording high-speed sports scenes in brightly lit conditions
  • Night: Record in dimly lit places where lights cannot be used, without sacrificing color
  • Snow: Prevents the subject from being underexposed where the background is bright
  • Beach: Prevents the subject from being underexposed where the background is bright
  • Sunset: Record sunsets in vibrant colors
  • Spotlight: Record a spot-lit subject
  • Fireworks: Record bright, colorful fireworks on a dark background

Record Search: When the camcorder is in record pause mode, you can use record search to play the tape forward or backward to find the point where you want to start or resume recording. By using record search, you can ensure a smooth, noise-free transition between the new scene and the old one.

End Search: The end of the recorded portion of the tape is found using end search.

Record Review: When the camcorder is in record pause mode, you can use record review to play back the last few seconds of your recording and then return automatically to record pause mode. You can quickly make sure that a scene has recorded properly and then go on to shoot the next scene, without producing any noise in the picture.

Faders: You can select one of the following faders:

  • Fade Trigger: Scene gradually fades in from a black screen and out to a black screen
  • Wipe: Picture begins as a thin vertical line in the center of the screen which gradually expands sideways until it fills the whole of the screen, fading out the image is wiped from both sides of the screen
  • Corner Wipe: Image appears from the corners until it fills the screen, fading out is wiped off from the corners
  • Jump: Small image appears from the left, jumps into the center and enlarges until it fills the whole screen, fading out the image shrinks, jumps from the center to the left and disappears
  • Flip: Image flips into the screen, when you end a scene, the image flips out of the screen
  • Puzzle: Appears in 16 pieces and the pieces move around until the puzzle is solved, when you end a scene, the image divides into 16 pieces and the pieces move around and disappear
  • Zigzag: Image appears in zigzag from the top of the screen, black stripes appear in zigzag when fading out
  • Beam: Screen turns yellow, forms a beam and the full image appears, when you end a scene, a yellow beam appears in the middle of the screen and expands until it covers the whole image
  • Tide: Image appears from both sides like tides, when you end a scene, the image disappears from both sides like tides

Image Effects: You can select one of the following image effects:

  • Vivid: Emphasizes contrast and color saturation
  • Neutral: Lessens contrast and color saturation
  • Soft Skin Detail: Softens detail in the skin tone area for a more complimentary appearance

Video Effects: You can select one of the following image effects:

  • Art: Adds a paint-like effect, called solarization, to the image
  • Black and White: Makes the image black and white
  • Sepia: Makes a monochrome image with a brownish tint
  • Mosaic: Blurs the image by enlarging the size of some pixels
  • Ball: Image becomes a ball
  • Cube: Image becomes a cube and rotates
  • Wave: Both ends of the image sway in waves
  • Color Mask: Image becomes a rhombus through a masking frame that changes the colors
  • Mirror: Creates a symmetrical image as if there were a mirror in the middle of the screen

Adjusting AE Shift: By controlling the level of the automatic exposure (AE) function, you can lighten or darken the image slightly. This allows you to compensate for overexposed or underexposed scenes.

White Balance: The camcorder's auto white balance system compensates for a wide range of lighting conditions. Additionally the white balance can be set manually or using one of the two preset modes, Daylight (recording outdoors on a bright day) or Tungsten (recording under tungsten and tungsten type 3-wavelength fluorescent lighting).

Wind Screen: The camcorder has an automatic wind screen to prevent wind noise from interfering with the sound track. The wind screen function can be turned off when wind isn't an issue or when you need the microphone to be as sensitive as possible.

Specifications

Battery Recording Time:

Battery Pack Maximum Recording Time Typical Recording Time
Using the Viewfinder Using the LCD Using the Viewfinder Using the LCD
BP-2L5 (supplied) 90 minutes 85 minutes 50 minutes 45 minutes
NB-2LH (optional) 125 minutes 120 minutes 65 minutes 60 minutes
BP-2L14 (optional) 270 minutes 260 minutes 150 minutes 140 minutes

Battery Playback Time:

Battery Pack Playback time (using the LCD screen)
BP-2L5 (supplied) 90 minutes
NB-2LH (optional) 125 minutes
BP-2L14 (optional) 275 minutes

Battery Charging Time:

Battery Pack Charging Time
BP-2L5 (supplied) 95 minutes
NB-2LH (supplied) 125 minutes
BP-2L14 (optional) 220 minutes

Warranty Note

Video Head Warranty: The video head has a 90-day parts and 1-year labor warranty while the rest of the camcorder has a 1-year parts and labor warranty.

 
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Canon ZR500 Reviews

Average Customer Review:

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Filter by rating:
5 out of 5

this is great camcorder!!

Written By Kenneth, Sprinfield, VA on Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I bought this camcorder a couple of weeks ago. if you are searching for an entry level camera with high end features, this camera's for you!! The review that said it's better than hc-90 was right. here's a list of great features
awesome 25x zoom capapility!
lcd shows images with amazing clarity and detail!
great fader effects like art, mirror, flip and wave.
best low budget camcorder on market!!! great camera for those people who want to start making amazing home movies, or pro's who need a second not so clunky camera

hope this helps!!!!!!!
18 out of 19 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Best for the money - Good in low light, and good zoom

Written By arun, Long Island, NY on Monday, March 13, 2006
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
The Sony's were always the best in low light and the Canon's got poor ratings. This is an excellent performer in low light and great getting wide screen at this price. I currently have a Sony HC90 and got the ZR500 to compare. Well, my HC90 is on eBay right now which shows how good this little cam is. The 25x optical zoom is fantastic and worked great at my kiddies concert (in-door, poor lighting). I honestly use a camcorder about 5-10 times a year and this more than serves the bill. If I were going to spend any more then I would really go high end. For occasional shooting and good performance, the ZR500 is a winner.
28 out of 29 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Excellent entry level camera, review from novice new Dad

Written By Travis, Florida Gulf Ccoast on Thursday, February 16, 2006
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I researched every camcorder under $700 before deciding to buy this new Canon for $249 from Crutchfield.com. I checked cnet.com and every vendor website with reviews I could find. Here's the bottom line:

This camcorder is the LOWEST priced entry level camcorder on the market. It is a CANON and performs as you would expect a CANON to perform. Picture quality is EXCELLENT when lighting is bright-- it starts getting grainy as you decrease lighting. Inside you must turn lights on to avoid grainy footage. I have not messed with any of the manual settings-- AUTO Settings perform very well.
There is no still image capability (but who wants a 1MP picture when you probably already have a good digital camera capable of so much more?-- if you want it, buy the ZR600 for $50 more)
The camera comes with the bare minimum-- camera, power cable, small battery, manual, a/v cable. No blank tape, no Firewire cable, no software. You must charge the battery while it's attached to the camcorder. Battery life is acceptable but don't expect more than an hour- 1 full tape.
If you're a novice that needs a good camcorder at a great price, the ZR500 (replaces ZR100) is an excellent choice. On a sidenote, my parents have a high end panasonic camcorder (PV GS34) and the quality of video is at or below that of the ZR500.
I hope this review helps someone in the same situation as me-- I spent countless hours trying to figure out which camcorder to buy. I also purchased a Firewire PCI Card for my PC (came with firewire cable and software to create DVDs! ULEAD DVD MOVIE FACTORY 3 which is excellent)
102 out of 105 people found this helpful
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Add accessories for the Canon ZR500

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Canon BP-2L14 Battery for select Canon digital camcorders
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Canon CA-570 Compact power adapter for select Canon camcorders
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