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Canon ZR850

Mini DV digital camcorder

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  • Canon ZR850

    Front left with LCD open

  • Canon ZR850

    Front left with LCD closed

  • Canon ZR850

    Front left with LCD reversed

  • Canon ZR850

    Left with LCD closed

Item #: 280ZR850
 

Review Summary

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Our take on the Canon ZR850

by Tara W.
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.

Canon's ZR850 makes it easy to capture special moments like baby's first steps or your child's graduation. This slim cam gives you lots of great features for shooting memorable home movies on tiny Mini DV tapes. Plus, you can record crisp digital pictures and video clips when you add an optional SD™ memory card.

Helpful recording extras
A powerful 35X optical zoom lens gives you a clear view of distant subjects. Those long telephoto shots will look nice and smooth, thanks to advanced image stabilization. If you've got a widescreen TV, you can use the ZR850's wide recording mode to capture detailed shots that fill your screen without stretching the image. Then there's Night Mode for filming colorful movies in low light, and a built-in video light to brighten up the darkest shots. For more professional-looking footage, use the selectable level and grid markers on the LCD to frame your subject and keep your recordings even with the horizon.

Convenient, easy-to-use controls
The 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 access advanced features and settings. Or use the Easy Mode to turn the ZR850 into the ultimate point-and-shoot cam. It'll automatically adjust focus and exposure, so you're free to concentrate on the action.

Printer and PC connections
Use the digital audio/video jack to send full-motion video to your compatible PC. A USB interface allows you to transfer your digital photos and video clips to your computer for easy e-mailing or posting online. You can even print images directly from the ZR850 to a PictBridge-compatible printer — no computer required.

See more info on this item

Highlights:

  • 1.07-megapixel CCD (710K effective pixels)
  • variable-speed 35X optical zoom lens (digital zoom to 1000X)
  • advanced DIGIC DV image processor
  • 2-11/16" widescreen LCD
  • color widescreen viewfinder
  • records video on tiny Mini DV tapes
  • 16:9 widescreen video mode
  • digital photo mode
  • top JPEG photo resolution: 1152 x 864
  • Motion JPEG movie mode
  • records digital photos and movie clips to optional SDHC or SD™ memory cards
  • PCM stereo digital audio (12-bit or 16-bit)
  • Image Stabilizer
  • omni-selector joystick control
  • auto and manual focus
  • manual exposure control
  • exposure lock
  • Program AE modes, including Sports, Portrait, Spotlight, Beach, Snow, Fireworks, and Sunset
  • Night mode for low-light shooting in color
  • Smooth Zoom Control
  • selectable level and grid markers on the LCD
  • Quick Start stand-by mode
  • Easy Mode for automatic shooting
  • LED video light brightens dark shots
  • digital effects and scene transitions
  • simultaneous photo recording
  • audio/video output for connection to a TV
  • IEEE 1394 digital audio/video jack
  • USB interface
  • direct photo printing with PictBridge-capable printers
  • 2-1/4"W x 3-5/8"H x 4-11/16"D
  • weight: 13.4 oz. without battery
  • warranty: 1 year (90 days video head part)
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
Supplied Accessories:
  • AC adapter/charger
  • rechargeable lithium ion battery (BP-2L5)
  • audio/video cable
  • USB cable
  • wireless remote

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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0.35" Color LCD
Total Pixel Count
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1,070,000
Effective Pixel Count for Video
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710,000
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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35 x
Digital Zoom
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28.57 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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Yes
Built-in Memory
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---
Max Recording Time w/ Included Battery
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108
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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4:3
Inputs and Outputs
USB Port
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USB 2.0 High Speed
HDMI Output
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---
Mic Input
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No
Dimensions
Weight With Battery (ounces)
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14.8
Width (inches)
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2-1/4
Height (inches)
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3-5/8
Depth (inches)
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4-3/4
Warranty
Parts Warranty
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1 Yr/3 mos 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

  • Mini DV digital camcorder
  • BP-2L5 Lithium-ion battery (7.4V/530mAh)
  • Plastic battery cover
  • CA-590 Compact power adapter with attached 68" output cable (8.4V/0.6A)
  • Wireless remote control (WL-D85)
  • CR2025 Lithium battery
  • CR1616 Lithium battery
  • 4' IFC-300PCU USB cable (USB type-A connector on one end and mini-B USB version 2.0 connector on the other)
  • 5' STV-250N audio/video cable (stereo RCA and RCA composite video connectors on one end and mini-plug on the other end)
  • Digital Video Solution Disk CD-ROM (Ver. 24.0)
  • Instruction Manual (English/French/Spanish)
  • Digital Video Software Installation Manual (English/French/Spanish)
  • On-line product registration card
  • Canon accessory note
  • Note on installing software before connecting camcorder via USB cable

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.

General Features
Mini DV Camcorder Features
Digital Still Camera Features
Software Requirements
Specifications
Warranty Note

General Features

2.7" Color LCD Viewscreen: The Canon ZR850 Mini DV digital camcorder is equipped with a 2.7" TFT color LCD viewscreen with approximately 112,000 pixels. 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, and the LCD backlight can be set to bright or normal.

0.35" Color LCD Viewfinder: In addition to the 2.7" LCD viewscreen, the camcorder also has a 0.35" color LCD viewfinder with approximately 114,000 pixels. The viewfinder has an adjustable diopter to allow you to adjust the focus of the viewfinder to your vision.

DIGIC DV: DIGIC DV is a system for achieving superior video and photographic quality images. DIGIC DV makes it possible to achieve accurate color for both video and digital photos. Since video and photos have different color requirements, DIGIC DV utilizes two different color techniques to maximize video quality on a TV and still image quality for print.

IEEE 1394 DV Terminal: The ZR850 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.

USB Terminal: By using the USB cable and software provided, you can process and organize still images on your PC. The camcorder functions as a memory card reader/writer.

Self Timer: The self timer is useful when you want to include yourself in the picture when recording movies or still photographs. The camcorder starts to record after a 10-second countdown (2 seconds if engaged using the remote).

Auto Power Off: After 5 minutes without any operation when powered by the battery, the camcorder automatically powers off. Approximately 30 seconds before the camcorder automatically turns itself off, a warning message appears in the display.

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.

Quick Start: When you press the Quick Start button on the side of the camcorder, the camcorder powers up and gets ready to record within approximately 1 second. The Quick Start function helps prevent you from missing out on fleeting opportunities to take a video or picture.

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

Automatic Slow Shutter: When activated, the camcorder automatically uses slow shutter speeds to obtain brighter recordings in places with insufficient lighting. The camcorder uses shutter speeds down to 1/30 for recording to tape, and down to 1/15 when recording to memory card.

Optical/Digital Zoom: The ZR850 has an optical zoom of up to 35x. When the digital zoom is turned on, you can select one of two multipliers, allowing a zoom range of up to 105x or 1000x. The digital zoom digitally processes the image, so the image resolution will deteriorate the more you zoom in. The digital zoom is only available when recording onto tape.

LED Assist Light: The camcorder is equipped with an LED assist light on the front panel below the lens. You can turn on the LED light at any time, regardless of the recording program.

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.

Manual Focus: In addition to auto focus, you can manually adjust the focus. Manual focus is adjusted using the joystick located below the LCD screen.

Manual Exposure Adjustment: At times, backlit subjects may appear too dark (underexposed) or subjects under very strong lights may appear too bright or glaring (overexposed). To correct this, you can manually adjust the exposure from neutral (±0) to +11 or -11. Note: This feature is sometimes known as exposure compensation, and should not be confused with full manual exposure where the aperture and shutter speed are manually set.

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
  • Program AE: Similar to Easy Recording, except you have the option of using any of the camcorder's manual functions (such as shutter speed)
  • 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

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

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).

Magnifying Images: During playback, you can magnify movies and still images up to 5 times. You can also select the area of the image to be magnified. Note: Movie clips on the memory card cannot be magnified.

Menu Languages: You can set the menu language to English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Polish, Russian, Chinese, or Japanese.

Mini DV Camcorder Features

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.

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.

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.

Playback Modes: In addition to normal playback, the camcorder offers fast playback in forward or reverse, freeze frame, frame advance/reverse, slow playback, and double speed playback.

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.

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, or added through the microphone, after recording), or mix the balance between the two.

Framing Assistance Markers: You can display a grid or a horizontal line at the center of the screen to use as a reference to make sure your subject is framed correctly. The markers are available in white or gray.

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.

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.

Zero Set Memory: If you wish to return to a particular scene later, you can mark the point with the Zero Set Memory and the tape will stop at that point when you rewind/fast forward the tape.

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

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

  • Black and White: Makes the image black and white
  • Sepia: Makes a monochrome image with a brownish tint
  • Art: Adds a paint-like effect, called solarization, to the image
  • 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

Digital Still Camera Features

Memory Card: The camcorder can take, store and manage still images on 2 types of memory cards: SD Memory Card (including new high-capacity SD cards) or MultiMediaCard. A memory card is not included with the camcorder.

Recording Still Images to a Memory Card: In addition to the still images you record directly onto the memory card (through the lens), you can record images from a tape in the camcorder or from equipment connected to the DV terminal. When recording directly to a memory card, you can select a still image size of 640 x 480 or 1152 x 864. Additionally, you can select an image quality of Normal, Fine, or Superfine. When recording from the tape or an external source, the image size is fixed at 640 x 480.

Focus Priority: The subject you wish to record is not always in the center of the screen. With the Focus Priority you can choose to focus on the center of the frame, or use the 9-point Auto Focus to focus on the broader range within the entire frame.

Utilizing Memory Card Still Images on a PC: You can download still images from a memory card to a PC connected to the camcorder via the USB interface. Using the software provided, you can organize, store and print out still images.

Movie Mode: The ZR600 lets you record movie clips in Motion JPEG format onto the memory card in either 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 size. Using a MultiMediaCard the clip length limit is 10 seconds at 320 x 240 or 30 seconds at 160 x 120. When using an SD card the clip length is only limited by the capacity of the card. Movies can be recorded through the lens, from the tape, or from the DV input.

Viewing Still Images: There are 3 ways to view still images: Single image, Slide show (one after the other automatically in order of recording), or Index screen showing six images at once.

Printing Still Images: The camcorder can be connected to any PictBridge compatible printer. You can mark the still images you want to print and set the desired number of copies as a print order.

Card Jump Function: You can jump from the current image to the desired image without displaying the images one by one.

Review: You can select the amount of time a still image is displayed on the LCD after it has been recorded. You can choose from: 2 seconds, 4 seconds, 6 seconds, 8 seconds, 10 seconds, or Off.

Software Requirements

Windows System Requirements:

  • OS: Windows 98 (Second Edition), Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), Windows 2000 (Service Pack 4), or Windows XP (Home Edition or Professional/SP1 or SP2)
  • Computer Model: Computers that came with above OS preinstalled and have built-in USB ports
  • CPU: Pentium 500 MHz or better
  • RAM:
    • Windows 98/Windows Me: 128 MB or more
    • Windows 2000/Windows XP: 256 MB or more
  • Interface: Built-in USB ports
  • Free Hard Disk Space:
    • ZoomBrowser EX 5.7: 200 MB or more
    • DV TWAIN Driver 6.6: 25 MB or more
    • DV WIA Driver 6.4: 25 MB or more
  • Display: 1024 x 768 pixels/high-color (16-bit) or better

Macintosh System Requirements:

  • OS: Mac OS X (10.2/10.3/10.4)

  • Computer Model: Computers that came with above OS preinstalled

  • CPU: PowerPC G3/G4/G5 or Intel Processor

  • RAM: 256 MB or more

  • Interface: Built-in USB ports

  • Free Hard Disk Space:

    • Canon Utilities: ImageBrowser 5.7: 200 MB or more

  • Display: 1,024 x 768 pixels/32,000 colors or better

Included Software: The Digital Video Solution Disk Ver.24.0 contains the following applications:

  • CameraWindow (Windows & Macintosh): Allows you to:

    • Download still images recorded on the disc or memory card

    • Print still images recorded on the disc or memory card without downloading them to the computer

    • Enter an owner name to the camcorder

  • Zoom Browser EX 5.7 (Windows): Allows you to:

    • View and organize downloaded still images

    • Edit downloaded still images: Red-eye collection, color & brightness, sharpness, trimming and inserting texts on images

    • Print still images and contact sheets

    • Add sound to still images

  • ImageBrowser 5.7 (Macintosh): Allows you to:

    • View and organize downloaded still images

    • Edit downloaded still images: Red-eye collection, color & brightness, sharpness, trimming and inserting texts on images

    • Print still images and contact sheets

    • Add sound to still images

Specifications

Capacity of Memory Cards (approximate number of images):

Card Size Image Size and Quality
1152 x 864 640 x 480
Super Fine Fine Normal Super Fine Fine Normal
32 MB 40 65 130 140 200 365
128 MB 185 280 545 585 850 1530
512 MB 735 1115 2155 2320 3355 6040

Battery Recording Time:

Battery Pack Maximum Recording Time Typical Recording Time
Viewfinder LCD
(Normal)
LCD
(Bright)
Viewfinder LCD
(Normal)
LCD
(Bright)
BP-2L5 (supplied) 105 minutes 100 minutes 95 minutes 60 minutes 55 minutes 50 minutes
NB-2LH (optional) 145 minutes 145 minutes 135 minutes 80 minutes 80 minutes 75 minutes
BP-2L14 (optional) 305 minutes 300 minutes 280 minutes 165 minutes 165 minutes 155 minutes

Battery Playback Time:

Battery Pack Playback time (using the LCD screen)
BP-2L5 (supplied) 110 minutes
NB-2LH (optional) 150 minutes
BP-2L14 (optional) 320 minutes

Battery Charging Time:

Battery Pack Charging Time
BP-2L5 (supplied) 145 minutes
NB-2LH (supplied) 160 minutes
BP-2L14 (optional) 285 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 ZR850 Reviews

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5 out of 5

For the $$$, Can't Beat it!

Written By Mat, Essex, VT on Wednesday, May 02, 2007
 
My fiance and I received this camcorder as a gift to record our engagement activities and wedding (next year). Although not a "top of the line model", I have been very impressed with the camcorder. We recently visted Disneyworld and have some fantastic video of everything from the rides (GREAT footage of thunder mtn!) to the nighttime fireworks shows.) Our hotel had a nice Hi Def LG LCD tv, and we would plug in nightly to watch our footage of the day. The picture looked fantastic, the colors clear and sharp (which is a challege at Disney with the bright vivid colors in the park, and the stereo sound was excellent at picking up the show. (And ignoring the croud) One of our best movies is the nighttime "Wishes" fireworks show", which came out clear and crisp.

Battery life is decent, expect about 90 min on a charge (which is fine since most mini-DV tapes are 60 min). One point, make sure you turn the camcorder "Off" to charge, we accidentially left on one night after viewing and although the battery did charge a little, we hit the park the next day with only about 50% battery, which got us through, but we were selective about what we shot!

The built in camera feature is nice, altough at 1 megapixel it won't compare ti your digital camera, but the quality is decent for getting those shots right from the video.. we bought a 1gb sandisk card which pretty much gives you 500+ photos, so you won't fill it anytime soon!

The focus and stabilization features work well, you can walk around and shoot without making people sick.

For the $$$$, you really can't go wrong. Great all around camera!
165 out of 199 people found this helpful
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