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Canon ZR950

Mini DV camcorder

1 Review

Item # 280ZR950

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Overview

Our take on the Canon ZR950

Record crisp digital home movies on compact Mini DV tapes with the Canon ZR950. This palm-friendly camcorder offers a host of convenient shooting options, including a digital photo mode that lets you capture digital pictures on an optional SD™ memory card.

Record crisp digital home movies on compact Mini DV tapes with the Canon ZR950. This palm-friendly camcorder offers a host of convenient shooting options, including a digital photo mode that lets you capture digital pictures on an optional SD™ memory card.

A powerful 37X optical zoom lens gives you a clear view of distant subjects. And if you've got a widescreen TV, you can use the ZR950's wide recording mode to capture detailed shots that fill your screen without stretching the image. For more professional-looking footage, use the selectable level and grid markers on the LCD to frame your subject and keep your shot even with the horizon.

An i.LINK® digital audio/video jack lets you transfer video to a compatible computer using an optional cable for detailed editing. Use the USB interface to copy your digital photos and video clips to your PC for easy e-mailing or posting online. Or hook the ZR950 up to a TV with the included audio/video cable.

What's in the Box:

  • Mini DV digital camcorder with handstrap
  • 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)
  • CR1616 Lithium backup battery
  • Wireless remote control (WL-D85)
  • CR2025 Lithium battery
  • 4' USB cable (USB type-A connector on one end and mini-B USB version 2.0 connector on the other)
  • 5' 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
  • Instruction Manual (English/French/Spanish)
  • Digital Video Software Installation Manual (English/French/Spanish)
  • Limited Warranty card
  • Important Safety Instructions
  • "Use of genuine Canon accessories is recommended" note
  • Note on installing software before connecting camcorder via USB cable

Product Highlights:

  • 1.07-megapixel CCD (800K effective in 16:9)
  • 37X optical zoom lens (advanced zoom to 48X, digital zoom to 2000X)
  • 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 with top JPEG resolution of 1152 x 864
  • records digital photos and movie clips to optional 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
  • Easy Mode for automatic shooting
  • digital effects and scene transitions
  • audio/video output for connection to a TV
  • IEEE 1394 digital audio/video jack
  • USB interface
  • 2-5/8"W x 3-1/4"H x 5"D
  • weight: 13.8 oz. without battery
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
Supplied Accessories:
  • AC adapter/charger
  • rechargeable lithium ion battery (BP-2L5)
  • USB and audio/video cable
  • wireless remote
Reviews

Canon ZR950 Reviews

Average Customer Review(s):

(1 Review)

Great little camera buy

Rudy from Flanders, New Jersey on 1/27/2009

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

The Canon miniDV camera is a great little camera for a starter in digital recording or replacement for an aging miniDV unit. The basic settings do a good job at producing a fine image and the camera is small enough and light enough to carry almost anywhere. The camera lost a top rating for me because things like digital effects must always be reset while filming to use a second or third time and the time/date must be reset at the start of each session of filming after turn-on if you want them displayed on the screen. I bought the camera to make sure I could record all my DV cartridges onto my computer since I was having trouble with my old DV camera. The Canon seems to work better in terms of a clearer picture, smoother mechanism, and a better auto focus than my JVC. It is not a HD miniDV or total electronic camera, but for the price and features, its a great place to start.

Pros:

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Details

Hands-on research

Product Research

General Features
Mini DV Camcorder Features
Digital Camera Features
Battery Information
Inputs And Outputs
Software Requirements

General Features

2.7" Color Widescreen LCD Viewscreen: The Canon ZR950 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. In addition, the ZR950 even comes with a video light built-in to the LCD screen to help give a soft, even light to a nearby subject when you're shooting in dark conditions

Widescreen Color LCD Viewfinder: In addition to the 2.7" LCD viewscreen, the camcorder also has a 0.35" color LCD widescreen 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.

Image Sensor: The ZR950 features a 1/6" (3mm) CCD imager with 1,070,000 gross pixels. The 410,000 to 710,000 effective video pixels in 16:9 mode and 310,000 to 690,000 pixels in 4:3 mode provide excellent detail and clarity for exceptional digital video. The 800,000 effective still megapixels in a 4:3 aspect ratio provide exceptional digital still photography performance The zoom setting effects the effective pixel count in 16:9 and 4:3 mode.

  • 16:9 Movie Mode:
    • Advanced Zoom: 410,000 (telephoto) and 710,000 (wide-angle)
    • Optical/Digital Zoom: 550,000
  • 4:3 Movie Mode:
    • Advanced Zoom: 310,000 (telephoto) and 690,000 (wide-angle)
    • Optical/Digital Zoom: 690,000
  • Still Images (4:3): 800,000

16:9 High Resolution: This Canon ZR950 uses the entire width of its image sensor to record video in true 16:9 format. By capturing more pixels,  you get better image quality. If you generally play your camcorder footage on a widescreen TV, use the WideScreen 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.

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.

Zoom Modes: The camcorder offer three types of zoom - Optical, Advanced and Digital zoom.

  • 37x Optical Zoom: The zoom range is limited to the optical magnification ratio of the lens which is 37x.
  • 48x Advanced Zoom: In addition to the optical zoom range, the camcorder processes the image digitally to obtain a larger zoom range without any deterioration in image quality.
  • 2000x Digital Zoom: When this option is selected, the camcorder will switch to digital zoom. With digital zoom the image is processed digitally so image quality will deteriorated the more you zoom in.

Note: 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.

Focus Modes: The Canon ZR950 features a Manual, Auto and Infinity Focus modes.

  • Manual Focus: With manual focus, you can manually adjust the focus of the camcorder using the touch panel. Manual focusing also allows you to control the focus in difficult situations where either the environment or the subject does not allow the camcorder's auto focus to perform optimally, such as when shooting through a window or in a crowded environment.
  • Auto Focus: Auto Intelligent Auto Focus ensures sharp images and gives creative flexibility. Even when your subject isn't in the center of the frame, the ZR950's 9 Point AiAF will bring it into sharp focus.
  • Infinity Focus: Use this function when you wish to focus on faraway subject such as mountains or fireworks.

Exposure Modes: The Canon ZR950 features the following Auto and Manual exposure modes.

  • 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
  • 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.

Exposure Lock: The ZR950 lets you lock your exposure settings, and then recompose your shot. For example, you can lock your exposure while zoomed in on your subject's face. Then, even if you zoom out to include a very bright or dark background, your ZR950 will still give your subject the right exposure.

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 or SD-card, you can select one of the following shutter speeds: 1/60, 1/100, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, or 1/2000.

Note: The following shutter speeds are only used for video: 1/500, 1/1000 and 1/2000.

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.

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).

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

Digital 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
  • Fade In/Out: begins or ends a scene with a fade from or to a black screen (only available when recording video)

Level And Grid Markers: Capturing level, well-composed shots is simple with the ZR950. Line up the horizon or other horizontal lines with the Level Marker in the viewfinder for level landscapes. Or, use the Grid Marker to help compose the perfect shot. Both markers can be set to white or grey for enhanced visibility, no matter what the background.

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

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 or 2-second countdown when using the supplied wireless remote control.

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.

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.

Built-in Manual Lens Cover: The Canon ZR950 features an integrated manual lens cover that opens and closes with a slide of a switch.

Remote Control: The ZR950 comes supplied with a  multi-angle IR wireless remote control. A wider ranging sensor allows the camcorder to receive instructions from the remote control unit without having to hold it close to the camcorder body.

Mini DV Camcorder Features

Tape Recording Format: You can record video onto a Mini DV tape, which delivers three times the color bandwidth of VHS and higher signal to noise ratio compared to analog formats.

Note: No Mini DV tapes are provided with the camcorder.

Recording Mode: This camcorder can record and play back in SP or LP mode. LP increase the recording time to 1.5x that of the SP mode. SP (Standard Play) records at a tape speed of approximately 18.81 mm/s with a recording time of 60 minutes. LP (Long Play) records at a tape speed of approximately 12.56 mms with a recording time of 90 minutes. 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.

Built-In Microphone With Audio Mixing: 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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Digital Camera Features

Photo Mode: The Canon ZR950 DV digital camcorder allows you to record digital photos in JPEG format with an aspect ratio of 4:3 on a Secure Digital (SD) Memory Card or a MultiMediaCard. Plus, the ZR950 is SDHC compatible, which allows you to use cards with a capacity of 2GB or larger. When recording still images 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.

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

Progressive Photo: Canon's Progressive Photo technology gives you sharper detail in your digital photography.

Automatic Focus Priority: When the focus priority is activated, the camcorder records a still image only after the focus has been adjusted automatically. You select from the following Auto-Focus Priority modes.

  • AiAF: depending on the shooting conditions, one or more AF frames out of the nine frames available are automatically selected and the focus is fixed on them
  • Center: a single focusing frame appears in the center of the screen and the focus is automatically fixed on it; this is convenient for making sure the focus is exactly where you want it
  • Off: select this option if you wish to record a still image as soon as you press Record without Auto-Focus

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.

Playback Zoom: During playback, still images can be magnified up to 5x on the camcorder's LCD monitor.

Image Jump: 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

Erase/Protect: You can erase or protect a still image recorded last while reviewing  within the time set for the Review option or immediately after recording.

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.

Pictbridge Compliant: You can print directly from the camcorder to any PictBridge-compatible printer. 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.

Battery Information

Lithium-Ion Battery Pack: The Cannon ZR950 Mini DV camcorder features a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery pack. The camcorder can be powered with the battery pack or using the supplied compact power adapter. The battery pack is charged when mounted to the camcorder and the power adapter is plugged into the camcorder and an AC wall outlet. The battery features the following Charging, Recording and Playback times.  

Battery Charging Time:
Battery Pack Charging Time
BP-2L5 (supplied) 145 minutes
NB-2LH (supplied) 160 minutes
BP-2L14 (optional) 285 minutes
Battery Pack Battery Recording Time:
Maximum Recording Time Typical Recording Time
Viewfinder LCD Viewfinder LCD
BP-2L5 (supplied) 90 minutes 85 minutes 45 minutes 45 minutes
NB-2LH (optional) 125 minutes 120 minutes 65 minutes 60 minutes
BP-2L14 (optional) 270 minutes 260 minutes 145 minutes 140 minutes
Battery Playback Time:
Battery Pack Playback time (using the LCD screen)
BP-2L5 (supplied) 110 minutes
NB-2LH (optional) 145 minutes
BP-2L14 (optional) 315 minutes

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.

Inputs And Outputs

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

IEEE 1394 DV Terminal: The ZR950 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 or 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. You can also insert new scenes to a DV-tape inserted into the camcorder 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.

Audio/Video Out: This camcorder features a 3.5mmAudio/Video connection for use with the supplied A/V connecting cable for displaying the camcorder's contents on your television. You can change the aspect ratio of the camcorder's video output from 16:9 or 4:3 according to the screen aspect ratio of the TV you will view your video or images on. The supplied A/V cable has a 3.5 miniplug on one end and male stereo RCA audio and RCA composite video connections on the other end.

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

Software Requirements

Included Software: The Digital Video Solution Disk Ver.28.0 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 6.0 (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 6.0 (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

Windows System Requirements:

  • OS: Windows Vista, Windows XP Home Edition or Professional (service pack 1 or 2) and Windows 2000 (service pack 4)
  • Computer Model: Computers that came with above OS preinstalled and have built-in USB ports
  • CPU: Pentium 1.3 GHz or better (Windows Vista), Pentium 500 MHz or better (Windows XP/Windows 2000)
  • RAM:
    • Windows Vista: 512 MB or more
    • Windows 2000 (SP4)/Windows XP (SP1/2): 256 MB or more
  • Interface: Built-in USB ports
  • Free Hard Disk Space:
    • Canon Utilities/ZoomBrowser EX 6.0: 200 MB or more
    • For driver: 25 MB or more
  • Display: 1024 x 768 pixels/high-color (16-bit) or better

Macintosh System Requirements:

  • OS: Mac OS X (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 6.0: 300 MB or more

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

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