Canon Optura review: Canon Optura

Canon Optura 500

(Part #: 9539A003AA) Released: Feb 17, 2005
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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Manual focus ring; cameralike mode wheel; shutter- and aperture-priority modes available for video; optical image stabilization; excellent LCD and microphone; takes decent snapshots.

The Bad Poor low-light video quality; microphone picks up motor noise.

The Bottom Line Canon's feature-packed camcorder shoots very good daylight footage but has reason to be scared of the dark.

6.9 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Image quality 7.0

Although the Optura offers impressive features such as manual exposure controls, optical image stabilization, and cameralike still-photo features, its low-light shooting capabilities will likely disappoint the home moviemaker. If you're going to remain outside, we recommend this model over its more expensive sibling, the Optura 60, which has a slightly greater zoom range but is otherwise almost identical. The extra Ben Franklin nets you exactly three upgrades: a 14X optical zoom (the Canon Optura 50's tops out at 10X), a built-in white LED (which helps with low-light shooting but not by much), and an accessory hotshoe. The latter is compatible with only a few Canon add-ons, one of which is a shotgun microphone. But because the Optura has a separate microphone input, you can use any third-party mic. In other words, all the important features are still present in the Optura 50, so we think most buyers will be better off saving the $100.

That said, the two models share the same problems, most notably poor low-light performance. But for enthusiasts looking to make amateur movies or even corporate videos, both Opturas are worth considering.

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