Canon ZR500 review: Canon ZR500

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.6
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 6.0
  • Image quality: 6.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Costs less than $300; wide-screen LCD; easy-to-use controls; built-in lens cover; above-average color reproduction; 25X optical zoom; plenty of manual controls for shooters who want them; works with add-on lenses and filters; microphone jack.

The Bad No shoulder strap or accessory shoe; bottom-loading tape compartment; not enough image stabilization at maximum zoom; poor low-light performance.

The Bottom Line Canon's compact, capable ZR500 MiniDV camcorder is a dream come true for videographers on a shoestring budget.

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The Canon ZR500's $299 list price suggests a bare-bones MiniDV camcorder, but the opposite is true: It's a surprisingly well-appointed model, one that shares impressive core specs--including a wide-screen LCD, plenty of manual controls, and a 25X optical zoom--with Canon's ZR600 ($349) and its pricier ZR700 ($399). What's the catch? The ZR500 doesn't capture still photos, though we'd hardly call that a catch, unless you're dying for grainy, 0.7-megapixel snapshots. In fact, the ZR500 has one desirable feature its costlier siblings lack: a microphone jack. Unfortunately, there's no accessory shoe on which to mount an external mic, so you'll either have to hold it or get fancy with rubber bands.

In exchange for the microphone jack, you have to give up the wireless remote that comes with the ZR600 and the ZR700. Other than that, the ZR500 is virtually identical to those two models, right down to the 1/6-inch CCD, the simplistic joystick-driven menus, and the palm-friendly design. You can find out more about the camcorder's capabilities, performance, and image quality by reading our review of the ZR700.

One of our favorite new features in the ZR series is the selectable zoom speed: 1X, 2X, 3X, and variable. The last option operates like most zoom controls, tying the speed of the zoom to the amount of pressure on the rocker. The fixed speeds provide a consistent zoom to prevent tell-tale amateur jerkiness. We just wish you didn't have to dig into the menu system each time you want to change the setting.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Canon ZR500

Part Number: 1176B001 Released: Jan. 19, 2006
Low Price: $449.95 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jan. 19, 2006
  • Effective Sensor Resolution 680,000 pixels
  • Optical Sensor Type CCD
  • Type none
  • Width 1.9 in
  • Depth 4.5 in
  • Height 3.6 in
  • Weight 0.9 lbs