Canon Vixia HV30 review:

Canon Vixia HV30

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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Generally excellent video quality; solid feature set for its class; well designed

The Bad Tape housing feels a bit flimsy; fixed eye-level viewfinder needs a better eye cup; manual focus dial a bit loose

The Bottom Line An extremely minor upgrade from the HV20, the Canon Vixia HV30 remains a quality HDV camcorder with a couple of performance issues.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Image quality 8.0

Don't look for any great advances here: the Canon Vixia HV30 is a very minor upgrade from the admittedly top-notch HV20. It has a sleeker-looking black body, introduces 30p progressive mode, and supports the high-capacity BP-2L24H lithium-ion battery, but otherwise remains the same as its 2007 predecessor.

Of course, that makes it a well-designed prosumer camcorder with a useful feature set, good overall performance, and excellent video quality. It's relatively big, weighing 1 pound, 5.4 ounces, though it fits into a large, loose jacket pocket. I like the black chassis more than the silver, but the tape housing feels a little flimsier than I remember; when gripped for shooting, the cover moves a bit. In all other ways the build quality seems solid, though, with tethered covers over the Advanced Accessory Shoe, HDMI/FireWire ports, and mic/headphone/component out jacks.

On the left side of the body sit a few, slightly difficult to feel, controls: backlight compensation, display, and video light, plus a manual focus toggle and somewhat loose focus dial.
On the left side of the body sit a few, slightly difficult to feel, controls: backlight compensation, display, and video light, plus a manual focus toggle and somewhat loose focus dial.

The 2.7-inch wide-screen LCD is kind of small and at 211,000-pixels not very high resolution, but it's sufficient for manually focusing. The eye-level viewfinder is relatively large, but doesn't pull out or up, and I wish it had a softer eye cup. In addition, I just had to laugh at the Catch-22 diopter control. Since it's right on the viewfinder, you have to move your head away to get your finger on the switch, which means you can't set it for your eye pressed close. The HV30 supplies both a video light and a flash for shooting stills. As always, I really like the built-in electronic lens cover.

All the frequently used shooting controls--except for manual focus and zoom--fall comfortably under your right thumb.
All the frequently used shooting controls--except for manual focus and zoom--fall comfortably under your right thumb.

The HV30's zoom switch has quite a bit of play. You can set it for variable speed or one of three fixed-speed zoom options.
The HV30's zoom switch has quite a bit of play. You can set it for variable speed or one of three fixed-speed zoom options.

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