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Video Cameras

Canon DC51

Canon's gives its top-of-the-line DVD camcorder a makeover with an extra megapixel, optical image stabilisation and support for dual layer discs.

Upside
Indications are that the just-announced Canon DC51 will retail for AU$1,499. If so, it will undercut its predecessor, the DC40, by AU$200 while upping the megapixel count and improving the breed.

Although the lens -- a 6.1-to-61mm (44.7-to-447mm 35mm equivalent) 10x zoom -- from the DC40 remains, the CCD sensor behind it gets upgraded from 4.29 megapixels to 5.39 megapixels. More important, though, is the upgrade to optical image stabilisation; this allows for steadier video to be shot without sacraficing any resolution, while also improving low-light photography.

The DC51 sports a streamlined set of controls; within easy reach of your right thumb, along the back of the camera, are the most commonly functions -- on/off and record -- as well as a new joystick, which allows access to common manual settings for video and photo capture.

Canon has added support for dual-layer DVD discs to the DC51. In theory, this should almost double the amount of video you can store on one disc, which will be a boon to anyone who's ever suffered the indignity of missing a video-worthy moment due to a full disc.

Downside
Another common reason for missing video-worthy moments, are the slow startup times associated with DVD based camcorders. Canon is promising a 0.7-second startup time when switching on the DC51 from power-saving mode. Although we suspect that it'll be a line-ball call for most users as to whether they will sacrifice battery-life for startup time.

With the DC51, Canon perserveres with the mini SD card format for storing still photos. Although great for smaller devices, such as mobile phones, mini SD cards are more expensive than their SD equivalent and require a special adapter in order to be read by most card readers.

Outlook
Canon has made a whole host of worthy, albeit incremental, improvements to its top-of-the-line DVD camcorder. As we noted in our round-up of the additions to Canon's camcorder lineup, there's still no sign of any hard-disk, SD or hybrid camcorders from Canon.

For some, the DC51 might be a bit pricey for a single-CCD DVD camcorder. If so, then check out the other three Canon camcorders due in shops around March. All feature support for dual-layer DVD discs and the streamlined joystick controls seen in the DC51.

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