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Hitachi DZ-GX20E review: Hitachi DZ-GX20E

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The '2.1 megapixel' figure is the combined value of video and stills features - 1.23 million pixels are used for movies and 1.92 million pixels are reserved for still images.

Users may notice a vibration of the recording mechanism, but fortunately this does not seem to be picked up on the resulting footage. However, the manual does warn that block-like noise can appear in the image and that this is more likely on the 'Fine' quality setting, when the camera or subject is moving quickly.

This camera has the usual swag of automatic settings and its easy operation is ideal for recording good times with family and friends.

The AE setting offers a good selection of presets, such as sports, portrait, sand & snow, for different situations and users will need to explore this to obtain best results before shooting. In the low light setting, Hitachi has cleverly found a way to make the LCD more useful. If you turn it around to face the subject, the screen goes white to offer a little support light. It's a lot gentler than the built-in flash. The powerful flash on this camera can be a surprise for the unwary since, besides low-light situations, it will also come on when a subject is back-lit.

Manual focus would be used rarely or best left for posing stills. Control freaks may not appreciate its functionality. You must press the Focus button on the touchpad inside the LCD nook, then use the + and - pads which would otherwise control the volume, to finetune the focus.

Instant playback is one of the benefits of opting for DVD recording. So it should be no surprise that in-camera playback in the DZGX20E is superb. It's not all about the LCD, but also the playback controls, which are located on the outer housing (whereas many cameras bury these controls).

Every time you stop and start recording a new 'chapter' is created, so when playing back, this appears as an icon. It's easy to recognise and review the footage just captured and - one aspect of video-making that's finally 'foolproof' - it's impossible to accidentally record over scenes.

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