Manufacturer: Canon Part number: 2059B001
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as of 05/22/2013
CNET editors' review
price range: $899.99
- Reviewed by: Phil Ryan
- Reviewed on: 04/03/2007
- Released on: 01/31/2007
The good: The Canon HV20 high-definition camcorder has excellent video quality, nice features, HDMI output, and an accessory shoe.
The bad: Can't change white balance while shooting; night mode doesn't help poor low-light performance.
The bottom line: Canon's HV20 camcorder is a great choice for HD-happy amateurs, but its low-light performance could have been better.
Great camcorder - CNET Review a bit incorrect
by themanatuf on April 9, 2007
Pros: Great image quality, simple menu, wireless remote for playback, light weight
Cons: Controls awkward for users with big hands, mini-SD instead of standard SD card, HUGE files when saving to the computer
Summary: This is an excellent camcorder for the money. I first want to point out an inconsistency with CNET's review. They state you cannot change the white balance and thus ...
Summary: This is an excellent camcorder for the money. I first want to point out an inconsistency with CNET's review. They state you cannot change the white balance and thus need to turn the camera on/off in different lightning. This is INCORRECT. The camera WILL adjust in different lightning situations. I filmed my dad walking in the door as the sun was coming up, then shot my mom in the kitchen and the balances adjusted perfectly.
The video is a bit grainy while shooting in doors especially in low light. However shooting outdoors in the sun is spectacular. The colors are bright and vibrant and HD!
This camcorder works perfectly with my Intel Mac and the footage is excellent quality. If you plan on saving your raw footage on your computer you better invest in mass storage. About 20 minutes of my raw HD footage was 17.13 GB. Yes, you read that right, GIGABYTES. I've compressed most of my footage to distribute to family, but intend on saving the tapes since the file sizes are so big.
Overall I am very pleased with this camcorder. If you are an HD freak like me then this camera is well worth the $1100. I didn't give this camera a 10 simply because of the low-light performance. Other than that I'm extremely happy.
49 out of 51 users found this user opinion helpful.
by SFC Bell on April 3, 2007
Pros: Stunning Video, Manual Focus, great auto focus and image stabilization, HDMI out, many more good features
Cons: haven't found any yet
Summary: Buy this camera!
This camera produces near professional quality video at a price most of us can afford. Add in all of the "prosumer" features like manual focus, optical and ...
Summary: Buy this camera!
This camera produces near professional quality video at a price most of us can afford. Add in all of the "prosumer" features like manual focus, optical and electronic image stabilization, HDMI out, a mic input (mini), a headphone jack, an accessory shoe. This camera is loaded. I ordered mine as soon as it was available through B&H Photo and have had it for a couple of days now. Right out of the box (after charging the battery) I recorded 3 minutes of video in my home under less than ideal lighting, plugged it directly into my JVC HDTV with my HDMI cable (not provided in the box) and watched stunning video. I'm an Army broadcaster and I've used lot s of professional equipment and I can say that this is the best video I've ever seen from a one chip camera period. Sony offers an HDV camera, but I chose to stick with Canon as I've come to notice that their products produce superior imagery, and I wasn't let down. I also have a 3 CCD Panasonic DV camera. I thought the image quality was good. It doesn't compare to HD. Going from SD mini DV to HD on mini dv is like going from VCD to DVD. I had no problem with Windows Vista. Once I loaded the software and drivers I plugged it in to my HP dv9230 and captured the HD into Windows MovieMaker with ease. Haven't tried it with Premiere Elements yet, but I'll assume it shouldn't be a problem. I would mention that if you plan on editing your video on your pc you may want to go with a higher end pc with a good video card. Your old Pentium 4 may not cut it. The only reason I didn't give it a 10 was that I always leave room for improvement. With this camera there is not much to improve upon! Way to go Canon!
25 out of 25 users found this user opinion helpful.
Best HDV in its price range, but there's a snag with the 24p
by Wez on June 13, 2007
Pros: Fine for what it is.
Cons: Apparently does not actually output 24p. An know that the image is not 1920x1080 as you might expect from 'HD' but rather 1440x1080.
Summary: I am a professional and was looking for a more covert HD camera that would not call attention to itself out in the field as being professional. I believe it ...
Summary: I am a professional and was looking for a more covert HD camera that would not call attention to itself out in the field as being professional. I believe it is a clear choice over other HDVs in it's class.
But after perusing various forum postings by users of this camera trying to get the much coveted 24p out of it... you can't exactly. Very weird for a camera that shoots 24p. But from what users and Canon support are telling me, the camera insists on outputting the 24p image at 30fps with a 2:3 pulldown which introduces fields. So you must have software that will perform a 2:3 pullUP during capture or in post in order to get the image back to 24p. But I discovered a little problem with this if you are capturing from tape-
example jpeg (382kb)
When the 4:2:2 signal records to the tape it undergoes an MPEG 2 conversion/compression to 4:2:0 color space, which causes some loss of chroma data and consequent color bleed in the image that smears the fields a bit. So the fields can not be fully removed with any pullup process- with motion you see this telltale strobey/jaggy thing going on in the image. Am told that if you shoot directly to a hard drive capture while bypassing tape then you can avoid the problem. But that kind of undermines the normal purpose of a little spontaneous point-n-shoot palmcorder like the HV20 unless you are always hooked to a hard drive. If you dont care about 24p, or are using it in studio then it probably wont matter to you, and is a tremendous image quality for the price.
Also, the low-light capability is much better than what some users are commenting. You just have to use the right settings.Updated
The HV20 is NOT a 24p camcorder! This is a falsely advertised claim by Canon. And profesional reviewers are failing to warn potential buyers about this.
"A CAMCORDER is a PORTABLE electronic device for recording video images and audio onto an INTERNAL STORAGE DEVICE."
"24P refers to a video format that operates at a TRUE 24 FRAMES PER SECOND (or typically, 23.976fps when using equipment based around NTSC frame rates) framerate with PROGRESSIVEscanning (NOT INTERLACED)"
The HV20, while it is portable and records to an internal storage device- mini DV tape, what no one tells you is that the HV20 DOES NOT record 24p(progressive frames) to the tape nor does it playback 24p from the tape. It only records and plays back as 30i, or 30fps. The HV20 always records 24 fps with a 30i 2:3 pulldown interlaced frames, not progressive frames AS ADVERTISED. What no one tells you is that you must purchase additional third party software to ATTEMPT to post convert the 30i signal to 24p. But despite what some may believe, this WILL NOT WORK properly. There is an inherent degradation in the signal that is recorded to the HV20's tape (due to a 4:2:0 color space in MPEG2 compression), which results in subtle chroma crosstalk and slight smearing of the fields introduced undesirably by the HV20. NO MATTER WHAT SOFTWARE YOU USE, when you perform a 2:3 pullup on the 30i signal from the tape, fields will partially remain on every fourth frame resulting in annoyingly strobey playback.
This has been confirmed by a representative at Cineform that makes HDV capture software.
This demonstrates the unavoidable problem- http://www.box.net/shared/static/15ydiu43co.jpg
This is not at all what any person would expect from a camcorder claiming to be 24p.
21 out of 21 users found this user opinion helpful.
Very surprised by this camera
by civileng68 on April 11, 2007
Pros: Incredible picture quality and sound pickup
Cons: Do I really have to give one?
Summary: First off, let me say that I am super happy with this camera. It has exceeded my expectations.
Though you do get graininess at lower light, Im telling you, the ...
Summary: First off, let me say that I am super happy with this camera. It has exceeded my expectations.
Though you do get graininess at lower light, Im telling you, the noise level has been well dealt with. They made the noise much smaller so it's less intrusive and really I think you'll be surprised at the high quality in low light.
The camera light is just a small (very small) light but honestly in a really dark setting it does the job. It wont light up a whole room but it really focuses the light in a small area, illuminating objects or people close by.
The picture is just sweet! I LOVE the clarity of the colors and edges. It's truly an HD quality picture.
The thing you dont hear much about that Im so excited about is the sound. NO NEED for an extra zoom mic or anything. This thing picks up INCREDIBLE quality sound. When I hold the camera, I noticed I can hear myself breathing on playback (Im very serious).
I filmed my dog in the yard and his clanging of his collar was so crystal clear, you'd take a second to realize it was on the video and not something else. This thing sounds incredible!
I just want to say that I'm so happy I bought this camera and just didnt expect it to be as nicely functionable as it is.
12 out of 12 users found this user opinion helpful.
Cnet needs to be educated..
by popcornandgoobers on June 1, 2007
Pros: High Quality Optics for a low price
Cons: Poorly designed, cheap quality frame
Summary: I have been doing allot of research on 2 camcorders. The Canon HV20 and the Sony HC7 and that is why I am so suprised that Cnet dropped the ball ...
Summary: I have been doing allot of research on 2 camcorders. The Canon HV20 and the Sony HC7 and that is why I am so suprised that Cnet dropped the ball on this one. Now before you say anything let me give you two points of reference.
These guys know there business.
Independant testing/comparison of both Camcorders. Sadly in German, however you can download the video samples taken from both cameras.
My own personal testing and research has came to the conclusion that the Canon HV20 and the Sony HC7 have very little differance in Full Light shots. However when you take both cameras into a Low light situation, the Canon stands out with a brighter and cleaner picture then the Sony HC7.If you dont believe me. See for yourself by going to
and downloading the video samples from both cameras (especially the low light/ night footage) and judge for yourself. The videos are pretty large but if you have DSL or faster it should be no problem.
11 out of 11 users found this user opinion helpful.
Outstanding little Camera beats prosumer options
by jklaben on April 20, 2007
Pros: HDV format is compatible with editing packages like Adobe Premier Pro, video image qualiy is outstanding, records HD to DV tape, beautiful 24P cinema mode, external audio jack allows for great audio
Cons: Manual Focus is tricky, cannot set zoom stops for wide lens, need to purchase separate miniSD card for stills, no video input while shooting
Summary: I chose the HV20 in preparation for a week long shoot in North and South India. I was ready to purchase the new Panasonic HVX200 (for approximately $5,000); but ...
Summary: I chose the HV20 in preparation for a week long shoot in North and South India. I was ready to purchase the new Panasonic HVX200 (for approximately $5,000); but the $1,100 HV20 camera actually has some major advantages that convinced me it was a better choice for my project.
The biggest factor in my selection of the HV20 is editing capability. The HV20's HDV format is compatible with editing packages like Adobe Premier Pro, whereas the formats recorded (i.e. AVHCD or HD50) by other products from Panasonic and Sony are not very compatible with editing packages and may be impossible or require extra steps for post processing.
Regarding image quality, the camera earns a WOW! I think this camera is currently the very best option for a solo shoot on the go. CNet gets it right regarding image quality and color, in addition, shades of black go very deep.
External and hot shoe audio are also a big deal for high quality shooting. The LCD screen is sharp and the feature to impose a horizontal line or grid on the screen (but not recorded) is very handy to maintain level shots.
The camera is not tiny, but is small enough to be slipped into a very large trouser pocket; this allowed access to more spontaneous shooting opportunities than larger HD camera options. With a large fanny pack, I kept the camera (with extra tapes, batteries, monopod, and DM50 microphone) with me at all times and was ready for anything. For me, this portability factor transcends price point.
Regarding storage, the HV20 records HDV directly to DV tape. The much more expensive Panasonic HVX200 will record HD50 format (which is an equivalent or possibly superior format) but will only record SD (not HD) to tape; with the HXV200, proprietary P2 cards are required for HD recording (and an 8GB P2 card costs approximately $1,100). I bought this camera for the price of one 8GB P2 card!
Recording to tape seemed like a disadvantage at first, but the advantage in India was huge - I did not need to transfer anything to my PC or need a PC) until I was good and ready (so I could maximize shooting time on site and deal with all post production later); in addition, archival is handled up front with less compression and no spaces constraints - that more tapes could not solve; after shooting 10 tapes, I realized this is also a significant advantage. With less compression, tape may still actually be the superior recording media. I also took over 1,000 3.1 Megapixel still shots with the camera on a 2GB card.
The camera layout is also quite good. The tape and battery can be swapped out without removing from tripod or monopod mount. In unplanned situations, this was a major advantage.
A few ways the camera could be improved:
1) the lens width varies when switching between video and still modes, so I expect that adding stills into my video will take extra editing time
2) when using an after-market wide angle lens, a wide shot shows the black edges of the lens, it would help to have a settable zoom stop to control the zoom range on the wide side.
3) the manual focus is not intuitive, more feedback on the dial or screen would help
4) switching from auto to programmable mode would be better if some auto functions could be set to stay on
5) an "auto backlight" feature would be handy
6) the miniSD card was an inconvenient choice for still photo storage, since I could not reuse SD cards I already own (note that no memory card is included with the camera)
7) video input (like some Samsung products) would have helped so that I could keep the camera in my pocket and shoot with a lipstick cam when necessary (to avoid looking like the typical American tourist or for action/sports applications)
8) battery life was shorter than expected, I got 1 hour of recording from each battery.
Net net, this camera is fantastic and I believe the video quality is sufficent to qualify my project for a film festival submission.
6 out of 6 users found this user opinion helpful.
disappointed compared to hype
by richnchey on April 16, 2007
Pros: great color-easy to learn
Cons: build quality-physical use-battery fit-low light
Summary: I received HV20 on 4/10 and am quite dissapointed in the build quality and how awkward one hand use is. Major complaint is how sloppy the batteries,especially the ...
Summary: I received HV20 on 4/10 and am quite dissapointed in the build quality and how awkward one hand use is. Major complaint is how sloppy the batteries,especially the extended Canon BP-2L14-(non counterfeit), fit on the camera. When moving the camera in different positions the battery is so loose I feel the battery slide around and bump the cam body. The only time it doesn't do it is if I keep the cam horizontial or put my thumb on the battery.I find this unacceptable for a $1100 peice of precision equip. The body is lightweight cheap plastic as are the covers,eyecup stationary with no eye cup. I would like to hear from the CNET reviewer and others on these issues,also if the battery sloppiness is an issue on their HV20's and from owners of the sony HC-5 and HC-7 to see if their batteies-especially the extened versions are tighter fitting and if the nightshot mode is as good as they say? I don't care about the greenish color. The HV20 is vey lacking in low light-shooting,especially outside at night. The night mode is useless unless on a tri-pod and not touched while recording. I have till 5/8 to return to Crutchfield's with NO RE-STOCKING FEES and I can't say enough good things about them and their help on the battery issue! Canon basically didn't care and said to buy a battery from them-with a $11+change for reg shipping fee, and if I wanted to send it back I would also pay return shipping! They use other cam model batteries to cut cost and ruined a promising product.Updated
I still find that using the BP-2L14 canon battery is not recommended unless you rest your thumb on it or don't mind the bumping vibration they'll make. The BP-2L13(just under the charge rating for the 14) that came with the camera is acceptable but I am having trouble finding them. It turns out all the batteries and wall charger from my Canon Powershot G7 camera can be used with the HV20 cam. Also the batteries appear to be used on other cameras and cams. To bad the fit of the extended version BP-2L14 is so loose. Also I think the casing could have been made sturdier like the sony's from what I've seen and felt. Also one handed use is still awkward but I find the overall capabilities and features outway the negatives-especially when comparing it to touch screens, and for learning and using. The HV20 becomes very intuitive to use as well as fast. Speaking of fast I must say the auto-focusing when zooming and panning is superb! Filming content is beautiful to behold. I change my rating to a 7.5
8 out of 11 users found this user opinion helpful.
by MrRogn on June 20, 2007
Pros: Stunning 1080p video
Cons: I have no issues with this camera
Summary: This is my first DIGITAL video camera and was very impressed with the HD images on a 46" HDTV connected via HDMI cable. The picture was sharper and more brilliant ...
Summary: This is my first DIGITAL video camera and was very impressed with the HD images on a 46" HDTV connected via HDMI cable. The picture was sharper and more brilliant than anything I had ever seen. It exceeded my expectations! I was also please with the no hassle connection to my Mac G5 and the incredible video using iMovie and iDVD.
I took it on a trip to Greece and used a tripod to gather images. The cost of the camcorder and carting around the tripod was well worth it because of the spectacular video I brought home. Thanks Canon!
3 out of 3 users found this user opinion helpful.
by JulioDebroy on May 15, 2007
Pros: Just about anything I need is built in.
Cons: Relatively fragile construction
Summary: I purchased this camera for my cine projects, and making presentation DVDs for my software products, hoping to be able to generate broadcast quality without having to carry a bulky ...
Summary: I purchased this camera for my cine projects, and making presentation DVDs for my software products, hoping to be able to generate broadcast quality without having to carry a bulky XL-2(which has not HD).(there is a big difference to go up in a volcano carrying 10 pounds less). Appart from the "house consumer" look that ashames pro people, the HV20 has just about everything, and every single feature works great. I have heard complains about noise in low light, but as photographer I intend to light my subjects in a way I like. No light, no image! I use manual exposure and manual focus. Noise in low light is the result of amplification, but in manual mode, you command the camera, and hence no noise will be visible as I've confirmed.
I took casual video (AutoFocus, AutoExposure) of Las Vegas at night and it is superb, from image stabilization to incredible color and sharpness. And that super-detail 1080 HD is just what I needed. For pro work, just added a good shielded mic, a good hold/stand or steadycam, and sunshade/filter adaptor. In my HD tv set it shines like no one I ever had. As for cinema mode and 24P, it is just what I expected. With a tiny bit of grain in post process, it shines like pure film (because for making even a short movie, you DO need post process). The small light in the front is a toy, but just ignore it, and use studio lights or existing light.
What else can I say? I love it. A feature I could wish: smooth slow motion without post.
3 out of 3 users found this user opinion helpful.
Best HD Budget Camcorder IMO
by dressner on December 8, 2007
Pros: HDV on Mini DV tape, combo of 24P with Cine Mode looks great in full light, excellent menu system, good manual controls
Cons: Rediculously awful zoom lever, could have better low light, why not plain SD instead of mini SD?
Summary: The Canon HV20 is in my opinion the best sub $1000 camcorder on the market. It records in the most convenient HD format (HDV) on the most developed media type (...
Summary: The Canon HV20 is in my opinion the best sub $1000 camcorder on the market. It records in the most convenient HD format (HDV) on the most developed media type (mini DV).
Colors are very accurate for a camcorder in this range. The Cine Mode offers more subdued colors for a more professional look.
This camcorder has a great menu system, it is intuitive and allows you to fairly quickly access the suite of manual controls.
Speaking of which, they're great!
The price just keeps dropping for this cam, and as it does it becomes one of the best bargains around. I highly recommend this camcorder. Great job Canon!
2 out of 2 users found this user opinion helpful.
- Manufacturer: Canon
- Part number: 2059B001
- Description: The name Canon has always meant photographic and broadcast television cameras with optical excellence, advanced image processing, superb performance, and the latest in technological advancements. Canon's High Definition video camcorders are no exception. The stylish Canon HV20 gives you the ultimate in HD video and digital photo quality with advanced features for the knowledgeable and demanding videographer. Its 10x optical zoom lens, 2.96 Megapixel CMOS image sensor and Canon's advanced DIGIC DV II image processor ensures meticulous detail and superior color reproduction. 24p Cinema Mode brings "film-look" options to the HV20 owner - as never before in this class. And, with its HD and Standard Definition recording modes, you can make the move to HD without making your SD equipment obsolete. The HV20 is easy to use and delivers the high level of performance you've come to expect from Canon. It's the premium quality High Definition camcorder that sophisticated and discerning videographers have been waiting for.
- Packaged Quantity 1
- Product Type Camcorder - 1080i
- Camcorder Sensor Resolution 2.96 megapixels
- Effective Video Resolution 2.07 megapixels
- Digital Zoom 200 x
- Effective Photo Resolution 2.76 megapixels
- Camcorder Interpolated Photo Resolution 3.1 megapixels
- Camcorder Media Type Mini DV (HDV)
- Optical Sensor Size 1/2.7"
- Optical Sensor Type CMOS
- Min Illumination 0.2 lux
- Special Effects Soft,
Black & White,
- Image Stabilizer Optical
- Digital Scene Transition Wipe fader,
- Min Shutter Speed 1/2 sec
- Max Shutter Speed 1/2000 sec
- Shooting modes Digital photo mode
- Shooting Programs Snow,
- White Balance Automatic,
- White Balance Presets Fluorescent,
Fluorescent light (warm white),
- Exposure Modes Program,
- Camera Flash Built-in flash
- Image Recording Format JPEG
- Audio Signal Format MPEG1 Audio Layer II,
- Widescreen Video Capture Yes
- AV Interfaces D4,
Exposure & White Balance
- Auto Exposure Bracketing 3 steps
- Type 10 x x Zoom lens - 6.1 mm - 61 mm - F/1.8-3.0
- Lens aperture F/1.8-3.0
- Optical Zoom 10 x
- Lens system type Zoom lens
- Min focal length 6.1 mm
- Max focal length 61 mm
- Auto Focus TTL contrast detection
- Filter Size 43 mm
- Focus Adjustment Manual,
- Min Focus Range 0.4 in
- Zoom Adjustment Motorized drive
- Built-in Light Yes
- Low Lux / Night Mode Yes
- DV input Yes
- Additional Features Analog to digital conversion with pass through,
Display brightness control,
24p Cinema Mode,
Accessories hot shoe ,
RGB primary color filter,
Auto power save,
Takes photos while movie recording,
- Remote control Camcorder remote control - Infrared
- Software Drivers & Utilities
- Included Accessories IR remote control,
Component video cable,
Audio / video cable
- Viewfinder Type LCD
- Viewfinder Diagonal Size 0.27 in
- Viewfinder Resolution 123,000 pixels
- Image Aspect Ratio 16:9
- Type 2.7 in LCD display
- Connector Type 1 x HDMI,
1 x Headphones,
1 x Microphone,
1 x USB,
1 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire/i.LINK),
1 x Composite video/audio (input/output),
1 x Component video output,
1 x DC power input
Memory / Storage
- Media type Mini DV (HDV)
- Memory Card Slot miniSD card
- Image Storage JPEG 2048 x 1536,
JPEG 1920 x 1080,
JPEG 1440 x 1080,
JPEG 640 x 480
- Video Recording Modes LP,
- Supported Battery Canon BP-2L13
- Supported Battery 1 x Li-ion rechargeable battery ( Included )
- Audio input type Microphone
- Microphone type Built-in
- Service & Support 1 year warranty
- Service & Support Details Limited warranty - 1 year
- Battery type - Lithium ion
Viewfinder / Display
- Display Features Rotating
- Resolution 211,000 pixels
- Viewfinder Color Support Color
- Width 3.5 in
- Depth 5.4 in
- Height 3.2 in
- Weight 1.2 lbs
- Sony LCE X3TH - case for camcorder (34881135)344.95
- Sony SPK HCH - marine case for camcorder (35266605)299.00 - 299.99
- Porta-Brace Rain Slicker RS-55 - rain jacket for camcorder (31059775)239.84 - 242.17
- Canon HC 4100 - hard case for camcorder (30584700)239.95 - 256.30
- JVC KA-551U tripod adapter (32090695)295.00
- KATA PRO Video Collection CCC-10-A - carrying bag for camcorder (34400943)325.00
- KATA PRO Video Collection CCC-1A - case for camcorder (34931653)299.00
- Panasonic AG-HT30G - hard case for camcorder (30964047)270.34
- Panasonic P2HD-CASE - carrying bag for camcorder (33921985)363.95
- Porta-Brace Polar Bear Insulated Case POL-3 - case for camcorder (31030134)381.05 - 406.01