Canon Optura Pi

May 6, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, April 2001 Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
Digital Camcorders

Canon Optura Pi

TECHNOBABBLE:A 12x-to-48x zoom lens, image stabilization, and a cutting-room's worth of camera tricks make it that much more fun for aspiring Web auteurs.

By today's standards the Optura Pi is Cadillac-size. And like a Caddy, it's loaded. The LCD screen is a whopping 3.5 by 3.5 inches, all the more space to toy with and appreciate a laundry list of features: Fade-ins and fade-outs to sepia and black-and-white formats can make a tin camping cup look like a prop from a Peckinpah flick. Used as a simple camera, it renders rich, deeply saturated colors. Best of all, with this one-pound, seven-ouncer, you get Canon's signature image stabilizer, which essentially takes the annoying shaky-cam spring out of your step.


TECHNOBABBLE:MP3 sound effects and a wide-angle view. Mid-video snapshots put you in touch with your inner Guy Ritchie; colors look better than they do off-camera.

If your photographic devotion is to video but you like to take the occasional snapshot, the DVM-90 will serve your every need--it does both. Crammed into its roughly four-by-five-by-two-inch body are a high-zoot consumer camcorder and a respectable camera with an eight-meg memory card. A moonlit mountain-bike ride and a black lab sprinting beachside are both rendered clear and color-sharp on the 2.5-inch LCD screen, provided that you use the autofocus (it has manual mode, too) and adjust the brightness accordingly. Best of all, you can take a snapshot without interrupting your video session.

Sony DCR-PC110

TECHNOBABBLE:MPEG converter instantly produces 60 seconds of e-mailable footage. With Sony representing the electronics aspect and Carl Zeiss at the lens, it's no wonder this thing oozes quality.

With more extras than a Cecil B. DeMille movie, the DCR-PC110 is intimidating at a glance and a wee bit tricky to get the hang of. Once you're in a groove, however, you'd think a tiny Spike Lee was inside operating the focus--it's that mechanically intuitive. As for features, the 120x zoom is made by legendary optics manufacturer Carl Zeiss, and the DCR-PC110 has on-camera editing so you can cut and paste on the fly. You can also shoot in one of seven auto-exposure modes that do the dirty work on portraits, landscapes, night skies, and more. In still-camera mode, three image-quality settings and a four-meg "memory stick" yield anywhere from six big beautiful shots to 60 pretty good small ones.

Panasonic PV-DV400

TECHNOBABBLE:A playback effect lets you pick a point on an image and zoom in. Reviewing your handiwork on the spot is VCR-simple, as is general use.

Like a trusty pickup, the DV400 isn't fancy, but it's no clunker either; rather, it's easy to operate, reliable, reasonably priced, and probably all that you of lay-photographer standing will need. Without making a high-design show of it, Panasonic gives you an 18x zoom lens; beyond that, the zoom seamlessly converts to digital mode with a switch and goes to a whopping 300x. All of which is to say that the videos and stills (it has an eight-meg memory card for snapshots, too) from your trek will be clear and impressive--not quite as revelatory as the scene was when you took them, but keepers nonetheless. Find-your-subject-more-easily-in-the-dark functions like backlighting and infrared keep this seemingly dirt-road camcorder up to speed with the SUVs of the bunch.

Where to Find It
JVC, 800-252-5722,
Nikon, 800-645-6687,
Olympus, 800-622-6372,
Panasonic, 800-211-7262,
Pentax, 800-255-0415, /outside/magazine/200104/
Sony, 800-222-7669,

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