The CP45 feels well balanced and gorgeously tactile in your hand, and most of the buttons feel like they’re in the right places. The only exception to this is the way you have to use the keypad’s up and down buttons to adjust the digital zoom, when some sort of ‘wheel’ adjustment on the CP45’s side would have been easier.
At first we found the buttons rather unresponsive. But 3M has included the facility to adjust the button sensitivity so that you can achieve the right balance for your particular fingers between the buttons not being so responsive that you keep ‘pressing’ them accidentally and not being so unresponsive that you wobble the camcorder while trying to operate them.
Other options of note within the CP45’s onscreen menus include adjusting the resolution of the photos and videos, and choosing between 60Hz and 50Hz recording.
Wandering around the house and garden filming and taking photos, we were really impressed by the CP45’s built-in screen/viewfinder. It’s big enough and bright enough to be clearly visible in all but the most intense direct sunlight, and can even be looked at from a slight angle without its contrast and colour completely disappearing.
Colours on it look a bit insipid compared to the ‘real life’ you’re filming, but this doesn’t really matter as the little screen is just a practical device; all that matter is that colours are actually recorded with decent vibrancy and accuracy.
The quality of the video recordings made by the CP45 is also impressive in terms of the amount of sharpness and detail retained. There’s certainly no doubt that you’re watching HD recordings - at least when you’re watching them on an HD screen...
The extent of the CP45’s recorded HD resolution is all the more impressive because it’s achieved without the picture succumbing to lots of grain or other noise, even during quite low-light viewing.
The CP45 camcorder also handles motion better than expected, be it something moving within the frame or a brisk horizontal pan. Certainly there seems to be less resolution loss and judder than we get with one or two more expensive dedicated digital camcorders.
We do have two gripes with the camcorder part of the CP45, though. First, the digital zoom is, as feared, largely pointless. For as well as only moving forward in ugly jerky steps, it also causes the picture to lose sharpness and definition with every step of zoom you introduce, to the point where images at maximum zoom look unwatchably unfocused.
While it’s easy to avoid this problem by just not using the zoom, we didn’t find a way to get round the other issue: fluctuating brightness levels. You will always get these to some extent with any camcorder, as it adjusts its optics to compensate for changes in the image’s brightness. But the CP45 makes so many adjustments that they can be distractingly excessive if you’re trying to film something while moving around a lot.
We guess some people might feel bothered that the sound recorded by the CP45 is only mono. And it is true that sound on your recordings can appear a little thin and tinny. But in our opinion the sound quality is actually adequate for a casual, ‘fun’ product.