The DVD camcorder has plenty of consumer appeal. If you don't fancy the idea of editing your video, or just don't have the time, it's very convenient to simply slip the discs from your camcorder straight into your DVD player. Although the format used to command quite a premium, now that high definition models are pushing standard definition down, even fully featured DVD camcorders have fallen to keen prices. Canon's DC50 comes in at below £400, yet could hardly be called a budget model. In fact, it's the pinnacle of Canon's standard definition DVD camcorder range.
The cornerstone of the DC50 is its large 1/2.7in CCD, which sports a sizeable 5.39-megapixels. This allows it to take still images at up to 2,592 x 1,944 pixels (an SD memory card slot is available for storage), although less of this resolution is harnessed for the video side of things. Canon only uses about four fifths of the CCD's area for video, but theoretically this will still be good for the DC50's low light capabilities. The greater the area picking up light, the greater the sensitivity. Continuing the premium specification, Canon integrates optical image stabilisation rather than the less effective electronic version, which can also have a negative impact on video resolution.
Being a model aimed at the point-and-shoot crowd, the DC50 lacks many features for the video enthusiast. An automatic lens cover keeps the optics safe when not in use, but there's no accessory shoe, no microphone input and no headphone output. So you won't be able to hook up any accessories or add-ons. There is a standard 37mm screw thread on the lens, however, so adding filters will be an option. Unlike Canon's low-end camcorders, the DC50 only incorporates a 10x optical zoom, mostly due to the large CCD, which would require a longer lens for a more powerful zoom.
Shooting in auto mode, most of the manual options are unavailable. But switching to P mode using a switch on the top of the camcorder reveals a selection of settings via the joystick. Jogging this up and down scrolls through the possibilities, whilst left and right toggles functions. Manual focusing is available here, and works reasonably well but isn't as easy to operate as a lens ring. The joystick also offers an Exposure control with 23 steps, when in Program Auto-Exposure mode.