With its large CCD, the DC50 shoots great-looking video in broad daylight. Colours are faithful and not oversaturated, and there is little sign of grain. The great colour performance reduces only marginally in good artificial lighting, although there is much more obvious grain. The large CCD is clearly paying dividends here. The colour can be improved even more by setting the shutter manually to 1/25th, albeit with a slight increase in motion blur. Dropping light levels to the equivalent of candlelight not surprisingly loses quite a lot more colour information, and adds a lot more grain. But not as much as with Panasonic's SDR-S150 or NV-GS230, which have three, much smaller CCDs. Again, using the lower shutter speed helps bring the colour back up, but doesn't do much for the grain.
One of the benefits of DVD camcorders is ease of use. You can take the discs out of the DC50 and put them straight into your DVD player to watch. You can also stick them in your PC's DVD drive and import the contents into your favourite video editing application. The DVD camcorder format is now widely supported and standardised, so most apps can handle it. The DC50 also includes a USB port if you want to access the video files from the camcorder's own optical drive. A cleverly hidden AV minijack is available for a breakout cable offering composite video and RCA audio connections.
With its good image quality, adequate manual controls and high-resolution stills, the Canon DC50 has a lot to offer for the money - particularly now its price has dropped below £400. As standard DVD camcorders go, this is one of the best value models on the market. However, this also hinges on whether a DVD camcorder is the right format. It may be convenient to use, but you will have to carry a bagful of recording media with you.