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Other highlights include a separate button for backlight compensation and another for the built-in video light. One feature it doesn’t have is a manual focus ring, instead using a small wheel adjacent to the lens. This is not as tactile as a lens ring, but it is easy to use and focus assist can be turned on, with two levels of zebra, or peaking both at hand.
The little joystick available right next to your thumb is extremely user-friendly, however. This provides quick access to a variety of functions. Simply press the middle and you can scroll through exposure control from 0 to -11, manual audio levels, and setting the built-in speaker’s volume in playback mode. Hit the function button and the same joystick controls Program AE, Shutter and Aperture Priority modes, plus Cine. The shutter can be varied from 1/6 to 1/2000 sec and aperture from F1.8 to 8, although you can’t set both manually at the same time. There are eight Scene modes and five preset white balance configurations, plus the usual auto and manual. Image effects include Vivid, Neutral, Low Sharpening, Soft Skin plus a custom option.
Delve further into the menu system and you will find another tasty option for the semi-professional – a 25PF progressive shooting mode. Unlike most camcorder CCDs, the HV20’s CMOS is actually a progressive sensor, so can naturally supply a progressive signal. The 25PF mode Canon provides records this signal onto the 1080i interlaced format of HDV. So it’s a progressive signal recorded onto an interlaced tape format. The results should be perfectly compatible with any editing software capable of supporting 1080i HDV. The Cine shooting setting described above works in tandem with this to help the HV20 shoot the best video possible at 25 progressive frames per second. It does this by reducing sharpness and saturation to create a more naturalistic look, more like cinema. For budding amateur filmmakers wishing for a quasi-film look, the HV20’s 25PF and Cine modes are a real boon.