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Apart from the new LCD panel, you will be hard pressed to find a significant number of new features on the HV30. The US version has a new 30p recording mode, where the American HV20 only had 24p. But the UK HV20 launched with 25p, so there is no improvement here with the HV30. One minor improvement will be very welcome, however. The little rocker used for zooming on the HV20 was ridiculously small, and Canon must have received considerable complaints about it, as the one on the HV30 is a much better design and considerably easier to use.
But the HV20 was so good there wasn't much room for improvement, anyway. For anyone serious about their video, the HV30 has every feature you could want. Whilst it doesn't have a lens ring for manual focusing, there is a little wheel right next to the lens, which is almost as good for fine manual focus. A full-sized accessory shoe is available, too. This is hidden under a plastic flap, which is a little irritating and likely to break off after regular use. But if you use the shoe regularly you probably won't care that much anyway. Under another flap near the lens can be found minijacks for an external microphone and headphones.
The HV30 is also packed with manual options. Using the joystick in P mode, you can vary exposure from -11 to +11, and manually control the microphone level. The HV30 also has shutter and aperture priority modes, enabling you to vary the shutter from 1/6th to 1/2000th of a second or the aperture from F2.4 to F8. Whilst you can't vary these independently, the Exposure control effectively allows this, as pinning the shutter or aperture means it only controls the other function. Alternatively, the HV30 offers portrait, sports, night, snow, beach, sunset, spotlight and fireworks scene modes. There's a cinema colour mode, too, which changes the colour gamut for deeper blacks, but can't be used at the same time as priority or scene modes.
Switching between these modes requires a trip to the function menu. This is also the home of the six white balance presets, plus automatic and manual options. The image effects offer vivid and neutral settings for varying colour saturation, a low sharpening mode, a soft skin preset, and a fully customisable option enabling you to vary colour depth, sharpness, contrast and brightness individually, although only by one increment up or down in each case.
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