Controlling the Canon’s settings involves one of three buttons arranged in a circle on the side, and the joystick on the back. The Function button calls up Canon’s configuration menu, which in Auto mode only provides the option to choose between the three quality settings. In P mode, the top entry toggles between Program Auto Exposure, Shutter Priority Auto Exposure, and Scene presets. The latter offers a pretty extensive range, including Portrait, Sports, Night, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Spotlight and Fireworks.
Four white balance options also become available in P mode – auto, manual, indoor and outdoor – and three image effects can be chosen. The Vivid effect boosts colour saturation even further, whilst the Neutral effect does the opposite. The Soft Skin Detail effect makes flesh tone colours look better. However, whilst some Canon camcorders also offer control over sharpening under this heading, the DC201 doesn’t. The final Function menu section offers two wipes and four digital effects. We wouldn’t recommend using them if you will be editing the footage on a computer, though.
Like other Canons, the DC201 has another set of options available when you only use the joystick, and this is where the highest level of manual controls resides. In Shutter Priority Auto Exposure mode, the shutter speed can be varied from 1/6th to 1/2000th of a second when operating as a camcorder, or ½ to 1/500th when snapping still images. Switching to Program Auto Exposure leaves the shutter under automatic control. In either mode, pressing the joystick button in calls up its own guide menu, wherein can be found manual focusing and Exposure, with the latter offering increments from -11 to +11. This only corresponds directly to aperture F-stops in Shutter Priority mode, although there is no indication of equivalent iris. In Program Auto Exposure mode, the exposure control varies both shutter and aperture at the same time, so equivalent iris varies with the amount of lighting.