VIDEO CAMERA 1993

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REVIEW

 

HEAD

REVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

INTRO

The popular Canon E230 has been discontinued but in its place is the even better specified E250, available now for just under £700, but only from Dixons stores

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The Canon E230 is dead, long live the E250! Actually the E250 is more closely related to the E110 which came and went last year, that in turn was based on the E100. As a matter of interest, the E110 cost œ50 more than the E250, but hold on, this is becoming confusing!

Rather than delve too deeply into Canon's pick 'n mix feature philosophy let's look at what the E250 has to offer. Starting at the business end there's a 12x zoom lens (the E110 and E230 both had 10x zooms) with proper manual focus and zoom. It has a stereo hi-fi sound system, two 1-page title generators (alphanumeric and digital superimposer), full IR remote control and a 6 watt clip­on video light, all this plus Canon's unique 'flexigrip' handgrip and sportsfinder eyepiece.

Apart from the 12x zoom the E250 is a dead ringer for the old E110, though we have noticed a couple of other changes, and not for the better! Resolution is slightly down on the 110 and the deck is less stable. Even a slight rocking motion made the picture jump our sample. We hope these differences are just confined to our review machine. Our advice, if you're thinking of buying one, is to give it a little shake in the shop and see what happens to the picture during replay, before you part with your money....

That aside the E250 is a very well-behaved machine, and very easy to use, thanks to the larger than usual control buttons on the side and top panels and clear on-screen displays. It's an ideal family machine with advanced auto exposure and colour balance systems. The 250, like its most immediate predecessor has a correlated two-field metering (for improved centre-screen exposu­re accuracy) and 25-zone white balance assessment, for more accurate colour reproduction in a wider range of lighting condi­tions.

Handling and balance are unchanged from the old E-types, which is generally good news, though the battery is still awkward to change -- the wrist strap gets in the way -- and the main AV sockets are tricky to get at. One other thing worth mentioning is that the battery gets quite hot after its been charged, and because it is part of the handgrip, can be uncomfortable to hold for the first few minutes (or a nifty hand-warmer, depending on the ambient temperature). This arrangement also limits the range of higher-capacity batteries which can be used with this machine.

Canon must be heartily sick of us going on about the lack of editing facilities on their mass-market machines. Sorry Canon, we can only repeat that what the E250, and all your other machines desperately need, are Control L sockets; after all, you do have a quite reasonable edit controller in your accessory range, why not give it something to do and give Sony a run for their money?

PERFORMANCE

We must admit to being slightly surprised by the lower than expected resolution figure obtained from our test sample. Both

the 230 and the E110 before it managed to exceed 240-lines in the SP mode, our sample machine only just made 230 lines. We haven't changed out testing procedures, so we can only suppose this is (hopefully) confined to this one machine. Noise levels and colour accuracy are still good, however, and low-light performance is also unchanged. When light levels fall too far there's always the safety net provided by the video light; it may only be 6 watts but it's quite capable of brightening up a dull living-room, and it's especially good for portrait shots.

White balance is fairly reliable, even under some types of artificial light,  but the auto WB system still needs a little human help with tube lighting and, if left to its own devices, will give the the picture a slight green caste.

The 250's stereo hi-fi recording system sounds fine, though the stereo effect is fairly limited due to the single-point mike. Fortunately there's an external mic socket, for those who take their audio seriously.

VERDICT

The old E-series camcorders may not have been the prettiest machines on the market, and they certainly weren't the smallest or lightest but they were a classic example of good practical design. The E250 keeps the marque alive, it's simple to use, (normally) capable of good AV performance, and is hard to beat when it comes to features per pound. It's like an old friend, and we're pleased to see it back again.

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/model                        CANON E250 

Recording format            8mm

Guide price            œ700                         

OPTICS

Lens            f2.2, 6.7-80.4mm              

Zoom            x12

Filter diameter            37mm

Pick-up device            0.3in CCD (320k pixels)

Min illum (lux)            3

VIDEO DECK

Tape speed (mm/sec)            20.051 (SP), 10.026(LP)

Max rec time            120mins (LP mode)

Remote control                   full-function IR

Main facilities                   auto/manual focus, auto-exposure & white

balance, fader, high-speed shutter (7­speeds, up to 1/10,000th sec), gain-up mode, self/interval timer, record search, time/date recording, clip-on video light, fader, title generator (2-lines/16­characters), digital superimposer (1­page/8-colours), tape return 

VIEWFINDER

Viewfinder       0.6in monochrome          

Viewfinder info       deck mode and status, low battery, tape

count, shutter speed, fader, focus, tape end, time/date, title, dew       

AUDIO

System       stereo FM              

Microphone            unidirectional electret

 

GENERAL

Sockets                                           composite video, mono audio (phono), stereo

                                           audio (minijack), headphones, external mic           Size (mm)                                           110 x 305 x 125          

Weight                        1.2kg (inc battery and tape)

STANDARD ACCESSORIES

Batteries (nicad, lithium and alkaline), straps, AC charger/power supply, RF converter, IR handset, remote control, DC leads

PERFORMANCE

Resolution                                 230-lines            

Colour fidelity                            good   

Picture stability                         average  

Colour bleed                              negligible  

White balance                           good  

Exposure                                  good  

Autofocus                                 average   

Audio performance                              good  

Insert editing                        manual inserts clean

Playback thru adaptor            N/A

VC RATINGS

Value for money                        8

Ease of use                        9

Performance                        8

Features                        8

                                    ---end---

(c) R Maybury 1993  2402

 

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