HD: The Wave of the Future

You’ve probably been hearing a lot lately about high definition (HD) video—and with good reason. HD is the emerging standard for video. More and more TV shows and movies are being broadcast and sold in HD. Why? It’s simple. Whereas standard definition (SD) video only shows you 480 lines of information, HD can show up to 1,080 lines—giving you crisper, more lifelike video quality than you’ve ever experienced before. People everywhere are growing accustomed to the vastly superior picture quality HD video provides.

So it’s no wonder that camcorder manufacturers are joining the trend by providing increasingly sophisticated HD models to consumers. But the whole idea of filming in HD can be intimidating to those who are just learning about the technology. For one thing, "high definition" sounds like something meant only for professionals. Fortunately, it’s not. Canon has designed its HD camcorders to offer superb video quality in a compact, user-friendly package anyone can use. Even inexperienced users should put these models on their short list as they look for the best balance of functionality and ease-of-use.

Am I Expert Enough for High Definition?

Let’s dispel a myth: sophisticated high definition camcorders aren’t just for experts. In fact, HD camcorders offer features that can actually make it easier for everyday users to capture stunningly clear and crisp video. Canon’s HD camcorders are built with Genuine Canon Optics, as well as:

  • Canon Full HD CMOS Image Sensor: Unlike standard definition camcorders, which reproduce video at 640x480 resolution, Canon HD camcorders capture information at 1920x1080 resolution. And Canon’s Full HD CMOS image sensor ensures that when the video is compressed for playback, it will pack in more visual information for better quality images. It also offers high-color resolution, advanced color reproduction, and noise reduction to help ensure that your video will look as lifelike as possible.
  • DIGIC DV II Processor: Canon HD camcorders feature a DIGIC DV II image processor that works like a mini computer, doing all the difficult thinking for you as you shoot video. The processor determines the output format and optimizes accordingly. As a result, you create videos with superior color reproduction—especially in skin tones and light and dark scenes.
  • SuperRange Optical Image Stabilization (OIS): At some point, every video enthusiast struggles with excess camera movement. Canon’s SuperRange OIS uses a gyro sensor to detect movement. It then activates an optical system that compensates for virtually all types of motion, from minor bumps to major vibrations.
  • Instant AutoFocus: Few things are more frustrating than filming precious moments only to discover later that your footage is blurry or fuzzy. Specifically designed for shooting in HD, Instant AF is an enhanced autofocus that gives you the sharp focus you’re looking for. This feature uses an external sensor to make all your subjects snap into focus instantly—even in low light or overly bright settings.

How Will I Store My Video?

People who are considering purchasing an HD camcorder are sometimes unfamiliar with the recording formats available. Here’s a quick run-down:

  • HDV, or High Definition Video, lets you record on inexpensive, widely available Mini DV cassettes.
  • AVCHD DVD offers easy handling and storage capabilities because it records video directly to a DVD, which you can play using a compatible Blu-ray disc player as well as the camcorder itself.*
  • AVCHD Hard Disk Drive captures directly to a hard drive like the one in your computer. That’s why it offers the longest recording time and highest quality of any storage format.
  • Flash Memory camcorders record to an internal flash drive or removable memory card. When you’re ready to watch video, you can simply pop your flash memory card into the card slot on your TV or computer without having to connect a cord.

What About Connecting to My TV?

Of course, you’ll want to connect your Canon HD camcorder to your TV for optimal playback. If you have a recent model high definition TV, it will most likely have a High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI). This terminal allows you to connect to your TV—quickly and easily—through a single cable. The HDMI cable sends audio along with video. Best of all, the connection is 100 percent digital, giving you the highest picture quality possible.

If you have an SD TV, you have three choices. You can simply set up your HD camcorder to capture all your video in SD until you upgrade to an HD TV. You can connect your camcorder to an SD TV and watch the output in SD. Or, you can record in HD and have your Canon camcorder output the signal as SD. By doing so, you’ll always ensure you’ve captured the highest quality video possible—regardless of when, where, and how you’ll be enjoying it. And as TV picture quality develops over the years, you’ll get more and more enjoyment out of your HD video.

The features and benefits of HD camcorders give you plenty of food for thought—but, as with anything else, the right ingredients will make for an incredibly pleasing experience.

Coming up soon, we will discuss the HD video that is now becoming the standard in many Digital SLR cameras, as well as the differences that this new technology holds.

February 2010