Well, 4 1/2, really
September 21, 2011
I use 2 of these cameras for filming live bands. I must say that the low-light clarity and colour reproduction blows away my Panasonic TM700. Also, consider that I spent an additional $1000 the Panny to get the handle, extra memory, XLR ins, a wide angle lens for more light and a lens hood. So, the price gap starts to close a bit with these considerations.
There are also many other gains that make getting a this one worth the money:
The Canon will allow you to plug both the wall plug and a backup battery at the same time, in case someone knocks the power out of the wall. The XLR ins have phantom power, so if you're using condenser mics, you don't have to worry about getting external power. I was also amazed at how much volume the internal mics could take. I've been right beside a drum set or guitar amp, and the recorded sound did not distort! This is rare indeed for a camera in this price range. You do have to play with the audio features quite a bit to get good sound from mics but it's worth it.
In addition to the focus ring, there's a programmable wheel around the left thumb position. There's a lanc controller port, so, if you want to put the camera on a crane/jib or other high location, you can still control the zoom and record on/off.
My only complaints about this camera are as follows. The audio switches and wheels, and the batteries rattle if you shake the camera, even a little. This camera really feels plastic and kinda cheap. Also, the menu system is quite difficult to navigate and some of the items that should be available with one or two touches are buried. As is the case with most AVCHD cameras using 32 bit SD memory, you have to use a program like tsMuxeR to merge the split files together if you go over the file size limit.
All-in-all, this is an awesome camera with incredible sensitivity, with a little tweaking, good sound.
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