The MVX3i sits at the top of Canon’s range of single-CCD DV camcorders. Though primarily aimed at consumers, it does include some professional-level features, and even works surprisingly well as a still camera.
At the heart of the MVX3i is one of the first CCDs we’ve seen from Canon with a resolution of more than two million pixels – though it records 2mp still, 1.7mp 4:3 DV footage and 1.5mp 16:9 DV footage.
Using 1.7 million pixels for each DV frame means that each DV pixel is fed by at least four CCD pixels. This delivers
a colour representation and sharpness that, while not in the same league as that captured by 3CCD camcorders, is among the best we’ve seen in this class. The colour accuracy is helped out by a RGB primary colour filter and Canon’s own DiGiC DV processing. However, recorded footage favours red a little too much, which makes skin tones look great but can look a little odd in some landscape scenes.
The 16:9 mode is no longer just the poor cousin of 4:3, thanks to the high-resolution CCD. The CCD is 4:3, so the recorded image is chopped, but it’s recorded onto tape anamorphically, so little detail is lost. However, the image
is shown on the screen and viewfinder anamorphically, which can impede shot composition. With a 3.5-inch LCD screen, the option to show a correct-ratio view with cropping bars would be better.
As well as the 16:9 mode, other pro-level tools include the same recording program mode wheel as the XL1s, Canon’s standout DV camera. A zebra pattern function shows up overexposed areas onscreen, but the levels can’t be changed. A backlight compensation mode avoids underexposure, and there’s a wide range of manual functions.
The MVX3i is enclosed in a well-balanced, stylish, case, with a high-quality lens. The only downside to the case is the sliding zoom control, which is not as responsive as pivoted controls.
Even so, there’s so much to like about the MVX3i that such niggles can be overlooked. As a single-CCD video camera, this is the one to beat.