There’s certainly no shortage of flash-based camcorders these days and the trend, happily, has been to improve the image quality of these inexpensive-yet-pocketable devices. I had the chance to try out a relatively affordable high definition camcorder recently; the $150 566V from DXG.
From the product’s web page…
– 5.0 Megapixel, CMOS Sensor
– H.264 Video Compression, 1280 x 720 resolution
– 3″ High-Resolution TFT screen
The DXG-566V HD is a 5 Megapixel digital video camera that records video in high definition yet at a price that is well within your reach. With a resolution of up to 1280 x 720 at 30fps, rest assured that your videos are crystal-clear, crisp and detailed. What’s more, the DXG-566V HD also captures still pictures with a resolution of up to 8M.
Compact and portable, this camcorder features a 5MP CMOS sensor, 2X digital zoom, a 3.0″ flip-out LCD screen and supports high-capacity SD cards (SDHC) so you’re able to have more recording time – always ready and never worry of missing those moments.
Pros and Cons
The DXG-566V HD is actually an okay investment for $150 as long as you’re simply looking to capture video — mostly outdoors — for the hell of it. It’s cheap, very portable, has a big LCD screen, and is easy to use. It’s a good video camera for run-of-the-mill footage, provided you shoot that footage in well-lit areas or outside during the day. Low-light footage is pretty grainy and dismal, though, so keep that in mind.
Its main feature, high definition recording, is NOT a good reason to buy this camera, unless you intend to set it on a tripod outside on a perfect day with no zooming or motion involved. The footage comes out at 1280×720, yes, but there’s no image stabilization and any sort of zooming makes the footage blocky, since the zooming is all digital. So the HD thing is more of a gimmick than anything else. I’d put the overall video quality well above cell phone video but far below hard drive-based MPEG-2 footage from, say, a camera in the JVC Everio line.
Battery life is average to slightly below average, with the low battery icon making me nervous at about the 45-minute mark. I’d say you can squeeze about an hour’s worth of footage out of this camera before needing to recharge. Thankfully, it uses the included rechargeable lithium ion battery OR you can use four AAA batteries in a pinch. That, I thought, was a brilliant feature — see the photo below.
The 2x digital zoom is pretty weak, as it not only makes everything pixilated, but doesn’t zoom in or out smoothly — it’s more of a jerky motion. Plus, the mic picks up the zoom toggle loud and clear. I stopped using the zoom almost right away.
Audio, too, is slightly below average — kind of tinny and easily distorted at high levels.
Sample Video Footage
Here are a few videos I took with the camera. You can download them at their original resolution to get a feel for how everything looks and sounds. The first two were shot outdoors, one on a sunny day and one on an overcast day. The third was shot indoors under low light, so you can see what to expect from shooting under those conditions.
Video 1: Boston Marathon Footage
Video 2: Boston Apple Store Footage
Video 3: Low-light Footage
All of the aforementioned qualms aside, I’d still use this camera for simple web videos and maybe vacation videos and stuff like that. It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done at a reasonable price. The price, big LCD screen, and the rechargeable plus AAA battery features make up for the so-so video and audio quality. I wouldn’t recommend this camera for filming “important” stuff containing a lot of motion or for shooting indoors under low light conditions, though.
DXG-566V HD product page [dxgtechusa.com]