Canon DM-XM2 camcorder test

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Canon DM-XM2

Canon made quite an impression with the DM-XM1 three-CCD MiniDV camcorder, but can it do the same with its replacement, the XM2?

The DM-XM2, Canon's replacement for the DM-XM1 three-CCD MiniDV camcorder addresses a good deal of its forerunner's shortcomings. The XM2 bears an uncanny resemblance to Sony's VX2000, making it considerably larger than the XM1. It has analogue inputs and outputs (S-video, composite video, L/R audio) - not just DV in/out - and adds a card slot (SD Memory Card or MultiMedia Card) for still-image storage, plus a mini USB socket for downloading stills to a PC - features that bring it in line with competitors such as Sony's TRV950. An 8MByte SD Memory Card is included in-pack.

The size of the imaging CCDs remains the same, at 0.25in, but the number of effective pixels is said to have been increased from 300,000 to 440,000. This is reckoned to deliver 540 lines resolution and a claimed improvement of 3dB in the signal-to-noise ratio - factors said to enhance colour reproduction, low-light performance, exposure range and resolution.

Manual control over audio levels was a glaring omission on the XM1 but the XM2 has left/right, non-directional microphones, adjustable via dials on the camcorder body. There's also an option to change the frequency response ñ to normal, voice (for crisper speech) and wind screen (for reducing wind noise) settings - and prevent distortion or overloaded levels by turning on the mic attenuator.

Also new to the feature set are Clear Scan (for preventing flicker when filming a computer or TV screen); analogue-DV-analogue pass-through conversion; color-bars generation; and custom settings for video levels and picture sharpness.


The XM2 is a major improvement over the XM1 with the added bonus of manual audio controls and solid-state memory card capabilities for stills.
The lens produces excellent detail - helped by the optical image stabiliser - and feels good when focusing, although it does need end-stops. We'd like to see an iris ring, rather than an exposure dial, but using the dial isnít a big problem. Although the LCD screen is too small for serious monitoring, the colour viewfinder is good, and nearly compensates.

Having analogue in/outputs, FireWire and USB means there's good connectivity, plus there's effective analogue-DV-analogue pass-through. We were impressed with the stereo audio quality from the onboard microphone, and felt that the controls over the gain, sharpness, phase and black levels of the picture are professional features worth having.

But, from the samples we've seen, we can't recommend the XM2 over Sony's TRV950. The Canon may have better audio, but colour reproduction is far less natural than that from the Sony, which also offers better still images (plus a built-in flash), and costs slightly less.

Lisa Keddie

Read the full review in December 2002's Computer Video magazine.



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