The DC22 is Canon's mid-range DVD camcorder. While many DVD camcorders at this price point aren't known for their image quality, Canon has bucked this trend, and come up with a comfortable, easy to use video camera that produces excellent quality video.
Our main cause for surprise stemmed from the DC22's above average image quality. Colour reproduction was vivid and accurate, with good variation in contrast. There were few signs of compression artefacts, though the DC22 still suffers from the typical problems of MPEG compression, specifically a ghosting effect on rapidly moving objects. Video occasionally looked a little overblown, with areas suffering from strong saturation, but for the most part the picture was clear.
Low light footage was also generally good, with the DC22 managing to keep a bright picture. There was a slightly distracting haze of graininess across footage in darker situations, though the excellent colour reproduction partly went some way to rectifying this. This graininess was also sometimes apparent when shooting indoors. When things really become too dark, it's possible to switch on the DC22's LED light, which is fairly effective in close proximity, but completely useless in large spaces.
Moving on to still images, we were again pleasantly surprised. Though only having a 2 megapixel resolution, they are clear and crisp, looking far better than most camcorders can manage. We were impressed with the lack of fringing, the bright colours and the excellent sharpness. A flash is a useful inclusion for low light shots. The DC22 is still no substitute for a standalone digital camera, but for the occasional snaps it will do the job fine. Do keep in mind though that Canon has spurned the usual SD card instead opting for a mini-SD, which will probably mean spending some extra cash.
It's not just the quality of the video that makes a great camcorder, so it's good to see Canon has implemented some useful features too. There's a whole range of manual modes that are perfect for the more adventurous user. These include manual focus, manual exposure, adjustable white balance, shutter priority and aperture priority modes. All of these can all be accessed from the function menu at the touch of a button.
When it comes to digital filters, Canon reigns supreme, with a vast range of options rarely seen on other products. All the usual suspects are present: black and white, sepia and faders. But there's also a whole lot more with laser beams, 3D spinning cubes, mirror images and wave modes. Just how useful these really are is questionable, but they're great for livening up dull videos.
A 2.7in widescreen LCD provides enough room to view your subject clearly, and it also performs well in direct sunlight. The 10x optical zoom is a little on the small side for this kind of camera, but it will probably be adequate for most uses. Likewise the image stabilisation isn't the best we have seen, but it does the job reasonably; as long as we held the camera with two hands our footage didn't suffer from excessive stuttering. Battery life is about average at about an hour. We found the DC22 was incredibly comfortable to hold, with contours that made it fit snugly in our hands. It's also lightweight, making it ideal for trips away from home.
Once you've finished recording the included USB cable makes it easy to transfer your photos and videos off the camcorder. Once connected the camera appears as a removable storage device on your PC. Of course, you can always just pop the DVD in your DVD player.
Overall Canon has produced an excellent DVD camcorder with the DC22. It has good quality video, is easy to use and well designed. For the relatively low price tag, it's a bargain.