Weighing 490g, the Canon MV750i isn't the smallest MiniDV camcorder in its price range, but it's still fairly compact and comfortable to hold for long periods. Its viewfinder swivels up instead of just pulling out horizontally, as is the case on some other budget-priced models. The 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD is reasonably sharp and easy to use as a viewfinder in all but very bright light.
Buttons and a jog dial provide convenient access to many settings, and setup options are available via easily understandable LCD menus. It's not the ideal camcorder for a lot of tripod use since the cassette hatch opens from the bottom, but we like the placement of its microphone in front instead of on top, and there's an accessory shoe for mounting an external microphone or video light.
Canon provides all the automatic features you'll need for home moviemaking, including a selection of useful scene modes, faders and effects, and manual focus operated via the jog dial. One notable omission is a backlight mode. Exposure controls are limited to exposure shift and shutter-speed selections available in the menu system.
If you want to capture acceptable but by no means high-quality photos or Motion JPEG video for Internet use, you can record them to an SD card and upload them via USB. You can even take VGA snapshots while you're shooting video. Canon's included DV Messenger software allows you to use the MV750i as a Webcam too.
The 22X zoom lens gives you plenty of flexibility in framing your shots, and the included wide-angle converter is helpful for capturing a group of people in a room or for landscape shots. However, it impedes the functioning of the autofocus, so when you pan and zoom with the converter on, you have to wait a little while for the focus to sort itself out. Otherwise, the autofocus and autoexposure work well, adjusting quickly to changing scenes and light levels. Only in very low light did the autofocus start to hunt.
The Canon MV750i's video quality is about average for its price class. Canon's electronic image stabilisation works well, so you get a steady image throughout the 22X zoom range. Colours are also well saturated and pleasing, if not entirely accurate. This camcorder's flaws are typical for a budget model: visible artefacts, blown-out highlights, and a lack of fine detail. We also saw some colour fringing in high-contrast areas. We tried out the Soft Skin Detail mode, which is supposed to make people's skin look smoother, but saw little discernable difference in our footage of old wrinklies.
The one area in which the Canon MV750i falls down even for an affordably priced model is in controlling the electronic noise. Even in highlight areas of well-lit shots, we could see noise creeping in. As you can guess, this becomes a real problem in low light, so if you do a lot of indoor taping, you may want to think twice about this camera. There's a built-in video light that you can use to improve low-light video quality or to shoot in situations where there's no other light source. The degree to which all of the MV750i's video flaws are noticeable will increase with the quality of your television set.
Edited by: Lori Grunin
Additional editing by: Nick Hide