Though its model number might indicate that Hitachi's DZ-MV750E is a lower-end model, it actually has a few features that its siblings the DZ-MV780E and the DZ-GX20E lack, such as a 16x optical zoom and support for DVD-RW format discs. Unfortunately, the DZ-MV750E's mediocre image quality makes it a poor alternative to more expensive models such as the DZ-GX20E and the Sony DCR-DVD403.
The Hitachi DZ-MV750E is very compact. It's similar to the DZ-MV780E, whose control layout it shares. Weighing just 451g, it has a solid, sturdy feel, though its grey-and-silver plastic case lacks flair.
The DZ-MV750E's menus are easy to navigate using the left-mounted directional pad, which doubles as a playback control. A Quick Menu button simplifies operation, though it offers so few settings that it's rarely useful. The zoom rocker and power/mode switch are well placed for one-handed operation. An assortment of buttons both above and behind the LCD screen offer easy access to the most common functions without having to dive into the menus. You adjust manual focus and exposure controls with touch-sensitive plus and minus buttons, which we find far less convenient than a dial or a ring. The DVD hatch sits on the right side of the camera, so a tripod won't interfere with disc swapping.
The Hitachi DZ-MV750E bests the DZ-MV780E and the DZ-GX20E in the zoom department, where it offers 16x, as opposed to 10x on the other models. The DZ-MV750E can also write to 80mm DVD-RW discs, in addition to the DVD-R and DVD-RAM discs supported by the others. DVD-RW offers the ability to edit and erase video found on DVD-RAM discs and is much more compatible with set-top DVD players than DVD-RAM. However, the DZ-MV750E sports only a 680,000-pixel CCD, limiting stills to VGA resolution; the other models include higher-resolution CCDs.
Configurable settings include automatic and manual white balance and exposure, as well as five programmed autoexposure modes. The camera features an accessory shoe that can accommodate an external flash, and wide and telephoto lens adaptors are available as well. You can set the LCD to act as a video light, albeit a very weak one, when shooting in Low Light mode.
You can transfer footage using a USB 2.0 connection or by dropping the disc into a PC's DVD drive. There's no FireWire port, and the simple editing software that's included supports only Windows. The camera sports S-video as well as composite inputs and outputs that allow you to use the DZ-MV750E to convert your old analogue videos to DVD format.
The Hitachi DZ-MV750E offers satisfactory performance across the board. The zoom is smooth and easy to control. Its autofocus is responsive and quick, as is the camera's ability to adjust to changing lighting conditions. Image stabilisation was effective throughout the first 70 per cent or so of the zoom range. Sound quality is very good, and though sensitive, the microphone doesn't pick up any drive-motor noises. The 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD is sharp and viewable in a variety of lighting conditions, but it's too small to discern enough detail to get a precise manual focus.
Like the DZ-MV780E, this camera includes a wimpy 680mAh battery. Though it's rated at as much as 60 minutes when using the best recording quality, rely on less than half that with typical start/stop recording and occasional replays. We started seeing low-battery warnings after only 15 minutes of usage, and the battery was discharged in less than 25 minutes.
Furthermore, the video and still-photo quality is simply poor. Even when shooting at the best available quality, visible MPEG-2 compression artefacts appear, as does edge crawl, which makes straight edges look shimmery. We also saw vertical line artefacts around some curved objects. In bright light conditions, colour hues were accurate, though slightly oversaturated at times. In dim light, video starts to take on a grainy, noisy appearance, typical of consumer camcorders.
In extremely dim conditions, you can use the Low Light program autoexposure mode to brighten the scene somewhat, but this lowers the frame rate, making for blurry, jerky motion from pans and moving objects. The gimmicky option to turn the LCD screen into a light does little to help here.
Though DVD camcorders are starting to come into their own as viable video-recording options, the Hitachi DZ-MV750E's video quality keeps it from making the cut. You'll still have to spend a little more for a decent DVD recordable model.
Edited by Lori Grunin
Additional editing by Nick Hide