Canon VIXIA HV30 HD Camcorder Review

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Canon HV30 01After viewing some remarkable sample footage from the Internet of the Canon VIXIA HV30 HD Camcorder I had to get one of my own and try it out for myself and see if this camcorder was really as good as the footage I kept seeing.

The Canon HV30 is a consumer camcorder which is the replacement model for the Canon HV20. The upgrades to this camcorder are the added 30P mode, an improved zoom toggle, a better LCD screen, a black glossy finish on the body frame and better support for high capacity batteries.

Canon HV30 09

Other than that the HV30 still has the great features of its predecessor, the HV20, with a 1080i, 60i and 24P shooting modes.

The HV30 has a 2.7” LCD screen with 211,000 pixels. It has a 3 Megapixel CMOS sensor which can capture beautiful, crisp HD images in 1440×1080 resolution. However, Canon’s website claims that the HV30 captures at 1920×1080.

Power button and Zoom Rocker
Power button and Zoom Rocker

For those of you with editing machines that cannot handle HD footage don’t worry, the HV30 still captures stunning SD footage as well. This camcorder is a great camcorder to have if you are playing with the idea of making the switch to HD editing.

The HV30 features a scroll focus wheel, a Focus Assist that zooms in to 2X to help with getting images super sharp. One note though, if you have large hands you may find the scroll wheel cumbersome. The Focus wheel is only about 1/2” wide.

One of the features I liked was the HDMI cable terminal. This is very handy for those wanting to view your HD footage straight to an HDTV. Just plug in your HDMI cable to the HDMI terminal on the back of the camcorder and connect to your HDTV and start viewing. At the time I purchased mine there was an HDMI cable was included.

Unlike some of the newer models such as the Canon HG20 which uses an internal hard disc drive, the HV30 uses standard MiniDV tapes for both SD and HD shooting.

The HV30 did well in low lighting situations. Low light shooting seems to be better when using the 24p settings. However, the HV30 has settings to increase exposure to improve low light shooting.

When it comes to battery life, the included battery can run up to two hours.  A little less depending on how much you zoom and how long you keep the LCD open. These two factors are a big factor in battery life. It is a good practice to have at least one extra high capacity battery handy.

HDMI and Firewire ports
HDMI and Firewire ports

Other features include firewire, miniSD Card slot, an electronic lens cover, HD video lens, PictBridge, and Canon’s Super-Range Optical Image Stabilizer which helps keep those hand-held shots steady.

The HV30 offers plenty of shooting options such as Shutter and Aperture Priority, a manual white balance, image effects, and Cine Mode. The Cine Mode works well with the HV30’s 24P option giving a more cinematic appearance. Keep in mind though that the HV30 doesn’t capture true 24P but more of a pseudo 24P. It is still actually 60i with a 3:2 pulldown. The HV30 still has the standard features such as an accessory shoe for lights or shotgun mics, wireless remote, auto focus, built-in Led light and adjustable hand strap.

Accessory Shoe
Accessory Shoe

One of the things I wasn’t too thrilled about was its lack of separate plug for headphones. The headphone plug is shared with the A/V Out. So if you intend to view your camcorder with a external monitor you cannot use the headphone plug because it shares the same port. What a bummer.

Headphone and A/V ports
Headphone and A/V ports

I had a chance to to shoot B-Roll with the Canon HV30 on a short movie for a 48 Hour Film project against a professional JVC HD100 camcorder. When we got the footage in post, we compared the footage from both cameras side-by-side. The JVC footage was low in saturation and the contrast was kinda washed out.

When we looked at the footage from the HV30 it was had deep vivid colors and great detail and depth.

I actually had to color correct the footage from the JVC to match the footage of the HV30. The Canon’s footage was edited untouched. How’s that for a consumer camcorder?

Onboard LED Light
Onboard LED Light

The Canon HV30 can be used for your home movies with the kids or for that family vacation but it can also be a great contender to those professional camcorders to shoot a great indie movie or music video.

Sample videos:

Canon HV30 Sample_1

Canon HV30 Sample_2

The Canon HV30 HD camcorder retails for about $800.00.

This is by far one of the best sub-$1000 consumer HD camcorders on the market for price, features, and function.


Product Information

Price:Under $1000
  • Amazing color and sharp detail.
  • Great focus especially with Focus Assist button.
  • Cinema mode for a more movie feel.
  • Ease of use.
  • Great price for HDV camcorder.
  • Sub $1000 range.
  • No dedicated headphone jack. The A/V plug is also the headphone jack so you can only use one at a time.
  • Not true 24P but 60i with 3:2 pulldown.
  • Small view finder.

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6 thoughts on “Canon VIXIA HV30 HD Camcorder Review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. I have had one of these cameras for over a year, and I absolutely LOVE it. It does so much more than I could ever ask. The best image quality is directly from the camcorder thru HDMI to your handy dandy HDTV. It is stunning.

    My only complaints are that capturing from MiniDV tape is slow, not like a flash based, or hard drive based camera. Also, make sure you have some horsepower under the hood of your PC for editing and rendering HD video.

    One nice thing for us middle-aged folks is that there is the ability to adjust the focal point of the viewfinder (diopter??) that way us folks with short arms can still see through the viewfinder, since we can’t focus on the LCD screen anymore….;-)

  3. blane64
    yeah, I love the crispness and image quality of this camcorder.
    I use it paired with my 35mm adapter to shoot music videos and short films and commercials
    HD does take up alot of horsepower when editing but memory and hard drives are so cheap nowadays, thankfully.
    Canon also has a camcorder similar to this with the AVCHD (Advanced Video Codec Hard Drive) if you would like the hard drive format instead of the standard tape.

  4. i’m gonna buy hv30 or Hv40…

    plz tell me which of these is good…& whats their price tags???

    whats the difference between these two???

  5. Rb
    both of these are great video cameras.
    The only real big difference between the two is that the Canon HV40 can capture true 24p whereas the HV30 captures 24 frames via 60i. Everything else is basically the same.
    I saw at B&H that both are going for $799 each.
    If you don’t really need the true 24p but want the 24p look then go with the HV30 however, if you want the true 24p then go with the HV40.
    For me, I love the HV30 but I also like new toys so I would go with the newer HV40.

      1. Richard,
        did you record your video in SD? The 720×480 is the video size for SD footage.
        How are you transferring the footage to your hard drive? Are you ingesting the footage through an editing program or a capture software to your hard drive?

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