Canon MD120

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Canon MD120
  • Canon MD120
  • Canon MD120
  • Canon MD120
  • Expert Rating

    3.00 / 5


  • 35x optical zoom, relatively cheap, easy to use


  • Poor image quality, limited manual controls

Bottom Line

With only a 0.8 megapixel CCD sensor, the MD120 isn't a camera for those who want high quality images. However, it's ease-of-use and relatively low price should appeal to beginners.

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Canon's MD120 is a low level MiniDV camera that, while delivering relatively poor image quality, comes with a price and ease-of-use that makes it a reasonable recommendation for beginners. A good option for newcomers to the world of digital video, or those who simply want a budget camera for recording video, the image quality and limited manual options make this a poor choice for advanced users.

The test footage we recorded with the MD120 was quite blurry, with very noticeable background noise and digital artefacts evident. Chromatic aberrations, particularly in green background areas (such as trees or grass) were also visible, especially in fast motion scenes. Colour reproduction was actually relatively good, considering the camera's 0.8 megapixel single CCD sensor. Reds tended to be slightly saturated at times, however overall colours proved to be reasonably accurate, especially considering the technology used in the camera. Despite our criticism, the quality isn't unwatchable by any means, and for users interested mainly in recording close up footage, the MD120 performs suitably. Just don't expect to be able to view a stunning rendition of a sunset on a huge 60in television!

The MD120 is quite easy to operate, owing to a simple and well designed menu system, and a very minimalist number of controls. Its light weight makes extended shooting sessions a little less uncomfortable, although we do have one complaint; the battery pack fits onto the back of the camera, rather than onto the side as we've seen in various other models. While by no means heavy, it does (ever-so-slightly) unbalance the camera a little, making it harder to hold steadily.

The list of features and manual controls is reasonably good, going beyond bare minimum at least, and including white balance and programmable AE, as well as including some image effects. It's enough to play around with, and at times slightly reduce some of the problems with image quality, although advanced users will likely find the list to be lacking. Digital zoom is available up to 1000x, although with the already low megapixel rating of the camera, zoom to this level produces some incredibly blurred images. Thankfully, Canon has also included optical zoom to 35x, which is actually very high for a miniDV camera, especially at this price, and is an excellent addition.

The camera comes with a microphone jack, as well as AV output and a cable to allow you to connect it to your television. Battery life is quite respectable, at over an hour, and is generally enough to fill a miniDV tape.

Despite our reservations regarding the image quality, the MD120 is a reasonable offering considering its price. Just in case it needs to be said again though, this is not a camera for advanced users. Nevertheless, its low price and ease of use should appeal to beginners, as well as users who aren't as concerned about image quality.

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