Canon WP-V1 waterproof camcorder case

Record high-definition video underwater with the Canon Legria HF20 or Canon Legria HF200

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Canon WP-V1
  • Canon WP-V1
  • Canon WP-V1
  • Canon WP-V1

Pros

  • Waterproof to a depth of 40 metres, attractive design, it lets you shoot underwater in HD

Cons

  • Zoom lever proved problematic, not very portable

Bottom Line

The Canon WP-V1 allows you to take stunning underwater HD footage at a semi-affordable price. Anyone who spends lots of time in the ocean should definitely be armed with one.

Would you buy this?

The Canon WP-V1 is a waterproof camcorder case for the Canon Legria HF20 and Canon Legria HF200 — two high-definition camcorders that record in the flash memory format. It is waterproof to a depth of 40 metres. Despite some minor mechanical flaws, the Canon WP-V1 remains a very good product for snorkelers, surfers and scuba-divers — especially if they already own the HF20 or HF200.

When compared to all-inclusive underwater camcorders like the Panasonic SDR-SW20, Sanyo Xacti VPC-CA8 (EXBK) and Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera, the Canon WP-V1 may seem a little on the pricey side. With an RRP of $799, it is three times more expensive than the Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera — and that’s just for the underwater case! When you factor in the cost of the HF20 or HF200, you’re looking at a total price of $2498 or $2198, respectively.

However, if you care at all about image quality, then the extra dosh is definitely worth it. The WP-V1 is currently the only consumer-level product that lets you capture high-definition video underwater (all of its competitors are SD-only). Until somebody produces a dedicated underwater HD camcorder, the WP-V1 is your best bet. Both the Canon Legria HF20 and Canon Legria HF200 have dedicated underwater modes that were designed specifically for this product. Simply put, nothing else in the consumer space takes underwater footage that looks this good.

The Canon WP-V1 is constructed from polycarbonate, along with white plate glass and stainless steel. It’s essentially a plastic see-through shell that houses your entire camcorder, with overlapping buttons for operation. The camera connects to a detachable face plate that slides into place inside the housing, with a waterproof rubber seal to protect the cracks.

Assembling the device is fairly straightforward — although it does require the application of a silicone grease, which can be a bit of a pain. This is one of the advantages that a waterproof camera has over waterproof case accessories (i.e. there’s no faffing about with tubes of gunk). As it stands, you’ll need to apply the gel to the seal every time you take the device underwater. It’s a small quibble, but one worth noting, we feel.

Although we endeavour to give our readers the best consumer advice possible, we draw the line at hitting the ocean in the middle of winter (what do you want from us, blood?). Consequently, our tests were conducted at the local heated pool. We didn’t experience any problems during operation, with one notable exception: the zoom lever was occasionally unresponsive. We had to reinsert the camera into the case numerous times to fix this problem. (Note: We were using the Canon Legria HF20 during testing. It’s possible that this problem doesn’t exist with the HF200, although it just as easily might.)

Apart from this one caveat, the Canon WP-V1 was a dream to use. The double-paned glass lens window remained clear and reflection-free (both in and out of the water), while the oversized buttons should pose no problems if you're wearing gloves. One reservation we have about the WP-V1 is its size. Because the camcorder’s LCD display must be kept open, the case suffers from a cumbersome and unwieldy ‘L’ shape that measures 235x112x169mm. While this poses no problem during operation, it can be a bit of a hassle to carry around. You may need to invest in an extra-large beach bag.

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