Canon Elura 100 MiniDV camcorder

The Canon Elura 100 is small both in size and in price: It’s 2.2 by 3.0 by 4.3 inches and $400. Although it’s not quite pocket-sized, it’s compact and light enough to fit into a purse, so it won’t drag you down.

The Elura 100 fits comfortably in the hand, and the controls are in the right spots for easy shooting. The zoom control for its 20X optical zoom lens sits under the index finger (the digital zoom goes up to 800X, but the image quality is so bad at that level that the digital zoom is unusable), and the Record button is under the thumb.

It’s easy to switch the camcorder from Camera mode to Player mode, with the mode dial located around the Record button. Although most of the controls are accessed through an on-screen menu (which is controlled with the four-way joystick on the back of the camcorder), there are some buttons for features such as the wide-screen mode and for turning off the LCD backlight. There’s also a switch for going into Program mode or Easy mode, which puts most settings at Automatic for point-and-shoot use.

But it feels as though Canon cut corners to keep the Elura 100 inexpensive. The case doesn’t feel hardy enough to stand up to rough treatment—the plastic port covers are attached by small pieces of plastic that could easily get torn off.

The 2.7-inch LCD screen is clear and bright, and (unlike the LCDs of some other camcorders) it’s a true wide-screen display: when you’re shooting in the 16:9 wide-screen mode, video fills the entire screen. The Elura 100 is also unusual for a budget camcorder in that it shoots true 16:9 wide-aspect video; many other camcorders just trim the top and bottom parts of the video, but the CCD image sensor in the Elura 100 is a true wide-screen sensor, which makes for higher resolution.

However, the video quality was a little disappointing. In tests with studio lighting, we saw video that had reasonable detail but lacked vivid colors. Bright colors looked washed out, and subtle color differences were difficult to distinguish. In low light, problems were even more obvious, with some colors almost vanishing in a gray haze. You can add more light by using the two built-in LEDs, but these provide light only at a range of a few feet.

The video didn’t look unattractive in good lighting—it just wasn’t as good as the video of some other models.

There’s also a low but rather distracting noise while recording. Although the stereo microphones on the top of the case picked up good-quality sound, they also picked up the motor noise, which was audible in quiet parts of recordings.

The battery life of the Elura 100 is excellent: a fully charged battery lasts just over 148 minutes, long enough for an extended trip. It’s a pity, though, that the video quality isn’t better, as that’s the only serious complaint about what is otherwise an excellent low-cost camcorder.

performance

Still-Image Quality Fair
Video Quality Good
Battery Life Superior

Scale = Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor

How We Tested: The image-quality rating of the camera is based upon a panel of judges’ opinions in five categories: exposure, color, sharpness, distortion, and overall. Battery life testers follow a precise script, including shots with and without flash, until the battery dies.—Tested in conjunction with the PC World Test Center

specifications

LCD Size 2.7 inches
Optical Zoom 20x
Still Image Resolution 1,152 x 864
Size (wxhxd) 2.2 x 3.0 x 4.3
Weight (oz.) 13.1

Macworld’s buying advice

The Canon Elura 100 is a good choice for budget shooters; although the image quality isn’t great, it’s a compact, easy-to-use camera that won’t confuse novice filmmakers.

[ Richard Baguley is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in PC World, Wired , and other publications. ]

Canon Elura 100 miniDV

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