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Double cammy

Camcorder or camera? These two do both and you can match them to your needs and budget

Cheap and cheerful digi-cams are all very well for introducing the conceptsskills of digital video, but they leave a lot to be desired in terms of quality and versatility. For real digital movie making, a school needs a real digital camcorder, and of the plethora of products on the market, one stands out in terms of quality and ease of use.

The Canon MV650i is a compact, user-friendly digital camcorder that lets you shoot movies and still images. With its excellent lens and extensive range of features, it brings quality digital film technology into the reach of schools. There are four models in the MV600 series, but it is the top-of-the-range MV650i that schools should aim for.

All models have a colour LCD display, high-performance lens, super Night Mode and high-quality, light-capturing CCD. The standard hot shoe enables an optional video light or stereo microphone to be fitted, which will enhance both picture and sound quality. The MV650i, though, offers DV inanalogue in and an analogue and digital converter. This means you can capture from ordinary video tape, therefore creating a digital version of an existing video, and also use the camcorder to store edited movies back on to the DV tape. This highlights the MV650's key attribute: versatility.

It's a camcorder that grows with your own expertise.

The MV650's 22x optical zoom lens and wide-angle attachment are a boon, making framing a real joy. On the down side, the bottom-loading tape compartment is irritating when using a tripod.

Pictures from the MV650i have a rather warm, slightly yellow tone, but colour reproduction is much better than other camcorders I have seen in this price bracket. Getting to grips with the MV650i is easy for young fingers, thanks to the intuitive and sensibly positioned controls.

You can plug the MV650i straight into a compatible printer to take advantage of Canon's Bubble Jet "direct" function. Similarly, connect it directly to a compatible printer to obtain fine colour stills. Motion jpeg files can be recorded on to the SD memory card and then sent via email.

Indeed, with SVGA resolution, this camcorder can double as a digital still camera.

I can vouch for the fact that it is certainly robust enough, as this summer I took my own MV650i on a camping holiday round mainland Greece and much of the movie footage is stunning, proving what can be achieved with the right kit. With its advanced features and style and simplicity of use, the MV650i is an exceptional piece of equipment for the money.

The Canon MV650i Digital camcorder Price: pound;449 Simply Computers Tel: 0870 2100

Features: 22x optical440x digital zoom plus wide attach 0.6x; motion jpeg video clip; super night mode; illuminated keys; advanced accessory shoe; Pinnacle Studio 8 SE (limited offer), SCART adapter, USB cable, 8Mb memory card and CD of software Fitness for purpose **** Ease of use **** Design ***** Quality ***** Value for money ****

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