The Hitachi DZHV595E camcorder is a basic point and shoot budget camcorder but it does have a very useful 23 times optical zoom. This large optical zoom means that it can be one of the better point and shoot camcorders on the market if you want to film wildlife.
There is very little user involvement in operating this camera and this can cause problems. Zoom in too much and too quickly and the autofocus fails to keep up giving a blurred effect and there is a delay in getting a sharp picture as the camera focuses in and out to get the sharpest image.
But it’s a camera that will be ideal for holiday makers who are heading on safari or going out hiking and who wants something easy to use but still with a good zoom facility.
The camera offers 4 video resolutions – full HD at 1080 (30fps), HD at 720 (60fps) and 720 (30fps) and VGA at 640×480. A word of warning on the Full HD setting is to ensure you have a fast memory card. When I had this sent as a review product no SD card was included and I used an old one from one of my phones. The result was the SD card could not write fast enough to the disk and the camera kept seizing. Without a reset switch it meant I can to take the baterry out to reset the camera. The video below was recorded using the HD 720 (60fps) setting and there was no problems with recording and saving.
Filming is simplicity itself. The camera sits nicely in the hand. You start filming by pressing a button on the back of the camera – it’s nicely placed for use with the thumb. On the top is the zoom swivel switch. There is no control over how quickly you can zoom in and out unfortunately and this is what can cause problems with the autofocus.
Apart from setting the resolution of the video there’s little else to worry about. There is a handy image stabilization button that can help steady the picture from minor shakes. It was switched on when I did the video below.
When I took the camera out for a test run on a walk along the River Usk I used my walking stick camera stand which is really no more than a basic monopod. If you’re using 20 times zoom you really need a much more stable base such as a proper tripod hence the occasional jerk in the film. The Hitachi does have a standard tripod screw.
Zooming is relatively smooth. On the touch-screen there’s a zoom indicator with a red bar. Below the red bar and you’re using optical zoom, above the red bar you move into digital zoom. All the zooming in the video below was done under the red bar. As you zoom in and start to reach the top end of the optical range the zooming slows down and stops momentarily at the bar. This gives you ample warning to stop zooming unless you want to carry on into digital zoom. The quality of the image deteriorates really quickly in digital zoom.
The Hitachi camcorder also has some useful little extras such as a 3 second pre-record option and a motion detector. The motion detector I would image has a fairly limited use as there’s an inbuilt battery saver auto-switch off after 3 minutes. The one option I did not get chance to test but which looks interesting is the slow motion feature. If you select this than the video is recorded at double speed so you get a slow motion effect on play back. In the right situation I imagine this could be a fun feature to use.
As you would image on a camcorder at this price there is sadly no external mic socket. This is probably one of the biggest negatives of the camcorder but external mic sockets are not standard on camcorders of this price range.
The camcorder also offers a very good still image option. It has a 5 megapixel sensor and you can save images at resolutions of 3 megapixel, 5 megapixel or 16 megapixel.
Play back on your TV is easy done with the HDMI cable. The camera also comes with basic video editing software. If like me you prefer to use Windows Movie Maker then you will need to download external audio codecs as the sound is not supported by default.
For a sub £150 camcorder there’s little to complain about and it has features that will be beneficial to amateur wildlife film-makers.
Update: I’ve just noticed that the camera also has a time elapse setting so you can take 1 frame either every 1 second, 3 seconds or 5 seconds.
Cheap point and shoot camcorder with a very useful 23 times optical zoom.
This is a great point and shoot HD camcorder to take on your wildlife safaris and day walks. The zoom fature is pretty impressive but you will need a tripod or very sturdy monopod to get the best out of that level of zoom.Being point and shoot means you have no control over the focus and zoom in or out too quickly and the camera has to race to catch up. There’s also no external mic socket.
Overall though it’s a very nice lightweight piece of equipment that comes in the budget price range.