Canon Optura: Espionage in the 90s

The Canon Optura is the next generation of Digital Video (DV) cameras produced by the experts in photographic and photocopying technology. Like any techno-digital-freak, I was very optimistic about the Optura before I received it. The promise of DV is so strong and gaining so much momentum, it is great to see more players coming into the market. I have used Sony's DCR-VX1000 in the past and therefore it is my gauge to measure the capabilities of the Optura; this may be unfair because the Sony costs more, is a lot bigger and really is targeted to a different market. Canon Optura

The Optura is a lightweight, compact, mini-DV compliant camcorder. With its compactness and movable two-inch LCD screen, you will feel like a spy on a Cold War mission. This tiny apparatus, with its stealth, digital video and sound will capture scenes extremely clearly. You can attach your own microphone, and it comes with an optional flash for still photography. The Optura has a 14 times zoom and a 35 times digital zoom. Be aware that the Optura can be unsteady, especially when using the 35 times digital zoom.


The Optura comes with two batteries, a battery charger and a cable to hook up directly to an outlet. The batteries last close to an hour each on a warm day. If you're filming winter sports, keep the camera close to something warm or the power won't last much longer than 20 minutes. Also, to save valuable battery life, be sure to keep the camera on standby when not filming. I am sure that with time, third party external power sources will be developed to allow the Optura to run for hours.


With the Optura, editing your digital video is a breeze and a pleasure. The camera comes with a remote control so you can sit back, pause or fast forward from the convenience of your director's chair. It is enabled with an RCA video output and an S-video output for higher quality. You can also get the stereo sound either from a mini (1/8 inch) plug or left/right RCA adaptors.

What makes the Optura so good is its lens, not its ergonomics. It is a tiny camera that takes impressive images. Although it is only single chip CCD color, it is hard to believe the crispness of the video that it produces. When compared to the same scenes shot with the Sony DCR-VX1000, the results are comparable. The Optura is the perfect solution if you are looking for a compact digital video camera that can be taken anywhere.


Check out "Nagonzo" on our Zone Media page. Many scenes from this video were taken with the Optura.

Vans Snowboarding - many of the still images shot by the Optura.

Brent Brookler, Dialing for DV for the Mountain Zone

Vital Stats:
Focusing system:
TTL autofocus, manual focusing possible
Minimum focusing distance:
3/8" (1cm) on maximum wide angle;
Maximum shutter speed:
1/2.000 sec.
Minimum illumination:
2.5 lux using slow shutter 1/8th sec.
Recommended illumination:
More than 100 lux
Filter diameter:
0.55", color LCD (approx. 113,000 pixels)
LCD screen:
2" measured diagonally (5.1 cm), 113,000 pixels (approx.)
Stereo electret condenser microphone
DV terminal:
Special 4 pin connector (based on IEEE 1394)
Output level:
Video terminal: 1 Vp-p/75 ohms unbalanced
S-video terminal:
1 Yp-p (Y signal), 0.286 Vp-p (C signal)
Audio terminal:
-10dBV, less than 3 kohms, unbalanced
Operating temperature range:
32 degrees-104 degrees Farenheit (0 degrees-40 degrees Centigrade)
5 7/16" x 4 3/16" x 5 1/4" (138mm x 106mm x 133mm)
2 lbs. (930g)

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