Canon camcorder convenient to carry, not great in low...


March 26, 2001

Canon camcorder convenient to carry, not great in low light

Be careful with the Canon Elura 2 digital video movie camera. It's so small that you might accidentally wrap your fingers around the lens. Even more compact than the original Elura, the Elura 2 can be carried just about anywhere in a purse or big coat pocket - although it won't fit in a shirt pocket.

The Elura 2 ($1,200) shoots mini-DV and digital-still images, which give the camera dual function. But mini-DV cameras don't make great digital-still cameras, although the photographs from this one were adequate. Canon also offers the Elura 2 MC, which uses a MultiMedia memory card for digital-still photographs.

Canon makes shooting video a little easier than some other camera makers, with modes for proper recording. Sports mode was a standout - really fast sports scenes shot in good light might look jerky when played back at normal speed, but they allowed for crisp, clear images in slow playback. Want to analyze a little leaguer's swing? Use sports mode to shoot the video and play it back frame by frame.

But, for all the credit Canon deserves for downsizing its mini-DV camera, all was not perfect. Video shot with the Elura 2 was a tad lower in quality when compared with video shot with a couple of Sony cameras we've reviewed, most recently the Sony PCR-DC100. And the biggest difference occurred in low-light conditions. Whereas the Sony continued to create high quality video without much light, the Elura 2's picture was dark and much grainier than it should have been.

Moreover, the Elura 2's lens, which has a 10X optical zoom and 40X digital zoom, tended to mute colors in some situations - especially out of bright light.

Despite the minor problems with picture quality, the Elura 2's tiny size makes it a good investment if you're shooting family or vacation video. If nothing else, you won't become nearly as tired carrying it around.

Information: 800-652-2666 or

LCD monitor expensive, comes close to perfection

Liquid Crystal Display is high art in the technological world of computer monitors, providing crisp, clean, super-bright displays at premium prices.

Despite its $2,100 price tag, the Philips LCD Series Monitor 180P (which comes in "mist white" or "stealth black") offers nothing but viewing pleasure. Without the long cathode-ray tube that makes CRT monitors cheaper, the 180P only needs a little more than 9 inches of space behind the screen to fit into your home office. A digital-and-analog flat screen monitor, the 180P has a true 18 inches of diagonal viewable area.

While many consumers who would buy a LCD monitor most likely would have an expensive computer speaker system, the 180P includes a pair of speakers. They compared well with the speakers on most cheaper monitors, but there was never enough bass.

I had only one problem with the monitor. For whatever reason - possibly graphics card-related - I couldn't get the monitor to display 1280-by-1024 pixels properly, despite some trouble-shooting. LCD monitors are finicky about resolution. The Philips would only display at 1024-by-768 pixels, which meant small words were garbled and images were fuzzy. I switched to the 3dfx Voodoo 5 5500 graphics card and the monitor had sharp details at the proper resolution.

LCD monitors remain expensive, with the 180P costing more than twice as much as similar size CRT monitors. But if you like to do desktop publishing or play the best PC games, shelling out big bucks for the 180P might not seem so daunting.

Information: 800- 531-0039 or

Kevin Washington

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