Canon has replaced its high-end XM1 camcorder with the originally titled XM2. It builds on the features of its predecessors, but now offers a quarter inch, 470,000 pixel three-CCD system. It has also gained enhanced picture adjustment features, and the audio modes feature three new types of frequency characteristics.

The new CCD means that camera can achieve a horizontal resolution of 540 lines, and Canon boasts that it also offers improved performance in low light conditions. It has also gained a pixel shift system that is designed to boost resolution and sensitivity.

The pixel shift, which can move the green CCD by one half pitch, aims to offer improved moving images and allows users to capture still images at a resolution of 1.7MP (megapixels).

The additional picture adjustments include the ability to alter colour gain, colour phase, sharpness and black level. Once you have set the controls you can store them as a custom preset. You can also slow shutter speed to a sixth of a second and increase gain to 18dB to capture more light and brighten indoor or low-light scenes.

To capture audio, the XM2 has three microphones — a direction accurate stereo microphone and two non-directional mics that record left and right channels. You can opt for one of three sound recording modes — normal; voice (to pick up speech); and wind screen that cuts air noise.

The camera features an SD (Secure Digital) slot and comes supplied with an 8MB card. It has a bi-directional DV port so you download and upload images to a similarly equipped PC.

The XM2 launches in August priced approximately £1,700 ex VAT.