The Canon DC50 is a stylish Mini DVD recorder, with all the bells and whistles you'd expect from a Canon camcorder.

If you already own a Canon digital camera, you'll feel right at home with the company's Canon DC50 camcorder, thanks to the similar control systems. If you're unfamiliar with Canon cameras, however, you may find the Canon DC50 a bit intimidating at first. But getting through the initiation phase is worth it: the Canon DC50 takes outstanding video as well as still photos, and makes lots of useful controls available for both modes.

The Canon DC50 records on to -R, -RW, or -R dual-layer discs, recording up to 36 minutes total on a dual-layer disc at its best quality setting. That's less shooting time than you'd get on a tape or hard-drive model, but you can remove the Mini DVD disc from the Canon DC50 and play it on most home DVD players (after finalising the disc) without further intermediate steps.

The Canon DC50 earned PC Advisor's top scores for video quality in standard light and under low-light conditions. The Canon DC50's audio scores were about average. Casual outdoor videos looked pleasing, with nicely saturated colours and sharp details.

For instance, the Canon DC50 did a fine job of capturing kiteboarders zipping around in a roaring 30-knot wind in late afternoon sunlight, despite the difficult lighting and fast action. The Canon DC50's windscreen setting performed quite nicely in capturing the kiteboarders. Although the Canon DC50's front-mounted microphone pointed directly into the wind, little of that noise carried over into the recorded clip.

The Canon DC50's sharp, bright 2.7in wide-format (16:9) colour LCD worked well in full sunlight, although the Canon DC50's colour eye-level viewfinder was still preferable. Switching on optical image stabilisation vastly improved the video.

Operating the Canon DC50 has its ups and downs. The start/stop, zoom, and photo buttons are sensibly positioned for one-handed operation. The power switch doubles as a record/playback selector, which works fine once you remember that fact, but the switch is enigmatically labeled 'Mode'.