Great movies start with great CCD sensors, and Canon cuts no corners here. For the best possible picture quality, they use three separate 270,000-pixel CCDs (one for each primary color). To further improve image detail, Canon has intentionally shifted the green CCD half a pixel horizontally and vertically. This shift allows more accurate interpolation, resulting in an image that Canon claims rivals those from cameras with 410,000-pixel CCDs. Each pixel is 72 square microns, which is about 1.5 times the size as those in competing camcorders. This increased size increases light sensitivity, allowing you to shoot in lower-light situations. Ultimately, the larger pixel size results in an improvement of 4 dB loss budget in sensitivity.
For great optical quality, the GL1 uses a fixed (nonremovable) 20x optical (100x digital) zoom L-series fluorite lens. The fluorite element in the lens increases sharpness and contrast, as well as helping to preserve color fidelity.
Audio is recorded through the built-in microphone, which features two pairs of pickup elements. Audio can be recorded in 16-bit mode on two channels on one track. Alternatively, audio can be record in 12-bit mode, where the audio track is divided into two, and two channels of audio are recorded onto one track, with the other left over for audio dubbing.
The electronics of the GL1 have many advanced features, including a number of programmed AE modes, as well as both shutter and aperture priority modes. There are two different auto modes, one of which allows you to adjust any setting manually, if you want, and the other, which adjusts every setting automatically and lets you adjust nothing. A spotlight mode automatically compensates for lighting difficulties when shooting a subject bathed in a spotlight. Finally, a sand-and-snow mode is designed to prevent dark, underexposed subjects in situations with bright backgrounds--commonly found in sandy and snowy areas. There are also three different shooting modes: normal movie mode, digital photo mode, and frame movie mode. Normal movie mode is for any time you want to shoot video footage. Digital photo mode records a still image for six seconds on the miniDV tape, and also captures any audio, such as a commentary. The frame movie mode records 30 still images per second, but it isn't intended to be used for shooting video. Rather, frame movie mode should be used as burst or continuous shooting mode, as you'd find on a still camera.
The GL1 uses an IEEE 1394 port for digital editing and for transferring footage to and from other IEEE 1394-compliant devices. The camcorder also has RCA (composite) audio and video ports, and an S-Video out. The analog inputs allow you to transfer old footage to DV for archiving. Built-in effects include a fader for transitions, black and white, slim, stretch, and strobe. Picture adjustment is also possible; you can adjust camera sharpness, softening or sharpening your subject, as well as the color tone and how dark or light the camera sets the auto-exposure level.