Summary: Do NOT buy this camera. After two years you WILL have an issue where the iris will get stuck in an over-exposure. Many people have had this issue and there is no known fix from Canon - they charge $170 just to look at it, which is beyond the acceptable margin in my opinion.
Summary: I had this camera for a week and had to return it to the store. I liked its look, controls, picture quality, colors, menu, battery life, accessory options. But when I played-back my tape on the TV, I was shocked with high-pitched metal noise.
Summary: I had the same exact problem as described by Michael A. Criswell "the_criz". I called support, they said we can fix it, just ship to our Canon Factory Service Center. I get an e-mail back from them saying that the camera has an over-exposure problem. (Duh! That is why I sent it to you.
Summary: These camcorders have an inherent manufacturing defect that apparently Canon hasn't fessed-up to. I use mine rarely. I bought a reconditioned Optura 20 several years ago. I quickly noticed that it operated only in low light mode unles it was "warm".
Summary: Thanks for this site, I know realize my optura 20 is doing the same thing. It seems like it's stuck in low light mode. It goes into the is about 80% of the time when I power it on to the record mode.
Summary: I have owned this camcorder for six months now, and have found no fault with it. Before buying it, I was concerned about negative reviews regarding motor noise, low light, and body size. Fortunately, none of these has caused me a problem.
Summary: Over the last two years, the camera has gotten progressively worse. It is out of warranty and the Stuck in low light mode problem has gone from once in every five startups to about 9 out of ten.
Summary: Count me with the Bad Iris Brigade. I've babied my Optura 20 for three years, and now it's suddenly stuck in low-light mode. The exposure and shutter speed will not change, neither through the menu, the recording mode, nor through the exposure button.
Summary: I should have known what to expect...this appears to be a fundamental design/component issue. When I first shopped around for this unit in Dec 2003, the display unit at the Best Buy had a washed out picture. Yet, I purchased based on reviews. I would give it 5 stars then.