Great value in a highly portable package
This is a well designed unit, with small thoughtful touches such as rough grooving along one side for a better grip, and a built-in USB cable.
While there is nothing here that blew my socks off, it did meet my expectations for performance in a highly portable unit at this price point.
High Quality Camera
Overall my initial impressions are very good. The still picture quality appears to be average to good for a video camera. Definitely not as good as a stand alone digital camera, but truthfully I haven't taken very many pictures, so maybe it will be better than I think. I plan on buying an extra high capacity battery, since I have never had good luck with batteries lasting very long, plus it's always good to have a backup.
Large, high-resolution LCD
If you're a video hobbyist or a pro looking for something portable to complement your workhorse equipment, the Canon Vixia HF S21 is a solid choice. But if you don't need the more subtle aspects of the manual controls, such as shutter speeds below 1/15 second or a choice of Zebra stripe levels, then it's more expensive than it's worth.
Good manual controls
While Canon spent a good deal of effort improving the features for the HF S21, it didn't do much (if anything) to improve the video performance of the camcorder. In our testing, the HF S21 actually did worse with color accuracy than last year's HF S11, although it did do slightly better with video sharpness and low light sensitivity.
As for the improvements on the HF S21, we thoroughly enjoyed them for the most part.
Large 1/2.6in CMOS sensor
Fortunately, the most important thing the Canon Legria HF S21 doesn't have in common with the HF S10, at launch, is price. It's still on the costly side, coming in at around a grand. But this is much closer to the competition, making the HF S21 a much keener option. Whilst we'd still opt for Panasonic's HDC-TM700 due to its exceptional manual control, thanks to its lens ring, the HF S21 comes close in most other respects.
Movie and stills quality
The LEGRIA HF S21 is not for the frivolous. It's an expensive and heavily specified camcorder and one that requires time and dedication to create the best results. If that appeals to you then this is one of the most comprehensive and compelling HD camcorders on the market today.
Excellent video quality
The Canon VIXIA HF S21 is an impressive camcorder with features and performance to meet most prosumer needs. Its manual options and versatility in video recording will suit most intermediate videographer's needs. Its auto mode provides excellent video quality and its large internal flash drive with two SD/SDHC card slots will provide continuous video recording that will surely provide convenience for the avid videographer.
Compatible with Eye-Fi wireless cards
Canon's VISIA HF S30 is a high-end consumer HD camcorder, and is feature-rich compared to lower models. It is, however, extremely similar to the 2010 HF S20 model. The only differences are that the S30 has an electronic viewfinder and the capacity to use SDXC cards (instead of topping out at SDHC).
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