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.
Capability of recording 'Double Full HD' 3D images
The Sony Handycam HDR-TD10 is one of two consumer camcorders with the capability of recording Double Full HD 3D images (the other being the JVC GS-TD1, which we used as a comparison model throughout this review). The fact that the TD10 can record Full HD 3D video using its twin lens and sensor system is the camcorder's main fascination. It's such a unique feature that it overshadows everything else the camcorder has to offer.
Affordable for a 3D mode
The Sony HDR-TD10 delivered better-than-expected results, but I'm not sure how things would have turned out if there was no pre-briefing about 3D technology and shooting and immediate access to professional stereographers and the Sony team. I hope that Sony will provide some basic guidance on the Web or in the user manual so consumers will have a positive experience when they start shooting in 3D. Like any new technology, education is key to moving forward.
Optical image stabilisation
The Panasonic SDR-S50 is a relatively commendable camcorder. At 250, there are a number of decent competitors which are cheaper, such as our current favourite at this level, JVC's GZ-MS120. But the SDR-S50 is sure to drop in price, and it has the edge over other models in its class on features. So if your budget can't stretch to HD, but you still want a well specified camcorder, this is definitely one to consider.
Its advanced OIS (optical image stabiliser), activated using a dedicated hardware button, makes a real difference zooming over this sort of distance.
If you want a good value camcorder that can also take the occasional photo on the fly, the Panasonic fits the bill. The Panasonic SDR-S50 lacks HD capture capabilities, but its low price tag, fantastic zoom, great build quality and the wider angle lens will be enough to convince many users.
Extraordinarily long 70x optical zoom
The Panasonic SDR-S50 has one standout feature: its 70x optical zoom, which experts say is valuable if you plan to shoot school plays from the back row or football games from the nosebleed seats. A CNET tester proves the point by shooting a video of the moon, which fills the SDR-S50's frame and shows the craters clearly.
Good amount of storage with 4GB of built-in memory
The Panasonic SDR-T70 is a lower mid-cost standard definition camcorder. This camcorder is equipped with the iA (Intelligent Auto) suite, a series of features (including Auto-focus/Auto-exposure) that automatically selects the appropriate settings for optimal video quality.
Nice set of features
A fine follow-up to last year's M3xx series, the Canon Vixia M4xx series should please most home-movie-oriented videographers despite its relatively high price. If you don't need the EVF, the M400 is your best buy, but if you'll be shooting a lot in sunlight, it's worth it to step up to the M41.
Overall, I'm very pleased with my purchase and feel Canon has put out a very competitive product with great results. I've already bought a lens hood and extended battery to compliment the camera. (Stock battery is too small and leaves a noticeable gap at the edge. A BP819 should fit the bill nicely. I hope this review was helpful. I know a lot of reviewers commented on its other features, so that is why I omitted some of the other points. Thanks for reading.
Slightly grainy in situations with varying brightness levels (indoors)
The Canon VIXIA HF M400 is a digital high definition camcorder released as a downgrade from the M40. Unlike its 16GB counterpart, the HF M400 doesn't come with integrated memory. It does however offer dual SDXC card slots for maximum expandability.
Expandable memory storage
The Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 is a candybar style camcorder with a focus on portability with its slim, lightweight design. Aesthetically, the camcorder has more in common with camera phones than traditional camcorders, with the lens being at the top of the device and being held up horizontally while in-use.
Solid video quality
With so many "me too" pocket camcorders flooding the market, Sony's Bloggie MHS-PM5 stands out with decent HD video recording and a unique lens. This swivel lens makes the Bloggie a bit more complicated than a purely "point and shoot" model like the Flip, so users looking for that kind of simplicity may need to go elsewhere.
Build feels distinctly cheap and plasticky
Despite the high-end features, however, this is no premium product. The build feels distinctly cheap and plasticky - especially the pop-out USB connector, which has a tendency to collapse into the body of the camera if plugged in too vigorously. There's 27MB of storage built in; more must be added via SD card or Sony Memory Stick, and a 4GB Memory Stick Pro is supplied. You don't get an HDMI output, and the onboard software is basic.
Stylish, lightweight design
Sony has taken several steps forward since it debuted its first pocket camcorders last year, but it's also taken a step back. While $149 is a for a pocket cam with these specs, the Bloggie MHS-PM5's design is more difficult to use than its predecessor. Had Sony kept the record buttons in an easy-to-reach place (and thrown in HDMI output), it would have been a more worthy competitor to the easier-to-use, full HD Kodak Playsport ($149).
First-rate video quality and performance
Though their geotagging capabilities are mostly novelty and their interfaces could use a complete overhaul, the top-notch video quality, performance, and consumer-friendly feature sets of the Sony Handycam HDR-XR500V and HDR-XR520V make them worthy camcorder options. Both are overpriced, but since 14 hours of recording time is plenty--especially if supplemented with flash media--the HDR-XR500V is the better deal of the two.
Full-sized accessory shoe, lens ring and greater manual control
The top models from Canon, Panasonic and Sony are all masterful products. Canon's LEGRIA HF S10 is currently too expensive, but the Panasonic HDC-HS300 and Sony HDR-X520 are similarly priced and much harder to distinguish. The Panasonic's full-sized accessory shoe, lens ring and greater manual control give it the edge for features, but the Sony just shades image quality in low light and includes masses more storage.
The XR520 combines serious performance with smart features to deliver exceptional picture quality. Its pairing of the advanced Sony G Lens and sensitive Exmor R CMOS sensor brings a new level of creative possibility to your filming. A massive built–in 240GB hard disk drive sets you free to record up to 101 hours of full HD1080 footage, while auto functions like Optical SteadyShot Active Mode and Face Detection help make sure the results look great every time. The same goes for stills.
nicest looking picture
At the end of our journey with the Sony HDR-XR520V, we were conflicted, as if we had just watched Terms of Endearment and couldn't discern between joy and sorrow anymore. The HDR-XR520V is one of those camcorders that nails a few key features home and then phones in the rest from a booth down the street. No other HD camcorder could match its low light performance, and that's a huge part of the HDR-XR520V's success.
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