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My ideal camcorder


This is a sad time for Canon. The Vixia/Legria lineup is about as thin as it can be right now. The R series has the most unholy firmware, and the G series is overpriced. There used to be an S and M series, but for reasons beyond my limited knowledge they have been discontinued. I purchased a Vixia HF M41 a couple years ago. It was apparently a $700 camera but had been marked down to $350. I bought that instead of the M400 or M40 because it had a viewfinder. In all of the time that I have had it, my only complaint has been of the flimsy and difficult-to-use touch screen. That complaint has since been addressed in Canon's newer camcorders, but unfortunately these newer camcorders introduce problems that make me very sad.


First of all, only the G series camcorders have eye-level viewfinders. The G's are all priced upwards of $1000, and have a so-called "manual focus ring" which isn't even mechanically connected to any lens component. It's a software interface like the touch screen. Since the M series was discontinued, all that is left is the R series. I recently purchased and promptly returned a Vixia HF R400. The first thing I noticed was that the lens didn't have threads for a filter. Since little plastic bumps cost less than a penny to manufacture, I can only assume that this was an intentional marketing ploy to differentiate the lower-end camcorders from the higher-end camcorders. However, the R42's lens isn't threaded either, so maybe Canon just doesn't care. My other complaint about the R series (and this is a big one) is the firmware. All complaints about Baby Mode aside, the S and M serieses had what the R series lacks: the ability to set the shutter speed. When I called Canon's tech support to ask about this, I kid you not, they did not know what shutter speed is. Canon, allow me to educate you. Shutter speed is the period of time (usually out of one second) that the lens absorbs light for one frame. For example, if you are recording video at 30 frames per second, a good shutter speed is about 1/60 of a second, or 1/2 of a frame. A longer shutter speed allows for more light absorption and more motion blur, and a shorter shutter speed allows for less light absorption and less motion blur. When the shutter speed is too short (a speed that the R400 was all too happy to set) motion looks weird and choppy. That's it in a nutshell. Video recorded with Canon's R series camcorders looks weird and choppy.


So, if Canon's older camcorders do everything we need them to do (good luck finding any for sale), what good are the newer ones? Well, the newer camcorders can record at 60P, or 60 frames per second progressive scan. The older camcorders record at 30P, which is fine for most purposes but not suitable for high speed photography or various post-processing effects (such as slow motion). It's gimmicky, but the slightly higher bitrate that goes along with 60P recording makes for higher quality video, and is a great selling point. However, this is worthless if the camera and firmware are completely crippled by design. So far, Canon's only "consumer" camcorder that supports 60P and isn't crippled is the G30, but it just came out and costs $2000 (though actually $1500 in most stores) apparently $1500.


You know what I'm waiting for? The M600. I'm waiting for that improved touch screen, 60P video, better firmware, and whatever random gimmicky features you want to throw at it. I'm ready to attach my 43mm haze filter. I'm waiting, Canon.