Review Of The Canon Vixia HG21 CamcorderCamcorders — on September 7, 2009 at 7:15 pm | 14 Comments
Sum ‘n’ Substance:
Thumbs up: Mind-blowing video quality; CODEC capable of recording 24Mbps; 120GB hard drive; full HD CMOS image sensor and advanced DIGIC DV II image processor; optical image stabilization; instant auto-Focus; viewfinder is at eye- level.
Thumbs down: Its design is bulky and pretty average; heavy to lug around; manual focus is of no use.
Inside the trunk: Record HD Video Directly to SDHC Memory Cards; Canon 12x HD Video Lens; 3.3 Megapixel HD CMOS Image Sensor; DIGIC DV II Image Processor;1920 x 1080 Full HD Recording; Optical Image Stabilization; Instant AF; 24Mbps Recording; Digital Video Format: AVCHD; 120GB in built Hard-disk as well as SD/SDHC Memory Card; 2.7 inch Multi-Angle Vivid Widescreen LCD; Intelligent Lithium-ion Battery; 3.1 Megapixel Photos; Advanced Photo Features; HDMI Terminal; Microphone Terminal along with Manual Audio Level Control; Digital Video Format; Auto mode and Red-eye reduction; infra-red Remote control; in built micro-phone; supports USB 2.0 Hi-Speed; Price: $744.00 – $929.99.
The whiz-kid speaks: Canon has launched the big-daddy of all HD camcorders, the Vixia HG21. It is similar to the HF11 and has an outstanding picture quality but in this case instead of recording into an internal flash memory, it uses a hard-disk for recording. Let’s delve into the HG21 and see what its all about.
Razzle- dazzle: The HG21 looks smart no doubt, but it’s fat and heavy and can be a real pain in the neck, figuratively speaking, when you have to run around your subject. Measuring at 3.1 x 3 x 5.5 inches in WHD and it tips the scales at 19 ounces. The HG11 comes in a smart black coat with a very smooth and neat finish to it. The enormous 12x optical zoom lens takes up most of the face of the HG21. The wind-filter covered mike is just below it. There also is a flash and an AF sensor. The buttons on the HG11 are large and easy to maneuver.
When you turn the power on, the inbuilt lens shutter opens up and the magic begins to unfold. To the left of the camcorder you find the 2.7 inch, 211000 pixels, widescreen swing-out LCD. There also is a pull-out viewfinder when the lighting conditions are too extreme for the LCD screen. Adjustments for the monitor are also provided, but they are all buried deep in the menu system. A five-way joystick and Function button is introduced to navigate frequently needed settings during shooting.
The stick also lets you navigate through menus and make alterations. The bottom controls give you an access to the main functions, allowing you to adjust the zoom, enable the backlight control and start or stop your videos and stills during playback.
On the body there are just two controls, the Easy and Display/Battery Info. This gives information about the camcorder when the screen is open. The easy button is child’s play, you switch it on and the camcorder handles everything, mind you in this mode no adjustments will be allowed. The display button lets you choose whether you want the screen dotted with a million icons or with none at all and also shows the amount battery remaining, to the tee. The grid lines available help you in matching your desired horizons.
To the right side we have the, 120GB hard disk. Close to lens are the A/v out and the mike input.
Moving to the performance of the HG21, the recording takes place at a bit rate of 24 Mbps which means the video is of A-grade quality. The recording is in an AVCHD format and can hold data up to 45 hours. When we connected the HG21 to a wide-screen plasma TV, the higher-bit-rate video displayed a greater luminance noise than the lower bit rate 17Mbps. There was sizeable difference between the two.
The lens was equally amazing too, the SuperRange optical image stabilization worked like a charm. It was also able to adjust very quickly to the changing lighting conditions. All the recordings tested were vivid, sharp and had good saturation but there is no face-detection available.
The HG21 is shipped along with a rechargeable battery, AC adapter, remote, component, A/V and USB cables, and an owner’s manual. The softwares that come along are the Pixela ImageMixer 3 SE and Digital Video Solution disk Ver. 31.0 software. While the Pixela helps you in managing, editing and burning your footage, the other software is meant for downloading and editing still frames.
Nitty-gritty: The HG21 could’ve had a better LCD, been lighter in weight so that you could be more agile, the face-detection could also be included but it isn’t and it is not light on fuel either. All are valid drawbacks, but should most certainly not stand in your way of getting one of these. It is reasonably priced and packs quite a lot of features that work outstandingly well. It is also very easy to use and shoots in HD quality, what more could you ask for.