Video recording is a lot easier these days because many portable devices have a built-in lens along with the software necessary to make it possible. Video recording features have been added to digital cameras, mobile phones, and even some smaller gadgets, toys, and wearable tech. Most of these recording features have one or more things in common with the most notable being the low to mediocre video quality. In order to keep these devices compact, the size of the lenses need to be reduced and that affects the quality no matter what enhancing technologies they feature and how many megapixels are advertised. Real digital camcorders regardless of the size still outperform these devices and their form factors make them more comfortable to use too.
The only hurdle here is the price tag and those that really want to venture to the cheap side should expect to pay roughly $300 for a digital camcorder that still does its job decently. Canon is a trusted brand that delivers quality imaging products so even their low-end devices in the FS series sell well. In fact, Canon is planning to release a new set of budget camcorders alongside their new VIXIA models. The Canon FS40 is one of them and it basically adds some modern touches to some of the primitive capabilities that the FS series is known for.
Design and Interface
With the features so minimal compared to any of the VIXIA models, the FS40 ends up being lightweight weighing less than 10 ounces making it even lighter than the older Canon FS31. It also has a comfortable strap to make it easy to hold the compact device. Many of the refreshed VIXIA models now feature touchscreen capabilities but the FS40 sticks to the basic 2.7-inch widescreen display which is not that impressive by today’s standards but it is sufficient for entry-level users to appreciate especially since this model costs significantly less than entry-level VIXIA models.
The Canon FS40 utilizes the same image sensor and lens as the FS31 so the overall performance remains similar. There is no high-definition support here so professionals and prosumers may wish to move up to the VIXIA line for better quality because it only has 680,000 pixels to work with. However, the 41x Advanced Zoom makes the camcorder fun for all audiences to use so they can do a lot of things even when stationary. It also uses the DIGIC DV II processor so the image quality is fairly decent and it comes with the Widescreen HR feature so previewing the videos on modern HDTVs look fine in their 16:9 ratio.
These specs may make the Canon FS40 not so interesting, but several of the nice features that are present in VIXIA models are also found in the FS40. The Dynamic IS is a nice feature to take advantage of when using the advanced zoom as it keeps the recording stable even when movements and shakes are made. The Dual Shot mode can be activated at any time so users can take some low resolution images as well.
There are also a few features that give the user a more convenient recording experience like the Quick Start feature which can occur while the panel is closed and on standby mode. The standby mode saves battery but there might be scenarios when recording needs to be immediately. The Quick Start feature allows users to instantly get out of the standby mode so recording is started in less than a second. The Pre-Record function also helps capture sudden actions since the camcorder actually stores the last 3 seconds in its memory continuously and are added to a new recording when initialized. When the battery is running low, all that is required is to charge the FS40 just a half an hour to get 90 more minutes of recording time.
The FS40 only has 8 GB of internal flash memory which is equivalent to around 2 hours of high quality recording or 5 hours of long play recording. Although the FS31 boasts a larger 16 GB internal memory, the SD card which can be used to expand the memory even further supports SDXC cards and the cheapest SDXC cards offer 64 GB which is more than enough especially since high definition recording is not supported.
The Canon FS40 costs about $300 which is around $80 cheaper than the cheapest VIXIA model as of late January 2011 and that model does not even have internal memory. High-definition video is being embraced more, but those that do not mind average quality and just want to record for fun will like the FS40 features.
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