Canon HF R32
Smartphones are becoming more powerful than ever before as they are able to take good still images that are similar in quality to entry-level point-and-shoot cameras. On top of that, many of the high-end smartphones are capable of taking 1080p video as well. Because of the prices of these smartphones, these mobile devices are quickly ending up in many people’s pockets while they leave or even sell their cheap digital cameras and mini camcorders. But Canon isn’t backing down on the consumer market of camcorders. At CES 2012, Canon announced a refresh of their VIXIA consumer camcorder models. The Canon HF R32 leads the pack of the ‘HF R’ series and it shares many of the same features as its predecessor – the Canon HF R21. Those who were thinking to buy a Canon HF R21 but were thinking about saving for the new model will be very pleased with the additions that the HF R32 offers.
Design and Interface
The VIXIA ‘HF R’ series were always known for being lightweight and now the Canon HF R32 brings down the weight even further going below 10 ounces even if the battery, memory card and grip belt are present. The display remains the same measuring 3 inches diagonally and sporting 230,000 dots so you should be able to play any recorded videos and watch them fairly clearly. However, the screen is physically different as it is now made of glass making the touch performance a bit better. Some minor improvements have been made to the interface as well so it is even easier to use.
The hottest new feature to hit the HF R32 is the built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. The camcorder can establish an Ad-Hoc connection on its own to an Apple iOS device so videos can be sent with ease. Using a Canon gateway, a wireless access point can be made as well so the video can be uploaded to a web service. If a PC or laptop is part of a Wi-Fi network, the Canon HF R32 can be part of that network so any videos or photos stored in memory can be transferred to these systems. Taking out the memory card or using a cable are now just optional choices. The Canon HF R32 is also compliant with the Digital Living Network Alliance or DLNA which makes it very easy to stream video and photos to other DNLA-compatible devices like many of the modern HDTVs sold today.
On the subject of memory, a memory card isn’t required for the Canon HF R32 to function. There is 32 GB of flash memory on board. The memory card slot can accept SD, SDHC and SDXC cards. SDXC is the recommended format since the capacities can go as high as 64 GB so the overall capacity can be tripled. Future SDXC card formats may contain up to 2,048 GB so the expansion possibilities are definitely there. The Relay Recording feature makes lengthy recording sessions easy even if a memory card is installed. This feature ensures that the recording won’t be affected even if there is no more space in the internal flash drive as long as there is space in the SD card.
Once the memory is maxed out, most users would move the recorded videos and photos to a PC or laptop to free up space. This can be a problem if there are no systems available. But if there is an external drive available, the drive can be hooked up to the Canon HF R32 as long as the UA-100 USB adapter is used. This adapter is sold separately.
The Canon HF R32 lets you figure out how you want to utilize the available memory. You have the option to choose AVCHD or MP4 formats where the AVCHD format is recommended if you want the best 1080p video quality. The MP4 is only limited to 720p video but the file size is smaller and the format is more compatible.
The DIGIC DV III Image Processor is still present in this system and it fortunately delivers good imaging performance even when compared with some of the similarly priced modern camcorders. The 3.28-megapixel Full HD CMOS Sensor ensures that outputted video looks great on large HDTVs. Thanks to the Smart AUTO feature, the camcorder consistently stays focused so all of the details are properly captured. It can adapt to the environment as well with over 30 settings to choose from where each setting fits certain situations. Because of the small bump in specs, the low-light sensitivity got some light improvements.
There is even a special telephoto zoom mode called Auto Tele Macro, which makes the background blurry and keeps the subject in focus. It is possible to zoom up to 51x while still keeping the video steady.
Another nice improvement has been made on the image stabilization technologies. Canon was able to port the Intelligent IS image stabilization technology from their latest PowerShot models so the best stabilization technique is applied to recording while walking. This also improves macro shooting performance.
The Story Creator opens up a nice possibility for beginner and amateur users to make professional-looking scenes that highlight the most important events. This feature guides users to make the right decisions in shooting special events so the end result looks very presentable.
If you want to add some creative touches to the videos, you can use the Cinema-Look filters where they can transform the overall look of a video by adding a certain effect like cinema, vivid, nostalgic or sepia. A couple of other options are available as well.
The $549 price tag may seem like a lot for a camcorder. An unlocked high-end smartphone can be purchased at a similar price but the Canon HF R32 will always be a superior choice for people that want to record lots of footage at a much higher quality. The Wi-Fi feature is a great upgrade for people that quickly fill up their memory with tons of HD footage.
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