Canon VIXIA HF M40
When it comes to looking for a nice compact digital camcorder, the search usually goes down to the pocket camcorders that look very stylish and many of them look attractive by featuring HD recording capabilities. But these pocket camcorders are fairly limited because of the lens that they use. This is also why many of the point-and-shoot cameras have mediocre recording quality too. Those that are into lengthier recording sessions need to go for a real digital camcorder that is comfortable to use and features more advanced optics. Fortunately, Canon offers a few models in the VIXIA HF M-series that keeps the form factor compact for easy traveling. Canon kicked off 2011 with a new member which is the Canon VIXIA HF M40 and it has plenty to offer even for current users of the M30 and M31.
Design and Interface
The design remains the same in many ways and it weighs about an ounce heavier than the previous models. This is because the Canon VIXIA HF M40 now sports a 3.0-inch widescreen display so the number of dots increased from 211,000 to 230,000. Being a touchscreen, users have a bit more room to work with when navigating through the friendly interface.
There are not many buttons since the touch screen delivers most of the key functions. Opening the display reveals some of the connection inputs. Once open, the button that activates the Powered IS feature can be used primarily for zooming purposes. Zoom settings can be adjusted from the top of the camera and the same goes with taking image shots. Dual Shot mode can be activated from there as well. The power button on top not only switches off the device but closes the built-in lens cover automatically too. Beginners should have no problems in operating the camera and the hand strap also makes it a very comfortable experience.
Several changes were made under the hood including a few downgrades. The zoom ratio is slightly lower maxing out at 10x as opposite to the 15x zoom ratio that the M30 and M31 features. The effective pixels is also a bit lower going down to 2.07 but fortunately, users can still record 1080p video or take 1080p images in 16:9 ratio. These slight drawbacks lead to the biggest improvement which lies on the image sensor. The Canon VIXIA HF M40 uses an improved HD CMOS Provide Image Sensor which improves the low-light performance even further and it widens the dynamic range as well. This improvement also decreases the power consumption to just 2.9W for slightly longer battery life.
The improved battery life is made alongside the improved memory capacity as well by doubling the capacity of the M30 so users have 16 GB to work with and it should be enough to record 6 hours of ordinary video or around 2 hours of HD video. This may not match the capacity of the M31 model but the M40 still features the two extra SD card slots to users can insert SD cards to expand on the storage. What is even better is that these SD cards support the SDXC format introduced back in 2009. With 64 GB SDXC cards already out and even higher capacities that may reach up to 2 TB, longer recording times are rewarded to those that decide to take advantage. The capacities of both cards are summed together through the Relay Recording technology so users do not have to stop recording if one of the memory cards are running low on space while the other still has free space.
All of the other nice features that made the M-series popular remain in the M40 so users can move into wide-angle focal lengths with confidence by utilizing the Dynamic SuperRange Optical Image Stabilization with Powered IS. The quality of the video also looks great thanks to the improved sensor and the use of the DIGIC DV III image processor. The face detection features are advanced as it supports up to 35 faces at various angles all at once and it can even index these faces for archiving purposes.
The Canon VIXIA HF M40 will be priced at $699 which is $100 more than the M30 and equal to the price of the M31. The main advantages of the M31 is the memory along with the slight megapixel and zoom ratio counts but that does not matter that much considering the SDXC support and improved image sensor so the M40 takes the recommendation in the compact camcorder category.
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