Canon VIXIA HF R20
Any digital camcorders that cost under $500 look rather tempting to the budget consumer. Other consumers that are more knowledgeable in cinematography will conclude that the image quality and technologies are obviously sacrificed. This is true with the low-cost Canon VIXIA HF R-series where the R10 received mixed reviews. Some semi-professionals liked the wide assortment of features while others did not like its inability to record true 1080p. With video sharing sites on the rise, more people want to jump in the video recording bandwagon and Canon wants to begin the 2011 year with a refined set of entry-level camcorders in the R-series. The Canon VIXIA R20 has a few spec bumps here along with some very useful improvements.
Design and Interface
Although the Canon HF R20 is on the lower tier of Canon’s digital camcorder offerings, consumers can choose from the Silver, Black, and Red styles. The compact form factor resembles the pricier M-series models making it a good choice for people that want to travel light and want to quickly take out the camcorder comfortably.
The most noticeable external improvement compared to the R10 falls on the display. Canon is looking to put an end to displays of the past by implementing touch screen capabilities and finally the R20 is hopping onboard. With the Touch Panel LCD display, less buttons are needed since the controls are moved to the screen. The display also received a size upgrade as well so the 3.0-inch display makes it easier to try out the touch features and playing back videos look better on the 230,000 dots resolution.
The image sensor of the VIXIA HF R20 has been upgraded to a 3.2-megapixel HD Video Lens which basically surpasses the R10′s biggest shortcoming. The 2.07 effective megapixels to work with, this entry-level model can finally record videos in the full 1920 x 1080 resolution and the image quality looks great as it is once again powered by the DIGIC DV Image Processor. Color accuracy is not perfect but the purple and blue shades look better compared to competing camcorders. This new specification allows the camcorder to output 1080p via HDMI.
This new video lens also allows better zooming where users can go up to 28x Advanced Zoom without seriously affecting the quality or going for a 400x digital zoom. The lens keeps the spherical aberration low so subjects look sharper.
Like its predecessor, the HF R20 houses an internal flash drive that can store up to 8 GB worth of content. That translates to about 3 straight hours of video recording using the lowest quality setting or around 40 minutes at maximum MXP quality for Full HD 24 Mbps recording. Unlike the R10, the R20 features two SD card slots putting it much closer to the M-series so storage expandability is far better especially since it supports the SDXC card formats which start at 64 GB and can peak up to 2 TB. The Relay Recording technology ensures that the three memory areas are properly managed by intelligently moving on to the next available memory storage if the internal memory or one of the SD cards is already full.
Compared to the M-series, image stabilization is stripped to the basics but at least it is still present. The Dynamic IS system actually does a decent job in reducing vibrations when there is a need to zoom in a little bit.
The DIGIC DV III Image Processor powers the Smart Auto feature so beginners do not have to tinker with many settings just to get brightness, distance, and color levels. The Smart Auto feature takes care of these settings and they normally look accurate. When faces are the subjects, the Face Detection technology can effectively track up to 35 faces and place detection frames in 9 of them. Even if these faces turn sideways, the faces are still tracked. The Face Index feature can optionally be used to locate certain individuals when reviewing later.
The use of the touchscreen opens up some fun possibilities like the Touch Decoration feature where users can add fun images, animations, and drawings to videos directly from the camcorder so no PC connectivity is required.
The best thing about the Canon HF R20 is that it brings some of the best features that are currently in the M-series like the dual SD card slots and Full HD recording. Canon will also give the R20 a $399 price tag which is exactly the same price of the R10 when it first launched so beginners have a lot to be excited for.
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