Canon VIXIA HF S200
Canon took a very interesting approach when they released their flagship model last year because they decided to do two more affordable variations with reduced memory features. All of the other features are the same, giving users several options in getting the best camcorder offered by Canon. This strategy proved to be successful and recently, Canon has done it again, releasing three new versions which are the S20, S21, and S200 models. What is surprising is that the Canon VIXIA HF S200 actually costs less than the older S100, but contains some nice features.
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Design and Interface
The Canon HF S200 is a bit larger than other models, but it is still small for a flagship camera compared to all the professional solutions out there. The 10x optical zoom lens is the same as the S100 model which isn’t the most impressive feat since their midrange models offer a 15x zoom. However, lens now sports an automatic cover which can help protect the lens from harsh elements whenever the device is switched off.
The front of the S200 looks the same as the older model with the exception of a new control dial found on the bottom right of the lens. This button is used for setting manual adjustment controls. Combined with its slick design, Canon’s VIXIA camcorders have one of the most comfortable straps and the S200 is right up there in terms of comfort. The right side where the strap is located also shows the Auto/Manual mode switch and built-in speaker so it can record Dolby Digital 2-channel audio signals. Recording can be done by pressing the Start/Stop button on the back. Afterwards, the electronic viewfinder can extend outwards so it can be used to get a glimpse of the action.
The other way to record is to use the LCD display which can be opened on the left side. This display is more useful in the S200 because it now measures 3.5 inches for better visibility and now bears touch screen features to help navigate through the interface. Opening the LCD panel also reveals most of the terminals as well as the two slots where SD or SDHC cards can be placed.
Taking pictures can be done by pressing the photo shutter button on top of the camcorder while zooming settings can be adjusted using the zoom toggle just above the shutter button. There is also a panel where the flash and built-in video light pops up.
Although the touch screen interface is one of the main highlights, the Canon VIXIA HF S200 still maintains the high resolution features and even strives to improve on some of the weaker features to give it more value.
The Powered IS is one of the new features which add to the highly praised Dynamic SuperRange Optical Image Stabilization. This stabilization technology can still be used for wide-angle focal lengths, but telephoto settings need an extra layer of stability. All it takes is a push of the Powered IS button to eliminate that unwanted shaking.
The Canon DIGIC DV III Image Processor also remains the same, but it plays a greater role in the Canon VIXIA HF S200 where all parts of the scene are enhanced, including the brightness, color, and distance settings. This technology is known as Smart Auto. It also analyzes faces and combines the technology with face recognition features. Up to 35 faces can be detected at a time along with support of single face serving as the main subject for continuous tracking. Known as Genuine Face Detection, videos with an indexed face can easily be searched for.
The S200 gets the short end of the stick with a lack of internal memory. Fortunately, there are 2 SD memory card slots that each support up to 32 GB which is equivalent to around 3 hours of video footage in the highest 1080p quality. In addition, the Relay Recording technology also goes to work when two cards are inserted. Both storage capacities are virtually combined so that recording can continue even after the first SD card is full.
“We’ve owned a standard definition Canon FS-10 camcorder for two years and enjoyed every minute of it. It was a very dependable dual-purpose camera with solid components that never gave us a bit of trouble and always operated as designed. However, the attraction of true HD became just too strong to ignore. I chose the Canon HF-S200 after comparing all of the features of the top contenders in it’s price range. Stunning video, even at 24fps (frames per second). At its standard 60i setting – you get the picture. Additionally, and one of the principle attractions for us, the 8 megapixel stills are what we needed so that we can take just one camera to events for excellent resolutions in both photo worlds. The stills we’ve taken with our HF-S200 compete with the best photos we’ve ever taken with any still camera. Though our digital still camera exceeds this resolution, 8Mp translates to a little bigger than 8″x10″ prints at 300 dpi (dots per inch) resolution. Canon’s dual picture mode, allowing us to snap high resolution stills while video recording, works seamlessly and is a welcome bonus feature we really enjoy. The Image Stabilizer (IS) and Powered IS yield very smooth motion on screen as advertised, a big advance from our older FS-10. Performance in all categories was impressive.” – Leo Dewey(Maxwell,Texas)
The S200 also doubles as an 8.0 Megapixel camera and the quality doesn’t disappoint other than the undesirable noise levels. 6.0 megapixel photos can even be taken during recording mode using the Dual Shot technology.
The Canon VIXIA HF S200 is the perfect choice for recording videos in the highest quality possible without spending more than $1,000. The touch screen is a nice addition and the added web sharing features make it one of the more enjoyable flagship cameras to use.
More user reviews:
• “The S200 is a REALLY good camcorder. Like the previous reviewer, I’m a still photographer. This is my very first digital camcorder. I have been waiting for the right feature set at the right price, and this has it for me, although it will be cheaper in the future.
* Standard SDHC memory that every laptop can read.
* Standard video file format that basically every video processing software can work with
* Very good glass for a camcorder–this is what will get you the videos your Flip will miss. The glass and sensor on this thing are a major step up from the popular YouTube camcorders out there.
* Viewfinder eyepiece that works in bright sunlight.
* A swivel screen that lets you compose your video even when holding the camera high above your head to see past the crowd.
* A retail price of under a thousand bucks. You can ‘street’ this camcorder at around $800 or even less.
* Excellent battery life with aftermarket choices for spare battery.
If you’re looking for a camcorder that won’t let you down indoors like a Flip or zi8 when the light gets poor, this can help you. I still recommend a zi8 or whatever the best pocket camcorder is now. You simply can’t carry this Canon everywhere video opportunities present themselves, so a pocket camcorder is a great thing to carry with you.”– Curtis(York,PA,USA)
• “Right out of the box my wife is happy with this camcorder. The wife and I aren’t the type of people that have to have the latest and greatest. We bought this camcorder because our usual bang for the buck approach was not working. Over the last 5 years we have spent close to $2000 on different camcorders trying to save memories of our child. All we have to show from that is shaky and grainy memories from 4 different camcorders and my wife’s comments on how I can’t buy a decent camcorder no matter how much time I spend researching. This was taken the day after we bought the camera using auto settings
[..] we could not be happier.” – M.J.Parks(USA)
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