Canon VIXIA HF S21
The Canon HF S21 is part of the HF S series, which also is the commander of the Canon fleet of camcorders. This would be the crème de la crème for the pro-consumer Cannon junkies out there. Loaded with 64GB of internal flash memory, 2 SD/SDHC memory card slots, 8.0 megapixel on a 3.5” touch-screen LCD and an electronic view finder (EVF), you can’t help but stop in your tracks while walking down the camcorder aisle.
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This sleek and professional looking Canon Vixia HF S21 will allow you to record up to 24 hrs worth of high-definition video, settings dependent, with the 64GB available. Having flash memory fitted in this Vixia would also mean quicker response and less damage since there is less movable parts. Definitely a plus point for any electronics or tech gadgets!
Almost a standard feature for dual memory camcorders, Relay Recording will allow you to get smooth recording when transitioning between the internal flash memory and 2 SD cards slots. 64 GD plus 2 slots means a really long day of shooting (without pausing)!
3.5″ High resolution Touch Panel LCD Screen
The LCD screen has 922,000 dots and it provides exceptional viewing and brilliant color during playback. You will find that the video is one of the sharpest in the market. Although color is not the most accurate on this particular model, especially at its default setting when it’s taken straight out of the box, the HF S 21 color mode is customable by color depth, brightness, contrast, and sharpness. Color looks the best in its Vivid Mode setting.
The Canon HF S21 allows you to access a whole suite of controls through this fine-looking LCD screen. From different modes and scenes, amount of exposure, aperture, shutter speed, white balance, gain, colors and also markers that provide gridlines for your shots (2 colors for scene discernment). It also allows you to choose a really cool feature that can help up and coming film makers shoot 2-8 second clips called Video Snap.
Here’s a sample video taken with the Canon VIXIA HF S21:
For the Creative (or very creative)
The Canon HF S21 is the first non-tape consumer camcorder to include a native 24p frame rate. For pros and video enthusiasts this is a very significant development, as it allows for video editing. The Canon HF S21 comes with Pixela ImageMixer 3SE video editing software for your convenience. This model has a Cinema Mode and a Progressive Mode for video look variety.
The intelligent Touch and Track is a function that allows focusing on the subject on the touch screen. It doesn’t have to be a human so as to allow the HF S21 to track. It can also be an object, as long as it is moving. You will find that this feature actually works incredibly well! This coupled with the patented Dynamic SuperRange Optical Image Stabilization with Powered IS, you could take your new Vixa HF S21 to almost any terrain limited by your imagination. Be it filming on the ‘Maid of the Mist’ on Niagara Falls or getting your child’s backflip on the trampoline, not only will you capture every moment, you won’t get a headache doing it!
With Canon’s Smart Auto Mode, this Vixia HF S21 automatically selects a scene mode based on the scene conditions determined by the camcorder. So this is great news for the high-end home user! It means that you could hand the recording session over to your kids/wife or whoever’s right next to you just so you now can be the star of your own show for once, or twice. When you move from a dark to a brighter environment and will notice that the Auto Exposure adjusted fine, but was not as gradual the other way around. These are the scene modes you can choose from: Portrait, Sports, Night Scene, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Low Light, Spotlight, and Fireworks.
Canon Face Detection Advanced Video Snapshot
Low Light Modes
Although the HF S21 doesn’t have any dedicated low light modes, but it does have an auto slow shutter setting as well as a few scene modes that are very effective in low light. It comes with a built-in light to help enhance extreme low light conditions.
The camcorder still has a 10x optical zoom lens and a 1/2.6-inch CMOS sensor. It can be expanded to 40x or 200x using digital zoom settings. The lens is very large (the filter diameter is 58mm) and it has the same focal length as last year’s models. The front of the camcorder is all lens, although you can see Canon’s small Instant AF sensor just below the lens. You can also see the control dial sitting to the lower right of the lens.
8.0 Megapixel Camera
The Canon HF S11 had some of the best still image capabilities of all (camcorders) last year, some might say. Since the HF S21 has the same effective pixel count for still images, you should also have similar photo performance. 3264 x 2456 is the highest resolution for the biggest size photos. This is very good by relative standards. In Dual Shot mode you can capture photos while you are recording videos, but you only have two size options: 3264 x 1840 and 1920 x 1080. Photos generated in the still photo mode look better than those taken in video mode. The HF S21 is very good as opposed to her competitors in the market because of the resolution and the vivid, life-like colors of blues and purples.
“An excellent camcorder at a reasonable price (considering the features) that has true high def picture quality. I would recommend it completely. We tried do get by with a less expensive camcorder that claimed high def, but there is no comparison. This is particularly true for those of us that have husbands that have invested thousands in high def TVs, receivers, Blue rays, etc. Because you can really see and hear the difference of this camcorder over some others in our family and our first attempt at a panasonic “HD”. I am not a technically gifted individual, yet I have not had to open the manual once for anything. Also, the hard drive in place is great, but you have the option of using memory cards as well (so you don’t have to worry about memory space if your rushing to an event provided you have extra memory cards stored in your camera bag).” – Janis Keeton(S.Carolina,USA)
The microphone does a very good job recording dialog and both soft and loud sounds. The Manual Gain control allows you to adjust the microphone levels. The camcorder also has a microphone attenuator and an external mic and headphone jack. An optional 5.1-channel microphone can be purchased with the camcorder (and connected via the accessory shoe).
64GB internal flash drive. Recording time based on internal flash memory only. Greater capacity is possible when SD memory cards are used. You may need to get an extra battery pack for more juice.
- LP (5Mbps) – 24 hours 30 minutes
- SP (7Mbps) – 19 hours 10 minutes
- XP+ (12Mbps) – 11 hours 30 minutes
- FXP (17Mbps) – 8 hours 20 minutes
- MXP (24Mbps) – 5 hours 55 minutes
The Canon Vixia HF S21 is great choice for high-end pro-consumers. It’s comfortable to the grip and feels solid and this is not one for those looking for a compact model. Something’s gotta give when you exchange that with better performance and controls. The LCD is something that Canon has room for improvement. Handling of the controls is not the easiest on-screen but this model gives you the option of accessing manual controls from both screen and dials. There are even one-touch access dials that you can use on the fly. The Image Stabilizer is a definite feature that you’ll soon grow to need as a standard after having a taste of it. You’ll probably need a bit of time getting to know all the features and what this mean machine can offer you, but this is a definite toy for high-end pro-consumers to have.
More user reviews:
• “I was looking for a compact camcorder that was HD and had a viewfinder. This is it and while I probably won’t make any commercial videos, it suits my needs well. Fairly easy to use without reading the manual [although I did], takes very good video [IMO] and so far they translate well to my HDTV. Easy to use, does what the mfgr. says [see above] and also takes very good still photos. I did get the wide angle lens and the telephoto lens extenders [or whatever the correct name is] and they work great as well.
I guess my bottom line is “get one, you will like it” and I don’t think you will be disappointed. There are probably things that will come along in the next version, but it is going to take me a while to think of the HF S21 as an extension of my arm and I expect to be satisfied for quite a while. If you have never used a flash memory video recorder, and have used an HDV tape based model from before, you will be delighted at the versatility.” – Stewart(Dayton,OH,USA)
• “That said, this is the flagship Canon camcorder and comes with a 3.5″ LCD touchscreen which is a very nice improvement from last year’s model the HF S11 which has a 2.7″ screen.
The other big improvement with this line is the 8Megapixel camera feature. Also, you get 6Megapixel pictures that you can capture straight from video — this is huge.
I’ve tried the IS feature and it’s good, as good as last year’s and the Powered IS features is very handy for when you’re at max magnification — it really helps.
Least but not last is the 64MB internal memory, you get about 4 hours of super high quality HD recording or about 24hrs of low quality recording. You also get two SDHC slots that you can put two memory cards in there…and the camera switches from internal memory to the memory cards instantly so you don’t lose any recordings. That’s useful.
For those of you considering tape or CD camcorders, I highly recommend FLASH drive camcorders like this one. You get instant access to any part of your recording and makes it real easy to transfer this to your computer. Flash memory is also very shock resistant to you don’t have to worry as much about bumping.
Oh, this camera has the HD lens which is the same lens as on their higher end camcorders. If you’re a student of film, this might very well be a good learning camcorder.” – Mary(Georgia,USA)
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