Canon VIXIA HF21: Is It a Good Value HD Camcorder?

The Canon VIXIA HF21 is an update to the Canon VIXIA HF20 which came out in 2008. The VIXIA HF21 ups the memory from 32GB to 64GB of memory or six hours of high quality footage or an amazing 24 hours of low quality (but still better than standard definition) footage. If that isn’t enough, there is an SDHC slot available. It uses flash memory which makes the VIXIA HF21 light and compact.

Features Because of its compact nature, it does not have the bells and whistles you would expect to find on a higher end HD camcorder, like a lens ring for manual settings. Instead, this is done using a joystick like button next to the LCD viewer. With the joystick button and a quick menu, you can quickly access frequently used settings like turning on the video light. There is also a nice feature called the Pre-REC function that anticipates your shot by starting to record prior to you actually hitting the record button so you don’t miss an important shot.

Also with the quick menu, a cool face detection system which attempts to improve the quality of a person’s face on video. There is, of course, manual focus and basic exposure control. While the button control can be a bit cumbersome, especially when you are trying to be precise with your adjustments, the HF21 allows you to zoom in to an area for a closer look.

The VIXIA HF21 includes an exclusive Advanced Auto Exposure System. This feature has presets that allow you to sharpen or alter color saturation, like softening of skin tones. There is also a Cine mode feature that makes the video more film-like. You also have the ability to customize shutter and aperture options as well (1/6th to 1/2000th for shutter and F1.8 to F8 for iris).

Quality As for picture quality, for the price level, it is very good. Picture is sharp with saturated colors and does very well in normal in house light levels. As for outdoors, overall, very good though some shots appear hazy when shot it very bright light. However, if you are upgrading from a flip HD camera, you will be more than amazed at the sharpness and clarity of the video, especially when hooked up to a large screen HDTV.

Bottom Line Overall, the Canon VIXIA HF21 is a great consumer level HD camcorder. Though it is considered at the high end price wise, its quality components and jam-packed features in a compact body makes it a good value HD camcorder.