Canon Legria HF200 review
The Legria HF200 is the cheapest model in Canon's revamped HD camcorder range, but at just under £600 it's still the most expensive model here.
It looks it, too, with a design that's both classy and reassuringly solid. It only loses ground to the competition by not having a touchscreen. This means there's no spot focus or spot metering, but in general use we found its mini-joystick to be quicker than the others' touchscreens.
There's every socket you could hope for, including a microphone input and headphone output. Sadly, Canon has followed Sony's example by coming up with its own proprietary accessory shoe; as a result, most accessories won't fit. There's an LED video lamp built in, plus a flash for the competent photo function.
The menu includes shutter and aperture priority modes. Using them with the manual exposure lock/compensation control gives reasonably effective full manual control, in a roundabout way. Our favourite feature is a PF25 mode, which records progressive scan video for film-like motion, but tags the files as interlaced to ensure software compatibility.
Video is recorded in AVCHD format at bit rates up to 24Mbit/s. This gives 45 minutes' recording on an 8GB card, although four lower bit rate choices down to 5Mbit/s extend this time. The top bit rate virtually eliminated compression artefacts in fast-moving scenes. More static shots exhibited incredibly sharp details, surpassing everything else on test.
Colours were impressive, too, thanks in part to responsive face detection - a new feature for Canon camcorders. The HF200 only lost its lead in low light, where it exhibited quite a lot of noise. Switching to progressive scan improved noise levels a little, but Samsung's VP-HMX20C and Sony's HDR-CX11E yielded better results in low light.
The HF200 comes very close to winning a Best Buy award, but the high price and disappointing low-light performance means it just loses out to the HDR-CX11E.
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