Optical stabilisation added to cheaper R-series models
Adding Wi-Fi to ever more devices seems to be a key theme of this year’s CES. Sony has released its Bloggie Live and Samsung has added Wi-Fi to more TVs and cameras than ever before. Now its Canon’s turn with wireless finding its way to into the majority of its camcorder line up for 2012.
The models with Wi-Fi (and we’ll come to which these are later) can stream video directly to DLNA-enabled devices – such as TVs – and can upload video directly online to sites including YouTube and Facebook. To help with the latter, the range can now shoot in the MP4 video format, as well as the usual AVCHD. You can also use the mobile connection on an iPhone or iPad to upload videos on the go via an app.
We’re more old-school in our video shooting and sharing regime, by which we mean we like to edit our footage on a PC at length before letting anyone see it – or before inflicting it upon them for that matter. But we can see that having the ability to upload a quick clip here and there is a useful tool.
A quick glance at the new M-series models and you’d be forgiven for mistaking them for last year’s efforts. At their core they are very similar devices, using the same 1/3in sensor and image processor. Canon claims the have tweaked these to achieve 20% better low-light performance, but we’ll have to wait to test that statement.
There’s certainly a new menu system and a new button layout, all of which looks to be an improvement on last year’s. The M-series also has a new intelligent optical stabilization system, so the camcorder switches between settings based on how you’re shooting – more stabilization when you’re trying t hold a steady shot, and easing off for less laggy-feeling pans.
The basic M500 model uses only SD cards for storage, and in the past would have been are recommended model for all, as extra cards always work out cheaper than flash memory built-in. However its’s only the M50 and M52 (with 8GB and 32GB of flash memory) that come with the Built-in Wi-Fi capability. We only have dollar prices for now – $750, $650 and $550 – which should translate roughly to £600, £520 and £450 inc VAT.
As with its more expensive sibling, the R-series also hasn’t changed a great deal in appearance. It uses the same 1/4.85in processor as last year and the same image processor. The big upgrade here though is that Canon has added optical image stabilization to this cheaper line of models, a huge plus and a surprising one at this price. The zoom rnage has been extended too, with a 32x optical zoom and a 51x advanced zoom (where it crops into the sensor but retains image quality).
As with the M-series, you get the intelligent optical stabilisation here and the new menu system and navigation controls. Again the flash-memory models, the flash memory models, the R32 and R30 (32GB and 8GB respectively) come with the built-in Wi-Fi, while the basic card-only R300 does without. Prices are $550, $450 and $350 respectively, which equates very roughly to £450, £360 and £280 inc VAT.
We are a little disappointed by the lack of new technology at the core of the 2012 line up, but the extra features, particularly the optical stabilization on the R-series are all welcome and should make Canon’s camcorders more competitive against Panasonic’s this year.