1/6in CCD sensor, PAL, 37.0x zoom, 225g
Solid-state camcorders are generally smaller and lighter than those that use hard disks or tape, but even among this month’s company, the FS200 is tiny. It’s not quite as slim as Sony’s HDR-TG3E, but at 225g, it’s the lightest here.
Canon has still found room to include a chunky Li-ion battery and a 37x zoom lens. The battery lasted for three hours and 17 minutes, long enough to record over 12GB of video, so budget an extra £25 for a 16GB SDHC card. Emblazoned on the side of the camera are the words ’41x Advanced Zoom’, advertising the fact that the 0.8-megapixel sensor can capture a little more detail even after the lens has reached its full 37x magnification. There’s also a 2,000x digital zoom option for people who like to record a clutch of abstract blobs rather than recognisable video. Canon does its customers a disservice by advertising this pointless number so prominently.
The lack of optical image stabilisation was a slight concern, but in practice we found that the FS200’s electronic stabilisation wasn’t much behind the Panasonic SDR-S26’s optical system. Even so, it wasn’t effective enough to allow steady handheld shooting at full zoom. At wide and medium zoom positions, footage was reasonably steady.
Image quality was easily the best of the standard-definition models, with sharp details, lifelike colours and modest amounts of noise in low light. The soundtrack was clear and detailed, while those who demand higher-quality sounds will appreciate the microphone input and headphone output sockets.
This is the best standard-definition camcorder on test, but it’s also the most expensive. If you’re opting for standard rather than high definition because it’s easier to edit on a slower PC, the Legria FS200 is an excellent choice. However, those on a tight budget will be more than happy with Samsung’s VP-MX20, while those who care about quality are better off saving up for an entry-level HD model such as Sony’s HDR-TG3E.
|LCD screen size
|Video recording format
|Video recording media
|Dolby Digital Stereo
|Maximum image resolution
|charge jack, microphone, headphones
|7.4V 890mAh Li-ion
|Battery charging position
|one year RTB