Canon Vixia FS21

Canon's second-generation Vixia FS21 dual-flash memory camcorder is here, and we put it to the techie test. There are a million and one things we used it for, and no, creating our own "Hayden Camera" video isn't one of them. Pervs.

First the appearance: The FS21 is handy and compact. It measures no more than 212mm from end to end, and it weighs just like a regular mobile phone. There are no major aesthetical changes from its predecessor, the FS11, except for the zoom control that has been replaced by a larger, sturdier knob.

The primary control dial has been simplified. Instead of having four modes like the FS11, the FS21 now only has three. The record button is less stiff, and the wheel is easier to manipulate as well.

Shooting videos is a joy with the FS21. All the essential buttons and controls are within reach, and the light weight lets you use it for hours on end. The 16GB of internal memory is good enough for over three and a half hours of material in the highest setting (not HD, sadly) and a whopping 10 hours in the lowest setting. If that's not enough recording time for you, you could always insert an additional SD or SDHC card, hence the name "Dual Flash."

With such capacities, however, the battery falls short because the included module can only last for about two and a half hours. Don't get it wrong, though that's pretty respectable but clearly not good enough for the FS21.

Video quality, to be blunt and brutal, is not the best. The FS21's sensor performs well outdoors but suffers big time indoors. Noise is highly visible even on the 2.7-inch LCD (and with a screen resolution of only 123,000 dots, that's saying a lot), and the built-in LED lamp does little to help. At best, all the bulb does is help you find your subject in the dark.

Like the FS11 before it, the FS21's best quality besides the flash memory is its optical zoom. 37x is no small number especially from a camera its size, and it can even be bumped up to 45x using the advanced zoom feature.

Advanced zoom stretches the image beyond the normal range at Wide Angle mode to simulate greater magnification once zoomed into telephoto. Think of it as leaning back to get a better view of the TV and then pressing your nose right into it to see things in better detail.

Another nifty feature is the microphone and headphone port that lets you hook up 3.5mm accessories. This is great for aspiring filmmakers who need a practice cam to properly frame shots or for turning your camera into an underpowered portable media player.

Camcorders have never been the most popular in the gadget world because of their highly specialized nature. Nonetheless, their video shooting prowess cannot be denied. If you're no longer satisfied with blurry and unimpressive digicam or cellphone vids, upgrading the FS21 is a step in the right direction.

Click here to see the Canon Vixia FS21 in the Buyer's Guide.


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  • Small and compact
  • Easy to use
  • Great zoom range
  • Unremarkable low-light performance
  • Pricey
Bottom Line
  • A great first camcorder for first-time shooters
Editor's Pick No
Price P39,950
Tech Specs
  • Resolution
    • Videos: 1120 x 630, approx. 710,000 pixels (wide); 921 x 518, approx. 480,000 pixels (tele)
    • Stills: 1152 x 648 pixels, approx. 0.74 megapixels
  • Recording Format: MPEG 2
  • Storage
    • Internal: 16GB
    • Expansion: SDHC
    • Recording Time (min/max): up to 3 hours and 40 mins (best quality)
  • Zoom
    • Optical: 37x, 45x advanced zoom
    • Digital: 2000x
  • Screen
    • Size: 2.7 inches
    • Resolution: 123,000 dots
  • Interface
    • Accessory Shoe: n/a
    • USB: yes
    • HDMI: n/a
    • Firewire: n/a
    • Mic in: yes
    • Headphone out: yes
    • Composite out: yes
    • Component out: n/a
  • Battery Life: around 2.5 hours
  • Size: 212 x 59 x 55mm
  • Weight: 225g

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