updated 01:05 pm EST, Wed January 5, 2011
New tech includes SDXC, better sensors
Canon has unveiled eight new camcorders in its VIXIA line. Two main technology changes in the lineup include the introduction of the 1080p-capable HD CMOS Pro Image sensor, which measures about a third of an inch and uses larger, more sensitive pixels said to improve dynamic range and low-light performance. All of the cameras have dual SDXC slots, significantly increasing potential storage space.
Also integrated are improved internal microphones, which support an added "Synced with Zooming" mode that changes audio direction to match a camera's video zoom. Through a new macro mode, lenses should now be able to focus on objects as close as 1.3 feet while in telephoto zoom. Some other additions include software cinema filters, a storyboarding assistant and superimposed effects created via touchscreen commands.
Canon's self-proclaimed VIXIA flagship is the HF G10, which supports 1080p via the HD CMOS Pro Image, and uses a 10x lens with a manual focus ring. It sports a 3.5-inch touchscreen display, and in addition to dual SDXC slots incorporates 32GB of onboard memory. Manual color, shutter and aperture controls are available; the camera further supports 24fps recording, and includes a remote control terminal with LANC support. It should ship in March for $1,500.
The HF S30 doesn't use the new Pro Image sensor, but offers the same lens, touchscreen and storage features as the G10. It similarly includes most of the G10's other options, like 24fps and the remote control terminal. It should ship in March at a substantially cheaper $1,100.
The HF M41, M40 and M400 are the only other camcorders to use the Pro Image technology. These again have 10x lenses, but switch to 3-inch touchscreens, and drop built-in memory entirely in the case of the M400, falling back on dual SDXC. The M41 and M40 have 32 and 16GB of internal storage respectively; the M41 has the added advantage of a better viewfinder. When the cameras ship in March, prices will range from $650 to $800.
The HF R21, R20 and R200 turn to the same sensor in the S30 while using 28x "advanced zoom" and 3-inch touchscreens. Mimicking the M series, the R21 and R20 integrate 32 and 8GB of internal memory, while the R200 is dependent entirely on its dual SDXC slots. Shipping starts in February at prices between $380 and $500.
Two standard-definition, non-VIXIA cameras being launched are the FS40 and FS400. These have 41x zoom, but lack touchscreens or many of the other amenities available in other lines. The FS40 only has 8GB of internal memory, and the FS400 has space for just a single SDXC card. The models will arrive in February at costs of $300 and $280.