While CES rumbles on, it's business as usual for the Canon camcorder department, which has announced three new models today, the Legria mini X, Legria HF R56 and Legria HF R506. Ask any product manager about this sort of device, and they might well look at you with the look of someone who has been asked to the May Ball for the first time. In a world of SLRs, GoPros and mobile phones, camcorders are an increasingly difficult sell. So there is a need to do something a bit different.
That's where the Legria mini X comes in, a slightly strange looking device which we think bears a resemblance to the Next Generation tricorders in Star Trek. This unique look is derived from the flexible screen, and camera which is mounted on the front of the device, along with its microphones. Which leads us to the next interesting point.
Canon claims that, along with its high-quality HD video, the audio on this camera is also a step in a more advanced direction for camcorders. Clearly noting that sound is a massive letdown on SLRs/GoPro and mobile phones, the firm has made an effort to appeal to those who care about audio. And thank goodness, we say, because audio is at least 50 per cent of the story when it comes to a video.
Sound is recorded in a lossless, uncompressed format and there are settings to ensure the audio you record is perfect for the event. Canon claims it's noise-free, and can capture anything in a concert hall, from a big noise down to a quiet one. Good dynamic range is something missing from a lot of hardware in our experience.
Video is provided in both 1080/25p and 1080/50i, although we're not entirely sure how much use 50i really is these days, but if you're looking for a more "video" style recording, then that's the way to achieve it. You might also be able to use it for a slow-motion mode too, although we don't think slow-motion from interlaced video is the greatest idea.
As with most modern camcorders, the mini X also has Wi-Fi streaming to a smartphone, so you can monitor what's happening. This is handy to have, and we're glad to see it becoming more prolific.
The Legria mini X will cost £349 when it launches.
Also announced are two more traditional form-factor camcorders. These do the usual 1080p video recording
Both cameras have a "baby" mode which allows you to register three children on the camera, and categorise the videos based on a specific child, and keep track of their growth over the years. Kind of handy, although we note that putting things in categories is particularly hard, especially with children.
Both cameras also have a 57x digital zoom - called "advanced" to differentiate it from the rubbish digital zooms of old. And there's a 32 optical zoom too, which is a hefty number in itself.
So, what is different about the two models? Well, the R56 is able to record both AVCHD and what Canon calls "mp4" at the same time. The idea here is that you can use one for high-quality and the other for mobile use, and sharing online quickly. There is also 8GB of internal storage on this model. There is also Wi-Fi, for sharing video and using a smartphone to capture video remotely. The R56 will cost £329 The R506, is the more basic model, and will cost £239
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