Canon Legria HF M31 Full HD camcorder
Full HD flash memory-based camcorder with 32GB of inbuilt memory
- Good feature set for asking price, attractive HD video in optimum lighting, external microphone jack
- Specifications could be a little beefier, occasional noise issues, no accessory shoe for external microphones
The Canon Legria HF M31 is a pint-sized powerhouse of a camcorder packed with plenty of useful features. Whether you require a point-and-shoot camera or something a little more advanced, it should fit the bill.
Price$ 1,399.00 (AUD)
The Canon Legria HF M31 is a flash memory–based camcorder that records Full HD video in the AVCHD codec. With a retail price of $1499, it slots somewhere between the HF S10 and HF M300 as Canon’s upper midrange offering. It can be viewed as a jack-of-all-trades, providing an above-average performance across the board.
With just 32GB of inbuilt memory, a lowly 1/4in CMOS sensor and a gross pixel count of 3.89 megapixels, at first glance the Canon Legria HF M31 seems modestly equipped compared to many of its rivals. (For instance, the Panasonic HDC-HS60 boasts a 5-megapixel resolution and 120GB of inbuilt memory). In fact, the HF M31 shares the same specifications as last year’s Canon Legria HF20.
Yet, despite its lack of grunt, the Canon Legria HF M31 proved to be a very impressive camcorder. It comes with a solid array of modes and features for the asking price, including plenty of manual options for hands-on users. It is also capable of taking excellent looking video — especially in bright lighting. It will not only suit casual users, but also more ambitious shooters, such as budding filmmakers on a budget.
The Canon Legria HF M31 is an ultra-compact camcorder finished in an attractive glossy black. With dimensions of 68x60x123mm, it should fit inside your jacket pockets with a minimum of hassle (unless you’re a skinny tie-wearing mod, natch). This is one of the advantages of going with flash memory over inbuilt hard drives: by contrast, the HDD-based Canon HG21 bloated out at 81x75x129mm.
The Legria HF M31 handled like a dream during our test shoot, with the zoom rocker, record button and shutter release all within easy reach. Canon has included no fewer than three image stabilisation modes to keep your footage nice and steady. We were particularly impressed by the Powered IS tool, which smoothes the bobbing motion in moving shots. (In other words, we can finally retire those makeshift steadycams that never really worked properly anyway.)
After years of doggedly sticking to a joystick interface, Canon has finally decided to embrace the all-conquering touchscreen. This is something that chief rivals like Sony and Panasonic have been offering for several generations. The HF M31’s video menu is divided over two pages which can be flicked between iPhone–style. The touchscreen interface is responsive and well laid out, although some of the icons are a bit too small (especially if you have thick fingers). Nonetheless, we think it’s an improvement over the directional sticks of yore: it just feels more intuitive.
Canon has crammed an impressive selection of manual modes into the Legria HF M31. Using the touchscreen LCD, you can tweak everything from exposure to skin tones. On the downside there is no manual control dial, but these tend to be restricted to top-of-the-range camcorders, so we really can’t complain.
Surprisingly for a mid-range camcorder, the Canon Legria HF M31 comes with external microphone and headphone jacks. This is sure to be a boon for serious videographers who require crystal-clear sound. However, Canon has neglected to include a standard accessory shoe on the camcorder’s body, which means you’re forced to hold non-proprietary microphones by hand. This is obviously less than ideal, but nothing a bit of gaffer tape won't fix. Other ports include USB 2.0, component AV and the obligatory HDMI.
To assess the Canon Legria HF M31’s video performance, we shot a variety of footage in different testing conditions and then played back the footage on a Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A plasma TV. In sunny environments, the Canon Legria HF M31 produced exceptional images, with plenty of fine detail in complex areas and rich, vibrant colours. Noise rushed to the fore in dim indoor areas, though its output remains perfectly acceptable for personal home videos.
Become a fan of GoodGearGuide on Facebook
Follow GoodGearGuide on Twitter: @GoodGearGuide
Stay up to date with the latest reviews. Sign up to GoodGearGuide’s Gear Daily newsletters
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Gadgets & Things
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 2 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 3 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 4 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
- 5 Parrot Mambo Drone review
Latest News Articles
- AT&T will acquire Time Warner for US$85.4b in content play
- Facebook adds Apple TV and Chromecast support as video push ramps up
- Remocam review: This security camera can control your home appliances
- Logitech's C922 webcam is the revered C920's vastly upgraded successor
- Jump the line for the newest Chromecast features with Google's new preview program
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- The top 10 best and worst tech gadgets and products of 2016
- Best phone of the year 2016
- TV of the year award 2016
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCTest Lead : Perth BasedACT
- CCAdobe AEM DeveloperVIC
- TPTechnical Specialist, Identity and Acess ManagementVIC
- CCSenior Test Manager - Defence ProjectVIC
- FTService Lifecycle RepresentativeQLD
- CCTest ManagerNSW
- CCBusiness AnalystQLD
- TPChange ManagerQLD
- FTPMO Lead/ ManagerNSW
- FTSenior Front End DeveloperNSW
- FTChange Manager/ Project ManagerACT
- TPNetwork EngineerVIC
- CCIteration Manager / Scrum MasterQLD
- TPiOS DeveloperNSW
- CCSME Senior Financial Planner - MelbourneNSW
- FTAGILE Implementation ManagerNSW
- CCLead Enterprise Solution Architect - CloudNSW
- FTTraining & Implementation Manager, PlatformNSW
- CCProject ManagerWA
- CCSenior Automation TesterVIC
- CCProject Manager - Web & Portal Delivery- Government backgroundNSW
- CCIT Service Management Delivery SpecialistNSW
- CCFunctional Consultant - Brisbane locationNSW
- CCProduct Manager - Life Insurance (Fixed-Term)NSW
- FTStorage EngineerSA