Canon Legria HFS11 HD camcorder

A Full HD, flash memory camcorder with 64GB of inbuilt memory

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Canon Australia Pty Ltd Legria HFS11
  • Canon Australia Pty Ltd Legria HFS11
  • Canon Australia Pty Ltd Legria HFS11
  • Canon Australia Pty Ltd Legria HFS11

Pros

  • Video quality, manual tools and features, auto modes, build quality – it's got the lot.

Cons

  • Sorry, there seems to be some mistake – haven't we reviewed this camcorder already? Only incremental changes to its predecessor.

Bottom Line

The Canon Legria HFS11 is the premier choice for hands-on enthusiasts. It will also suit novices who aren't afraid of using camcorder menus. If you want the very best in video quality, this camcorder is pretty hard to pass up.

Would you buy this?

The Canon Legria HFS11 is the latest Full HD camcorder to roll off the company’s overworked production line. It replaces the top-of-the-range Legria HFS10 in Canon’s camcorder lineup, which we reviewed barely four months ago. At this rate, we half expect the Legria HFS12 to pop through our door by lunch time today.

So what does the Canon Legria HFS11 camcorder offer over its fledgling HS10 daddy? To put it bluntly; not a lot. The only thing that separates each model is the amount of inbuilt memory, which has increased from 32GB on the HFS10 to a more generous 64GB on the HFS11. Otherwise, this is exactly the same camcorder we reviewed back in April — everything from the DIGIC DV III processing chip to the 10x optical zoom lens remains unchanged. (Canon has apparently made some tweaks to the HFS11’s low-light mode, but we were hard pressed to tell the difference.)

As upgrades go, the Canon Legria HFS11 fails to impress, yet it managed to knock our socks off nonetheless. Simply put, it’s the best HD camcorder we’ve tested since the Legria HFS10; blowing most of the competition out of the water. Subsequently, the lack of new tools or features is quite forgivable.

Like its identikit stable mate, the Canon Legria HFS11 sports an enlarged 1/2 .6in CMOS sensor for a significant boost in resolution (8.5 million pixels to be exact). During testing, it produced some incredibly sharp images that were bursting with detail and colour. The vibrancy and depth exhibited in our outdoor footage was every bit as impressive as its predecessor, with almost no image noise or digital artifacts marring the picture. Sure, it might not offer any improvements over the HFS10, but when the footage looks this good, who cares?

One of the highly-touted features that debuted with the Legria HFS10 was its Video Snapshot mode. This is a beginner-friendly tool that records video in quick, four-second bursts. The clips can then be automatically merged into a montage via inbuilt editing software (you can even add your own music), resulting in a slick highlights reel. While it obviously won’t suit every occasion, Video Snapshot is a great way to get fast, punchy results with minimal effort.

The Canon Legria HFS11 is a very attractive camcorder, with its sleek black body dominated by an impressively fat lens. For menu navigation, it uses a tried-and-tested LCD-mounted joystick configuration. If you hate the current trend towards touch screen interfaces, the Canon Legria HFS11 should come as a breath of fresh air. (Personally, we prefer tapping our fingers around on the LCD screen, but to each, their own.)

As you’d expect, the menu is chock-full of advanced modes and features, including a wealth of focusing options. We particularly liked the peaking tool, which makes manual focusing a breeze.

Other manual features include exposure (-11 to 11+), aperture (f/1.8 to f/8), shutter speed, gain, white balance and an assortment of colour effects. Crucially, a manual control dial is also present, along with a proprietary accessory shoe and external microphone jack. In other words, the Canon Legria HFS11 camcorder has everything a budding filmmaker needs.

Unfortunately, the wealth of manual controls makes for a complicated menu that may confound some users. This is probably the only chink in Canon’s armour — as far as intuitive interfaces go, there is definitely room for improvement. Adding to the heartache, the HFS11 lacks an ‘easy’ button, which would have made life a lot easier for beginners. (As it stands, they‘ll have to dive into that intimidating menu screen even if they want the automatic mode.) But this is a relatively small quibble — the Canon Legria HFS11 is primarily aimed at video enthusiasts, after all.

When the Canon Legria HFS10 debuted, it cost a wallet-punishing $2499 — more than the average consumer was willing or able to afford. Thankfully, Canon has re-adjusted its pricing strategy with the Legria HFS11. Despite coming with double the onboard memory, it carries an RRP of $2099. While still far from a budget price point, the addition of 32GB makes the Legria HFS11's sticker price a more reasonable proposition. The best Full HD camcorder just got incrementally better.

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