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The expanded joystick capabilities of Canon's high definition Legria models has been brought over to the FS21, although the range of settings available is far fewer. Flicking the joystick up provides immediate access to turning the LED video light and a chosen digital effect on and off, as well as toggling backlight compensation. It also enables the exposure control and manual focus, which are then configured by flicking the joystick left or right. The final option accessible via the joystick is the Pre-REC function. This continually buffers video to memory, so a few seconds ahead of when you press record are tacked onto your footage, vastly reducing your chances of missing an important moment.
The remaining settings are accessed via Canon's now familiar Function button. But here again the range is less than with higher-end models. Alongside the standard Program AE mode, there's shutter priority mode and the usual array of scene modes, including Portrait, Sports, Night, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Spotlight, and Fireworks. However, there's no aperture priority mode available. You also get a subset of Canon's Image Effects. There are Vivid and Neutral options, for increasing or reducing saturation respectively, plus a soft skin detail mode. But there is no direct control over sharpening, and no custom option. Few camcorders offer sharpening control, although Canon's high-end models do.
An extra full menu level is also available, but this only includes settings that you probably won't want to access after initial setup, except possibly switching the camcorder's AV/headphone mini-jack between its two functions. Overall, whilst the FS21 may not provide as much manual control as Canon's premium camcorders, it still offers easier access than most models in its class, in particular JVC's. However, it's also worth noting that none of the manual settings are available in Dual Shot mode, neither via the joystick on its own nor using the Function button. So if you want to take photos at the same time as shooting video, you will be confined to using the camera entirely in auto mode.