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Canon Legria FS21 - Canon Legria FS21

By James Morris


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Canon's FS11, punched above its weight in image quality terms, and with an identical sensor the FS21 wasn't going to be a sea change. However, it does perform slightly better in low light, with a brighter image overall. There is a lot of grain visible, though, which obscures fine detail. So whilst the FS21 does a better job than most camcorders with 1/6in sensors do in low light, JVC's latest models with a similar specification perform just that little bit better, with less grain visible.

In brighter conditions, the FS21 produces really quite commendable video for a standard definition model, as did its predecessor. Colours are bright and saturated, which you can tweak with the image effects if you prefer more or less vibrancy. The picture is sharp, with the autofocus and exposure reacting well to changing conditions. Overall, the FS21 fits the bill nicely for a budget point-and-shoot camcorder, picking up an attractive image except in the poorest illumination.

Video is recorded in MPEG-2 format to the now relatively ubiquitous MOD file type, which incorporates Dolby Digital audio. This is now widely supported by editing software, although some apps will prefer the files are renamed as MPG. If you just want to watch footage on a TV, the AV mini-jack provides composite video and stereo RCA audio via a breakout cable.


The Canon Legria FS21 has a lot going for it. Video performance is great for a camcorder this size and there are a few extra capabilities readily available when you want a little bit more control. However, its image quality is slightly behind JVC's Everio GZ-MS120 in low light. The JVC is lacking a few of the Canon's features and you will need to add your own memory as none is built in. But at over £100 less than the FS21, it's better value overall.

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May 30, 2009, 6:46 pm

Well, you should have mentioned that there is the Legria FS200 available. It is essential the same as the FS21, but without internal memory and with a little bit less advanced zoom("only" 41x compared to 45x, optical zoom is the same because they have the same lens). Pricewise it´s on the same level as the mentioned JVC camera.

I think I would rather pickup the Canon because it has an external microphone jack, something that most camcorders in this price class don´t offer.

And the MOD-Files are automatically renamed as MPG when transferrend via the USB-port of the camcorder.

James Morris

May 31, 2009, 5:15 pm

@Lupti I'm sure I will be reviewing the FS200 sometime soon! We review pretty much every camcorder out there here. The FS200 has a different CCD to the FS21, so I really can't infer things like image quality from one to the other. In my testing, the FS21's MOD files were not automatically renamed MPG. That comes with one of the bundled apps, which not everyone will use if they already have capable software installed - adding more software can often prevent what you already have from working properly.


June 4, 2009, 3:36 am

Ok, you´re right, the FS200 has a lower resolution sensor. However, there is still the Canon Legria FS20 out. It costs only around 20 € or $ more and comes with the megapixel sensor and 8GB internal memory. Beside the size of the internal memory it is identical to the FS21. However, I would agree that the FS21 and especially the FS22 are somehow overpriced. I don´t think that so much internal memory is worth this price premium.


July 10, 2009, 1:36 pm

The software provided by Pixela is a disgrace, completely dysfunctional. You cannot get pictures into a PC. Canon say there is no alternative software. Pixela don't answer the phone. We have a whole day's recordings for a business event locked inside. Very disappointed is an understatement.


May 28, 2011, 3:46 am

I'm using PIXELA with a canon s200 on a windows7 64bit machine and it doesn't work well at all. If freezes when importing footage especially when stitching together clips larger than 2gb .You have to go to the library edit program to do this, and the new larger files do not replace the smaller ones, but are placed in a different directory (which you cannot customize). In case you're wondering why the need to stitch these shorter clips together, if you don't and just use the smaller ones, it drops frames when transitioning from one clip to another. PiXELA seems to work a little better in win xp 32 bit, but I still have problems with it not creating the larger clips. This software is aweful, and canon does not suport it, and neither does the company that makes it as far as I can tell.

I've been looking for an alternative, and so far have only found Corel Digital Studio 2010, which seems to work ok, but is a huge piece of bloatware and they want $40 for it. Amazon has it for sale for $6 and says there is a newer version out for $30, so I'm not sure what the version difference is, cause I downloaded the free 2010 trial from Corel, and it seems like that would be the latest. I may try to buy the $6 version and see if it will let me register the downloaded copy with that serial number.

Meanwhile I'm still looking for something better if anyone has suggestions. I'd especially like to find something that would do native splitting and trimming of AVCHD files. Then I plan to use Vegas Pro for the real editing and rendering.

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