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Canon Legria FS21 review



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Although high definition camcorders started to reach affordable levels in 2008, the credit crunch has pushed prices back up. So you may now consider the 2009 models too pricey again and instead plan to stick with standard definition. There are other reasons to eschew the higher resolution, though, many of which are epitomised by Canon's Legria FS21. The successor to the FS11, it's light and compact, yet promises quality and features beyond its size, with storage and battery life for hours of shooting.

Internally, the FS21 isn't that different from its predecessor. The sensor is still a 1/6in CCD with 1.07-megapixels. The maximum still image resolution remains a modest 1,152 x 864, and 710,000 pixels are employed when shooting video. Since this is about 70 per cent more than is required for standard definition video at 720 x 576, Canon can extend the already enormous 37x optical zoom to 45x with its Advanced Zoom system. This is a digital zoom, but without the loss of detail usually associated with expanding the frame digitally. You can turn on digital zoom as well, with a ludicrous 2,000x factor, but you won't be able to make out anything at full telephoto. Amorphous blotches of colour will be all you can see.

This model also includes 16GB of flash memory and offers the same three quality modes as the FS11, ranging from LP at 3Mbits/sec to XP at 9Mbits/sec. Even in the top mode, the onboard memory will be sufficient for over three and a half hours of footage. There is also an SD memory card slot hidden in the same compartment as the battery. The latter is reassuringly large and provides over three hours of power, which is a good thing as the captive format means that there will be no option for a larger battery.

Where higher-end features are concerned, the FS21 sits in a slightly curious halfway house between pure point-and-shoot and more serious camcorders. It doesn't have a lens ring or accessory shoe, but Canon has blessed it with mini-jacks for an external microphone and headphones. The latter also doubles as an AV output, with the function switchable in the menu.

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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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