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Canon Legria HF S21 - Touchscreen and Controls

By James Morris



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Like the Legria HF M31, most of the functions are now accessed via the touchscreen. You can immediately call up a touch-operated focus and exposure mode, or head to the various menus. There are onscreen controls available for operating the zoom and toggling record. However, whilst the zoom buttons are on the edge and quite easy to access, the record button has been placed inexplicably near the camcorder body.

In manual mode, Canon's usual array of configuration options become available via the touchscreen. The Function button calls up two pages of buttons, providing direct access to white balance, microphone levels, plus focus and exposure controls. The latter can be operated by onscreen sliders or by touching a point in the screen, although the presence of extra touch-operated controls around the frame edge means the active area is merely a central rectangle, not the entire frame. The manual focusing control has a peaking option, whilst manual exposure offers zebra, and can be set to lock on average levels or highlights.

There is also a button to toggle between Canon's various program modes. As well as the general Programmed AE, there are shutter and aperture priority options, the usual array of scene modes, and cinema colour. The shutter can be varied from 1/6th to 1/2000th, and aperture from F1.8 (at maximum wide angle) to F8. As usual with Canon camcorders, you can't adjust both separately. But the general Exposure setting remains available, providing similar functionality.

Separate touchscreen menu buttons are available to switch between Automatic gain control and manual boosting up to 24dB, as well as for turning on the pop-up video light or Pre REC buffering mode, and toggling between dynamic, standard and no image stabilisation. The Powered image stabilisation mode has its own dedicated button on the edge of the LCD bezel. There are six digital effects available, too.

The HF S10's main innovation over the HF10 generation also remains. There's a knob next to the lens that by default operates the manual focus, with a button on the front to activate it. However, you can also customise the knob to operate exposure, shutter, mic level or AGC limit. The fineness of control is nowhere near that of a full lens ring, as sported by Panasonic's top-end models such as the HDC-TM700, and you would be hard pressed to execute a smooth rack focus effect using the knob. But it still makes rapid adjustment of various manual settings both easy and quick.


July 26, 2010, 2:02 pm

@James Morris - Excellent review and you had me biting my nails down to the wire as to how the Canon stacks up against the Panasonic HDC-TM700!


July 26, 2010, 11:59 pm

A few questions:

1. Is it true that the LEGRIA HF S200 and HF S21 are completely identical apart from the HF S21 having inbuilt memory and a viewfinder? If thats the case I would probably buy the HF S200 as its slightly smaller, lighter and £300 cheaper!

2. Does the HF S21 (and/or HF S200) do 1080p on the highest quality "MXP mode" by default or does it do 1080i and we have to switch on "CINE mode" or something to get progressive video?

3. Are you 100% certain that HF S21 (and i guess HF S200 since they're meant to be identical) support SDXC cards? It doesn't mention it at all on canons website. It would be a definite deal breaker for me if they don't support SDXC.


James Morris

July 27, 2010, 2:59 am

@Ripsnorter Thanks!


1: as far as I know, the S200 is as you say the S21 minus the viewfinder and on-board memory.

2: No Canon camcorders record "native" 1080p. Instead, they record 25PF to a 1080i signal. So you have a signal which can be read by 1080i equipment, but internally the lines are scanned progressively. The 25PF mode can be selected independently of CINE mode, unlike most Panasonic HD camcorders.

3. Good question. There have been a lot of reports that the S21 and its siblings do in fact have SDXC-compatible SD card slots, but Canon lists them as SD/SDHC. I will have to ask Canon to clarify and get back to you, as although I still have the camcorder until Friday I don't have any SDXC cards to try in it!


July 29, 2010, 7:31 pm

@James Morris

Thanks for answering those questions. Were you able to get any word from Canon clarifying the situation regarding SDXC card support in the S21 and S200?


September 22, 2010, 5:17 pm

Hi all,

I checked a lot on the intenet in order to solve the SDXC compatibility dilemma and I found this page of the Canon USA site:


Here you can download a firmware update for the VIXIA HS S21 in order to make it compatible with SDXC cards.

Now, the question is still open, because I suspect that all of us here in Europe cannot install such firmware, since VIXIA and LEGRIA differ for all the PAL 50i/NTSC 60i issues, and such firmware may be SPECIFIC for the VIXIA model...

I tried to ask to Canon Italia but they are not able to even understand my questions. I would appreciate if TrustedReviews can solve the firmware update enigma with Canon UK or USA and getting some declaration about if/when such firmware will be available for Legrias in Europe...

Best regards!


September 22, 2010, 5:32 pm

I want to add to my comment that, to my knowledge, SDHC and SDXC are perfectly compatible slots (they are the SAME slot). The difference just lies in the operating system software: drivers for SDXC cards read file names and directories in a different way with respect to drivers for SDHC cards (SDXC drivers can addres a whopping 1 Terabyte of data so they allow for larger directory structures than SDHC drivers), so the entire problem is related to the possibility to have a firmware update, because the whole physical/electronics is the same.

You will notice that the software update for VIXIAS has been released on 8/31/2010, so it is really a fresh novelty... just 22 days ago! If you click on the filename you get this description: "Allows commercially available SDXC memory cards to be used". Let's wait for the European version!


September 23, 2010, 7:18 pm


I want to share with you that I have contacted Canon USA in order to ask them if their firmdate supprots just the VIXIA version of the HF S21 camcorder or both the VIXIA and LEGRIA variants.

I am so happy to report you that the answer is YES: we old-world Europeans can get our SDXC memories on the LEGRIA, too!!!

Here is their answer, verbatim (I just erased email headers and Canon representative's name):

"Thank you for contacting Canon product support. We value you as a Canon

customer and appreciate the opportunity to assist you with the firmware

update for your Legria HF S21 (Vixia HF S21).

Actually, this firmware supports both the Legria and the Vixia

camcorders. The link you had would be the one to use to update your


I hope this information is helpful to you. Please let us know if we can

be of any further assistance with your Canon HF S21.

Thank you for choosing Canon."

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