A tiny camcorder like the FS11 will be almost exclusively aimed at point-and-shoot recording. But it still includes a few features for those who want to take a little more trouble over their video making. The FS11 has mini-jacks for microphone and A/V out. However, this doesn’t double as a headphone socket, and while you can call up an audio meter, there is no control over levels, so this merely lets you know your external mic is working.
Also, where Canon’s HF10 makes up for its small size by moving over to a smaller, proprietary accessory shoe, the FS11 misses out on this feature entirely. The mic mini-jack is also underneath the LCD, so cabling could interfere with operating its controls.
The FS11 incorporates a smaller subset of Canon’s usual manual controls. The joystick on the LCD panel edge provides access to an exposure control with increments from -11 to +11, manual focus, and turning on the LED video light. There’s a separate button for backlight compensation.
Turning to the Function menu, you can choose between Program AE mode, Shutter priority mode, and eight Scene modes, including Portrait, Sports, Night, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Spotlight and Fireworks. Shutter priority allows speeds from 1/6th to 1/2,000th in video mode, though the aperture priority mode found on many Canon camcorders is absent.
The Function menu also provides access to white balance settings, and it’s good to see Canon’s Image Effects are still available. However, the FS11 only provides Vivid, Neutral and Soft Skin Detail options, not the Low Sharpening or Custom settings available on higher-end Canon models. The Function menu also gives access to digital effects and the three shooting quality settings.
All other controls require a trip to the full menu, although you will rarely need to change anything here. Alternatively, you can choose Easy mode which turns off all user settings. The FS11 also sports Canon’s new Intelligent battery system, so you get a detailed readout of exactly how many minutes of power you have left – something Sony has had in its favour for years.