The M52 isn’t badly endowed for enthusiast features, either. There’s no lens ring like the LEGRIA HF G10, or even a dial. All functions are accessed via the touchscreen LCD. But there is a healthy range of settings available here. In auto mode, these are somewhat restricted. There’s the slightly bizarre animation system, which lets you add patterns to your video or draw on it whilst it’s being recorded. There are scene modes for audio, as well, offering presets for situations such as recording music, speeches or in cars. You can call up onscreen controls for zoom and toggling record, although the latter is rather inconveniently on the side of the LCD nearest the camera body, so not tremendously accessible.
Image stabilisation now comes in four forms, and the camcorder will make the choice for you. When Powered IS is enabled, the camcorder will switch into this mode if you zoom in, as this mode smoothes out the fine vibrations of hanheld shooting at telephoto extremes. Zoomed out, the Dynamic mode is chosen, for shooting whilst walking. But if the camera detects that it’s complete steady, it will switch to Tripod mode, and there’s a Macro IS mode best suited to shooting objects up close, too.
Switching to manual reveals Canon’s signature shutter and aperture priority modes, plus the usual array of scene presets. There is no direct control of both shutter and iris simultaneously, but the manual exposure setting provides the next best thing. There is an Image Effects menu where you can tweak colour depth, sharpness, contrast and brightness for the image. If you turn off the audio scene modes, it’s possible to adjust audio levels manually as well. Both focus and exposure can be adjusted via touchscreen buttons or by touching a point in the frame. In manual mode, the image stabilisation will not detect which setting to use automatically, and you only get to choose between Standard, Dynamic and Powered. The Tripod and Macro options can’t be selected.
One more shooting mode is available, called Cinema. This provides nine different film looks, such as flickering old movies, cool or vivid. This mode also allows many of the manual controls to be used at the same time, such as the aperture and shutter priority options, but not scene modes nor the image effects.
There are even minijacks available for hooking up an external microphone and headphones, although the accessory shoe is Canon’s proprietary “S” Mini Advanced Shoe. This will only accommodate Canon peripherals unless you purchase a third-party adapter, which won’t be a particularly sturdy attachment.