Canon Legria HF21 Review - Canon Legria HF21 Review


Further manual options can be found via the usual Function menu. There are shutter and aperture priority modes, which allow you to vary the shutter speed from 1/6th to 1/2000th of a second and iris from F1.8 to F8 respectively. The two can’t be set independently, but the basic exposure control is still available, so this can be used to provide a similar level of flexibility. There is also a Cine mode, which alters the colour gamut for a more film-like look, and an array of 11 scene modes, including Underwater and Surface options as well as the usual Sports, Portrait et cetera.

The HF21 also incorporates Canon’s Image Effects, which provide presets for altering colour saturation and sharpening. There’s also a Soft Skin option that reduces sharpening purely in areas of flesh tones. The Image Effects even include a customisable option, with user-configurable sliders for Colour Depth, Sharpness, Contrast and Brightness, although each one only has a single position up or down. There are a few more goodies available within the full menu. Here, you can select PF25 shooting, which records progressive frames but still stores them within an interlaced 1080i video signal. There is also an x.v.Color mode available.

The LEGRIA HF21 is quite a comfortable camcorder to use, thanks to the arrangement of controls on the LCD. Aside from the traditional single-handed posture, with the thumb toggling record, there is also a start/stop button on the LCD’s edge, so you can operate the camcorder at waist height with two hands – a very comfortable posture where you can keep things steady quite easily.

Unfortunately, what let the HF20 down most of all remains in the HF21. The smaller CMOS doesn’t particularly affect performance in good lighting. In bright sunlight or even cloudy conditions, colours are vibrant and faithful with plenty of fine detail. However, low-light capabilities are behind 2008 models such as the HF11. The image remains bright down to relatively low illumination, but there’s a fair amount of grain visible. Performance isn’t bad at all, and much better than most camcorders in this class. However, Canon’s own Legria HF S10, Panasonic’s current top-of-the-range models, and Sony’s premium models such as the HDR-X520 all surpass it in low light.


So it is the overall video performance which lets the HF21 down, particularly when you take into account current pricing. At over £800, this camcorder is up against the aforementioned top-of-the-range models from other manufacturers, and is very much in the realm of camcorders aimed at serious, enthusiast videomakers. In particular, Panasonic’s HDC-TM300 offers slightly superior low-light abilities and more features including a lens ring and standard-sized accessory shoe. It has half the memory, but is also cheaper. So whilst the Canon Legria HF21 is a very good camcorder, at its current price we’d opt for the Panasonic HDC-TM300 instead.

Trusted Score

Score in detail

  • Image Quality 9
  • Features 7
  • Value 7

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