For the last couple weeks I have been using a new video camera to capture all my video. Although my Kodak Playtouch is a great camera (which I still use), I needed something with an optical zoom. However, I couldn’t find the right camera with everything I needed (which included a mic-in jack that wasn’t going to ruin the sound). When I heard that Canon VIXIA was making a camera that had a lot of functionality I needed and more, I was excited. I mean, the mic-in jack – that is a pretty basic need for a camera, right? I also purchased the R20 over the higher end version because the main difference was internal memory – 32 GB over 8. Since it had dual SD card slots that could take up to 64 GB worth of video and also Eye-Fi ready, I wasn’t too concerned on paying $100 more. I have been using this camera for a couple weeks, so I got a feel for what works and what doesn’t. Subscribe to the Geekazine Special Media Feed – Find it on TechPodcasts.tv
The Pros of the Canon VIXIA HF R20
The camera has a lot of features. You can do a lot of editing right on the screen. It has an LCD touchscreen, so you press and adjust light, contrast, volume or even draw onto the screen. You can also add background music and with the templates, build a title right on the device. The microphone jack brings a lot to this camera. The jack also comes with a built-in attenuator – therefore if the microphone cannot hold back background noise, the camera will. Image quality is pretty nice. Using the AVCHD codec, you get a file that works well on certain systems (Windows 7 PC’s handle the codec fine, while with Mac, you need a program that has the codec. Final Cut Pro notes that it will work with .MTS files). The camera accepts SD XC cards up to 45 MBps. A Class 10 card is about 30 MB per second. I have Class 4 cards (16 MBps) that also work pretty well in the camera.
The Cons of the Canon VIXIA HF R20
First and foremost – the battery (BP-110). I believe this camera dispenses battery life when not in use. I had a fully charged battery when I put the camera away. When I pulled it out 3 days later, it only had a 15% charge. The battery is also on the bottom with a door to enclose. Not really an option to get a larger battery for it. The door opens even on the tripod to change, but it would have been nicer if it locked on the back like most cameras. The charger is proprietary. It’s a minor issue, but it also means I cannot lose that plug. The .MTS file works on Mac, but in some cases you have to convert. I downloaded VLC player just to view the MTS files. However, there is an option. After 15 minutes of recording (using the XP+), the camera breaks the video into another part. It switched without major pause, however, when switching from Card A to Card B, the process wasn’t smooth.
In the end, the pros outweigh the cons. On a full charge I can get about 75 minutes of record time. With 3-4 batteries and 5-6 SD cards, I can record a lot. I can also edit on the device and push up to Facebook or YouTube. I have not tested the Eye-Fi capability yet. I am more interested in using this camera to push video via HDMI. It transfers to the big screen pretty well, which I can also use as a video monitor when recording. For $399, this is a pretty good camera. I would like a better battery to it, but can live with switching out.