The models with internal memory are capable of down converting video and saving to standard-definition MPEG-2 files, which you'll be able to upload wirelessly if you have the requisite Eye-Fi card. Interestingly, the manual states that "This product is not guaranteed to support Eye-Fi card functions (including wireless transfer)." That's somewhat annoying given that Canon touts it as a feature. They also support relay recording, the automatic overflow of video from one medium to another if you run out of space.
All things considered, there's a lot to like about the camcorders' design and features. It has a sturdy, basic design that is in many ways superior to its more expensive Vixia siblings. The membrane buttons inside the LCD recess let you toggle between capture and playback modes; take 2-, 4- or 8-second video "snapshots;" down convert video from HD to standard definition for wireless upload via an Eye-Fi card (Web); and control display and playback options. I really like the connector layout, with the Mini-HDMI, USB, component, mic and headphone jacks all on the back of the camcorder. The external mic and headphone is rare in a camcorder for this price range, which make this model especially attractive to the education market. Because the camcorder lacks an accessory shoe, though, there's no place on the camcorder to attach the mic.
|Canon HF R100 / R10 / R11||JVC Everio GZ-HM340||Panasonic HDC-SD60/ TM55 / TM60||Sony Handycam HDR-CX110 / CX150|
|Sensor||2.4-megapixel CMOS||1.37-megapixel CMOS||3-megapixel CMOS||3-megapixel ExmorR CMOS|
|1/5.5 inch||1/5.8 inch||1/4.1 inch||1/4 inch|
40 - 800mm (16:9)
46.4mm to 928mm (n/a)
35.7 - 893mm (16:9)
37 - 1075mm (16:9)
|Min recommended illumination (lux)||standard: 5.5
low light: 0.4
low light: 4
Color Night View: 1
low light: 3
|LCD||2.7-inch 211,000-dot||2.7-inch 123,000 dot||2.7-inch 230,400-dot||2.7-inch 230,000-dot touch screen|
|Primary media||0GB/8GB/32GB flash; SDHC||16GB built in; SDHC||0GB/8GB/16GB flash; SDXC||None/16GB built in; SDHC|
1080/60i @ 17 Mbps; 1440x1080/60i @ 12, 7, 5 Mbps
(all video interpolated up from 1664 x 936)
|AVCHD: 1080/60i @ 24, 17, 12, 5 Mbps||AVCHD:
1080/60i @ 17 , 13, 9 Mbps; 1440x1080/60i @ 5 Mbps
1080/60i @ 24, 17Mbps; 1440x1080/60i @ 9,5 Mbps
|Manual shutter speed and iris||No||No||Yes||No|
mic, headphone jacks
|2 channels||2 channels||2 channels|
|Body dimensions (WHD, inches)||2.4 x 2.5 x 4.9||2.1 x 2.4 x 4.4||2.0 x 2.6 x 4.4||2.0 x 2.3 x 4.3|
|Operating weight (ounces)||11.3||9 (est)||10.5||9.3|
|Ship date||March 2010||February 2010||March 2010||January 2010|
A big photo button and zoom switch, plus the power switch, sit on top of the camcorder. The zoom has a nice feel, and it's fairly easy to maintain a steady rate.
Canon doesn't burden the comparatively low-resolution display with touch-screen operation, instead sticking with joystick-based navigation and a refreshingly easy-to-traverse menu system. The Func button on the bezel pulls up options for the camcorder's limited set of shooting capabilities. Exposure modes include Program; Cine, which adjusts gamma in conjunction with 24p shooting; and Portrait (wide aperture); there are no real manual exposure controls on this model. A fly up menu allows you to set a prerecord interval, adjust exposure compensation, manual focus, set mic level and enable face-detection autofocus.
I don't normally recommend opting for any model with built-in memory--it usually seems an unnecessary expense--so I think R100 is the best deal of the lot. However, given its resolution issues, the Vixia HF R series strikes me as being more of high-end standard-definition model than a low-end HD model. While people really do want cheaper HD, and there are some claims that many people can't really tell the difference between HD and SD, the whole thing simply doesn't feel right to me. If video quality on the cheap matters to you more than the features, check out Panasonic's competitors instead.