Canon VIXIA HF M4 review: Canon VIXIA HF M4

CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.8
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Image quality: 8.0

Average User Rating

4.5 stars 2 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good With a nice set of features for home-movie-type shooters and pleasing video quality, the Canon Vixia HF M400 series has lots to like.

The Bad A small, coarse LCD that's hard to view in direct sunlight and touch-screen-impaired menu system hamper an otherwise solid design.

The Bottom Line A fine follow-up to last year's M3xx series, the Canon Vixia M4xx series should please most home-movie-oriented videographers despite its relatively high price. If you don't need the EVF, the M400 is your best buy, but if you'll be shooting a lot in sunlight, it's worth it to step up to the M41.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

With the Vixia HF M4xx series of HD camcorders, Canon maintains its reputation for delivering a solid midrange consumer camcorder, once again at slightly higher prices than those of the competition. The series consists of three nearly identical models. The cheapest, the M400, has no built-in memory, the M40 adds 16GB, and the M41 adds another 16GB plus an electronic viewfinder. All use the same HD CMOS Pro sensor found in the HF G10 , but paired with a smaller, less expensive lens. This review is based on the Vixia HF M41.

Overall, the camcorder's video looks relatively sharp--and like most looks even better played directly on a TV. There is some aliasing on edges, generally a result of the interlaced video format; one difference between the M4xx series and its step-up sibling is the lack of a native 1080 progressive encoding format instead of the AVCHD standard of encoding 24fps and 30fps video as 60i.

Exposure and color rendering look very good, with a broad tonal range--there's no excessive clipping in the highlights or shadows. Though the M4xx series uses the same sensor as the more expensive HF G10, the lenses are very different, and it shows in a variety of ways. In this case, the more pentagonal aperture renders less pleasing out-of-focus highlights. That probably won't matter to most potential users of this model, but will affect those seeking a more artistic look.

The camcorder's low-light video (about 17 lux) looks quite good; a little soft, but with a nice balance between sharpness and color saturation and accuracy in its noise reduction. Lower light--dim living-room quality--displays more softness and color noise, but I think most people would consider it acceptable.

For shooting stills, the low-resolution sensor may not suit some folks' need for large still photos. Like the G10, the stills look sharp and fall just short of looking too digital; they look fine onscreen and printed, but I wouldn't recommend printing them larger than 4.5x8 inches.

As for audio, the stereo microphone is quite sensitive with a bright sound, but the automatic wind filter doesn't work as well as I'd like. It has a decent set of audio tools, including the ability to mix internal and external levels, set directionality (mono, normal, wide, zoom), equalize (boost LF, low cut, boost MF), boost HF+LF), and attenuate.

Editors' Top PicksSee All


Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy

Canon Vixia HF M41 (Black)

Part Number: CNETM41 Released: 15 Mar 2011
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Regional specs shown for US. UK specs are unavailable.

  • Release date 15 Mar 2011
  • Optical Sensor Type CMOS
  • Width 2.9 in
  • Depth 5.4 in
  • Height 2.8 in
  • Weight 12.7 oz