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First Look: Canon Vixia HF20
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First Look: Canon Vixia HF20

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While it's more expensive than its sub-$600 competitors, the Canon Vixia HF20 and Vixia HF200 deliver a more extensive feature set for the extra money. The HF200, which lacks internal memory, is probably a better buy than the HF20, though the HF20's all-black body is a bit classier looking.

[ Music ] >> Lori Grunin: Hi. I'm Lori Grunin, Senior Editor with CNET, and this is the Canon Vixia [assumed spelling] HF20. The HF20 is identical to the HF200. They only differ in two ways. One is the HF200 is graphite and black, and the other is the HF20 has 32 gigabytes of installed memory whereas the HF200 doesn't have any. That makes it a little less expensive, and in my mind probably a little bit of a better buy. I really like this camcorder. Not only is it small, it's smaller than the HFS10, but it's comfortable to use and shoots very nice video given its size. It also has surprisingly broad manual feature set. It has a lot of the same manual and high-level controls that you get on the HFS10. Control over shutter speed and aperture. It has a headphone jack and a mic input and an accessory shoe. All of these things, which most manufacturers jettison when they create a camcorder this size. In 2009, Canon redesigned its menu system, and I really like the new fly out - it's what I call it - menus, which give you access to a lot of the shooting controls in addition to those that you have in the function menu. There's also a new feature called video snap, which takes four-second snapshots when you press the record button. Given that it has a 15x zoom lens in a body this size, it's a pretty impressive lens. It's not as good, of course, as the bigger lens in the HFS10, but it does a very good job. It's very sharp, and the video from this camcorder is very good. Low-light video this solid, there's a little noise, but you still find it pretty acceptable. The only real drawback to this camcorder is the price. It's more expensive than its competitors, all which tend to float in the sub $600 level, but if you want the manual features, this is probably your best option. I'm Lori Grunin, and this is the Canon Vixia HF20. [ Music ]

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