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Flashy Canon SD camcorders

Canon has introduced three new flash-based standard-definition camcorders.

Canon's FS11 flash-based camcorder has 16GB of built-in flash memory.
Canon's FS11 flash-based camcorder has 16GB of built-in flash memory. Canon

Though late to the flash-based camcorder party, Canon is showing that it sure knows how to boogie down with three new standard-definition models, two of which can record to built-in flash memory in addition to SDHC cards. Similar to Sony's Hybrid Plus feature, Canon is calling its version Dual Flash Memory, for obvious reasons.

All these new models, which make up the FS series, also include Canon's new Advanced Zoom system, which sounds suspiciously like digital zoom, but according to Canon doesn't produce any noticeable degradation of the captured video. They make a decent argument for this, since they say that while Advanced Zoom does decrease the number of pixels used to capture video, it always stays above the pixel-resolution of NTSC video. While this makes sense, we'll be eager to see if there are any adverse effects, though Advanced Zoom only engages at the widest and most-telephoto ends of the zoom range. In this way, it becomes like a digital version of wide-angle and telephoto lens converters, but I worry that this might adversely effect the camcorders' electronic image stabilization. However, in case the notion of non-optical zoom turns your stomach, Canon had the sense to let the feature be disabled through the camcorders' menus.

The only difference between the three models is the amount of flash memory Canon has built into them. The $600 FS11 has 16GB of onboard memory, while the $500 FS10 sports 8GB under the hood, while the $400 FS100 has none. All the cameras include 37X optical zoom lenses that extend to 48X with Advanced Zoom turned on, though the cameras are all emblazoned with 48X instead of 37X. They include single 1.07MP CCD sensors, Digic DV II image processors, 2.7-inch widescreen LCDs, Intelligent Lithium-ion batteries that provide up to three hours of life and let the camera tell you how many minutes of recording time remain, and microphone jacks. None of them have viewfinders. Canon expects the FS series camcorders to be available in April.