The Canon FS200 is a standard-definition camcorder with a 37x optical zoom in a very compact body. That's not as megazoomy as Panasonic's H80 or Sony's SR47, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially since there's no optical image stabilization. Plus, the FS200 is considerably smaller than those models because it records to SD or SDHC cards only; there is no internal storage. And though its video quality isn't perfect, it's better than most at this price point.
|Key specs||Canon FS200|
|Dimensions (WHD)||2.2x2.3x4.8 inches|
|Weight (with battery and media)||10.1ounces|
|Storage capacity, type||None; SD/SDHC|
|Resolution, sensor size, type||680K pixels (340K effective, 4:3), 1/6-inch CCD|
|LCD size, resolution||2.7-inch LCD, 123K dots|
|Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length)||37x, f2.6-96.2, 45.8-1,695mm (35mm equivalent)|
|Minimum illumination||5 lux|
|File format (video, audio)||MPEG-2 (.MOD), Dolby Digital stereo|
|Recording time at highest quality||10 minutes per 1GB (approx.)|
|Image stabilization type||Electronic|
|Battery type, rated life (continuous)||Lithium ion rechargeable, 3 hours and 25 minutes|
Available in red, silver, and blue, the FS200 is an attractive little handful of a camcorder. Easily stuffed in a jacket pocket, there isn't much more to the camcorder besides the 37x zoom lens and its flip-out 2.7-inch LCD. Smack in the center of the back are a record button and the Mode dial. The FS200 can record movies and photos, or there's a Dual Shot option letting you switch between capturing stills and video without changing modes (though you can't capture still while it's actively recording video). The SD/SDHC card slot and battery are under a door in the bottom. This means there's no option to put in an extended-life battery; the typical recording time for the included battery is 1 hour and 40 minutes.
The FS200 is simple to operate, due, in part, to a responsive five-way joystick next to the 2.7-inch LCD as well as a row of clearly labeled buttons below the screen for recording and playback. Press the Func button next to the joystick and you get your shooting options menu. At the bottom of those options is an icon accessing the rest of the camcorder's settings.
It's also one of the few camcorders in its price range to offer a mic input and headphone output. However, the headphone out is shared with the AV out and you'll have to switch its function in the main system menu. Both are located in the LCD cavity on the left side of the camcorder, along with a Mini-USB port.
|Inputs/Outputs||3.5-millimeter headphone/3.5-millimeter mic, A/V, Mini-USB|
|White balance||Auto, Daylight, Tungsten, Manual|
|Scene modes||Portrait, Sports, Night, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Spotlight, Fireworks|
|Color effects||Vivid, Neutral, Soft Skin Detail, Art, Mosaic, Black & White, Sepia|
|Lens cover (auto or manual)||Auto|
|Video light/flash||Video light|
The FS200 has a reasonably good mix of auto and manual shooting options. Full auto shooting is only available in Dual Shot mode, which isn't a big deal once you remember that's where it is. This is basically an Easy mode, locking you out of all the menus. If you want to change any settings at all, say for white balance, you have to put it in Video or Photo modes. You can't even turn on the video light in Dual Shot.