The Good Very good video at highest quality setting; nice lens performance.
The Bad Poorly designed touch-screen menu system; short battery life; defaults to low-quality video mode.
The Bottom Line At its best, the Canon Vixia HF M3x series--composed of the M300, M30, M31, and M32--delivers a very good blend of video quality, features, and performance for the money, but some people may find the touch-screen interface extremely frustrating to use and the battery life painfully short. Plus, you really need to bump up to the highest bit rate quality. Of the series, the HF M300 is the best deal.
Canon Vixia HF M30
I was a big fan of last year's mainstream Canon flash HD camcorders, the HF200 series, and much of what was great about them remains--solid performance and very good video quality. That's probably why I'm doubly frustrated by Canon's attempt to "improve" this year's models with its almost unusable new interface design.
The M series bodies are relatively small and lightweight, and though plastic, they feel pretty well-constructed. Plus, they're not too small for large hands to grip comfortably. Canon provides a physical switch for switching between manual and full auto modes. It's kind of annoying that you can't get into the menus in auto--which Canon calls "Dual Shot" mode--but if you adjust some settings in advance in Manual, they'll stick.
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