Canon FS200 review: Canon FS200

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The Good Ultracompact design; 37x optical zoom; mic, headphone jacks.

The Bad No optical image stabilization; no extended-life battery option.

The Bottom Line Though its video isn't perfect, the Canon FS200 is one of the better standard-definition consumer camcorders available.

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7.6 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Image quality 7

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
Price (MSRP) $329.99
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
Resolution (video/photo) 720x480/1,024x768
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.

Features Canon FS200
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
Focus Auto, Manual
Color effects Vivid, Neutral, Soft Skin Detail, Art, Mosaic, Black & White, Sepia
Lens cover (auto or manual) Auto
Video light/flash Video light
Accessory shoe No

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.

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