As for audio, the stereo microphone is quite sensitive with a bright sound, but the automatic wind filter doesn't work as well as we'd like. It has a decent set of audio tools, including the ability to mix internal and external levels, set directionality (mono, normal, wide, zoom), equalise (boost LF, low cut, boost MF, boost HF+LF) and attenuate.
Interface and features
It's not a very compact camcorder, but it has a nice heft and it feels comfortable to grip and shoot single-handed. A mic input sits on the right side of the lens, and a flip-up cover beneath the strap hides the dual SDXC slots.
Like the higher-end HF G10, the HF M40 has three operating modes: auto, manual and Cinema. However, the Cinema mode in this camcorder doesn't support a 24p-encoded format — just 24p capture that's encoded as 50i. The mode is just a quick way to invoke 24F plus a selection of filters.
We're not crazy about the LCD; although it's slightly larger and a higher resolution than that of the preceding M31 and M300 models, it still feels too small, and coarse and frustrating for navigating the menus. However, because of the relatively large virtual buttons, it's not bad for accessing the frequently used shooting settings. We had a tough time viewing it in direct sunlight, though, so if you shoot outdoors a lot you might want to look at a model with an electronic viewfinder.
A membrane button in the LCD recess invokes Canon's Story Creator, a guided shooting mode intended to help you capture a variety of content on a given topic. Basically, you choose a theme, such as Party or Travel, and the camcorder provides a list of scene options, like "Planning for the trip" and "Taking off!". They're organised in-camcorder, and you can rate individual scenes for playback filtering. There's also a generic, theme-less story if you just want to use it for organising a shoot. The files reside in the normal AVCHD directory tree; however, the organisation is strictly for camcorder-based playback.
Also in the recess, you'll find membrane buttons for playback, Video Snap (to take 2-, 4- or 8-second clips) and information, as well as uncovered mini-HDMI, component, USB and headphone connectors.
A fine follow-up to last year's M31 and M300 models, the Canon Legria M40 should please most home movie-oriented videographers despite its relatively high price. If you don't need an electronic viewfinder, the M40 is a good buy.