A high-end camcorder with 32GB of built-in storage and some advanced features, the Canon Legria HF M41 has plenty of appeal. But is it appealing enough to justify shelling out £620?
Built around the same HD CMOS Pro sensor as Canon's top-of-the-range models, the M41 is designed for those who want high-performance results without as many full-on manual controls as, say, the Legria HF G10, Canon's current top dog.
The sensor has a resolution of 2.07 megapixels, which sounds low. But, rather than maxing out on dots, Canon's boffins have opted for a larger overall CMOS chip with bigger individual pixels, arranged at a Full HD native resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels.
On the plus side, this means potentially better video performance than the average consumer camcorder, particularly in low light. The main disadvantage lies in the photo department, as the HF M41 is limited to taking 2-megapixel photos, whereas many of its rivals take higher-res snaps. As such, it's probably not the best option for anyone seeking a dual video and photo device.
Canon's 10x optical zoom video lens is an equally high-quality piece of engineering, with a focal length equivalent of 43.6-436mm. A very effective optical image stabiliser is on hand to help smooth out the shakes and add stability when you're zoomed right in on a distant subject.
Recordings are made in the AVCHD format. The top-quality setting uses a very high bit rate of 24Mbps at a frame rate of 60 interlaced fields per second, effectively maxing out the AVCHD standard's 1080i specification. There's also an option to film using a progressive 1080p mode, although the frame rate for this is a relatively low 25 frames per second.
For most situations, the smooth motion of the standard 1080/60i setting is preferable, although the 25p mode does offer a cinematic look, which can be bolstered further by switching to the M41's dedicated 'cinema' mode, and choosing from a selection of film-like filters.
Storage-wise, the M41 uses a clever trick that Canon has now incorporated into many of its camcorders: dual SD card slots for double the potential space. Not only that but the presence of 32GB of internal memory means you'll never get caught short, while relay recording lets the camera switch seamlessly from one storage medium to the next as you fill each up.
In addition, there are plenty of the trappings you'd hope to find on an advanced camcorder. HDMI and component outputs, for example, are joined by an extremely useful external microphone socket and headphone jack for monitoring audio levels.