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Canon's crowd-pleasing camcorders at CES 2016

In addition to updating its prosumer G series, the company gently refreshes its consumer R series.

Lori Grunin

Lori Grunin

Senior Editor / Advice

I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.

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Although Canon hasn't seemed to give up entirely on consumer camcorders -- it maintains a lineup of cheap HD models plus an expensive prosumer HD model -- without a midpriced 4K model it's really falling behind Sony and Panasonic. The company's sole 4K camcorder is the $2,500 oddball X​C10. (The price roughly converts to £1,700 in the UK and AU$3,475 in Australia.)

Canon's march of the same-as-2015 camcorders (pictures)

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Canon's G series of camcorders, versions of its compact run-and-gun models without the "pro" add-ons (a handle with XLR and SDI connectors), have long been solid options for getting very high-quality HD video in a smallish design. The new $1,300 (£885, AU$1,810) Vixia HF G40, a stripped-down version of the $3,000 (£2,040, AU$4,170) XA35 and $2,500 (£1,700, AU$3,475) XA30 models announced in November 2015, continues that tradition.

While the G40 and its siblings have essentially the same body and lens as older models, they incorporate a new version of the HD CMOS sensor that the company claims has better low-light performance (an increase of 3dB of signal-to-noise). It also has Canon's Wide DR flatter-gamma profile for preserving more shadow and highlight detail than generic profiles as well as a Highlight Priority mode. Canon has also added a Looks setting to make it easier to access.

The popular Vixia HF R series also gets its annual -- and as usual, minor -- refresh. One notable change: to improve battery life, Canon now includes a higher-capacity battery, which used to be optional. The R700, R72 and R70 models have identical hardware to the preceding series with the exception of the LCD, which Canon claims is much brighter, a simpler interface and tweaks to its Zoom Framing Assist tracking tool. The configuration of the middle R70 model has changed as well, jumping to 16GB of internal memory over the R60.

Priced at $300 (R700, no built-in memory or NFC), $400 (R70, 16GB) and $450 (R72, 32GB), they're all slated to ship in February, as is the G40. These prices roughly convert to £205 and AU$420 for the R700, £270 and AU$550 for the R70 as well as £305 and AU$625 for the R72.

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