Canon Vixia HF M30 review: Canon Vixia HF M30

MSRP: $999.99

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.

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

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.

  Canon HF R100/R10/R11 Canon HF M300/M30/M31/M32 Canon HF S200/S20/S21
Sensor 2.4-megapixel CMOS 3-megapixel CMOS 8-megapixel CMOS
1/5.5 inch 1/4 inch 1/2.6 inch
Lens 20x
40 - 800mm (16:9)
39.5 - 592.5mm (16:9)
43.5 - 435mm (16:9)
Min illumination (lux) standard: 5.5
low light: 0.4

recommended: > 100
standard: 5.5
low light: 0.4

standard: 4
low light: 0.3


No No Yes
123,000 dots
LCD 2.7-inch 211,000-dot 2.7-inch 211,000-dot touch screen 3.5-inch 922,000-dot touch screen
Primary media 0GB/8GB/32GB flash; SDHC 0GB/8GB/32/64GB flash; SDXC 0GB/32GB/64GB flash; SDHC
HD recording MPEG-4:
1080/60i @ 24 Mbps; 1440x1080/60i @ 12, 7, 5 Mbps
(all video interpolated up from 1,664 x 936)
1080/60i @ 24, 17 Mbps; 1440x1080/60i @ 12, 7, 5 Mbps
1080/60i @ 24, 17 Mbps; 1440x1080/60i @ 12, 7, 5 Mbps
Manual shutter speed and iris No Yes Yes
Accessory shoe No Yes Yes
Audio 2 channels;
mic, headphone jacks
2 channels;
mic, headphone jacks
2 channels;
mic, headphone jacks
Body dimensions (WHD, inches) 2.4 x 2.5 x 4.9 2.7 x 2.4 x 4.8 3 x 2.9 x 5.8
Operating weight (ounces) 11.3 13.1 18
Mfr. Price $499.99/$549.99/$699.99 $679.99/$699.99/$799.99/$999.99 $999.99/$1,099.99/$1,399.99
Ship date March 2010 March 2010 March 2010

On top of the camcorder, the zoom switch and photo button are comfortably located under your forefinger, and the zoom is easy to control for maintaining a steady rate. The mini accessory shoe sits behind them. The only control on the back is the record button. An 890mAH battery sits flush with the back, which means that if you upgrade to the higher capacity battery--to compensate for the camcorder's subpar battery life--it will stick out awkwardly.

There's a single button on the LCD bezel that enables Power IS mode (for when you're shooting at the telephoto end of the zoom range) or downconverting videos to Standard Definition quality. In the LCD recess sit the record/playback toggle button, display options and battery release switch. Because opening the LCD doesn't turn the camcorder on (unless you're in standby mode), the location presents slightly less of a problem here than on Panasonic's models.

In addition to the SDHC card slot, the mic and headphone jacks live in the LCD recess; the miniHDMI, USB, and component out connectors are under the hand strap.