Photos: Hands-on with the high-definition Canon HG21

The Canon HG21 is a high-class, high-end, high-definition camcorder. Take a look at our pictures and forget the credit crunch

21 is the year you come of age. Can we draw a parallel between that and the coming of age of high-definition video? Er, no, not really. We'll stick to telling you about the Canon HG21, an HD hybrid camcorder.

The whopping 120GB hard disk drive gives you 45 hours of HD footage. Video can also be recorded to, or transferred via, SD and SDHC memory cards. This way, you can backup your footage and hopefully never lose 40+ hours of precious, precious memories.

It's quite a chunky fella, thanks mainly to that large HDD. Drives such as this are more vulnerable to drops than, say, flash memory, but as always we're impressed by Canon's rugged build quality.

It spits out 1,920x1,080-pixel full HD, at 24Mbps. Video is saved in AVCHD format, with a full-sized HDMI connection for watching on your HDTV. Other high-end features include a microphone input, accessory shoe and viewfinder. For a closer look at these and other features, say "hit me", click 'Continue', and we'll deal out more details.

Up front we have a stereo microphone beneath the HG21's lens, as well as a lamp and flash for stills.

To the front side of the HG21 are connections for headphones, component-out and microphone-in. The full-sized HDMI connection is at the back.

The HG21 battery compartment has space for a larger battery pack for longer filming times. Next to that is the record button, set inside the mode wheel, and a DC connection.

At the top of the HG21 sits the rocker switch for the 12x optical zoom, and the stills capture button.

The HG21 features a pull-out viewfinder, which also gives access to a swivelling cover for an accessory shoe. Although it slides out horizontally, the viewfinder doesn't angle upwards, so it can't be used for lower than eye-level shooting. Unless you just bend your knees, or you're an Oompa-Loompa.

The screen well includes a sturdy memory card hatch for SD and SDHC cards. On a camcorder bristling with nooks and crannies it seems odd that the HG21's USB connection is uncovered. Above these are buttons to activate easy mode and check the battery.

Here's the HG21's flip-out screen. Playback controls line the bottom of the 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD, with a mini-joystick for accessing menus.

The Canon HG21 is available now, for a wallet-bothering £1,000. What credit crunch?