Canon has announced six new camcorders in its mid-range Legria HF M-series and entry-level HF R-series. A select few come with the ability to share, view and store videos wirelessly.
The new models in the HF M-series are all full HD flash memory camcorders like the existing 2011 M-series models, though they are now 15% smaller and 10% lighter. All three new camcorders sport an enhanced HD CMOS Pro image sensor and a 10x optical zoom lens. In our experience, the 2011 models using the HD CMOS Pro sensor (such as the HF M41 and HF M400) give excellent performance under low light. It’d be interesting to find out if the new 2012 models can better that performance.
All three models also come with a 3.0-inch touch LCD, and are able to record in the MP4 file format. The HF M52 and M56 come with 32GB and 8GB of internal flash memory respectively; the HF M506 records to an SDXC-compatible memory card instead. Unfortunately, it looks like Canon has opted for a single card slot in these new camcorders, unlike the 2011 models that feature dual card slots.
The HF M52 and M56 also come with Wi-Fi support; you can now upload videos wirelessly to YouTube and Facebook through an iPad or iPhone app. Direct backup to an external hard drive is also possible.
Designed for the cost-conscious, the new models in the HF R-series are also full HD flash memory camcorders. Compared to the 2011 R-series models, they are 21% smaller in size. All three models sport a 3.28-megapixel CMOS sensor, a 3.0-inch touch LCD, an Intelligent IS that automatically switches between stabilization modes, and 51x advanced zoom. MP4 format recording are supported across all models, but only the HF R38 and R36 have relay recording, HD-to-SD down conversion and Wi-Fi capabilities.
The HF R38 comes with 32GB of internal flash memory, while the R36 comes with 8GB. The R306 on the other hand records directly to an SDXC-compatible card slot. By the way, the new camcorders no longer have component video outputs.