Camcorders have more or less taken a backseat with the recent success of smartphones. Most smartphones are now capable of recording videos at 1080p resolutions, which is the same that camcorders have on offer. But, for professional shooting, the optics and lens that are currently used on camcorders can’t really be matched by smartphones, and the genre still has its own set of followers. Earlier, Sony introduced the HDR PJ50E camcorder-cum-projector – an impressive device, but too costly. Now, Canon has come up with its Legria series of entry-level camcorders with the HF R205. Here’s what we think about the Legria HF R205. 

18X Zoom- Powerful but unstable

18X Zoom- Powerful but unstable

Design and Build Quality

The camcorder comes in a black-grey-silver design. Canon has gone pretty standard with the design, with a hand strap on the right and the display panel on the left. Depressions and grips are situated at the right levels for easy handling of the device. 

The top consists of the power ON button, the shutter button and the zoom lever. Upon opening the flap, you’ll find the USB and HDMI connectivity buttons and the dual SD card slots. These are accompanied by the play, video snap, auto and battery info buttons. The component out, AV out and DC power supply are located on the right of the device, whereas the back consists of the video shoot button. The camcorder comes with a removable Lithium-ion battery, but it’s not of any help, unless you buy a separate battery and an external charger as these don’t come bundled with the box. 

Button placement could have been better

Button placement could have been better

The build quality on the camcorder is top notch. The hinge for the display screen is sturdy and the buttons have a good feedback, but we’re not too sure about the placement of all of them. The camcorder weighs 270 grams, is light and fits snugly into the hand, so it has scored quite high in the design and build department on our list. 

The headphone jack, component out and power slot are on the right

The headphone jack, component out and power slot are on the right

Features

The camcorder comes with a 1/4.85-inch HD CMOS image sensor, which shoots at 3.28 megapixels and has an 18x optical lens zoom. It has a 3-inch touch-based LCD panel and Canon haven’t mentioned, whether its resistive or capacitive, but we reckon it to be of the resistive types with the touch feedback we got. There’s 1080p video recording in the AVHCD recording standard with two channel Dolby Digital audio recording. Canon have put in a variety of preset shooting modes with Smart Auto, P, CINE, Portrait, Sports, Night, Low light, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Spotlight, Fireworks and Low Light.

The back consists of the video record button

The back consists of the video record button

The camcorder has a decoration feature that basically allows users to draw simple patterns on the screen that get added to the photos they click. It’s more of a gimmick, than a feature, with pretty limited functionality. The video snap button allows shooting short videos for upto four seconds or eight seconds which can then be interlaced into one single video. Again, we’re not sure about how helpful this particular function is.

Small and portable

Small and portable

User Interface

The most important aspect that most camcorders have often neglected is easy navigation through the menu. The Legria HF R205 continues the trend. Even for simple options like toggling between options is a pain. There’s no back button and if you want to change a whole bunch of options in the settings, you’ll be redirected back to the main screen after changing each option. Also, the quality of the touchscreen is quite poor and upon the slightest of touch there’s noticeable smearing of the pixels. That makes navigating through the whole bunch of poorly placed options an even more delicate and complicated affair. 

Navigation through the menus is cumbersome

Navigation through the menus is cumbersome

Basically, it’s not the best user interface to work on and you’ll have to do quite a bit of tinkering around before you end up finding your way around the different functions.  

Touchscreen is quite delicate

Touchscreen is quite delicate

Performance

Firstly, we tried the camera mode and image shots are pretty average. Outdoor images are fine with a fair amount of detail, but the exclusion of any flash options make low-light shooting pretty difficult. For video shots, colour rendering, image and zoom stability is of paramount importance and here’s how the Legria fared. 

Images under sufficient lighting are pretty good, but there's no flash option

Images under sufficient lighting are pretty good, but there's no flash option

Colours appear natural and there’s no unwanted extra saturation. As far as focus is concerned, the camera takes some time to adjust to get the full details of the subject and it’s definitely not the fastest one around. The Legria lacks image stabilization and it gets even more difficult to achieve stability when zoomed into the subject. Videos can be shot in 1080p resolution in the AVCHD format and clarity and detail is pretty good, as expected with HD camcorders. There’s no hard drive storage or in-built memory and the camcorder comes with an 8GB SD Card, which can store roughly around three hours of footage. That’s pretty much fair, as far as storage is concerned. Both the SD cards in the dual slot cannot be active at the same time and you’ll need to manually choose the card you want the data to be stored in. We cranked out one hour forty minutes of HD video recording before the battery died, which is pretty average.

Cover

The Canon HF R205 Camcorder

Verdict

The Canon Legria HF R205 is priced at Rs. 19,395. You’ll definitely require a stand, if you want to do some serious shooting with the HF R205. The user interface is a tad boring and confusing at times and as far as performance is concerned, the camcorder is average, at best. Also, there’s no flash support or in-built memory, which does limit your shooting area, as well as time. All in all, the Canon HF R205 makes for a pretty average video camera. 

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