The Canon Vixia Review
When I saw that the R300 had a 32x zoom compared to the 10x on the M500 and that even though it didn’t have the "prosumer" CMOS sensor of the M500 it had hardware much nicer than my 4 year old HF100, and it cost $200 less- my mind was made up. I went to Fry’s the day they got the R300 in and had them unbox one for me to try out. It was incredibly tiny and light- probably a third smaller than my old HF100. I was excited because my hand would get tired after about 20 minutes of continuous shooting with my HF100. So- I turned it on, set the date and time, and tried out that highly touted 32 zoom. That is when the disappointment set in. I was deep in the bowels of a windowless Fry’s so the lighting wasn’t that good- but the image at full zoom was really grainy and dark. They didn’t have the M500 in yet to compare it with so I decided to wait until they did.
It was a week later when the Canon Vixia HF M500 arrived but some information I learned during the week had already made up my mind that it was going to be the camcorder I was going to purchase. I found out that the "typical" battery life on the R300 was 20 to 25 minutes! That is crazy- who would go to an event with only 20 minutes of recording time on their camcorder? And to upgrade to the battery that comes standard on the M500 (which gives an hour of battery life) would cost an extra $80. So between the lackluster zoom performance of the R300 and the ridiculous battery they include with it and the nagging thought in the back of mind that I really would like to know that the CMOS sensor in my camera is the same one used in the $1400 G10 I bought the M500 and the first time I used it in a dimly lit room I was so glad. It really does a nice job in low light.
A few other things- the R300 lens cover is manual- it doesn’t open automatically when you turn the camera to recording mode. It was the first camera in a long time that I have seen that you have to manually side the lens cover open. I also have to admit that recording my daughter in her school’s second grade musical the other night I wished I did have a little more zoom than 10x. And as for why I wasn’t considering the higher end R-series or M-series (like the M50 or M52)- I don’t like having video that could get "stuck" on the internal memory of the camera and I like being able to buy a fast flash card so I can transfer the data off the camera quickly. I have USB 3.0 on my computer and I use a USB 3.0 flash card reader. Which is also why I didn’t care about the wi-fi feature- I don’t play on uploading directly to YouTube from the camera and it is much faster to transfer the videos via USB 3.0.
So even though I didn’t get to replace my old camcorder for just $349 I am very happy with my new Vixia HF M500 and feel it was well worth the money. Heading to the beach today so expect to see some more test footage posted soon.
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