|Name||Digital video camera: Canon LEGRIA HF R26|
|At a glance:||Easy-to-use HD camcorder,Dual SD card slots,Image quality and stabilisation not as good as competition,No viewfinder, external microphone inputs or accessory shoe|
|Summary:||Average image quality with wobbles at the tele end of the 20X zoom work against what could otherwise have been a nice HD shooter.|
What is a ‘Legria’? Canon must know, as it gave that moniker to its HF R26 HD video camera that features a 20x optical zoom and dual SD card slots as the highlights.
Listed at $800 RRP, the little Legria can be had for over $200 less if you shop around.
That money buys you a camera that shoots HD at a maximum of 1080i at 50fps and 24Mbit/s through a 3-60mm f/1.8 zoom lens onto a 1/4.85-inch (5.24mm) CMOS sensor.
While the small sensor provides 3.28 megapixels, videos only use a maximum of 2MP with the zoom on wide. The Legria’s dynamic image stabilisation and advanced 28x zoom feature drop this to 1MP with the lens on telephoto, however.
Video and stills are recorded to either the 16GB internal storage, or the handy dual SD slots, with the latter supporting Wi-Fi and bigger than 32GB cards. I tried a 64GB Lexar Professional 133x card, and the Legria recognised its full capacity.
The formats for video and audio recording are MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 and Dolby Digital stereo respectively, with stills up to 2.4MP taken as JPEGs.
A viewfinder, external microphone inputs and accessory shoe didn’t make the Legria feature list. This is a shame as you’ll miss all three.
Basic video editing features are built-in with the Legria, and you can add effects such as scribbles, titles and stamps to shots. If you need more, Canon supplies two utilities from Pixela and its own software too, all of which are Windows only.
Initial impressions of shooting with the Legria are good; the camera is compact, nice to hold and it starts up quickly. Set it to Auto mode and you’re unlikely to miss shots. The autofocus is fast and the zoom operates smoothly as well.
However, zooming in overwhelms the image stabilisation on the camera, and it’s hard to get good results without a tripod.
The 3-inch touchscreen LCD is hard to see outside; here, the non-obvious fix is to press the ‘Disp’ button to activate the backlight so you can see what you shoot. Doing so, however, shaves off an indicated twelve minutes of the 75-minute battery life.
Camera settings are accessed via the touchscreen, and it’s quite tricky to do this outdoors due the LCD being hard to read.
Video from the Legria is decent but won’t blow you away, something that’s all too apparent when you view clips on a large HD TV over HDMI. The Legria produces images with good colour and skin tones on people, but they’re not particularly detailed and sharp.
Occasional image artefacts show up too as the small sensor struggles to keep up with the action and it would’ve been nice to have 50 frames per second progressive instead of just interlaced for fast-moving objects.
Evening and low-light shots can be noisy, but on the positive side, sound is recorded well by the two front-facing microphones. They’re good at picking up people speaking and with the attenuation feature turned on, extraneous noise is kept low.
While the Legria HF R26 is easy to live with, the middling image quality it produces and barebones feature set makes it hard to recommend.