Get a leg up
By CHONG JINN XIUNG
CANON's Legria HF M52 is a camcorder that is ideal for taking along when travelling as it can fit inside a camera bag or even a lady's handbag.
It is no larger than the size of a prosumer camera and it's a lot easier to lug around than, say, a DSLR for your video recording needs.
The design of the HF M52 doesn't stray far from most conventional camcorders, so don't expect it to be eye-catching. The body is mostly plastic which makes the camcorder lightweight but feels out of place for a premium camcorder.
It has a nifty automatic cover that protects the lens when not in use, and the two microphones below the lens allow for stereo recording.
The 3in touchscreen is rather small and the resolution isn't terrific but good enough for framing shots and making sure that everything is in focus.
The touchscreen has also been improved, and feels marginally better than last year's models but it still isn't responsive enough. The interface is OK, but it tends to be a little cumbersome when switching settings or accessing different modes.
The power button, unfortunately, is a tad small for our liking – we found it a little hard to switch on the camcorder quickly. At least, the record button is within easy reach of our thumb.
The HF M52 is suited for handling long video recordings as it comes with a massive 32GB of built-in memory. You can also add storage via SD memory cards.
On the audio front, it's great that it is possible to plug in a pair of headphones to monitor the sound quality and an external microphone for better sound capture.
There is also a HDMI slot for hooking the camcorder to a HDTV for watching videos on the big screen.
There camcorder has three recording modes: Auto, manual and cinema. The auto mode is fast and easy to use, so you don't have to worry about making changes to other settings.
The HF M52 doesn't offer a full manual mode – instead it has a Program, Shutter and Aperture-Priority which can be fun to play with to create different effects.
Lastly, the cinema mode works like an art filter mode found on most consumer cameras. The various effects can lend a unique look to your videos and are fun to use if you are hoping to create funky looking videos.
The HF M52 has a Story Creator feature which makes it easy for amateurs to shoot and create a full length home video on the camcorder itself.
It is a nifty feature to have when you have to edit on the go but you will still need a computer to do a better job.
There's also built-in WiFi capability that lets you transfer the videos on the camcorder to your computer via your home network or upload the videos directly to YouTube.
Alternatively, you can use Canon's free Movie Upload app to transfer the videos from the camcorder to an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. You can also use the app to upload videos to Facebook and YouTube.
The HF M52's HD CMOS Pro sensor serves it well and helps it capture good quality HD videos even in low light conditions.
It's neat that you have the option of choosing either AVCHD or MP4 format for recording – we prefer MP4 because it makes it easy to edit the video using most programs. However, the MP4 format only allows you to record video in 720p instead of full HD.
When recording videos the autofocus was quick to lock on to subjects but it snaps subjects into focus rather abruptly instead of steadily bringing them into focus.
The camcorder has a 10x zoom which is great for capturing far off subjects and the image stabilisation keeps things level and smooth even as it reached maximum zoom.
Also, the zooming is quiet, so you won't hear annoying focusing sounds when you watch your videos.
The camcorder can also capture still images at 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution and they turned out pretty decent.
On the whole, the Legria HF M52 is a decent camcorder that's also lightweight and portable.
It has a number of versatile features that should appeal to consumers rather than pros. The Story Creator, for instance, will allow users to create full length videos on the camcorder itself.
You can also transfer videos in the camcorder to a PC or iOS devices over WiFi which is really handy.
The only downside is the price. At RM2,799 the camcorder is a tad pricey but this Legria has a lot of features to justify the price.
Pros: Fast autofocus; portable; spacious internal memory; built-in WiFi.
Cons: Pricey; touchscreen not always responsive.
LEGRIA HF M52
SENSOR: 2.37-megapixels HD CMOS Pro Sensor (1/3in)
LCD MONITOR: 3in LCD (230,000-pixels)
LENS: 10x optical zoom
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/6sec - 1/2,000sec (Shutter Priority mode)
SHOOTING MODES: Smart Auto, Program, Shutter and Aperture Priority, Manual, Cinema, 10 Scene modes
VIDEO MODE FORMAT: AVCHD, MP4
BATTERY: Rechargable lithium-ion battery
STORAGE: 32GB internal memory, SD/SDHC memory slot
INTERFACE: USB 2.0
OTHER FEATURES: Image stabilisation, face detection
DIMENSIONS (W x H x D): 68 x 64 x 121mm
RATING: 3.5 stars
Review unit courtesy of Canon Marketing (M) Sdn Bhd, (03) 7844-6000
Copyright 1995-2012 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)