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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
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Old April 26th, 2010, 07:06 PM   #1
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New HF-S21, First Impressions

HI All:

Just received the the HF-S21 one week ago, and started to compared to the HS-S10 which I still have, The S21 is really full of new features and loaded with new workflows. These are a few of my first impressions.

PQ------Excellent, as good if not better than the S10.

Touch Screen------Very skeptical at first but found after one week of use that it was easy to get used to and down right a must in order to take advantage of all of the new features. The touch screen option is very good in implementing multiple task that previously required the joystick except that now every choice is exposed on the screen. It makes it very easy when you see the results right away. Menu navigation is easier, and beats the joystick. The finger marks are not a problem and nothing that can be take care by a swipe or two with a good eyeglass cloth. The surface is a mirror like finish at times somewhat reflective under bright sunlight. The leather hood LCD screen by Canon is highly recommended . I've used it and it really cuts down reflections.

LANC remote control--------I was really waiting for this one. I have a very old pistol grip from the Video 8 Era from Sony that has a LANC cable that connects to the remote terminal, and allows me to do the basic: start/stop, zoom in/out, on/lock/stand by. operations all from a firm hand grip. The grip also converts to a rock solid small tripod that is invaluable for certain table top shots. (see attached Jpeg).

HD to SD conversion in camera-------Very new feature, works as advertised, lets you keep the HD clips. You have a choice of bit rate for conversion, 3 and 9 Mbps bit rates. The higher the bit rate the better the quality of the resulting SD conversion. I did one conversion and produced a simple DVD that looked very good on my HDTV to the point that I had a hard time to see the difference between the HD and the SD project. The files of course are 740x420 the std resolution for SD.

STD, Dynamic and Powered IS----Dynamic vs the previous STD is definitely a major improvement and very welcomed, however the Powered IS is not working to me as a major change even if I use it only on the tele end of the spectrum. Maybe I don't know how to work it yet, but I don't see the major change as advertised when activated from hand held shots.

Custom Key and Dial ------ Not a new feature but greatly enhanced and more easily to work with the new Touch Screen feature. The custom Gain control has been expanded to cover more situations and choosing the feature that you want to control is now a snap.
Again with the Touch Screen it beats the joystick.

Surround Sound 5.1 Microphone------Very good, very small and very practical, works as advertised. My Onkyo receiver switches to Dolby Digital for decoding when playing clips recorded with the Surround Mic. Canon sends you a small SD card so that you can do a firmware update, before you can use the Mic, follow the included instructions. You can use Surround 5.1, Zoom Surround 5.1, and and Gunshot Surround 5.1 all with different audible characteristics, Plain Surround 5.1 gives you the best spatial sound-field by my own testing, but it is a matter of choice. The Mic comes with a wind muff.

Native 24p-----At last no more 2-3 pulldown !!!. What a pain. Never was much of a fan of 24p anyway but now I may learn to use it more often. Do 95% of my shooting at 30p.

Well, I still have more testing to do, all considered the Touch Screen is a blessing in disguise it allows you to use the major new features very easily, for example.... the focus shift in Tele from near to far or vice-versa is now very easy to use, among many other new features.
Hope some response is generated from this fully loaded new cam from Canon which is lacking from all Forums.

Thank You, Enjoy!!
Luis
Attached Thumbnails
New HF-S21, First Impressions-_mg_4691.jpg   New HF-S21, First Impressions-_mg_4695.jpg  

New HF-S21, First Impressions-_mg_4699-copy.jpg   New HF-S21, First Impressions-_mg_4705-copy.jpg  

Luis A. Diaz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 26th, 2010, 08:08 PM   #2
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I have the HF-s 200 and I agree with your comments. The camera is really impressive.
I have used successfully the Power IS and I see a big difference, keep playing with it, it really does a big difference and you should see it.

Would any Lanc works? I thought only the Canon would, I don't really need it but I would like to try it, could you suggest me one , affordable yet reliable and just for the basic : start/stop, zoom in/out .
Thanks.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 08:22 PM   #3
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New HF-S21, First Impressions

Hi Morane: Thanks for your interest, I think any Lanc control would work, there are several Varizoom, Manfrotto has several good units plus the basic Cano's ZR-1000 and the more expensive ZR-2000.

The Pistol grip with the Lanc control depicted in the Jpegs is over 15 yrs old and it works like a charm.

I wish they would start doing more practical accessories like these again.

Thanks
Luis
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Old April 26th, 2010, 11:12 PM   #4
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Thanks for the report Luis. I'm deciding between the HF S21 and the HF S200.Do you find the viewfinder (eye piece) useful or will you use the LCD screen? Also I wonder about the in camera SD conversion, I had posted a topic but seems no one else has any info about it.Would you say that motion converts well? Thanks
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Old April 27th, 2010, 12:16 AM   #5
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New HF-S21, First Impressions

Hi Jack:

Yes the viewfinder is one of the added attractions that sets S21 apart from the rest of the HF series, I have used it little, but it is a welcome addition for following subjects in telephoto and you can use it with the LCD open so you can use the Touch Screen method to track better in bright sunlight. It is not the best resolution in a viewfinder but is usable. I am fascinated by the HD to SD conversion and also impressed about the quality. Only used it once and the results were outstanding. I'll find some other files to do a comparison with the quality of iMovie 9 and other conversion packages.

Thanks
Luis
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Old April 27th, 2010, 09:48 AM   #6
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luis very nice setup..can u tell me is this raynox wide angle? and what type of matte box is this?
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Old April 27th, 2010, 03:20 PM   #7
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New HF-S21, First Impressions

Hi John, thanks for your interest. No it is not the Raynox, it is Canon's wide angle adapter WD-H58 which also fits the S10. It is not a matte box but certainly it acts like one or a good lens shade.

It is a lens shade/bellows attachement of an old Hasselblad camera that I use to have. I had to do some machining to fit the posterior diameter to fit the outside of the wide angle adapter.

I am still working on a rubber or plastic lining so that it won't mar the outside surface of the barrel. It has a slot for gel filters to be placed between the lens and the shade. It works pretty cool.

Thanks
Luis
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Old April 27th, 2010, 11:26 PM   #8
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Thanks Luis. I plan to order 2 units and don't know if I should go the S21 or S200.Seems the only difference is the internal memory of the S21 and the viewfinder. I may get the S21 and try it then decide on the other. You've made the in camera conversion sound very promising.Thanks again
Jack
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Old April 28th, 2010, 07:41 PM   #9
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New HF-S21, First Impressions

Hi Jack: I went ahead and made another SD conversion from HD in camera. The files generated are or have an extension of MOD At least on a Mac, in reading the manual for the camera they mention the Pixela software which only works with Windows plataform, for creating a DVD. Yet when these files are played in the MPEG Streamclip they are MPEG program stream and the video track info is: MPEG-2, 740x420, 4:3, 29,97, upper field first. These files can be converted by MPEG Streamclip app. to anything including QT Movie, etc...

Well I loaded the converted files to a USB thumb drive and played them on my HDTV thru a Western Digital Media Player, and I had a very hard time, seeing the difference between the HD and SD files. It was definitely was there but the quality was superb.

I wonder if these files can be ingested by IMovie 9, or IDVD, or will the conversion to QT or any format will decrease the quality. I have to do more testing.

I think if you need 2 of these units, get the S21 first then decide on a second S21 or the S200

Thanks,
Luis
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Old April 29th, 2010, 01:15 AM   #10
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Wow, thanks Luis for doing all that.It does sound quite good, I'm going do just that order a hfs21and judge about the viewfinder from that.I'll let you know when I've gotten it and tested.Thanks
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 01:37 PM   #11
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change aperture while recording

Have with great interest read remarks about S 21 - I have a few questions which I would hear if someone could answer

First question is about LANC jack - I have a Manfrotto 521 Pro unit - can this be used with S21?

Is it possible to change the aperture while recording - for example, From 11 to 8 or from 4 to 5.6 but while recording - for example if the light change on a person one have focuses on are moving to a lighter or darker area

Is it possible to record both on the built-in memory and the memory card simultaneously? Security
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 06:30 PM   #12
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You can't change the aperture while recording... Have a S20 and the only difference between S20 and S21 is the viewfinder on the S21 and that is has 64GB internal memory.

Can't help with the other two questions unfortunately...
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 06:39 PM   #13
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HF-S21 Questions and First Impressions

Hi Ove:
In answer to your first question, Yes your Manfrotto 521 Pro can be used on the Lanc remote of the camera for wired remote control as long as it is a Lanc Protocol. As you can see my grip/tripod from Sony is a very old item now discontinued but it is Lanc Protocol and works perfect with the Lanc remote in the camera.

Your second question Uh, I am not sure because I've never tried it but I presume that you could do it using the touch screen while shooting or use the control knob. May be someone who has tried it can answer this and I will try it myself.

Third Question, I know you can use Dual Mode to record Photos and Video simultaneously either to the internal memory or card A or B depending how you assign it. I don't think you can record video to the Internal Memory and A or B at the same time. Dual Mode for Photos and or Video Yes, simultaneously

Hope this helps
Thanks
Luis
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 12:54 AM   #14
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I can't believe that you can't change the aperture whilst recording on this camera. I can with the HFS100, either by the control wheel if selected, or by the control lever...
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 11:29 AM   #15
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Thanks to Jacob, Louis and Robin for the fast answers my second question about aperture change Jacob says no but Louis is a bit in doubt I would appreciate if you would look into the matter and try one or both of the things you mention touch screen or wheel if a smart way of doing it is possible look forward if any solutions is available
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