First impressions of the Canon FS100 SD-card camcorder

Bad: It’s larger than I’d expected. Dinky, but not truly pocketable. Performance in low light is poor to very poor; indoors during the evening, I’d wager on ‘dreadful.’ The lens is rather too long, so while the microphone actually isn’t too bad, by the time you’re standing far enough away for a pleasingly-framed shot it’ll be next to useless. There are also some bizarre quirks, like having to plug it into the mains while it’s connected via USB, and there being no way of telling it the USB connection has been broken.

However: it works rather nicely with iMovie’08 (it ‘just works’), it has a microphone input jack (wooohoo!), and the trick with pushing headphones not quite all the way into the AV-out socket seems to work, more-or-less.

So… actually, I quite like it. Yes, it’s limited. The picture quality is roughly on a par with a Flip Ultra – a little better in good light, I think, but on cursory inspection noise seems less well-controlled as the light drops off. It’s more flexible, however, having a microphone jack and a proper zoom lens.

My current camera picks, then, are:

  • ~£100: Flip Ultra
  • ~£200: Canon FS100
  • £500-£700: Canon HF10, HG10, HV30

There are compromises associated with each of these. But so long as you know what they are, you can still make a perfectly decent film with any of them.

I’ll shoot a proper comparison review in the next couple of weeks, putting the Flip, Busbi, and FS100 against my old miniDV camera and a PD150.

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