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Canon VIXIA HF S20 Full HD Camcorder w/32GB Flash Memory & Pro Manual Control

by Canon
4.3 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

Available from these sellers.
  • Records up to 12 hours of crisp high definition video to a 32GB internal flash drive or directly to two removable SD memory cards
  • Genuine Canon 10x HD Video Lens
  • Canon 1/2.6" 8.59-Megapixel Full HD CMOS Image Sensor captures video at 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • Canon DIGIC DV III Image Processor
  • Dynamic SuperRange OIS corrects a full range of motion
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Technical Details

Product Description

Product Description

%3Cp%3E Canon%27s VIXIA HF S20 Dual Flash Memory Camcorder%2C with a 32GB internal flash drive and two SD memory card slots%2C offers Canon%27s most sophisticated feature set to date blurring the line between consumer and professional%2E Canon%27s superlative proprietary imaging technologies help deliver video and 8%2E0 megapixel photos with incredible detail and lifelike color%2E Touch %26amp%3B Track allows you to achieve sharp focus and precise exposure for any subject%2C simply by touching the generous 3%2E5%22 High Resolution Touch Panel LCD%2E Native 24p Mode perfectly matches the frame rate of film%2E And 5%2E1%2DChannel Surround Sound ensures your audio complements the stunning realism of your video%2E %3C%2Fp%3E

From the Manufacturer

HF S20 Compare All 2010 Canon Camcorders

Canon's VIXIA HF S20 Dual Flash Memory Camcorder, with a 32GB internal flash drive and two SD memory card slots, offers Canon's most sophisticated feature set to date - blurring the line between consumer and professional. Canon's superlative proprietary imaging technologies help deliver video and 8.0 megapixel photos with incredible detail and lifelike color. Touch & Track allows you to achieve sharp focus and precise exposure for any subject, simply by touching the generous 3.5" High Resolution (922,000 dot) Touch Panel LCD. Native 24p Mode perfectly matches the frame rate of film. And 5.1-Channel Surround Sound ensures your audio complements the stunning realism of your video.

Flash Memory
The VIXIA HF S20 can record up to 12 hours of the most crisp, high definition video possible, with a 32GB internal flash drive. It is also equipped with two SD memory card slots, but it gets even better. With Relay Recording, the camcorder automatically switches video recording from the internal drive to the next available SD memory card, when the memory becomes full. It will be easier than ever to capture that late game play or the exact moment those first steps are taken.

You'll also have the flexibility of copying video from your VIXIA HF S20's internal drive to one of the two removable SD memory cards, or from one card to the other. That makes it easy to insert the card into your computer or HDTV's card reader and view your recorded footage immediately.
MXP and FXP modes record in 1920 x 1080 and require a Class 4 or higher SDHC Card.

The advantages of flash memory go beyond the added recording time. You'll also appreciate the quick response time, because there are no moving parts. Press the record button and your VIXIA HF S20 starts recording video faster than you've ever seen before. In addition, when you review, you'll have quick access to your footage.

Another plus is the VIXIA HF S20's low power consumption rate, allowing your battery to last longer. It's just what you need so you don't miss that pivotal play on the field or the moment when they say "I do."

While we certainly hope you keep your VIXIA HF S20 securely in your hand while shooting, if it happens to slip, or you accidentally knock it against something, you'll be happy to know that flash memory makes your camcorder more shock-resistant than other recording storage systems. It also minimizes the chance of data loss if there is damage to your recording media or to the moving parts found in other camcorders.

Stunning Image Quality
A Genuine Canon 10x HD Video Lens delivers unsurpassed image quality and a smooth background for professional-looking results. The Canon Exclusive 1/2.6" 8.59-megapixel Full HD CMOS Image Sensor captures video at 1920 x 1080 resolution and photos with astonishing detail, while Canon's Exclusive DIGIC DV III Image Processor provides the ultimate in color and imaging performance, with enhanced reproduction of difficult to capture purple and blue tones. Exceptionally lifelike tone and detail are captured thanks to 24Mbps Recording, which offers the highest bit rate in AVCHD. Even when shooting in extended telephoto range, the VIXIA HF S20's built-in 1.7x Digital Tele-converter retains excellent image quality. The VIXIA HF S20 not only captures images in Full HD, but records and outputs at 1920 x 1080 as well, so you get Full HD, from lens to screen.

Dynamic SuperRange Optical Image Stabilization with Powered IS
VIXIA HF S20 features Canon's proprietary Dynamic SuperRange Optical Image Stabilization which provides continuous adjustment throughout the entire zoom range to correct a broad range of motion. Extra compensation is applied at wide-angle focal lengths to eliminate unwanted shaking common when walking while shooting. Together with the latest development, Powered IS, you'll find an even higher level of compensation for subtle hand movement at the telephoto end of the zoom range. And it's easy to engage Powered IS. Simply press or hold the Powered IS button on the touch panel LCD.

Instant AF
Another critical objective when shooting in high definition is achieving a very sharp focus. The VIXIA HF S20 camcorder features Canon's revolutionary Instant AF focusing system which offers a dramatic improvement in auto focus speed and accuracy (compared to traditional auto focus systems). The Instant AF feature uses an external sensor, in combination with Canon's auto focus system, to help significantly decrease the time it takes to find focus, even in low light conditions. This system achieves focus instantaneously, reducing focus "hunting." The benefits of Instant AF are especially seen in high brightness and night shooting situations. With Instant AF, it's possible to capture fast, accurate focusing, even when following a moving subject.

And because a properly focused subject is more critical than ever with HD, the VIXIA HF S20 also features Focus Assist. This helps in capturing your subject in razor-sharp focus. It works by providing a 2x magnification of your subject (when you start recording, this assistance is automatically cancelled). This is a feature normally found in professional broadcast-quality cameras. Another sophisticated control available on the VIXIA HF S20 is color peaking, which enhances the edges of your subject to aid in focusing.

3.5" High resolution Touch Panel LCD Screen
The VIXIA HF S20 features a 3.5" High Resolution Touch Panel LCD Screen which provides a large, expansive area for fast and easy menu navigation right at your fingertips. Boasting a resolution of 922,000 dots, the screen delivers exceptional detail and brilliant color for more accurate and enjoyable viewing. You'll also have Touch & Track, which allows you to get precise focus and exposure on any subject - whether it's people, vehicles, etc. by selecting your choice right on the touch panel LCD.

Smart Auto
Smart Auto makes shooting great video easier than ever before. Using the power of Canon's DIGIC DV III Image Processor, the VIXIA HF S20 intelligently detects and analyzes faces, brightness, color, distance, and movement, then automatically selects the best settings for the scene. Whether you are capturing a sunset, a day at the beach, or a fast-paced soccer game, Smart Auto delivers exceptionally accurate results.

Touch & Track
Touch & Track delivers precise focus and exposure on any subject - people, pets, vehicles and more. Simply select your point of interest on the touch panel LCD, and you will have your subject in sharp focus, regardless of where in the frame it moves during the shot – and, the exposure will be perfectly adjusted for subject and conditions. Touch & Track is also the default setting, ready when you turn the camcorder on. For more creative control, you can also choose to adjust focus or exposure independently by turning off Touch & Track, and turning on Touch Focus or Touch Exposure.

Genuine Canon Face Detection
The same high quality Face Detection technology used in Canon digital cameras is available in Canon high definition camcorders. Up to 35 faces can be tracked automatically, ensuring razor-sharp focus and natural, accurate exposure. Of the faces tracked, 9 detection frames can be displayed at one time.

In fact, the system is so intelligent that it will recognize faces turned downwards or sideways. In addition, a specific face may be selected as the main subject for continuous tracking. This feature is convenient in searching for clips which feature that specific subject's face. In search and playback, use of the Face Index will display those frames with the chosen face as a thumbnail in each shot in which it appears. Your selected face can also be linked as a timeline to further identify footage containing your subject.

Advanced Video Snapshot
Advanced Video Snapshot allows you to capture the highlights of a once in a lifetime trip or a family milestone with the same ease as taking photos. Simply record a series of short video clips – or select your favorite clips while in Playback Mode – and blend in your favorite background music to create an exciting movie that will grab everyone's attention. This version of Advanced Video Snapshot allows selectable recording times of 2, 4, or 8 seconds. Additionally, audio from an external source, such as an MP3 player, can be played along with the Snapshot movie and playback can be controlled from that source.

Easy Web Sharing
HD-to-SD Downconversion allows you to convert recorded high definition video to standard definition files while safely preserving the original HD video. These standard definition files make it even more convenient to edit, share video online, or create a DVD. The downconverted video can be transferred to your computer via traditional methods - i.e. USB connection, card slot - or wirelessly to sharing sites with an Eye-Fi SD memory card.

The VIXIA HF S20 is compatible with Eye-Fi SD Memory Cards. It's possible to wirelessly transfer your downconverted video and photos to your computer, or upload them directly to online sharing sites in a few simple steps. Insert an Eye-Fi SD Memory Card into an SD card slot on the camcorder, configure your computer to select the target site (e.g., Facebook, YouTube, Shutterfly, Flickr) and you're ready to share your standard definition files with family, friends, and the world!

Canon camcorders are not guaranteed to support Eye-Fi card functions (including wireless transfer). In case of an issue with an Eye-Fi card, please check with Eye-Fi, Inc. Outside of the United States and Canada, government approval is required to use Eye-Fi cards in many countries or regions. Without approval, use of the card is not permitted. If it is unclear whether the card has been approved for use in the area, please check with Eye-Fi, Inc.

8.0 Megapixel Camera
Since Canon is acknowledged as a world leading maker of digital cameras, it's not surprising that the VIXIA HF S20, in addition to being a brilliant camcorder, is also a superb 8.0 megapixel digital camera. Once again, Canon delivers features and technology that advance convenience and capability. The VIXIA HF S20's Dual Shot makes it easier than ever to capture both video and photos. You'll even be able to shoot 6.0 megapixel photos while shooting video at the same time with Simultaneous Photo Recording.

Auto Intelligent Auto Focus (AiAF) ensures sharp images and gives creative flexibility. Even when your subject isn't in the center of the frame, the VIXIA HF S20's 9-Point AiAF will automatically select from 9 metering frames on the screen to help bring images into sharp focus.
You can also choose from a range of exposure modes including Auto AV (aperture priority), TV (shutter priority), and P (program).

For optimal exposure, the VIXIA HF S20 offers selectable metering patterns: Evaluative, Center-Weighted Average, and Spot. The AE Bracketing feature of the VIXIA HF S20 automatically takes three versions of the shot with 'dark,' 'normal' and 'light' settings in ½ exposure steps so you may choose the one that best suits you.

The VIXIA HF S20 can capture a rapid succession of photos, just like the motor drive on a digital camera. Shoot up to 3 frames per second in the Continuous Mode, or a blazing 5 frames per second in the High Speed Continuous Mode.
For the advanced digital photographer, the VIXIA HF S20 comes with a Histogram Display – a feature found in Canon's line of digital SLR cameras. The display allows you to see the brightness information of your still images, so you can adjust your exposures as you shoot.

With the Level Marker feature, it's easy to keep your camera level for more professional-looking photographs. Choose from two different colors for the grid to ensure that you see the grid, no matter what the background color of your shot is.

The versatile VIXIA HF S20 even lets you capture a still image from an already recorded movie. While playing the movie in your camcorder, simply press the photo button to capture a 1920 x 1080 photo onto an SD card or to internal memory. Additionally, the VIXIA HF S20 allows you to capture 30 photos from one second of video.

Your VIXIA HF S20's built-in flash lets you capture superb photos indoors and in low light conditions. The VIXIA HF S20 also features red-eye reduction.
Print/Share allows you to connect your camcorder directly to select Canon printers or any PictBridge-compatible printer with the supplied USB cable and with a touch of the Print/Share button, print directly from your VIXIA HF S20. Print/Share also makes it easy to transfer your photos to your computer.

You can also easily burn DVDs of your photos taken with your VIXIA HF S20 as it is compatible with Canon's DW-100 DVD Burner. A one-cable connection is all it takes to send the files across and, with the click of a few buttons, your photos are ready to share with all.

Native 24p Mode / 24p Cinema Mode / 30p Frame Mode
The VIXIA HF S20 offers selectable frame rates to match both your lifestyle and creative vision.

Native 24p Mode allows 24 frames per second – exactly the same capture rate as film – to be captured and recorded. This is a big advantage for serious filmmaking work enabling you to achieve the ultimate cinematic experience.

24p Cinema Mode enables all aspiring moviemakers to achieve a professional "film-look." You can change the camcorder's frame capture rate to 24p (recorded at 60i), which provides the appearance of the same frame rate as movie film. In addition, you can use the VIXIA HF S20's CINEMA setting, which changes the color and tonal characteristics, evoking the look and feel of a movie shown in a theater. For added flexibility, these settings can be used together or independently.

You would normally have to look to professional video cameras in order to have a sophisticated tool like 30p Progressive Mode at your command. In addition to the standard interlaced video frame rate of 60i, you may choose to set the VIXIA HF S20 to capture video in 30p, (30 progressive frames, recorded to 60i) which is particularly useful for footage to be used on the Internet. It's also excellent for action and sports shots and additionally, this setting gives enhanced quality to still images captured after recording.

To maximize the usefulness and versatility of the VIXIA HF S20, you'll find a range of terminals to extend the capabilities of your camcorder. A built-in LANC Terminal provides an easy connection to both Canon and third-party wired remote controllers. The Mini Advanced Accessory Shoe allows you to attach optional Canon accessories such as the VL-5 Video Light, DM-100 Directional Stereo Microphone, or SM-V1 5.1-Channel Surround Microphone. Easy, one-cable connectivity to your HDTV is yours through the VIXIA HF S20's HDMI Terminal which also supports CEC and x.v.Color. The built-in Microphone terminal with manual audio level control and Headphone terminal provide exceptional audio flexibility.

"x.v.Color" and "x.v.Color" logo are trademarks of Sony Corporation.

For the ultimate home theater experience, 5.1-Channel Surround Sound* allows you to capture audio quality that matches the stunning realism of your high definition video. Since sound is captured from all directions through five different pickup sensors, your home movies will look and sound more lifelike than ever before.

The Automatic Attenuator feature prevents high volume distortion and optimizes audio quality in situations when sound levels quickly change, such as when loud music plays in the background. It automatically keeps the audio clean and even.

* Optional Canon SM-V1 5.1-Channel Surround Microphone required

Additional Features
  • Professional Shooting Assist Functions provide an exceptional level of control:
    • Enhanced zebra pattern indicates "blown out" or high brightness areas to help you set the proper exposure.
    • Color peaking enhances the edges of your subject to aid in focusing.
    • Custom key allows functions including exposure, focusing, assist functions, mic volume level or AGC limits to be assigned to a custom key. Assist functions make it possible to change zebra and peaking settings.
    • Color bars with reference tone help to set proper color and audio levels when editing video.
    • Gain control allows you to lower the dB value to ensure that dark scenes can be shot with the correct level of darkness.
    • Approximately 100% area display gives you a complete view in the LCD of the scene being shot - no need to worry that areas in the margins are being left out.
  • Intelligent Lithium-Ion Battery accurately indicates remaining battery time down to the minute.
  • Built-in video light enhances your ability to shoot in low light conditions.
Pixela ImageMixer 3SE Video Editing Software is bundled with the VIXIA HF S20. You can easily perform a variety of functions, including AVCHD Editing in which you can trim, reorder, and combine scenes, as well as add music, titles, and transitions. This software also allows you to play your AVCHD movies on your computer and will also let you share copies of your movie with friends and family through flash memory to hard drive copying. Transfer and store your movie onto your computer's hard drive with the software and easily convert your high definition video to standard definition video as well.
Pixela ImageMixer 3SE will also assist you in converting video to the optimum resolution for transmission over the Internet.

With the Pixela ImageMixer 3SE Disc, you can burn your edited video onto Blu-ray discs, AVCHD DVDs (which play in AVCHD compatible Blu-ray disc players), or onto standard definition DVDs. And to complement the VIXIA HF S20's Video Snapshot feature, a music CD containing royalty-free soundtracks is also provided.

* The bundled application is compatible with Windows XP and Windows Vista.

DVD Burner Compatible
You can also easily burn DVDs of the video shot with your VIXIA HF S20 as it is compatible with Canon's DW-100 DVD Burner. A one-cable connection is all it takes to send the files across and with the click of a few buttons, your videos will be burned to an AVCHD disc for play in a compatible DVD player.

AVCHD discs containing scenes recorded in MXP mode cannot be created with the optional DW-100 DVD Burner.

Compare All 2010 Canon Camcorders

Product Details

  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 3 x 5.5 inches ; 1 pounds
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • ASIN: B00322OP3Q
  • Item model number: HF S20
  • Batteries 1 Lithium ion batteries required.
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,845 in Camera & Photo (See Top 100 in Camera & Photo)
  • Product Warranty: For warranty information about this product, please click here
  • Date first available at Amazon.com: January 5, 2010

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

I am a professional photographer that needed a camcorder for our first baby on the way. I wanted a camcorder that produced outstanding full 1080P HD video, good optical stabilizer and ease of use. Canon delivers. I was blown away by the quality of the video shot in full auto mode. The colors, vibrance and razor sharp focus completely convinced me that my hard earned cash was well spent. The dynamic stabilizer is amazing. At wide angle, I shot a video one handed while walking my dog. Usually this results in severe motion sickness. Reviewing the video was incredible- very smooth, no jarring. At full telephoto (10x) some movement was noticeable....until you press the Powered IS button located on the bottom left of the LCD. I call it my virtual tri-pod. The Powered IS locks down the image. Completely acceptable, but more, amazing how well it works.

The LCD panel is gorgeous. It's a mini HD monitor. It's a touch panel that works. You can control everything from exposure, focus, aperature, shutter speed, video gain, and more. What's really cool is the Touch and Track feature. Say you have someone or something (works on objects too) that you want to keep in focus and property expose- just touch the person or thing on the LCD and a box forms around it. It's so sensitive you can touch someone's eye and the camera puts focus priority on the eye, vs the nose. This even works with my dog. Really impressed by that.

As for ease of use, the Auto mode is exactly that. Turn it on, point it and record. The camera is very intelligent and almost always selects the best settings for your subject. This is perfect for someone that doesnt really know a ton about photography/videography but wants to be able to capture life's precious moments.
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I'm torn in writing this review. This is a 5-star camera that I must give a three-star rating to. Here's why. The following is pulled DIRECTLY from Amazon's product description here: "To add to its versatile capabilities, the VIXIA HF S20 also features a viewfinder for use in extreme bright light situations." Well, as it turns out, this is FALSE. Totally false. Only the S21 has a viewfinder, I'm sad to say. Now, this is MY OWN FAULT for relying on Amazon's description, which is still there as of today 12/15/2010. But the sources I read all did generic HFS20/21/200 comparisons so it was hard to tease out differences. In my haste to snag a camcorder before we head off for the holidays, I mistakenly read that the ONLY difference b/w the S21 and S20 was the on-board memory, and that the HFS200 was the camcorder that lacked the viewfinder and on-board memory. This made intuitive sense and was "confirmed" by the Amazon description. This is wrong. Now, for those of you who will chastise me for relying on Amazon's description (something I normally do not do), your point is taken, so no need to ding me. However, this product STILL gets only 3 stars for value.

In terms of quality, this picture is stunning! I mean absolutely brilliant! The build of the camera is outstanding. The controls are slightly non-ergonomic (scrollbar on touchscreen should be on other side for one), but manageable. The audio is perfect, for a prosumer. I purchased the 5.1 Dolby surround external mike and so far, with my limited use, the sound is great. The built in mike is great too, but as far as I know, only this Canon line (HFS200/20/21) offers 5.1 surround. If you want HD video in 1080p/24p then you should want 5.1. So all this gets kudos. The breakdown comes in the "value" department.
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Cannon HF S20 - amazes in many ways. Crisp HD Quality and amazing sound clarity as well. Awsome in daylight shoots. Definitely improved LOW light shoots - from older 2009 models. Powered IS does a great Job in reducing handycam shakes. The Cannons AUTO Settings sShoot works like a charm. And great TOUCH Screen-at last- from Cannon. The 8 MP Photo's were OK, but I guess thats an acceptable quality. Has lot of Manual Controls to play and experiment with. After lot of research on Sonys and Cannon's 2010 Models I was pretty plseased with this one. I had an Sony earlier and was a bit scptical as well as SONY is known for G-Lens Wide shoot and LOW Quality results but I think Cannons CMOS does a great uplift here. Cannon's had been iffy on Low Light shoots and this Model shows a great facelift.
Some flaws - Battery guzzler, eats up battery a lot. The Lens cover makes a rattle noise on a gentle shake, other wise its pretty comfortable for my big hands. The black look gives a rich look. This one DOES NOT comes with Viewfinder ,but I never used it even in my existing Sony. The 32 GB and Dual SDHC Slot is amazing, wireless tranfer of vieos would require you to buy eye-fi cards.
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I have been using this Camcorder for a month now and am quite satisfied with it.
I chose this product because I wanted a small, rugged camcorder with lots of features and very good video quality.
I mainly use it outdoors on my hiking expeditions (and I try to protect it from moisture and shock with a case that was not designed for it but fits perfectly).
About the only negative thing I can say is that the battery life of the included battery is very short and the recharge time (on the camera) rather long... so BE PREPARED, if you buy it you should also get the CG-800 charger and a BP-819 battery to avoid disappointment.
The included PIXELA software seems only useful for getting scenes out of the camera and onto the computer... it is rather limited.... I chose Cyberlink Power Director for editing (it is inexpensive but powerful software and I can live with its "flaws" for now).
One thing I would have liked for this Camcorder is a frame advance... when capturing frames to photos in the camera one can slow the video down to 1/8th speed and pause it but one cannot advance frame-by-frame... the camera can, however, capture a sequence of frames (so you could afterwards look through the photos and discard the ones you dont want). You can see some still-capture from video at [...].
Finally you should know that Class 4 flash memory is fast enough for this camera, even in the best-quality (MXP) recording mode (I use FXP because it is compatible with AVCHD discs, but I could not detect any "visual" improvement with MXP though it is "technically better").
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