216 of 220 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great cam
Just got the camera today so I thought I'd jot down some initial impressions.
The build quality is good, classy black with chrome. I bought an extra battery and noticed it wiggled slightly but no big deal. The cam is definitely light. The touch screen has a nice sensitivity to it. Had to turn up the brightness to get it to work okay under bright light...
Published 20 months ago by Tezza
29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars narrow field of view, extra purchase of wide angle lens needed
I was in the market for a new consumer camcorder after my Canon HV20 HDV camcorder passed away. I really liked the HV20 but its zoom lens had a severely limited field of view at the low end of the zoom range (~45mm equivalent) that required purchase of a wide angle add on lens (Canon model costs >$200). I had to carry around this lens everywhere I wanted to record indoors...
Published 16 months ago by EJ
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216 of 220 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great cam,
This review is from: Canon VIXIA HF M500 Full HD 10x Image Stabilized Camcorder with One SDXC Card Slot and 3.0 Touch LCD (Electronics)Just got the camera today so I thought I'd jot down some initial impressions.
The build quality is good, classy black with chrome. I bought an extra battery and noticed it wiggled slightly but no big deal. The cam is definitely light. The touch screen has a nice sensitivity to it. Had to turn up the brightness to get it to work okay under bright light.
The menu system will take a little time to get used to. It's not the sort of system you can can just goof around with all the options and figure it out. If you know what functions your looking for you'll have to spend a little time in the manual figuring it out.
Naturally, everyone would be wondering about the image quality. The video quality is very good. I took a little video of a friend of mine doing yard work in fairly strong daylight. I noticed that the lens is quite sharp, rendering lots of detail. Color is good. Image is perhaps just a tad overexposed but I was throwing it into a tough situation with the harsh daylight right out of the box. Zoom is smooth.
The microphone worked well, even with a little bit of wind. Not overly sensitive, but it can pick up some low volume details in the scene.
Bottom line, for the price you'll be happy with this camera. If you want to take some high quality HD without paying an arm and a leg for $1,000 plus professional camcorder, then this is the camcorder for you.
FOLLOW UP (2 MONTHS LATER)
Okay, now I've had lots of experience with this cam. Submitted some footage to the local access television station. So here's the scoop. The image quality, in low light, is superb for a camera of this price. Image quality is very good under normal lighting conditions. The cam tends to overexpose a little, however most people wouldn't notice it. However, if you want to "dial in" a "semi-pro" look, then definitely get acquainted with the exposure compensation. Definitely compensating one or two stops (darker) will make your image look really, really good, coming close to a pro look.
The built in mic is superb. I took some footage of a music performance at the local high school and I was shocked at how good the sound was. I've been using an external shotgun mic for a few events and the cam handles that beautifully, just set the volume level to 50 out of 100 and I'm getting pro sound. Only minor annoyance is the external microphone volume is conveniently placed under the easily accessible "function" menu but the volume for external headphones is buried under another menu. Luckily the headphone level is "set and forget" because I always use the same headphones.
The build quality is good but not top notch. But realistically most people aren't going to use this cam forty hours per week on the job. I'm using it about 10 hours a month videoing various programs for the local access station and I don't have any qualms about the cam standing up to that level of use.
This cam is a serious amateur to semi pro rig for short dollars. If you know how to dial in exposure compensation you can really make the image shine. I was videoing an event beside a pro with a $3,000 camera and quite seriously, the images I was capturing, in my opinion, were very close in quality to the pro's cam.
No camera is perfect, but your getting 90-95 percent the quality of a serious semi pro rig for about 1/4 to 1/6th the price.
ONE YEAR LATER
I've been using this camera about 10-20 hours a month for one year doing local access tv footage. This cam never ceases to amaze me. Really good low light images. We've used other far more expensive cameras than this one (won't mention the make/model) and this one still outshines in the low light department. Canon should have charged WAAAY more money for this cam (lol). I bought it when it first came out at $500 and now the street price is $350 which is an unbelievable deal.
Super nice light rig when I match this cam with the Canon monopod. I use it on a light Velbon tripod as well. The shotgun I mentioned earlier in this article is hanging in there recording some nice sound.
Couldn't be more pleased with this camera. Yah, it overexposes occasionally but no camera is perfect. The low light performance seals the deal.
69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for my needs!,
This review is from: Canon VIXIA HF M500 Full HD 10x Image Stabilized Camcorder with One SDXC Card Slot and 3.0 Touch LCD (Electronics)I received the Vixia HF M500 camcorder yesterday and am so far very happy with my purchase. I'll try to keep this review relatively short.
Overall the camera is very simple to use. The menu navigation is rather intuitive. You can hit the home button on the inside panel to bring up selections for a number of important settings. General camera settings and functions are all accessed from here. On the touchscreen, depending on how the camera is set up, you will see other options available. For instance, choosing the "cinema mode" brings up filter selections on the main screen which you simply scroll through to select. Very easy to use!
The included software isn't much, Pixela Transfer Utility. I can't complain, it gets the job of transferring files from the camera to the PC done. For reference I'm using Windows 7 and had no problems with installing the software or getting files to load.
Video Quality - Excellent for a camera in the sub $600 price range. The colors overall were all very accurate with very good hue and saturation. I filmed a Sandhill Crane in automatic mode and then manually set the white balance using a photo grey card and the compared results were very similar. Many people probably wouldn't even notice the subtle changes. The sharpness and detail of the video is outstanding. Not once under proper lighting conditions did the video appear grainy or lacking in any way. I did notice a bit of degredation in very poor lighting, which is found below as the one con for this model.
Very small and incredibly light weight. The camcorder fits very comfortably in my hand. The controls are easily available for one handed operation.
Battery life is pretty good and better than I expected at a full 120 minutes. I'll end up getting a spare just to have but to start it's nice to know you'll have 2 hours worth of recording time.
10x optical zoom. There's no degredation of the video at full zoom, unlike digital.
Optical Image Stabilization. Like the optical zoom, this is the best option available. It doesn't degrade the picture and produces a very steady shot.
Cinema filters...Ok, so I really didn't think I would like them but it turns out that I do. To my surprise I actually can see myself using a couple of them from time to time. If nothing else, they provide some artistic options without having to edit them in to the video in your software program of choice.
Audio quality. You're essentially getting cd quality audio from the internal microphone.
Available hot shoe. In the event you'd like to add a light or external microphone (5.1 surround mics are available) you simply attach the accessory to the hot shoe and you're ready to go. I know in the future I will be adding these capabilities. This is one of the features that made me choose this model.
Cons - A little lacking in the low light area but nothing that is a deal breaker. I've seen far worse and was generally impressed. It isn't pro quality but if that's what you're looking for, $550 isn't the price range you should be looking in.
From my couple hours of experimenting and using this camera I can without hesitation say that the quality is exactly what I want and need for my own personal use. There are plenty of options for video quality and general aesthetics right in the camera that make it everything I need. If you're looking for a "step up" model with some bells and whistles and excellent overall video quality then take a serious look at the HF M500. I am extremely happy with the purchase.
EDIT: 03/31 - I detailed the video quality and battery life as I have yet to be able to load a short sample clip.
EDIT: 04/01 - I finally got some test footage up and available in 1080p on YouTube. I hope you'll find yourself as happy as I am with the quality of the video this little beauty produces. I am completely satisfied in every way with every aspect of this HD camcorder. Search YouTube for the model number and it should pop up (mine is the "jaysdroid" video), if not here's the address:
65 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth It,
This review is from: Canon VIXIA HF M500 Full HD 10x Image Stabilized Camcorder with One SDXC Card Slot and 3.0 Touch LCD (Electronics)I upgraded from a Samsung MX-100...I only use a camcorder occasionally to capture candid moments and family events. So far...completely impressed. I originally was going to get the R300 for $350, but once I found out that Canon ships that camera with the smallest of its 3 batteries (BP-709, BP-718, BP-727) and that other users were getting about 20-30 minutes of video recording with the BP-709, I knew I would have to purchase a second battery. The medium size battery (BP-718) was $75 and the large battery (BP-727) was $110.
Factor a second battery into the equation and your price point is no longer $350, but about $450.
Given that the M500 comes with the medium size battery (BP-718), for an extra $100 it was a no brainer to upgrade from the R300 to the M500. I get incredibly awesome low light performance (the video, at least for someone who just wants to capture occasional indoor scenes, is 1000% usable...very low noise and grain and the colors are true); I get a much better lens and sensor; and I get an shoe accessory (mini).
Also, with respect to the maximum record time on the battery:
I just fully charged my M500, put it in auto mode, set it on the counter and zoomed to the widest setting, then pushed record.
Initially, the M500 display stated I had 1 hour 24 min of battery.
Result, I recorded a full 2 hour and 6 min video clip at full AVCHD MXP quality and the battery displayed 4 min left.
Please note: the zoom never changed, the camera never had to refocus...it was simply stationary on a counter. I would assume constant zooming (and the new IS system having to work) and focusing would decrease the battery life...probably why initially the display stated 1 hour and 24 minutes because it included those factors in its estimated battery life.
Also...you can turn the camera on, push record, then close the LCD screen into the camera (as if you are going to storing it) and the camera keeps recording. The purposes of recording this way are limited, but it is an option, which I would assume would let you record way more than 2 hours and 6 min.
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Camera for Price and Features,
I have not been disappointed with this camera or my decision. The resolution and video quality that comes off of the camera in 24mbps AVCHD recording mode is awesome. It is better then broadcast quality but that is because of the down conversion of the source material on TV programs versus this camera being better then a professional camcorder. The quality of video however is very close to what you will get with Canon's higher end HG-G10 and XA10. The sensor on this camera is actually identical to Canon's professional models. The difference will be that the higher end models have better lenses, XLR Mic outputs, built-in ND filters, and features like 4-2-2 color sampling, focus rings, and multiple C-MOS sensors. At this price point you cannot get everything but you can come awfully close for a lot less money.
This camera is not a professional camcorder but it does have the capability to shoot some high quality material straight out of the box. This includes decent audio along with a very good image. It is meant to be a point and shoot type of camera but has a lot of manual options as well. The manual options are accessed through the touch screen which means they are not as easy to work with as say a XF100 with more buttons. It is nice that Canon gives a lot of manual options since I know a lot of people will buy this camera and never take it out of Auto mode. You can stretch your creativity a bit if you wish or keep things simple point and shoot in auto mode. The good news is the camera takes great images in whatever mode you are in.
MP4 recording is a nice feature as well if you are the type that uploads a lot of your videos to share on the net. The bit rate is quite a bit lower then AVCHD but it is recorded in true progressive 720P at either 24 or 30 frames per second and still looks very good. I like having that recording option available even if I shoot most of the time in AVCHD at the highest bit rate. The advantage to MP4 direct is reduction in uploading times to sites like YouTube that will convert your files to MP4 format anyway.
The last thing to mention may be the most important and that is this camera's low light performance. Canon designed the sensor to use the minimal amount of pixel's needed for full HD. This means that the pixels that are used are larger which allows more light to pass through. It also means this camera outperforms all camcorders in this price range and above for low light performance. It was the biggest thing that pushed me toward this camera above all others. If you are looking for a great camcorder with near pro performance without the pro price this is one of the best out there.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars superb in low light, decent color, otherwise mediocre,
BUT ! when it gets dark it is magical. it can capture accurate color in ANY light no matter how dim or bad. it's almost as if it actually works better the worse the lighting is.
it also has superb ergonomics - fits my hand like a glove, and the weight is very nice too.
the colors are not particularly saturated, but they look fairly accurate - a bit on the warm side as is typical of canon.
should you get one ? it depends on what you need. if you expect to be shooting a lot of footage in poor lighting conditions this is the ticket. otherwise you may consider Sony which has better wide angle capability. i can't recommend Panasonic because mine had poor skin color reproduction in 9 out of 10 videos.
the two biggest reasons NOT to get this camera are 1 - abysmal zoom range at the "wide" end ( like watching through a keyhole ) and lack of 60P mode which both Sony and Panasonic have and which, depending on your playback system, may result in much smoother video during fast panning. if you understand these limitations and are fine with them - then get this Canon.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best low light camcorder ever,
- Best low light performance camera available, even better than the Canon G10, do not mention any of the Pani and Sony
- Vibrant color rendition, even at low light
- Good performance all around, especially low light
- plastic tripod mount
- larger than a compact camera needs to be, battery is not in a recess and is hung like a tumor
For demanding users need performance all around, this is a perfect camera once you get by with the ugly shell.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this camcorder,
Super lightweight and small. 3.5 mm mic in, headphone out. If you don't feel like dealing with AVCHD, just use the MP4 setting. I like having the option since a free program like MPEG Streamclip can quickly convert MP4 to Apple Intermediate for use in FCP7. MP4 is limited to 30 minute files so use AVCHD for longer takes.
Good battery life but DO NOT record until the battery runs out. I accidentally did this and the file system on the SD card was corrupted, had to use file recovery software. This is probably the case with any SD card camcorder. It'd be nice if the software shut the camera down BEFORE it has zero power left.
I paid $500 early last year and felt it was worth the price. Now I want to buy another, it'd be great to have two for shooting live performances, which it does well due to the low light capabilities. Obviously it doesn't have the manual pro controls of a $1000 camcorder, but it's got the sensor and even the auto setting gives great results. For the price you can't go wrong.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So far, so good,
Plugged in the charger and it started to charge. The manual insists that you can EITHER charge, OR you can power the camera, not both.
Hmmm. Checked how long to charge ... 5+ hours!!! for a battery with a runtime of about 1hr 20 min.
Now I think this is deliberate, its to persuade you that you need another battery and an external charger, they are ~$100 each.
I wish Japanese manufacturers wouldn't do this stuff. Its like printers. You buy one for $100 then find its going to cost you $120 for the next set of ink cartridges.
As with Epson ink cartridges, the Canon batteries have a built in chip... You can get a third party charger and two batteries for less than $40, or you can pay $200 for a Canon charger and ONE battery.
The difference? The chip is used to display how much charge you have left, so with the third party battery you don't get that indication.
But for $15 vs $100, I might live with that.
Anyway ... once you get past the obligatory rip-off, the camera itself seems to perform very well. Out of the box, it has an obnoxious set of noises when you use it, but at least you can turn them off.
Went to load the software onto my Mac running Mountain Lion, went to the websit to get the latest (included CD/DVD ALWAYS seems to have outdated versions, so I generally skip them). So, on the website, you can select Mountain Lion, but there is no software (yet). There is a suggestion to "try" the Lion version ... I did, it doesn't work.
Fortunately, other software, which is probably superior to whatever Canon are going to provide does work, so I can suck the video directly into First Cut Pro X (for example).
Pity there is no sort of cover at all provided -- Canon will sell you a bag, for a bit less than $100 for the basic one...
Due to the obligatory rip-offs associated, I can't give five stars.
Note to Canon: if the basic charger allowed charging in ~ the same as the battery runtime (quite feasible), and if you had supplied just a cheap cover, you probably would have received five stars, because the camera itself is actually very good.
More comments later when I have had the chance to actually use it in anger.
Update: I have now had time to play around with the camera, not taking much video, so comments on that will come later.
Everything you do has to be via the menu system on the screen. This is fine for setup, but if you want to make any adjustment while videoing, its going to be a) a pain and b) disrupt what you are videoing.
The screen is quite insensitive. You really have to poke it to get your selections to register. Best of luck holding it on the subject while poking the screen.
Unfortunately, this seems to be common for most sub-$1,000 video cameras these days.
The menu arrangement is a bit odd. Its certainly not how I would have arranged things. I can see a sort of logic there, but I think its the logic of a software designer, not a video camera user. Again, typical of cheap(ish) Japanese video cameras.
The default settings are (sort of) ok, with the exception of the default 60i format and SP quality. I am convinced this was chosen only so that they could get "60" into the marketing material -- this is basically a 30fps camera, which is perfectly ok for 99.9% of all uses. As a default, 60i is really not the best. If you want to edit the video, or even just post it on the Internet, interlaced is not the best choice. "SP" quality is actually pretty poor (compared to what the camera is capable of). Anyone using the camera out of the box and then looking at the result on a decent monitor/HDTV is likely to be quite disappointed. Especially if the recording was of something important.
One thing I did find to be missing, and was a little surprised that it isn't there, there is no ability to take frames at specified intervals to record slow activities. That would be so easy to do.
Used it on the beach today. Not good. This isn't a criticism of this particular camera, but of this style of camera: The fold-out screen is absolutely useless in a bright setting. Can't see ANYTHING of what you are trying to record.
I do find the record button poorly placed. It is impossible to hold the camera comfortably and stable AND be able to easily reach the record button without moving the camera.
Most of the video was good, that that wasn't was mainly due to the close to impossible scenes that I was trying to record -- subject (dog) moving from brightly lit beach into dark shadow, the camera tried to keep the subject well exposed, but ended up with everything looking washed out. I could *probably* have done better manually (not as fast), but I can't really complain at the auto exposure results.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HF M500 Notes: Supports Remote Control. Requires Powered Microphone.,
** Update Dec 6, 2012 - On Nov 29, the price dropped from 500+ to 299. If history is a guide, it's a sign this may be replaced by a newer model in January. Excellent value. Or maybe you want to wait for the new model. (The price also dropped at places like B&H, which does not collect sales tax outside New York) **
Some detailed notes, not full review.
- - - Remote Control - - -
This model can be remote controlled using Canon's WL-D89 wireless controller ($18) or a third party knock-off ($10).
This is despite zero mention of remote control capability in Canon's marketing copy, or in the detailed Specifications or Features info at Canon's web site.
(It is clearly described on page 43 of the owner manual -- downloadable from Canon's website. The remote sensor is on the front of the camera between the microphones.)
Remote control is a time saver if you shoot videos of yourself, such as when doing amazon video reviews or video blogs.
Remote control has recently disappeared from many other sub-$1000 camcorders.
- - - External Microphone Issues - - -
Even though the HF M500 has good built-in mics, an external mic placed inches from a person's mouth will give much better audio. I found that unpowered microphones, like the Olypmus ME-15 will NOT work when directly connected to this camcorder. (Even though they work fine with voice recorders or PC sound cards.) Apparently many camcorders have the same limitation. You need a battery powered mic like the Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Microphone or some powered interface (like a wireless transmitter & receiver system).
~~~ Comments & questions welcome ~~~
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spend a little more for this one, you won't regret it,
I would consider this to be money well spent, as the ability to shoot indoors without any extra lighting is truly impressive, that means you will get the intended result, not a lot of grainy, poory exposed footage.
There are some comments about the limited optical zoom (10x) this is a result of the large sensor in the camera requiring a commensurate increase in lens diameter = great video. The camcorders that offer the thirty times zoom range, or there about, are able to do so because they have such tiny sensors.Ten times optical zoom is also about the limit for being able to hand hold and get acceptable results with image stabilization (longer would require a tripod)
One feature that I find very usefull, is the ability to record while the flip out viewing panel is closed. This is not a common feature among competing models, It allows the user a greater amount of flexibilty in certain situations. This feature is not pointed out anywhere on the description of the camera, but it does have this most usefull function.
Canon offers this series 3 ways, m500 this reviewed unit, m50 and m52 both have WIFI and internal storage. I had previously the m50, and returned it do to the WIFI being incedibly difficult to manage.
Save your money, get this one and a 32GB class 10 card.
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Canon VIXIA HF M500 Full HD 10x Image Stabilized Camcorder with One SDXC Card Slot and 3.0 Touch LCD by Canon
Used & New from: $499.99