Customer Reviews: Canon VIXIA HF R200 Full HD Camcorder with Dual SDXC Card Slots
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on July 13, 2011
Bottom line: A good value-oriented camera that works well with my Mac. It is easy to use with intuitive controls - although some of the advanced settings required me to read the instruction manual. For good quality home movies, it seems to be perfect; and the minor improvement in video quality available on higher-end models probably isn't worth the additional cost.

Opening the Box:
All items were packed securely in the box except the battery, which was just rattling around in the box; and the box was not taped shut. I don't know if this had to do with the seller or the manufacturer; but I wish that all manufacturers would get in the habit of sealing the boxes at the factory with security tape, so that there would be no question that the box remained sealed from factory to consumer. Maybe I am nit picking, but the lack of security tape on the box and the battery issue could signal larger quality control problems at Canon.

First Use:
My 16GB SDHC card did not arrive on time, so I popped in a Kingston 4GB (class 4) card that I had. I wanted to take a short test video first thing, so I ignored the instructions about charging the battery first. I just plugged the camera in and began to use it.

After I took my test video, I charged the battery as indicated in the instructions: the first time you use it you are supposed to charge it to full capacity, and then use it until completely drained.

The camera's operations and controls seem very easy to me. I know that review sites like CNET give Canon low marks for hard to use LCD touchscreen menus, but I found them rather easy to navigate, even without reading the instructions. The exterior buttons and controls were intuitive.

I use a Mac computer, and it was easy to transfer video to iMovie for editing and uploading to YouTube. Instead of connecting the camera to the computer via the included USB cable, I just stuck the SD card into the card reader on the side of my MacBook Pro, opened iMovie and clicked the button that tells it to look for a camera ... and bingo, there was my movie. I did some quick editing and uploaded it to YouTube. I would say that the total time from plugging in the SD card to having the video on YouTube ready to go was no more than 10 minutes.

I have read other websites where people make a fuss about the software not working well with a Mac. The bottom line here is that the Mac recognizes the video shot with the camera and easily transfers it to the computer for editing and storage. Honestly, I can't think of a reason why anyone would need the software that comes with the camera. I'll probably never take it out of the package.

Complaints I have Read in Other Reviews:
1. Noise. I think I hear a very faint sound on playback that might be the noise people have talked about when shooting in very quiet locations. But it certainly is not anything I would ever worry about. The background noise from my computer equipment is louder than the faint noise I was hearing. I probably wouldn't have noticed it if I hadn't read about it. It might be an issue with Canon's 2010 models, but not with this one.
2. Battery Life: Using the Advanced Zoom and the Dynamic Image Stabilization features (and other such things, which are "ON" by default) suck down the battery pretty quick. If you don't need these features, just turn them off, and the battery will last much longer. There is a convenient button on the side of the camera labeled "Auto." You can turn off all of that stuff and run the camera in manual mode, and then easily use the "Auto" button to activate the other features, and switch back and forth. With a tripod I would leave the IS turned off all the time. You can also dim the LCD screen if you are doing a lot of indoor shooting to get a few more minutes of battery life. I spent a couple of hours shooting test video, turning different features on and off, and using the included HDMI cable to watch playback on my TV, and I still have 75% battery life remaining. I used various recording settings, including highest quality MXP mode, and that didn't seem to make a difference in the battery life. The reviewers who say that battery lasted only an hour must mean that the battery lasts for 1 hour of actual video shooting time with the IS turned on. An hour of shooting video is a long time. Full-length feature films are only 90 minutes. When I spend all day at the park with the kids, I'll carry an extra battery.
3. Low Light Performance: I suppose that if you are doing a lot of indoor low light video, you might want to spend more money to get a camera that has an advanced sensor, like Canon's CMOS Pro. But the R200 has better low-light specs than some other brands; and it has a manual exposure setting. This comes in handy when you are shooting indoor scenes with bright windows in the background. The automatic exposure tends to "underexpose" in these situations, but it can be manually adjusted to compensate. The video does come out a little grainy in low light ... but our standards for acceptable quality have been raised as technology has improved. You won't be able to produce a video on this camera like you see on TV. Duh!
4. Software issues: Honestly, I don't get it. Camera companies make cameras. If you want video editing software, buy it from someone who makes software for a living. As I said above, iMovie works for me.

I am glad that I did not spend more money on a more expensive camera! This camera is easy to use and will do everything I want it to do. As a casual user, I am mostly interesting in making home videos of the kids. If I find flaws after several months of use, I'll post an updated review.
1010 comments| 185 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 6, 2011
I've had this camera for a while, along with a couple of others (JVC HM300BU and JVC X900).

Originally I bought it for the easy manual controls. I needed to do an "infinite white" backdrop and wanted to have extensive control over exposure and white balance.

After I had it for a while, I started discovering the incredible little hidden features. I have set-up a little studio, and much of what I've done on a budget, without spending thousands on professional equipment would have been impossible without the Canon HF R200.

I bought a wireless microphone and with a hot shoe side grip, fits perfect on the Canon.
I bought a high end headset, the camera supports it via the 2-function AV jack.
It has a grooved 50mm diameter, so you can add a Telephoto or a Wide Angle lens!
It can record at 24Mbps (if you have the computing power to edit BlueRay quality). Not that you ever will, I have shot in 7Mbps (Standard) and the quality is absolutely stunning, and the file size is manageable, a 64 bit computer with 4Gb RAM and decent editing software will suffice). Before you go spend $3000 on a "prosumer" camera, this one shoots in 24P, cinematic, and it's about $400.

To see my 7Mbps HD videos (and "infinite white backdrop" experiments), look for DirtGlue on YouTUBE. All the white background 3-5 min videos are in front of this camera.

The JVC X900 has 3 times the megapixels, but no audio or headphone jacks, and it's 1080i not 1080p, so it's an incredible camera that I can't hook any of the pro accessories to!

The JVC HM300 can do time lapse (really cool) but once you film the clouds passing, the flower blooming, the tomato rotting, and your commute to work, you're done with time lapse. Again, no MIC jack on this one either, although it sports 2 SD cards just like the Canon.

Anyway, back to the Vixia HF R200, because the more I learn it, the more I like it. Do you remember those sportscasts where the narrator draws on the touch screen to explain the action to you? This camera has that feature built-in.

I am not sure I touched a third of what it does. It has a couple of other well-thought features you only find on high end cameras. I am lucky to have taken the time to read the manual, it saved me from buying a more expensive camera which I actually don't need.
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on April 26, 2011
I had this camcorder for about 3 weeks now. Mainly I have done small outdoors clips and one long school play. For low light indoors the best solution is movie mode at 24fps. This setting produced a great product for the school play. Outdoors with good light every setting that I have tried seems to give great results.
However make sure that you have a medium for playback capable of handling the video quality. For example my only option for full quality playback is directly to my 1080p TV. All of my computers struggle with the full quality video, and as a result the playback is choppy.
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on April 23, 2011
I bought this camcorder with the recommendation from Canon as I am using the camera to tape educational videos for YouTube .
Having own a Sony Video 8 Handycam so this is my first HD digital camera. So far for me, the R200 is sturdy, light weight, with an incredible zoom (from 20 feet I can zoom on a box of cereal and read the ingredients!) and is very easy to use. The touch screen is a great feature as you only need your finger tip to maneuver and you can even do some editing. I do wish the camera was compatible with my MacBook Pro, but will have to down load and edit on Windows. I did find the camcorder available at BJ's wholesale for the same price ($379). BJ's also included a memory card and a very sweet Canon case for the same price. With delivery cost and having to buy a case and memory card, I spent about $75 too much buying it on line rather than BJ's and also had to wait a week to get it. Shop around first before you buy it on line.
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on March 24, 2011
I just recieved this camcorder a few days ago. For the most part I'm impressed but am disapointed in a few areas.

(1) there IS a place to attach an external microphone but then where are you to put it, I mean there is no way to attach it to the camera body because it doesn't come with a foot, so I will have to order an arm mount that stems from where the tripod hooks on but will allow me to still put the camera on the tripod. The external mic will have to be set on the side of the camera instead of on top. This is the one I will be ordering:

(2)the battery life is pretty short. I was fiddling with my camera fully charged and it ran out out juice in just about an hour so I'm currently looking into seeing if they have a 2 or 3 hour battery or something. I mean, if I'm out in the woods for the day taping, I don't want to have to bring 3 or 4 battery packs with me with everything else I have to carry.

On the UP side, I really like the size and many of it's features. The zoom and tele-macro appear pretty decent for such a small camcorder. So far, so good but haven't taken it out in the field yet...need more battery power before I can do that since trees here in Maine don't have much electrical current running through them to run the adapter off any given branch I might be sitting by at the time of filming :-}

I haven't tried loading anything up on the internet yet either so we shall see how that all works out. Will keep you posted as I learn more about this product. thanks. It sure is a cute little thing.
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on May 8, 2011
I previously (a week ago) purchased a Sony Handycam, standard definition digital camcorder and was extremely disappointed with the video quality when playing it back on my HDTV. I wasn't expecting HD quality; however, my old analog video tape recorder has equal or better playback than the Sony. This Canon is priced right and has a ton of cool features. With 5 levels of record quality to choose from (whether you want great clarity or long memory life), you can get exactly what you want. On only the middle quality setting, the playback on my HDTV is spectacular in high and medium to moderately low light levels. I haven't tried anything dark like nighttime or a school play or anything like that. Highly recommend this camcorder so far. I haven't had it long enough to speak to it's durability, but the ease of use, features and recording quality are awesome. The battery life it pretty short (only about an hour), so that might be an issue and a second battery is going to run about $50. I haven't messed with the software yet either. I'll update this when I try dumping the video to my PC and/or DVD and/or BlueRay. There is a "bundle" at BJs that include the camcorder, carry bag, 4G SDHC card and a $50 instant rebate.
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on August 2, 2011
Had an Vixia HF200 that met an untimely demise when I dropped it in water.
Decided to buy another Canon with similar functions/features and
settled down to HFR200.

Overall a good camcorder for its price. It has higher zoom than the older model.
And the touch panel is nice. Picture quality is good, if not better than the older model.
And it is lighter and smaller, too, primarily due to the smaller battery.
The down side of smaller battery is the shooting time. I'd recommed carrying
a spare battery.

So far, I have discovered two issues that really irks me.

1. No flash for photo.
I understand this camcorder is not intended to
replace a camera and it is supposed to "pinch hit" when one forgets to take
a camera with him. But without a flash, it is not good as a camera when the lighting
is not ideal. I would rather pay a little more for one equipped with a flash.

2. Video file names not unique.
For reasons I cannot understand, Canon decided that the video
file names on the SD card can repeat (that is, not uniquely assigned).
So if I downloaded a video file and deleted it from the SD card, the next time
I shoot something the file name can be the same. Now that makes organizing
the videos files somewhat challenging. I do not use the bundled software
to download the video files because last time I looked, the Pixela (??)
software sucks big time. Instead, I simply plug the SD card into my PC and
copy the files.

At the same time, the photo file names are uniquely assigned.

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on April 10, 2012
Few good features. 1. Canon will send you a User Manual free: it's great. 2. I noticed a clear difference from my Canon Elura 80: clearity and resolution. 3. Taking photos much easier. 4. I like the idea of putting videos on memory card A and Photos on memory card B. I like the automatic shutter covers and the free HDMI cable. 5. There is a ton of other stuff on this camcorder that this brain can not
process: eg, put music on video,record fireworks show,white light ? , and video-snap ??.
What I don't like about this Canon HF-R200. Just one major thing, The smart battery cost about $65. The smart battery tells you how many minutes left. I need three (3) of these just to record two hours on High Definition. That is an extra $190 plus tax . In my opinion,Canon could sell these batteries for $25 and still make a profit. I don't know why Canon would want to leave a bad taste on customers.
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on August 1, 2011
I bought this camera for basic use (recording a cat and people) and have been pleased with the results. I haven't yet transferred any videos from the camera to a computer or anything but viewing them on the camera itself has yielded what appear to be good movies. The camera itself is solid and I like the ability to use more than one SD card if needed. The touch screen is a little difficult sometimes but I think I'll get the hang of it.
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on December 31, 2011
I ordered this camera from Amazon a week or so ago, after my old Panasonic VHS camcorder committed suicide the day before Christmas. I prefer the Vixia HFR200 over the versions that have internal memory, because you don't have to fiddle with settings to choose between internal memory and plug-in SD cards. You only use the plug-in SD cards, but you absolutely have to order at least one card with the Vixia HFR200. It comes without any internal memory or cards whatsoever. I was apprehensive about the Canon's .mts file format, as I was totally unfamiliar with it, but to my surprise and delight, I could import these files directly into my Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum suite projects. Once it is part of a project in this suite, you can edit the movie, add still images, animations, text overlays, background music, sound effects, etc., etc., to your heart's content. Once the project is finished, you can create movies in numerous formats, or burn it directly to a disk to play in your DVD player for your TV. I just completed my first movie that I shot with the Vixia's FXP (high quality) setting, imported the resulting Canon .mts format file into the Sony Vegas suite and saved a movie in the high quality Sony .m2ts format that will play on a computer in Windows media player. Yes, the high quality means fairly large files, but the video quality on my computer monitor blew me away. The Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum suite sells here on Amazon for just over $60. I use version 10, but version 11 is now available and I understand that it will import movie clips directly from the Vixea over USB. You won't even need the Canon software that comes with the camera. As far as I am concerned, this combination: The Vixia and Sony's Vegas suite, is an unbeatable combination at the price. Both require a little patience to learn but the end results make it all worthwhile.

Yes, the Vixia's battery life is an issue for me. It can only record for about an hour and then it takes two and a half hours to recharge the battery. You cannot use the camera and charge the battery at the same time. If you turn on the camera with the power adapter plugged in, it works but stops recharging the battery. It is unfortunate that you do not get an external charger for the battery as standard equipment. You have to buy it as an optional extra for another 60 plus bucks. I had to bite the bullet, swallow two or three times, and buy a battery charger and extra battery for the camera. However, it was either that or losing use of my camera for two and a half hours every time the battery runs down, when the grandkids come visiting. I did not even consider non-Canon chargers and batteries made by third parties, although they are much less expensive, as these third party units do not communicate with the camera to report the battery's state of a charge and I do not like lack of this feature.

The whole setup was not cheap, but I am extremely pleased with the results I am getting. If I have to, I would do it again!
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