camcorders

Canon Vixia HF R11 Camcorder Review

The HF R11 is an entry-level camcorder from Canon that has an inflated price due to its 32GB of internal memory. It did well in our testing, but if you're looking for a bargain there are better choices out there.

November 01, 2010
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Manual Controls

Manual Controls Summary
{{article.attachments['Canon_HF_R11_Vanity120.jpg']}} • The camcorder has some simple auto controls, but its manual controls are limited. • All controls and menu navigation is done using the joystick on the LCD panel.
{{article.attachments['cci-prev.jpg']}} Compression & Media (Page 7 of 16) Still Features {{article.attachments['cci-next.jpg']}}

**Auto Mode***(9.47)*


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The auto mode button is inside the LCD cavity.

The HF R11 has a dedicated auto mode that locks you from accessing both the main menu and the camcorder's function menu in order to simplify recording. In this dedicated auto mode, the HF R11 also will automatically select a scene mode for the camcorder to used based on the shooting conditions. This feature, called Smart Auto, didn't always work very well.

If you can handle the menu systems on the HF R11, we actually recommend shooting in the camcorder's regular Dual Shot mode. Everything can still be set to automatic control, you just have more options to play around with—including the ability to switch certain features over to manual adjustment. Most of the auto controls on the camcorder worked well in our testing. Autofocus has two options, normal and instant, and both work pretty much how they sound. Normal provides smoother and slower transitions when the focus shifts, while instant gives a snap-like focus adjustment.

The auto exposure control was at times a bit quick and jarring on the HF R11, but the results produced by the camcorder were accurate. The auto white balance was also mostly effective, even in mixed light situations. The camcorder does have face detection, but it does not have any of the AF/AE tracking features that you find on the Panasonic HDC-SD60 and the higher-end models from Canon. The absence of this tracking option is probably due to the fact that the R11 doesn't have a touchscreen interface, which is usually the method used for initiating a tracking feature.

  Canon HF R11 JVC GZ-HM340 Panasonic HDC-SD60 Canon HF M31
Dedicated Auto Mode Yes Yes Yes Yes (Dual Shot mode)
Auto Focus Normal/Instant AF Normal AF Normal AF Normal/Instant AF
Spot/Touch Focus No No No Yes
AF/AE Tracking No No Yes Yes
Face Detection Yes Yes Yes (with face recognition and name display) Yes
Backlight Compensation Yes Yes Yes Yes
Low Light Modes Low Light scene mode Night Eye scene mode Color Night Record Low Light scene mode
Auto Slow Shutter Yes Yes (AGC set to auto) Yes Yes
Scene Modes Portrait, Sports, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Night Scene, Low Light, Spotlight, Fireworks Night Eye, Spotlight Sports, Portrait, Spotlight, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Fireworks, Scenery, Low Light, and Night Scenery Portrait, Sports, Night Scene, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Low Light, Spotlight, Fireworks, Underwater, Surface
Other Auto Controls Smart Auto (scene selection) Auto Record Intelligent Scene Selection Smart Auto (scene selection)

**Zoom***(6.5)*


The only way to zoom with the HF R11 is by using the top-mounted zoom toggle. The toggle is comfortable, but sometimes your index finger doesn't line up correctly with the position of the toggle (this really depends on the size of your hand and how you choose to hold the camcorder). One of the best things about the toggle is that you can set the zoom speed to be controlled variably, or you can choose one of three constant zoom speeds. No matter what you choose, a zoom progress bar will display on the LCD while you are zooming.

Other Canon models, and most mid-range or high-end camcorders, offer secondary zoom buttons on the LCD panel or elsewhere on the camcorder in addition to a top-mounted toggle.

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*The zoom toggle can control zoom speed variably, or you

can set it to one of three constant zoom speeds.

*

**Zoom Ratio***(7.0)*


The HF R11 has a 20x optical zoom, which is longer than the zoom on Canon's higher-end HD models (The HF M series has a 15x optical zoom and the HF S series has a 10x optical zoom). Compared to other entry-level HD camcorders, however, the HF R11's 20x zoom isn't that great. Certain models from Panasonic and JVC have longer optical zooms.

Of course, the HF R11 does have a 400x digital zoom as well, but we don't recommend using it too often because it does result in image degradation (particularly the more digital zoom you use).

 

**Focus***(5.5)*


The HF R11 has a manual focus option, but you must use the joystick on the LCD panel to adjust the focus in this manner. There is no dial or lens ring on the camcorder like you'll find on most high-end camcorders. Using the joystick to adjust focus isn't the worst thing in the world, but it isn't the most comfortable, nor is it the most precise. The camcorder also has a focus assist option that digitally magnifies the image while you focus (this feature can be turned on/off in the menu system).

{{article.attachments['Canon_HF_R11_Focus.gif']}}
Manual focus adjustment on the Canon HF R11
Manual Focus Comparisons
Canon HF R11

Control Type: joystick

Focus Assist: magnification

JVC GZ-HM340

Control Type: Laser Touch

Focus Assist: peaking

Panasonic HDC-SD60

Control Type: touchscreen

Focus Assist: peaking

Canon HF M31

Control Type: touchscreen

Focus Assist: magnification

**Exposure***(8.3)*


Basic exposure adjustment is available on the HF R11. To adjust exposure, you simply select the option from the joystick menu and press the joystick to the left (to make the image darker) or right (brighter). The camcorder has 23 increments of adjustment with a scale of -11 to +11, which is a decent incremental range.

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**Aperture***(0.0)*


The Canon HF R11 does not have manual aperture control, which makes it one of the few Canon camcorders to not include this feature.

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**Shutter Speed***(0.0)*


There's no manual shutter speed options on the R11 either, but you can turn on an auto slow shutter feature or allow the cam to use slow shutters by selecting various scene modes.

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**White Balance***(6.5)*


The HF R11 has two white balance presets (Daylight and Tungsten), an auto white balance setting, and a manual "one-push" feature for setting white balance yourself. These are fewer white balance options than you get on Canon's mid-range and high-end offerings (see the HF M31 in the table below), but it is fairly normal for a consumer camcorder to only have a few white balance presets. Anyway, it is the manual "one-push" setting that is the most important, so we're happy to see Canon included it on the HF R11.

{{article.attachments['table-3d3e60eb406769f332dec6a7dc6dc24f42c72b93.csv']}}    {{article.attachments['table-37baf03213676adfb8667e814ae656f3e67fa85b.csv']}}

**Gain***(0.0)*


There are no manual gain control options on the HF R11. However, the camcorder's Cine Mode and Spotlight scene mode do effectively act as auto gain control on/off functions (even though they aren't labeled as such).

 

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**Color & Image Controls***(3.0)*


Color/Image Control Description
Cine Mode Cine Mode alters exposure levels during recording by essentially eliminating any use of gain boost by the camcorder. This cleans up the image and gets rid of noise, but it also means you'll need more light to get a usable image.
Image Effects There's four image effect presets on the HF R11: Vivid, Neutral, Low Sharpening, and Soft Skin Detail. Unlike other Canon models, the R11 does not have a custom image effects setting.
x.v. Color Lets you record using an expanded color gamut (called xvYCC). You will only be able to see a difference if you view the recored video on an xvYCC-compatible TV.

**Other Manual Controls***(2.0)*


Control Description
Flicker Reduction Use this feature to reduce flicker that may result from recording video under certain kinds of fluorescent light. There are 50Hz and 60Hz options here.
Onscreen Markers Guidelines to assist with framing can be displayed on the screen with the following options: level (white or gray) and grid (white or gray).
Manual Controls Summary
  {{article.attachments['Canon_HF_R11_Vanity120.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['JVC_GZ-HM340_Vanity120.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['Panasonic_HDC-SD60_Vanity120.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['Canon_HF_M31_Vanity120.jpg']}}
Control Canon HF R11 JVC GZ-HM340 Panasonic HDC-SD60 Canon HF M31
Focus Yes Yes Yes Yes
Exposure Yes Yes Yes Yes
Aperture No No Yes Aperture-priority
Shutter Speed No No Yes Shutter-priority
White Balance Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gain No Auto Gain Control on/off Yes (with aperture opened fully) AGC Limiter
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Product Tour
  3. Color & Noise Performance
  4. Motion & Sharpness Performance
  5. Low Light Performance
  6. Compression & Media
  7. Manual Controls
  8. Still Features
  9. Handling & Use
  10. Playback & Connectivity
  11. Audio & Other Features
  12. Panasonic HDC-SD60 Comparison
  13. JVC GZ-HM340 Comparison
  14. Canon HF M31 Comparison
  15. Conclusion
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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