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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Handling & Use

Handling & Use Summary
{{article.attachments['Canon_HF_R11_Vanity120.jpg']}} • The HF R11 has a comfortable hand strap and a good design. • The camcorder is easy to use, but its multiple menu systems can be complicated.
{{article.attachments['cci-prev.jpg']}} Still Features (Page 9 of 16) Playback & Connectivity {{article.attachments['cci-next.jpg']}}

**Ease of Use***(7.0)*


The HF R11 isn't loaded with buttons and features, so it comes across as very easy to use. The camcorder does have a dedicated auto mode (engaged by pressing the auto button inside the LCD cavity) that locks you from accessing menus or making any manual adjustments. This mode is great for beginners who don't want to accidentally turn on a feature that they never wanted to access in the first place, but it does limit the versatility of the camcorder. Shooting with the R11's regular mode allows you to control all settings automatically, but you can still access menus and turn features on and off if you please. If you are comfortable with that much control, you should be fine with the regular shooting mode.

The menu on the HF R11 is well-designed and easy to navigate, but it doesn't have any built-in tool tips or help boxes. We also don't like the fact that Canon spreads out the options on the R11 into three different menus: there's the main menu, the function menu, and the joystick menu. The main menu and the function menu aren't problems—both are easy to navigate and have well-labeled options—but the joystick menu can be very confusing. Its features aren't labeled very well and it has an awkward design that relies far too much on the joystick for making adjustments.

{{article.attachments['Canon_HF_R11_Menu.gif']}}   {{article.attachments['Canon_HF_R11_FunctionMenu.gif']}}
Main menu   Function menu

**Handling***(7.0)*


The HF R11 has a solid, compact design, and its hand strap is nearly as plush and comfortable as what you get on the HF M31 and other high-end Canon models. Where the camcorder fails, however, is with its terrible button designs on the inside of the LCD cavity. Yes, the buttons are large and well-labeled, but they have a "membrane button" design, which means they don't stick out from the surface on which they are placed. This makes them hard to push and they can easily become defective over time.

{{article.attachments['Canon_HF_R11_Handling1.jpg']}}   {{article.attachments['Canon_HF_R11_Joystick.jpg']}}
*The HF R11 has a good hand strap

for an entry-level camcorder.

*

  *The joystick on the LCD panel is used to adjust

manual controls and navigate menus.

*

We do like that Canon kept the button layout on the HF R11 simple. The large start/stop record button on the back of the camcorder is well-placed... but how could it not be? It is the only button located on the back of the camcorder. There's only a few buttons inside the LCD cavity (the previously mentioned "membrane buttons") and the photo shutter button, zoom toggle, and on/off button occupy the top of the camcorder. This is the kind of simple, non-threatening design that should appeal to novice camcorder users.

{{article.attachments['Canon_HF_R11_Handling2.jpg']}}
The HF R11 is similar in size to most entry-level or mid-range camcorders.

Of course, if you're an advanced videographer you'll probably gripe about the HF R11's lack of manual control adjustment options. All controls and menus must be navigated via the joystick on the LCD panel. There's no touchscreen interface, no dial, no lens ring—so if you don't like using a joystick to make adjustments then you should stay away from the HF R11. All of Canon's higher-end models feature touchscreen LCDs and its HF S flagship series include adjustment dials.

{{article.attachments['Canon_HF_R11_Handling3.jpg']}}
There are only a few buttons on the HF R11, which keeps things simple.

Using the joystick to make adjustments really isn't all that bad. In fact, we prefer it to many of the touchscreen interfaces we've seen over the years. It helps that Canon includes a fairly well-designed joystick on the HF R11. It's not perfect, but, trust us, there have been camcorders with far worse joysticks and d-pads (most camcorders from Sanyo come to mind here).

Our final gripe about the HF R11 in terms of handling and design is its enclosed battery compartment on the bottom of the camcorder. We don't like anything to be bottom-loading on camcorders because it makes things hard to switch when shooting on a tripod. The fact that the compartment is enclosed is also a problem because it means you cannot insert larger battery packs into the camcorder.

**Stabilization***(TBA)*


We're working on getting our stabilization results for the HF R11, but at the time of this publication we didn't have all the numbers tabulated. As soon as we complete our stabilization test for the HF R11, we'll post the full results here for you to read. (More on how we test stabilization.)

In the meantime, we can let you know the camcorder has a digital image stabilization system (DIS) with two settings: Dynamic and Standard. The fact that the R11 uses a digital stabilization system instead of an optical one is important, as it is something that sets it apart from Canon's mid-range and high-end offerings. Optical stabilization is usually more effective than digital, and it doesn't result in image depredation like DIS can, so it will be interesting to see how well the HF R11's stabilization system works in our testing.

**Portability***(9.82)*


The HF R11 is basically the same size as the Canon HF M31, but it does weigh a bit less. On average, the HF R11 wasn't the lightest entry-level model we've seen—and it is certainly a whole lot heavier than an ultracompact camcorder like the Flip, Kodak Playsport, or Sony Bloggie Touch—but the camcorder fits in your palm comfortably and its weight never bothered us. If you want a camcorder you can slip into your pocket, you should check out those aforementioned ultracompact models. But, if you like the design of a traditional horizontal camcorder, the HF R11 is a good fit. The JVC GZ-HM340 is smaller and lighter, but it has half the amount of internal flash memory as the HF R11.

  Canon HF R11 JVC GZ-HM340 Panasonic HDC-SD60 Canon HF M31
Primary Media 32GB internal flash memory 16GB internal flash memory SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card 32GB internal flash memory
Secondary Media SD/SDHC memory card SD/SDHC memory card None SD/SDHC memory card
Weight 325g (with battery) 255g (with battery) 303g (with battery) 380g (with battery)
Size 60 x 64 x 124mm 52 x 62 x 110mm 51.5 x 65.5 x 112mm 68 x 60 x 123mm

**Battery Life***(3.55)*


The Canon HF R11 failed our battery life test on a number of accounts. To start, its provided battery lasted just 71 minutes in our testing, which is simply unacceptable. We hate to see provided batteries that can't even allow their camcorders to record for an hour and a half (90 minutes). (More on how we test battery life.)

The second problem with the HF R11 in terms of battery life is the fact that its battery compartment is fully enclosed. So, if you were hoping to solve the camcorder's abysmal battery life performance by purchasing a larger battery pack you don't really have much options. There's the BP-2L5 pack that comes with the camcorder and there's the NB-2LH that can be purchased separately for around $70. We're unsure if the NB-2LH will give you longer-lasting performance, but it does hold a larger charge than the BP-2L5 (720mAh vs. 530 mAh). 

Battery Life Comparisons
{{article.attachments['Canon_HF_R11_battery_comp.gif']}}
{{article.attachments['Canon_HF_R11_Battery.jpg']}}
*The battery compartment is enclosed and is located on the bottom of the camcorder.*

**LCD & Viewfinder***(7.04)*


At first glance, the HF R11's viewing screen (LCD) looks similar to what Canon offers on the HF M31 camcorder. Digging deeper, however, you'll see that the R11 doesn't have a touchscreen interface and its screen resolution has a lot less pixels than its cousin-models. In fact, the HF R11's LCD is one of the least resolute screens we've seen (other than the small screens on certain ultracompact models like the Flip). The LCD does have the standard 2.7-inch size, however, so most people should be comfortable with that.

{{article.attachments['Canon_HF_R11_LCD.jpg']}}
The LCD is 2.7 inches in size, but it does not have a touchscreen interface.

If you want a larger LCD on your camcorder, you'll have to splurge for a high-end model (many of which have 3-inch or 3.5-inch screens). The same goes if you want access to a viewfinder as well—none of the mid-range or entry-level models we've seen have either of these features.

  Canon HF R11 JVC GZ-HM340 Panasonic HDC-SD60 Canon HF M31
LCD Size 2.7 inches 2.7 inches 2.7 inches 2.7 inches
LCD Resolution 112,000 pixels 123,000 pixels 230,400 pixels 211,000 pixels
Touchscreen No No Yes Yes
Viewfinder None None None None
Canon HF R11 Comparisons
{{article.attachments['JVC_GZ-HM340_Vanity120.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['Panasonic_HDC-SD60_Vanity120.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['Canon_HF_M31_Vanity120.jpg']}}
JVC GZ-HM340 Panasonic HDC-SD60 Canon HF M31
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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