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on 6 November 2010
This camera delivers superb images in good light. The audio is superb from the built-in mics and the three stage image stabiliser is outstanding.

In very low light on full auto the images are dire but that's true for most other cameras under 1K.

In low light on manual it's fine - i.e. true to life.

The problem is getting to the manual settings. The touch-screen is quite annoying - in particular the swipe menu is a pain.

Once you get used the controls and learn how to program the front dial it's not too bad. But could be a lot better.

As such this is not really an enthusiast's camera.

If you're the kind of person who shoots on full auto then the HF-S200 images and sound will blow your socks off most of the time.

If you can master the fiddly manual controls it will reward you with beautifully sharp HD pictures.

Battery life is about 60-90mins so a spare is really necessary.

For better ergonomics and improved low-light handling look at the Sony XR550VE - it costs a bit more but is quite a gem.
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on 21 July 2011
Please note:

Despite some websites linking this camera with class 10 cards any firmware less than 1.5 will not accept recording and playback in HD setting on this camera.
Firmware update is available but only at a 'service centre', I can only find 2 in the UK so I assume you post your camera off to them???
Class 4 and 6 cards work fine and to be honest I see no need to upgrade to class 10 but its worth bearing in mind if you want this excellent product.
I'd check first with firmware is on the shipped camera. Old stock will be 1.0 (like mine)
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on 12 June 2010
PRO: video quality is damn good

CONS: A lot of reviews mentions "Native 24p Cinema" mode - ability to record video in true 24p mode which gives "Hollywood" (low frame rate jerking) look to your video. But this is not true for EU version. There is no "Native 24p" mode on EU version. A lot of reviews also make impression that you can choose from wide range of recording modes: 25p, 50i, 30p, 60i. This is also not true. "Canon" crippled cameras with restrictions (just like DVD's were crippled with region codes). EU camcorders are restricted to 25p/50i and US to 30p/60i frame rates. But this is not the end of it. Manuals states:

EU version: Canon LEGRIA HF S200. HF_S20_S21_S200_EN.pdf Manual:
Page 156: Frame Rate: 50i, PF25
Page 203: Television system:
Recordings made with the [PF25] frame rate are converted and recorded on the memory as 50i

US version: Canon VIXIA HF S200. HFS20-S21-S200-NIM-EN-NTSC.pdf Manual:
Page 160: Frame Rate: 60i, PF30, 24F
Page 209: Television system: 1080/60i* or 1080/24p (only recordings made with the [24F] frame rate)
Recordings made with the [PF24], [PF30] frame rate are converted and recorded on the memory as 60i

Pay attention to word "converted" here. I've mounted two HF S200 camcorders on one stand and used LANC Shepherd Pro to record synchronized video - 50i and PF25. Then I've used video editing program to compare 50i and PF25 frames. 50i video frames de-interlaced by software looked exactly the same as PF25 frames. My conclusion: Canon just "fakes" PF25 mode by combining and doubling two 50i interlaced frames so in reality you have only one mode - 50i.

CONCLUSION: It's a great camcorder but frame rate restrictions were very disappointing. If hardware of US and EU version is same then I just hope that Canon will make all frame rate modes available with new firmware and I would be able to record video in 30p/60i mode on my EU camcorder.
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on 29 August 2010
This is a lightweight and compact camera with a very high specification that is let down by its ergonomics. To cut to the chase, everyone I have given this to thinks that it is on when it is off and vice versa. As a result my school sports day video consists of pictures of the grass, my birthday video comprises pictures of people's shoes and my holiday video is pictures of the hotel duvet cover. Even though I know this is a problem and am especially careful to take note of what mode the camera is in I still get it wrong. The problem is with the indicator light system where green, amber and red don't mean on, standby and off but the opposite. It's not so bad that you can't edit out the unwanted bits but of course the battery is drained filming the grass so that, when your boy comes to do the high jump, there is no battery or disc space left.

My other complaint is that the zoom function is very sensitive so it's virtually impossible to zoom smoothly whilst filming.

Those two points apart this is a well made, well specified camera that is lightweight and almost pocket friendly with a big specification and high quality optics. If you only want point and squirt filming then it is too highly specified with all kinds of features and functions that will only confuse you during use. If you want very high end functionality then it's probably a bit too much of a consumer product and so ends up falling between two stools.

If this hadn't cost so much money I would put it in the cupboard and buy something else.
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