Easy to work and good-looking, the Canon Vixia HG21 is pretty similar to the Vixia HF11 and about as good as the Sony Handycam HDR-SR11.
The Vixia HF11 is slightly less expensive than the Canon Vixia HG21, although prices tend to vary quite a bit on the web. The HF11 has 32 GB of internal memory, which records 2 hrs and 55 min, while the Canon Vixia HG21 has a 120 GB hard disk that records for just over 11 hrs. Both have the option of SDHC memory cards to add to the memory. One advantage of the Canon Vixia HG21 is that it has an eye-level viewfinder, which is becoming increasingly hard to find in today’s camcorders.
2.9 by 2.5 by 5.1, the HF11 is smaller than the 3.1 by 3 by 5.4 Canon Vixia HG21. This is also reflected in their weights (15.1 ounces versus 17.6). Their setups are also a little different. The biggest difference is that the HF11 has the record/playback control dial on the side, and it’s on the back for the Canon Vixia HG21. Both their controls are sufficiently large as to be easy to use.
Your most frequent shooting settings can be operated with the five-way joystick on the Canon Vixia HG21’s LCD bezel. Sometimes, this makes it more difficult to change your settings while you’re holding the camera steady, and manually focusing with it is a real bother.
The maximum video recording rate for the Canon Vixia HG21 on the AVCHD setting is 24 Mbps, and its max capacity (about 45 hrs) occurs at only 5 Mbps. The 24 Mbps capture makes footage taken in low lighting much better, although it doesn’t seem as soft as the 17 Mbps. The Canon Vixia HG21 supports full 1920 by 1080 video at the highest settings, which is about average for new cameras. Class 4-6 movies can be recorded on the Canon Vixia HG21.
Most of its features are just the common stuff, but it does have an f1.8-3.0 12x optical zoom lens, which is better than the 10x standard. I’ll go through some of the other features anyway, just so you know what they are: 3 fixed/1 variable speed, shutter-priority mode, a video light, a wind screen filter and an Instant AF. Recording can be done in progressive 30/24 fps modes and 60i. The Canon Vixia HG21 has several connectivity options- both component and mini-HDMI out, mini headphones and microphone jacks, and USB.
In dim and bright environments, the lens works well to produce sharp video, although more noise and a shorter tonal range can be observed in dimmer settings, and the SuperRange stabilizes your image. However, more than the common amount of high-contrast edges should be noted. Audio is good and the microphone attenuation is fine, but the wind filter is less effective since Canon changed it to automatic.
Hard disk-based HD recording is the main asset with the Canon Vixia HG21, and its price puts up quite a bit of competition for the Sony HDR-SR11, whose touch screen is a downside for some. As far as the HF11, it’s cheaper and lighter, but it has less storage space. I say go with the Canon Vixia HG21 camcorder.