Canon Legria HF M41 review
An excellent camcorder at a reasonable price, but we prefer the greater flexibility of the slightly cheaper Panasonic HDC-SD90
Review Date: 13 Apr 2011
Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray
Price when reviewed: £540 (£648 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Panasonic has ruled the high-end camcorder sector for some time now, and its recent HDC-SD90 and HDC-TM900 models recently reinforced that position. Canon is aiming to topple Panasonic from its perch atop the PC Pro A List with the Legria HF M41.
It’s one of a range of three M-series camcorders with very similar specifications. The HF M41 we tested is the most expensive at £648, with 32GB of built-in storage; there’s also the HF M46 with 16GB at around £526, and the HF M406, which has no on-board memory and costs around £487.
The cheaper models have the same optics and sensor, but miss out on the viewfinder and 3.5mm microphone input of the HF M41. Of these, the HF M406 would be our pick, as the HF M41’s viewfinder is too small to be practical, and at that price it goes head-to-head with the slightly cheaper Panasonic HDC-SD90.
The M-series’ core specification makes impressive reading. It has a large 1/3in CMOS sensor, dual SD card slots and hybrid optical/electronic image stabilisation, plus an integrated stereo mic and an accessory shoe.
It falls short of the Panasonic in a few key areas, though, with a shorter 10x zoom and significantly bulkier chassis, measuring 69 x 136 x 69mm (WDH), plus only 1080/50i shooting compared to the HDC-SD90's 50 progressive frames per second.
Performance is good. The Canon has a larger sensor, so its low-light performance is slightly superior to the SD90’s, with noise kept to a minimum in our tests, and we found colours to be a little more accurate and well balanced in a variety of conditions. Critically, however, motion wasn't handled as smoothly, thanks mainly to that slower frame rate.
Neither can it quite match the HDC-SD90 for image stabilisation technology. With the Panasonic's hybrid system we were able to maintain a rock-steady picture even fully zoomed into a subject at 21x; we struggled to do the same with the Canon at only half the magnification. Autofocus was also slower on the Canon.
That puts the Canon M series in a somewhat awkward position. For raw image quality it’s marginally better than its main rival, but with its inferior stabilisation, a shorter zoom and a bulkier chassis, it’s significantly less flexible. It’s a good camcorder, but on balance we’d recommend you opt for the Panasonic HDC-SD90 and save a few pounds in the process.
Author: Jonathan Bray
- Policing the web: anti-piracy and beyond
- Apple racks up 10 million iPhone 6 sales in three days
- iPhone 6 is toughest Apple handset yet
- OneDrive tempts iPhone 6 buyers with 30GB storage
- Password scam targeted eBay since February
- Toshiba beats retreat from consumer PC market
- Google to follow Apple with device encryption
- U2 and Apple working on "new music format"
- Ellison steps down: but who's really running Oracle now?
- Audioboo to become Audioboom in app revamp
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- Apple Watch, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Tim Cook's Apple back with a bang?
- BT Home Hub 5: how to get maximum speed
- 20 years of PC Pro: one-star reviews (including "the worst tablet we've ever seen")
- 20 years of PC Pro: our best covers
- Why we've closed the PC Pro forums
- The 7 best Chromebooks of 2014
- iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S5: is the Apple or Samsung flagship smartphone right for you?
- How to install iOS 8 without deleting apps and data
- The best smartwatches of 2014: what's the best smartwatch?
- Nexus 6 (X or Shamu) release date, price and specs rumour roundup
- Best of IDF: top tech and memorable moments from Intel's tech show
- How Apple Pay works and how to use it on your iPhone 6 or Apple Watch
- Tech of the future... and the British boffins building it
- Abuse magnets: the people behind corporate Twitter accounts
- Putting people at the centre of software design
- How to sell more ebooks on Amazon
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office