Canon Vixia HF M52 Camcorder Review
If you're looking for a first-rate low light camcorder that won't break the bank, then the Canon HF M52 is right up your alley. It's a fantastic product in terms of video performance, and it ranked near the top of its class in all of our video tests (with the exception of image stabilization). The Vixia HF M52's $750 MSRP is steep for a mid-range model, but its exceptional video performance makes its high price understandable.
Unfortunately, the HF M52's new features for 2012 aren't that noteworthy, so if you're looking to upgrade from last year's HF M41 (or HF M40), then you're gonna want to sit tight. The big new additions include some extra audio features, a new MPEG-4 720p record mode, and built-in WiFi. Of these features, the 720p record mode is what excited us most, and it is a useful option for those who want a video format that's easier to share with friends than AVCHD. The new WiFi capabilities, on the other hand, are a bust. We found them too frustrating to setup, too limited in their functions, and far too complicated for the average user.
Canon did also reduce the size and weight of the HF M52 by a hair, but the reduction wasn't significant enough to make the HF M52 any more portable than its predecessor. In fact, we'd go so far as saying you may want to search for an old Canon HF M41, HF M40, or HF M400 while you still can, instead of shelling out the extra cash for a new HF M52. The differences really aren't great enough to warrant the HF M52's extra cost—despite the fact that it is a great camcorder. Other than a tiny improvement in low light performance, we saw no change in the way the HF M52 recorded video as compared to the HF M40 we tested last year. Going with the HF M41 instead of the HF M52 could save you $50 - $100, but it is likely that last year's models won't be around for much longer.
The HF M52, which comes with 32GB of internal memory has an MSRP of $749. The HF M50, which has the same features as the M52 except comes with half the internal memory (16GB), has an MSRP of $649. There's also the card-only Canon HF M500, which is also missing the WiFi functions and a few other features, that is available for $549.