Canon Vixia HF M52 Camcorder Review
Canon added a new trick to its 2012 Vixia camcorders, including the HF M52. By "new trick" we mean an extra compression option in addition to the standard AVCHD. The HF M52 can record 720p HD video using MPEG-4 compression, which results in smaller video files than AVCHD content. Why did Canon add this function? To make videos easier to share using the HF M52's new WiFi functions, of course! It also gives users a bit more flexibility when recording video. Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of various high definition compression types.
The Canon HF M52 contains a single SD memory card slot that works with SDHC and SDXC cards as well. This is something for a change from Canon, as the company went with two memory card slots on a number of its Vixia camcorders in 2011. But for a camcorder like the HF M52, which already contains 32GB of internal flash memory, all you really need is one card slot Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of various media types.
Resolution & Frame Rates
Like most Vixia camcorders, the Canon HF M52 offers Full HD recording using its two highest-quality video options. The rest of the AVCHD record modes capture 1440 x 1080 video that is stretched to 1920 x 1080 during playback. By default, these record modes use a 60i frame rate, but each of them is capable of recording using a simulated 24p and 30p option (called PF24 and PF30 in the menu system). We call these frame rates "simulated" because the video is converted to 60i during recording, but it looks like 24p and 30p during playback. The two MPEG-4 record modes capture video at a 1280 x 720 resolution (that's still technically HD), and include 30p or 24p frame rate options (no 60i or 60p). Canon continues to be one of the few manufacturers to withhold a 1080/60p record mode on its consumer camcorders.
If you're looking for a photo/video hybrid device, the Canon HF M52 is not the model for you. Canon directed its efforts towards video with the HF M52—just like it did on the majority of its Vixia models from last year—and all but abandoned still image controls and features. The camcorder can still shoot still photos but the size options are limited to a 1920 x 1080 resolution and the features are limited to a self-timer and that's about it. Honestly, we like this move, as most people already have a halfway decent camera on their cell phone or in their pocket. The HF M52 is a camcorder, and camcorders are meant to record good video (and that's exactly what the M52 does).