Canon Vixia HF M52 Camcorder Review
We noticed a tiny drop in sharpness with the HF M52, as compared to our lab-testing with the Canon HF M40 last year. The sharpness drop was not hugely significant, as the M52 still managed a horizontal sharpness of 800 lw/ph and a vertical sharpness of 600 lw/ph (the M40 had 850 lw/ph horizontal and 600 lw/ph vertical). This drop in sharpness level is nothing to be hugely concerned about, as we do often see changes like this from year to year. Canon did make some changes to the camcorder's imaging system, and we did see a slight improvement in the M52's low light sensitivity performance, so it is possible that this caused the sharpness to dip. Despite the sharpness reduction, The HF M52's results in this test are still strong for a mid-range camcorder.
The M52's MPEG-4 mode, which records at a limited 1280 x 720 resolution, produced sharpness results that were quite a bit worse than its AVCHD Full HD record modes. We measured the sharpness at 625 lw/ph horizontal and 500 lw/ph vertical with the HF M52's MPEG-4 mode. More on how we test video sharpness.
The optical image stabilization on the HF M52 can function well, but the feature did not do a fantastic job in our test. In real world use, we found the stabilization worked adequately, but in our scientific test comparing it to the stabilization on similar camcorders, the HF M52 did not do well. Granted, the HF M52 does have a variety of stabilization settings, some of which worked better in our test than others. There's a regular optical image stabilization setting (OIS), a Dynamic IS mode, and a Powered IS mode. The three modes showed no significant difference in our low shake test, as they all improved the steadiness of our test video by 10 – 13%. More on how we test stabilization.
In our high shake test, the Powered IS setting was the best of the three stabilization modes. It reduced the shake by 10%, while the other two modes (dynamic and regular) reduced by 5% and 4% respectively. None of these scores are all that impressive, but the HF M52's stabilization modes definitely have an impact on the shakiness of your video.
With the HF M52's dedicated auto mode, the camcorder will automatically select an image stabilization setting for you based on the shooting situation. Dynamic IS will turn on to correct for minor shaking, Macro IS is engaged during close-up shots, Powered IS kicks in when you're using lots of zoom, and Tripod Mode turns off the IS when the camcorder detects that it is mounted on a tripod (or flat surface). These "intelligent IS" feature is just like the camcorder's Smart Auto function that tries to automatically pick the correct scene mode for the specific shooting situation.