Canon Vixia HF R30 Camcorder Review
Manual focus is present on the Canon HF R30, but without a lens ring or control dial you'll have a very hard time making precise focus adjustments. Manual focus is handled entirely through the touchscreen interface, which is both finicky and frustrating to use. You can alter the focal plane easily, but if you want that smooth focus adjustment like you see in the movies, well good luck trying. The camcorder does have a focus zoom assist that lets you see the focus changes in a magnified view, and this feature does help make sure you have the focus as crisp as you want it, but it still won't enable you to make smooth or precise changes to the focus.
Basic exposure compensation is available on the camcorder, but you won't find shutter speed, aperture, or gain control on the HF R30. This will bother manual control enthusiasts who may not like the simplicity of exposure compensation and want direct control over the iris or shutter speed to change exposure levels. The touchscreen is better for adjusting exposure than it is for setting focus, but it's still not the best system. We found it worked well for bumping the brightness up or down a titch, but that's about it. There is also a spot exposure (as well as a spot focus) mode that has the camcorder automatically expose a certain portion of the video frame (the area you tap with your finger).
You will find manual white balance and two white balance presets (outdoor and indoor) on the HF R30, and teh camcorder also has a slew of other minor manual controls. There's a manual zoom speed control that sets the zoom speed to one of three different settings, there is a grid option to assist with framing your video, and there is an auto slow shutter to boost low light performnace. Auto backlight reduction and flicker reduction are also available.
For a budget camcorder, the HF R30 has plenty of audio controls, most impressive of which is its built-in mic jack. Mic jacks aren't even found on all high-end camcorders these days, so including one on the HF R30 is a very cool move by Canon. Additionally, the camcorder has audio level control, audio level display, a wind screen, headphone output, and a mic attenuator function. If you want a cheap camcorder that gives you high-end audio control, the Canon HF R30 might be the very best option out there.