Consumers generally don’t have high expectations when buying a camera priced under $500. As long as the camcorder is easy and comfortable to use and has considerably better video quality than the latest smartphones, the purchase should be justified. But companies can’t ignore the competition because consumers will consider comparing different camcorders in the same price range and find out which one offers the most out the affordable price. Canon apparently doesn’t feel that much pressure from the competition though because the Canon VIXIA family is so well-known. Their latest lineup of budget camcorders are more of the same with the Canon VIXIA HF R60 scoring an extra feature. This is proof that Canon is contented with the price-to-performance ratio of its entry-level product.
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About the Canon VIXIA HF R60
The Canon HF R60 is part of a trio of Canon VIXIA camcorders in the affordable segment. In terms of price, it is positioned well below the G30 and G20 models. It is also the successor the Canon VIXIA HF R50 which succeeds the R40. Like the time the R50 launched, the Canon VIXIA HF R60 was announced at CES with a $399 price tag. Canon’s trio camcorder approach is the same too with the R60 being sandwiched between the pricier R62 and the R600. Basically, the R62 has a bigger 32 GB storage capacity and slightly larger battery while the R600 has no internal memory or built-in Wi-Fi at all. The Canon HF R60 has 8 GB of storage space although you can expand that by adding a SD card.
On the outside, there are no new improvements as it has the same 3.0-inch capacitive touch panel as the Canon VIXIA HF R50. It is pretty lightweight too weighing around 300 grams. The grip belt is fully adjustable and feels pretty comfortable. There is also a dedicated manual switch for closing and opening the lens cover.
Comparison with the Canon VIXIA HF R50
The one and only feature that the Canon VIXIA HF R60 introduces is an active NFC capability. This makes it a bit easier to establish a wireless connection to an Android device. You just load the CameraAccess Plus app and a simple tap on the camcorder links the devices together. Tapping a modern device like the Samsung Galaxy S6 to the Canon HF R60 works just fine. This makes it easier to share videos and images or do some live streaming.
Non-Android users will be left out of the NFC loop making the Canon VIXIA HF R60 seem like a senseless upgrade over the Canon HF R50 but the added functionality does open up a bigger feature if you agree to buy $299 accessory. This accessory is known as the Canon Connect Station CS100 and it was announced along with the new Canon VIXIA models for 2015. This rather innovative accessory has an internal 1 TB hard disk and can connect to your local area network and TV. It also has built-in NFC which makes it just as easy to pair the Canon HF R60 with. Once established, you can offload all of the videos and images to the Connect Station for backup purposes. This accessory is pricey but it can work with NFC-enabled point-and-shoot Canon cameras too.
The wireless features of the Canon VIXIA HF R60 are quite varied leaving you with several different ways your devices can interact with the camcorder. On its own, the Canon HF R60 can serve as a wireless access point which can connect to a router connected to the Internet. Through the Canon Image Gateway service, you can upload photos and videos directly to social media sites like Facebook and YouTube. If a PC is connected to the network too, that PC can also access the Canon VIXIA HF R60 through a Web browser by entering a special address. It requires no special app opening up a convenient way to view media stored in the camcorder without a cable or the need to take out the SD card and put it in the computer.
Canon also offers a couple of apps and services that add value to the built-in Wi-Fi functionality. This includes the Canon Movie Uploader app exclusive to iOS devices. It eliminates the need for a wireless router as it will rely on an iPhone or iPad’s mobile Internet connection instead. The app is pretty simple and had no problems uploading videos to Facebook and YouTube. The CameraAccess Plus app is Canon’s cross-platform app for iOS and Android which adds live streaming and remote control capabilities to the camcorder much like the competition. The live streaming feature supports both local network and Internet streaming and doesn’t rely on a third-party service so the performance is pretty good. It can act as a baby monitor on its own or a suitable surveillance camera replacement that you can rotate if you buy the optional $79 Camera Pan Table.
Canon didn’t change the internals of the Canon HF R60 and that shouldn’t bother the average consumer. The 32x optical zoom is pretty adequate for all kinds of purposes and there is the 57x Advanced zoom too if you need to go further without degrading the image quality too much. The 3.28-megapixel HD CMOS sensor and DIGIC DV 4 image processor has proven that it can deliver great quality 1080p/60p recordings especially if you use the MP4 (35 Mbps) setting. AVCHD is supported as well if you don’t plan on sharing them. The SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer also does a decent job in compensating for handshakes and bounces.
• Added NFC eliminates connection hassles for Android users.
• Full compatibility with the Canon Connect Station CS100
• Decent video quality.
• No other new features or improvements over the R50 (and even R40) present.
• NFC almost useless for non-Android users
• Canon Connect Station CS100 a bit pricey.
The Canon VIXIA HF R60 might be a bump up in terms of model but it is a very minor upgrade over the R50 at best. But that doesn’t mean that the Canon HF R60 is a bad purchase for new camcorder buyers because it delivers a solid camcorder experience and has a wealth of wireless features. But if you don’t need the NFC or CS100 accessory, it is better to get the R50 as it is likely to be cheaper.
Update: There is a newer model > Panasonic HF-R70