Not everyone cares about the latest and advanced digital camcorders no matter how much fanfare their launches get because these camcorders with groundbreaking features are just too expensive. Most camcorders that cost over $800 usually feature advanced stuff like manual controls. These camcorders are for enthusiasts that want to make some really good memories or intend to use it for commercial work. A vast majority of others are fully contented with their smartphones. Then there is the crowd that wants something a bit in-between. For the past several years, Canon has been offering a dedicated lineup of budget camcorders in the VIXIA family. Even this 2016, Canon continues to cater to the budget folks even though more people seem contented with their shiny new flagship octa-core phones with 20-megapixel lenses. The Canon VIXIA HF R72 is part of the 2016 budget push and it comes with some compelling new features over the HF 62 launched the previous year.
About the Canon VIXIA HF R72
Like the old model, the HF R72 is just one of the variants of the Canon VIXIA HF R series. There are two other models (HF R70 and HF R700) with similar looks and specs and both of them are cheaper. The whole idea of the HF R72 is to have an option for people who want to record as much video as possible. It has the highest internal memory capacity in the family with 32 GB of storage space to spare. That translates to more than 12 hours of constant 720p video. Of course, one can just opt for the Canon HF R70 which is $50 cheaper and has 16 GB of internal memory with the exact same feature set and use the money to buy a 128 GB SD card for even more storage space but the whole purpose of having the 32 GB option is even more potential storage space. Remember, the HF R72 has its own SD card slot too so adding a high-capacity card to the mix will result to really high amounts of storage. 160 GB of space is enough for storing 12 hours of high quality 1080p video.
Comparison with the Canon VIXIA HF R62
The Canon HF R72 shares a lot of its DNA with the HF R62 including the 3.28-megapixel CMOS sensor, DIGIC DV 4 image processor and even the 32 GB internal flash memory. But the 3-inch touch display on the HF R72 is considerably brighter making it far easier to see under sunny outdoor situations. On top of that, the entire onscreen interface has been changed with a focus on making it even easier to navigate through menus and the icons look larger.
The refined interface also introduces a few new features including the Zoom Framing Assist option which can serve as a very nifty feature for those that like to zoom in all the way. At high zoom levels, tracking a moving subject can be tricky and normally, you would have to manually zoom out and then zoom back in once you spotted the subject. The Zoom Framing Assist option simply provides a one-touch approach where all you need to do is tap an icon on the screen to zoom out and then touch it again to zoom in.
The Canon HF R72 also comes with this cool extra mode called Highlight Priority Mode which tries to simulate an HDR effect found on higher-end camcorders. It works by reducing the mid to high brightness compression of the default gamma mode to improve colors without sacrificing detail.
Everything else about the HF R72 is the same as the older model but that doesn’t make the R72 any less interesting because it is still packed with some very nice features. The built-in Wi-FI and NFC is a powerful combo as it allows many of today’s Android phones to easily link up to the camcorder with just a simple tap. The CameraAccess plus app for Android devices handles this and when installed, you can perform all sorts of remote operations on the camcorder. The camcorder can even serve as a baby monitor or you can use it to live stream. This app is also available for iOS users. iOS users can also download another app called Canon Movie Uploader which makes it a bit easier to share MP4 videos to social networking sites.
Those with kids won’t find the baby monitor to be the only useful feature. There is also this Advanced Baby Mode which lets you track the growth of up to three children. It automatically sets the scene mode to the one most ideal for recording kids and it turns the Pre REC function on so it constantly records the last 3 seconds of video before the record button is pressed. These 3 seconds could be crucial and you might be able to better record sudden milestone moments. With the mode active, any videos are saved in a special baby album too. You can even do some fun post production by adding decorations, drawings, captions and animations.
Another advantage of picking the R72 over lower capacity models is better dual recording. Dual recording basically lets you have a movie recorded in both MP4 and AVCHD format and have the respective formats save in the internal flash memory and SD card. With 32 GB of space, you can enjoy longer dual recording sessions.
The type of performance that you get on the Canon HF R72 is exactly what you’d get on the HF R62 which might be disappointing for some hoping to get even more performance in a $449 package. Fortunately, low-light performance is still impressive and far better than any existing smartphone. Then there is impressive 32x optical zoom which can be further extended to 57x Advanced zoom where the quality still looks good. It remains equipped with Canon’s proprietary SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer.
• Fresh new interface makes it easier to track subjects and perform basic operations
• Brighter display makes for better outdoor visibility.
• Zoom Framing Assist is very useful.
• No increase in video quality over the previous generation model.
The Canon VIXIA HF R72 might not bring much to the table but it is still a bigger leap from the R62 compared to the leap from the R52. Plus the price hasn’t changed and the new interface and Zoom Framing Assist feature might be enough to consider this new model over an older refurbished one.
Update: There is a newer model > Canon VIXIA HF-R82