Canon Legria HF R18 Video Camera

by Marius Mooikasteel

Following is my experience and review of the Canon Legria HFR 18.

Recently I used this camera as an on-stage walk-around camera during a live show. My experience was very positive.

The Canon Legria HFR18's first plus point is that it is very light. It can be held up for a very long time, even four hours if need be, as I had to for this show.

Another great benefit for filming long uninterrupted shows like this is that this camera is tapeless. It records onto 32 GB internal memory that can record in Standard Play around 9 hours.

In addition to that it can also take an additional SD/SDHC memory card up to 32GB that will, at Standard Play quality also record another 2 hours and more.

In other words, comparing it to how I used to film using a DV camera recording onto tapes, I now don't have to stop filming during the show to quickly fiddle around trying to get the tape out and another blank tape back in and start recording again, which results in some moments of the show lost.

Another great thing about this camera is that it has Face Detection. It automatically focuses on the faces of performers and any subjects in the shot.

And the 20 x Optical zoom and 1920 x 1080 resolution is fantastic!

Unfortunately this camera also has three drawbacks:

Probably because of the placement of the battery there is no space to add a larger, "long life battery" that are usually optionally available for sale for other models of video cameras. This means that all you can do to get more battery life is to buy more of the same batteries.

In other words, when filming long shows, though you may not have to switch tapes, you will need to switch off the camera and change batteries. Three batteries should cover 4 hours of shooting.

The second drawback of the Legria HFR18 is that it doesn't have a thread to take lenses or filters. It can not even take snap-on lenses because of the design of the lens and surrounding areas. (I needed a wide angle lens so I literally taped a clip-on lens on.)

The third drawback is that it has no input for a microphone. So you cannot use it for doing proper interviews.

Another issue is that it records video as .mts files. This will become less of an issue as future editions of editing software can recognize these files. At present writing it's still not that common, and the video files need to be converted for your editing program or you can buy new editing software that will work with it. (Meanwhile, Windows and Adobe Premiere have become completely familiar with .mts files, so it's no longer a problem.)

All in all, a very nice, very handy, very satisfactory camera. Video files are transfered from SD/SDHC memory card to computer much quicker than having to capture in realtime from tape.

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