Canon makes a wide range of video cameras, from sub-£500 models like this Canon Legria HF R106 to professional recording equipment for broadcasters.

What really impresses us is that the build quality is excellent even in the entrylevel models. The Canon Legria HF R106 has easily the best build of the traditional flip-out-style camcorders here, showing just what spending a little bit more can get you. It also records to AVCHD rather than H.264 or Mpeg4 by default.

The Canon Legria HF R106 is physically larger than the other camcorders here and is 80g heavier than both the Panasonic and the Sanyo SH1. It also has a much larger lens and produces better-looking video footage. You get a 20x optical zoom, a flash module that sits to the lower left of the camcorder lens and a large microphone pickup that is the most effective of the models here at picking up speech.

This zoom is controlled using a left-to-right slider on top of the Canon Legria HF R106 camcorder and which sits slightly forward of the photo trigger button. The zoom is faster and smoother than the others and is more controlled than the Sanyo SH1’s, in particular.

As well as pressing gently for a slow zoom or harder for a faster one, Canon has given the Canon Legria HF R106 three levels of zoom that can be set within the menus. At its maximum zoom detail takes a moment or two to come into sharp focus, but when it did we were delighted with the clarity and sharpness of detail. Colour balance in good natural light was superb, with nuances picked out beautifully. We were also pleased with how well the Canon coped with close-ups: none of the other camcorders here were as competent in this respect.

Context-sensitive menus on the outer edge of the Canon Legria HF R106's flip-out LCD allow you to adjust white balance, specify the level of detail and audio levels captured, call up the focal assistant and face chaser and so on.

Photos are a slightly different matter. There’s a silver hardware button on the top labelled Photo and pressing this down halfway allows you to prefocus your shots and then to take a quick snap. There’s no dedicated camera mode, however, and we found the process of taking photos largely unsatisfactory, eventually abandoning our efforts to do so.

The Canon Legria HF R106 is also picky about the media cards it will accept. We tried three SD cards before it would accept one.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Canon Legria HF R106: Specs

  • Camcorder - 1080p
  • Camcorder Sensor Resolution: 2.39 Mpix, Camcorder Effective Video Resolution: 1.56 Mpix, Camcorder Effective Still Resolution: 1.73 Mpix
  • Widescreen Video Capture
  • 1/5.5in CMOS
  • PAL, SP, LP, FXP, XP+
  • Max/min Shutter Speed: 1/2000 sec / 1/2 sec
  • Face Detection
  • JPEG
  • SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
  • Lens Aperture: F/1.8-3.6
  • 20x Optical Zoom, 400x Digital Zoom
  • TFT active matrix, 2.7in colour, Rotating, 112,000 pixels
  • built-in microphone
  • component video output/composite video /audio output, HDMI, USB
  • SD Memory Card
  • USB port, CD-ROM Drive
  • Li-ion rechargeable battery
  • 60x124x64mm
  • 270g
  • Camcorder - 1080p
  • Camcorder Sensor Resolution: 2.39 Mpix, Camcorder Effective Video Resolution: 1.56 Mpix, Camcorder Effective Still Resolution: 1.73 Mpix
  • Widescreen Video Capture
  • 1/5.5in CMOS
  • PAL, SP, LP, FXP, XP+
  • Max/min Shutter Speed: 1/2000 sec / 1/2 sec
  • Face Detection
  • JPEG
  • SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
  • Lens Aperture: F/1.8-3.6
  • 20x Optical Zoom, 400x Digital Zoom
  • TFT active matrix, 2.7in colour, Rotating, 112,000 pixels
  • built-in microphone
  • component video output/composite video /audio output, HDMI, USB
  • SD Memory Card
  • USB port, CD-ROM Drive
  • Li-ion rechargeable battery
  • 60x124x64mm
  • 270g

OUR VERDICT

A camcorder first and foremost, the Canon Legria HF R106 is the camcorder to buy if high-definition video is your primary intention. Other models offer reasonable HD video capture and throw in still photo functions too, but the Canon is the best at pure video.

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