Reviews – Canon Vixia HR R800 HD Camcorder

front view canon vixia r800 camcorder

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I pulled the trigger today and bought a dedicated HD Camcorder.  I need it for vlogging since using my phone has become cumbersome shooting videos.  An HD camcorder with a tripod mount and screen that faces me while shooting is going to solve a lot of problems.   The Canon Vixia HR R800 is a consumer line camera with enough features to set me free from my phone.  You can get it here on Amazon for about $199.

Features

  • Battery Life – 180 minutes
  • Weight – 10.6 oz
  • Size – 5 1/2″ L x 2″ W x 2 1/4″ H
  • LCD Touch View Screen 1 3/4″ x 2 5/8″
    • 180 Degree front to back – can face forward for selphies
    • 90 Degrees swing side to side
  • Wi-Fi Functions
    • Control the camera remotely with IOS/Android and other smartphones.  You need to install the CameraAcess app on your wi-fi enabled phone.
    • Save recordings to your phone with the Camera Connect app
  • Option to power on/off when opening and closing the View Screen.  This is very handy and is my standard setup.  Just open the screen and press the record button
  • Hand Strap
  • Lens Cover
  • SD Card Storage ( must buy separately )
    • SD Class 4
    • SDHC Class 6
    • SDXC Class 10
    • Types Panasonic, Toshiba, & Sandisk
  • Microphone Input – standard 3.5 mm plug
  • Headphone Output – standard 3.5mm minijack
  • HDMI port
  • USB port
  • 32X Optical Zoom
  • 57X Advanced Zoom
  • 2.8-89.6 mm lense 1:1.8
  • DC in 5.3V
  • Push to record button
  • Wide/Telephoto toggle button
  • Optical Image Stabilizer
  • Tripod/Accessory standard mount  
  • Main Functions – accessible with quick key on screen
    • Video Snapshot
    • Slow & Fast – this is where time lapse is located
    • Decoration
    • Faders
    • Audio Scene
    • Pre REC
  • Video Quality
    • 35 Mbps – 60P Highest quality dual recording, cinema look and feel
    • 24 Mbps – High Quality
    • 17 Mbps – Standard Full HD
    • 4 Mbps – Long play
  • Shooting Modes
    • Auto – Set and forget, camera chooses best for scene
    • Highlight Priority – better tone for brighter subjects
    • Cinema
      • Standard
      • Vivid
      • Cool
      • Sepia
      • Old Movies
    • Scene
      • Portrait
      • Sports
      • Night Scene
      • Snow – ideal for subjects around reflected snow
      • Beach – for subjects around reflected water
      • Sunset – shows vivid colors at sunset
      • Low Light – makes subjects in dark environments appear lighter
      • Spotlight – for subjects illuminated by a spotlight
      • Fireworks
    • Programmed AE – camera controls shutter speed and aperture, you control focus & brightness
  • Supplied Accessories
    • CA-110 Compact power adapter
    • BP-272 Battery Pack
    • IC-300PCU/S USB cable
    • HTC-100/SS High Speed HDMI cable
    • Quick Guide
  • Optional Accessories
    • Extra battery & dedicated charger ( as equipped, you charge the included batter while attached to the camera )
    • Carrying case

First Time Setup

When shipped, the battery is not charged.  To charge it, you need to attach it to the camera and then insert the power cord into the 3.6 V input.  Plug in the adapter and the red light will show on the charge/power indicator.  It takes about 7.5 hours to fully charge the battery and it only charges when the camera power is off.  You can just turn on the camera when plugged in at any time to complete the setup and/or use it for video or shots while plugged in.  I noticed that the first time charge was very long but on subsequent days, the interval was less.  I’m not sure why it took so long the first time.  You can view the remaining life on the battery at any time and it’s displayed in minutes of shooting time remaining so you don’t have to guess.  It’s in the upper right hand corner of the LCD screen.

You also need to setup the date and time and that’s just a few minutes.  

 

Using The Camera

Most functions are intuitive and there is not a long learning curve.  When you fire it up the first time, the camera will be in Auto mode.  That’s a good place to start.  Auto mode chooses the best settings based on your current conditions.  I think it’s pretty handy and have used that most of the time.  You can however take control of the camera and choose a particular shooting mode like Night Scene, Vivid, Cool, etc.  I have not played around with all the options yet since Auto mode produces some very good results.  I just don’t have the time to experiment and am trying to get things done in an efficient manner.  The Night Mode option will come in handy and that’s one I intend to use a lot.  I seem to frequently be in low light conditions and I want to be able to brighten the subject automatically.

Record Button

It’s located on the back on the right side of the camera next to the battery pack.  One press to start and stop.

Zoom

This is one of the first buttons you will use.  Press to the left to zoom out, right to zoom in.  A powerful 32X optical zoom gives you a huge range to choose from

Using An External Microphone

One of the reasons that I choose the Vixia R800 was the fact that it had a dedicated microphone input.  Sure, I can record audio on my iPhone and then sync in iMovie, but that’s an extra step and I didn’t want to mess with it.  You can plug virtually any microphone into the camera that has a 3.5 mm plug.  When you do, the levels are automatically displayed on the View Screen.  Since you can turn the screen towards you, this is super handy if your vlogging in selphie mode like I do and allows you to adjust the input volume in real time.  Better to record it right then to try and fix it later in your video editing software.

For audio at varying distances from the camera, get a lavalier or lapel mic.  These mic simply clip onto your clothing and a wire runs down to a transmitter.  The receiver plugs into your mic input on the camcorder.  This setup is the best when you are moving around.

For fixed distances, you might consider a shotgun microphone with windscreen.  There is no hot shoe flash mount on the camcorder to mount these types of mics, so you need an adapter.  The camcorder comes with a standard tripod socket.  There is an adapter called a flash bracket that you can mount to this socket.  The bracket has an arm that extends over the camera and here is where you mount your shotgun microphone.

Auto On/Off With View Screen Open/Close

This feature is awesome.  Just open the screen and the camera turns on, close it and it turns off.  No silly passcode or other buttons to press.  A real timesaver.  Access from main functions -> gear icon -> Power On Using LCD Panel.

Recommendations

At this price point, there are a few things that you need to think about.  The camera does not come with a dedicated charger.  This is to keep the overall cost low and still have money for other features like the dedicated mic input.  If you are shooting a lot and there is a chance you will need this for more than 180 minutes of run time, get a second battery with a dedicated charger.  This will allow you to quickly charge both batteries and know you have enough shooting time for any situation.

I would also recommend a case to protect your camera from damage.  The camera is super compact so you don’t have to lug around some large and bulky camera case.  Here’s a $15 Case Logic that would work great for this camera.

The camera does not come with any SD card so you will need to buy your own.  The three companies that are certified are Panasonic, Toshiba, and Sandisk.  I have a 16G Sandisk class 4 that work great.  My SD card was used for general data storage so when I put it into the Canon, it showed an error saying that it could not record to this card.  To make it work, I had to initialize the card so that it would be formatted correctly.  That’s super easy, just press the Home icon, then Other Settings (the first choice), then select the gear icon on the right, then scroll down to Initialize SD.  Be sure that you don’t have any data on your SD card you don’t want to lose before reformatting.  Always transfer that off first before proceeding.  When ready, just hit the initialize option to format your card.  It will erase the card, add the required folders and then you are ready to go.

 

Overall Impression

I compared this camera to everything in it’s class that I could find.  It came down to reputation, price, & features.  I trust Canon and know they don’t make junk.  The camera has loads of features with a few drawbacks like no dedicated charger, but for the price of $199, that’s a small compromise.  Since the runtime is 3 hours, the chances of me using this and running out in one day at my current record rate is slim.  So in summary, I think it’s worth the money and a good investment for those looking for a consumer line camera.  I plan to buy a second battery and charger just so I have more options and to be prepared for a full day’s shooting.  You can get the exact model I bought here on Amazon.

Product Links

Here are the product links for the items I discussed in the review

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