Canon VIXIA HF R40 Review: Is It Still Relevant?

Canon VIXIA HF R40

Do you question whether entry-level HD camcorders like the Canon VIXIA HF R40 are still important in this day and age? The answer is that they indeed are. While some smartphones can capture decent HD video, it’s nowhere near what you can achieve with the right lens and settings. You also get different formats and frame rates, better handling, and a bunch of features that improve footage and storage of video.

The Canon VIXIA HF R40 is a great example since it has these features and design advantages in spades. And it’s a good reminder that you don’t have to waste your phone’s memory on shaky, phone-quality videos when you could get an affordable HD camcorder.

The Canon VIXIA HF R40 is one of Canon’s better entry-level camcorders. Compared to the stripped-down R400, the main advantages are internal memory and Wi-Fi. While it’s a budget-oriented camcorder, its design doesn’t give a cheap impression. It has a reliable build, and you can hold it comfortably for long periods of time.

Technical specs


Sensor:

1/4.85” CMOS

Max resolution:

1080p

Video format:

AVCHD, MPEG-4

Optical zoom:

32x

Digital zoom:

1060x

Internal memory:

8GB

Connections:

HDMI, USB 2.0, composite video/audio

Weight:

10.1 oz /285g

Unlike many entry-level camcorders, the Canon VIXIA HF HF R40 can record full HD video at 60fps. The DIGIC DV 4 image processor reduces noise and improves low-light footage, although dark scenes won’t look great on any budget camcorder. You have the option of MP4 encoding and different resolution choices so that you can fit a fair amount into its flash memory. The Canon VIXIA HF R40 has two SD card slots so you can record many hours of video.

Advanced Zoom extends the 32x optical zoom to 53x without noticeable quality loss. With the SuperRange optical stabilizer, it keeps footage smooth even while zooming.

Wi-Fi isn’t a gimmick with the Canon VIXIA HF R40. You can use a smartphone to control the camcorder and see its status or to live stream or upload video.

There’s a special Baby Mode that optimizes settings for baby footage. It saves all footage in a dedicated folder and lets you add captions, stamps, and animations to the video.

You control most things via the touchscreen, so there are few buttons. The touchscreen is capacitive and responsive, with good image clarity and easy menus. You can tap it to set your focus, just like on a smartphone.

Performance


The Canon VIXIA HF R40 has dependable auto features. It detects faces, adjusts backlight, and more. You can still set focus, white balance, and exposure manually if you like. There aren’t many settings to change though.

Unlike many camcorders in this price range, the Canon VIXIA HF R40 gives you frame rates from 24p to 60p. However, you can only use 24p with the MP4 format. But this is the more convenient format in most cases anyway. You can also record both formats simultaneously.

The video quality is excellent with vivid colors and smooth motion, as long as lighting conditions are ok. It’s suitable for recording sports and such. Shooting in the dark produces a lot of noise and inaccurate colors. This won’t be a problem with normal use, although you may still find some noise in dark spots if you zoom in. The sound quality isn’t bad either, and it won’t pick up camcorder noise or light wind under normal conditions.

Compared to older versions, the battery life is much better, and you can shoot while charging. And you have plenty of memory for longer events. The zoom and stabilization are good for this price point. And it can mount to a tripod for optimal performance

Since it can live stream, it also works as a surveillance camera. It can create seamless video across its memory storages. One way to make good use of this is to leave the internal memory as a safety buffer so that if your SD cards fill up, it’ll keep recording.

Users like the vivid image quality, the good touchscreen, and the plentiful memory. Their main complaint is its low-light performance. They give it a 3.6 out of 5 stars rating on Amazon.

How the Canon VIXIA HF R40 Compares to Competitors

With so many consumer camcorders on the market, you can only know their quality in comparison to each other. So we’ll compare it to the Sony HDR-CX240, Ansteker Ultra-HD, and the upgraded VIXIA HF R50.

How we reviewed


These reviews resulted from thorough research of online reviews and customer experiences. Amazon customer reviews are the primary source.

Sale
Sony HDRCX240/L Video Camera with 2.7-Inch LCD - Blue (Renewed)
  • 1920x1080 Full HD
  • 9.2MP Exmor R CMOS Sensor
  • 29.8mm wide angle Carl Zeiss Lens

The HDR-CX240 HD Handycam provides full HD 60p video at an affordable price. It has a Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens and SteadyShot image stabilization. So it’s a formidable entry-level Handycam.

Sensor:

1/5.8" Exmor R CMOS

Max resolution:

1080p

Video format:

AVCHD, H.264

Optical zoom:

27x

Digital zoom:

320x

Internal memory:

No

Connections:

HDMI, USB 2.0, composite video/audio

Weight:

6.7oz / 247g

The first noticeable difference between the Sony HDR-CX240 and the Canon VIXIA HF R40 is that the Sony has a small non-touch display and several physical controls. You’ll be familiar with the joystick and buttons if you’ve used other Handycams.

The next significant difference is that it has no Wi-Fi, unlike the Canon VIXIA HF R40. Nor does it have internal memory.

The stabilizer’s Active Mode and three-way shake canceling provide extra compensation for shaky recording. Whether you use a wide angle or a deep zoom, you’ll get a steady result.

A face detection function helps set the focus right for portraits and crowd shots. It can detect up to eight individual faces at once. It even distinguishes between adults and children.

Performance

Sale
4K Camcorder, Ansteker Ultra-HD 1080P 24MP 30FPS Digital WiFi Video...
  • 【Ansteker 4K Camcorders】- High quality 24MP video revolution , 30X digital zoom video camera Supports 270 degree...
  • 【Camcorder Feature】- Sony COMS Sensor 13 MP,IR Night Vision, IR cut filter, With LED light, remote controll, face...
  • 【Wide Angle Lens&External Microphone&Lens hood】Equipped with 2 in 1 HD 72mm professional 0.39x super wide angle lens...

Big-name brands aren’t always the only relevant options. If all you need is a consumer camcorder with HD video, budget options like the Ansteker can be what you seek.

Sensor:

Sony CMOS

Max resolution:

4K

Video format:

AVCHD, MPEG-4

Optical zoom:

No

Digital zoom:

30x

Internal memory:

No

Connections:

HDMI, USB 2.0, composite video/audio

Weight:

10.4oz /295g

The most notable physical feature is the included boom mic. It mounts on a hot shoe so that you could use other accessories too. There’s also a secondary camera on the display panel. You get its footage superimposed on the main video in a little window. It can turn to record your face or something off to the side.

You get a wide angle lens, a macro lens, and two batteries. But the camera only fits in the case with nothing attached. The batteries don’t hold a charge for very long, and you can expect an hour or two if you bring both.

Performance

Canon VIXIA HF R50

Here’s the sequel to the Canon VIXIA HF R50. Not a whole lot is different on the outside, and it’s hard to tell them apart. However, there are some significant changes on the inside.

Sensor:

1/4.85” CMOS

Max resolution:

1080p

Video format:

AVCHD, MPEG-4

Optical zoom:

32x

Digital zoom:

1140x

Internal memory:

8GB

Connections:

HDMI, USB 2.0, composite video/audio

Weight:

8.29 oz /285g

Not much has changed. It’s lighter, but they’re the same in general. That’s understandable since the Canon VIXIA HF R40 was so well-received. However, the Advanced Zoom goes to 57x, and the auto logic has improved.

When it comes to software, the biggest differences are in the baby mode. They’ve refined it and added new functions. You can now track the growth of up to three children. Since your child’s firsts tend to come as a surprise and have you rushing to get the camera up and running, they’ve designed baby mode to choose the best settings fast. It also has the pre-rec activated by default, so that you get three additional seconds of footage before you hit rec. So in case you just missed the beginning of that first word, you’re still good. You can enter the child’s birth date into the system, and the system will track and label videos with their age in days.

Performance

Comparison Table

PRODUCT

DETAILS

Rating:

Sensor:

1/4.85” CMOS

Max resolution:

1080p

Video format:

AVCHD, MPEG-4

Optical zoom:

32x

Digital zoom:

1060x

Internal memory:

8GB

Connections:

HDMI, USB 2.0, composite video/audio

Weight:

10.1 oz /285g

PRODUCT

DETAILS

Sony HDRCX240/L Video Camera with 2.7-Inch LCD - Blue (Renewed)

Rating:

Sensor:

1/5.8" Exmor R CMOS

Max resolution:

1080p

Video format:

AVCHD, H.264

Optical zoom:

27x

Digital zoom:

320x

Internal memory:

No

Connections:

HDMI, USB 2.0, composite video/audio

Weight:

6.7oz / 247g

PRODUCT

DETAILS

4K Camcorder, Ansteker Ultra-HD 1080P 24MP 30FPS Digital WiFi Video...

Rating:

Sensor:

Sony CMOS

Max resolution:

4K

Video format:

AVCHD, MPEG-4

Optical zoom:

No

Digital zoom:

30x

Internal memory:

No

Connections:

HDMI, USB 2.0, composite video/audio

Weight:

10.4oz /295g

PRODUCT

DETAILS

Canon VIXIA HF R50

Rating:

Sensor:

1/4.85” CMOS

Max resolution:

1080p

Video format:

AVCHD, MPEG-4

Optical zoom:

32x

Digital zoom:

1140x

Internal memory:

8GB

Connections:

HDMI, USB 2.0, composite video/audio

Weight:

8.29 oz /285g

Pros

  • Quality HD video
  • Feature-packed
  • Great value
  • Internal memory

Cons

  • Poor low-light performance
  • Somewhat bulky

Overall, the Canon VIXIA HF R40 performs better than the Ansteker, and it has some features that the Sony doesn’t. For example, a microphone jack. It’s a viable option for all hobby videographers.

Few camcorders perform well in the dark, and those that do are expensive. So that’s no differentiator between the Canon Vixia HF R40 and the HDR-CX240 Handycam. The Ansteker seems worse in that regard. But both competitors have night-vision and the Handycam’s lighter.


Our Verdict

The Canon VIXIA HF R40 is an excellent camcorder for home video and vlogging purposes. There’s plenty of storage with both SD slots in use, and its battery life keeps up. So it’s great for sports games and music recitals. Throw in the Baby mode, and you’ve got an ideal family camera for precious memories and hobby projects. A Canon VIXIA HF R40 is undoubtedly one of the top candidates in this price range.

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