When it comes to capturing video, you have a lot of options. A compact camcorder like the Canon Vixia HF R52 offers a solid, but a somewhat limited option. On the other hand, many smartphones have high-quality video capabilities in addition to myriad other functions you might want. Or maybe you're thinking about a full-sized dedicated camcorder.
Despite the ubiquity of smartphone video, dedicated camcorders still have a place in the consumer market. The Canon Vixia HF R52 with its high image quality and various user-friendly features does one thing and does it well. But is it the right option for your video needs?
What is the Vixia HF R52?
The Canon Vixia HR R52 is a compact, consumer level high definition (HD) camcorder. It's small and easy to carry, with a flip-out screen that allows users to see their image as they are capturing it.
A dedicated camcorder may not have the versatility and multitudinous functions of a smartphone, but that doesn't mean it lacks features.
The Canon Vixia HF R52 features a 57x Advanced Zoom, allowing you to capture a variety of different scenes. It also includes dynamic image stabilization to keep your footage smooth without needing extra hardware.
Another feature of the Canon Vixia HF R52 is the built-in WiFi, which allows the camera to your WiFi to share video online to YouTube and Facebook. It can also connect to your computer or tablet directly or via a wireless access point.
This camera features a three-inch touch panel LCD that allows you to control all your camera functions. You can choose focal points, track subjects, replay video, and more.
The Canon Vixia HF R52 comes with a variety of preprogrammed video recording modes, including Smart Auto, Cinema Mode, and Baby Mode. Baby Mode allows you to capture all those special, fleeting moments in your baby’s development. Baby Mode has a custom standby mode to allow you to capture the three seconds before you even pressed the record button, so you don't miss those all-important firsts.
The Canon Vixia HF R52 is compact, weighing nearly 10 ounces 2.1 inches wide, 2.2 inches long, and 4.5 inches deep. The camera weighs about 10 ounces including battery, memory card, and hand belt.
The Canon Vixia HF R52 has an internal memory of 32 gigabytes (GB) with an additional SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slot.
It has a rechargeable battery. On a single charge, it is capable of recording in 1920 x 1080 at 60p for up to 2 hours and 30 minutes at the variable bit rate.
This camera also features composite and HDMI outputs.
What the Professionals Think
Professional review sites, in general, gave the Vixia HF R52 favorable reviews when it first came out.
Digital Trends gave the camera an 8.0 score or “great” on their internal rating scale. In general, they found that the quality of the video was good, producing great colors when played back on an HDTV. However, they were disappointed that the camera’s still images were only captured at a 2MP resolution.
Reviewed noted that while the R52 was not a “groundbreaking device” that its feature list was strong. At a time when alternative video devices like smartphones were making leaps and bounds, Review said: “From our brief time with the camcorder at CES, we can say that the R52 makes a good argument for the continued existence of consumer camcorders.”
Review site HDVCam gave it similar praise, saying that the camera, “surprisingly makes consumer digital camcorders interesting again.”
YouTuber Lon.tv gave the HF R50 family of camcorders, which includes the R52, high praise for ease of use and form factor. He was critical of the wifi feature of the camera line, saying that the video is delayed which makes controlling it in real time unusable.
Is the Canon Vixia HF R52 Still Available?
Cannon initially released the Canon Vixia HF R52 in 2014 and ultimately discontinued it. You can still find it online, most often in used or refurbished condition.
Prices and availability vary significantly for the Canon Vixia HF R52. In 2014, the original MSRP was about $200 per the Canon website, though some sites like Digital Trends reported it as a high as $500.
Due to being discontinued, this camera is currently found online as a refurbished or used model. Prices can range from about $190 to $250 online, including auctions. Most non-auction outlets tend to price the camera between $219 to $279.
With its array of features and small footprint, the Canon Vixia HF R52 was a top pick when it was new. But how does it stack up to current model camcorders? That’s what we set out to discover.
How We Reviewed
To compare the Canon Vixia HF R52 to other camcorders, we first looked for other camcorders with similar size and features. Next, we looked at the specs of each camera as well as price and availability. Lastly, we also took a look at professionals and customers had to say about each one.
Though the Canon Vixia HF R52 is retired, Canon has since rolled out its successor, the Canon VIXIA HF R82. In many ways, the HF R82 is much like the HF R52, with the 57x Advanced Zoom, 3-inch touch panel LCD screen, and compact size. There are a few differences, though.
- Image stabilization
Where the HF82 differs is its upgraded image stabilization called SuperRange Optical Image Stabilization, which corrects a range of motion along five axes as well as a variety of improved preprogrammed recording settings. A new Highlight Priority mode has a backlight correction to keep subjects from being too dark in a backlighted situation.
Another addition to the HF82 is the Near Field Communication (NFC) support which allows your camcorder to interact with an NFC enabled smartphone. With the Canon CameraAccess plus app, you can control your camcorder through your phone and access videos for playback or upload.
The Canon Vixia HF R82 gets good, but cautious, reviews online. Camcorder HQ called it a “good -- if modest -- option.” HDVCam.net gave it a favorable review, saying that it “delivers performance and quality comparable to more expensive camcorders.”
Customer reviews on the Vixia HF R82 are mixed. On Amazon, the camera gets a 3.3 out of 5 stars with only 26 reviews. An Amazon Top 500 Reviewer, Lon J Seidman gave it 4 stars stating that it is a solid camcorder with useful features. However, he also cautioned, “I recommend not choosing this model,” and recommended a lower priced Canon camera with similar features. He stated in his review title, “HF R82 features don’t justify the price premium” over the Canon HF R800, the other camera he recommended.
Critical reviews on Amazon consistently complain about the wifi control application not working. Reviewer Macelin Cane complained about the “TERRIBLE IMPLEMENTATION of the wifi feature.”
- A 3.0-inch capacitive touch panel LCD screen that is bright and clearly visible, even outdoors in the sun, with rich,...
- SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer helps correct camera shake quickly, so even handheld video taken at long focal...
- The 57x Advanced Zoom allows you to create videos with dynamic variety, and is less likely to disrupt the action you're...
Another current camera in the Canon VIXIA family, the Canon VIXIA HF R800 has many of the same features and specs of its R52 predecessor and its R82 sibling. This includes the 57x Advanced Zoom, SuperRange Optical Image Stabilization, 3-inch touch panel LCD, and a myriad of preprogrammed video modes.
So what’s the difference? Not much. The only discernible difference between the R800 and the R82 is the R800’s lack of internal memory. The R82 has internal storage of 16GB as well a slot for an extra memory card. The R800 has no internal memory at all and depends on a videographer using a removable SD card.
The Canon Vixia HF R800 has many positive reviews online. On Amazon, it earns a 4.1 out of 5 stars with 238 reviews. Positive reviews mentioned that the camera is easy to use with good battery life.
Professional broadcast video engineer chris319 on Amazon gave the camera a five-star review, calling the camera, “amazing for the price.” He did have a few criticisms about the device, in particular, the white balance which he found to be poor. He also noted that the camera did not do 59.94 frames per second and indicated that it maxes out at 29.97 frames per second.
James D on Amazon gave the Canon Vixia HF R800 three stars. In his comprehensive review, he detailed having bought the camera as a novice camcorder user to create YouTube videos. He did note that the video quality, in general, was good but did find some graininess despite having good light. In the end, he said: “This camera is good for newbies at a reasonable $200 price range as long as you don’t expect perfect HD videos.”
- 50X and 90X Optical Zoom: Long 50X zoom and 90X intelligent zoom draws in the scene from far away. The focal length is...
- Wide-angle Lens: A 28mm wide-angle lens is convenient for capturing group images in small spaces, such as weddings,...
- 1/5.8-Inch BSI Sensor: The Back Side Illumination Sensor has a large effective area with 2.20M effective pixels,...
The Panasonic HC-V180K is consumer grade, compact camcorder capable of filming in full HD. It has a 90x Intelligent / 50x optical zoom, wide angle lens, and a 2.7-inch touch-screen LCD monitor.
This camera also features the Panasonic HYBRID O.I.S+ image stabilization to help capture clear images. It also has a variety of creative film modes such as 8mm Movie, Minature Effect, and Time Lapse recording.
Online review website Jen Reviews called the Panasonic HC-V180K the “best video camera for YouTube” for being an affordable camera that suits many functions.
The Panasonic HC-V180K is an “Amazon’s Choice” for Panasonic camcorder. It has a 4.3 out of 5-star rating with 81 customer reviews.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The Vixia HF R52 has a lot of useful features. The 57x Advanced Zoom and Image Stabilization allows you to capture the action from any distance. The Baby Mode is a must have for new parents who want to capture all of their baby's firsts.
The biggest con of the Vixia HF R52 is that the company discontinued it, so it is difficult to get. Another consideration is the improvement in the technologies that originally made the Vixia HF R52 desirable.
Is the Vixia HF R52 Worth Buying?
By all accounts, the Canon Vixia HF R52 is a solid camera with great features and smooth, easy operation. The only thing the Canon Vixia HF R52 has going against it is its age. Since it is an older model, it can prove challenging to find new. But if you are okay with a refurbished model, it is still a worthy option.