Canon HF M31 review

Full review: HD camcorder, with 32GB internal memory and 15x optical zoom

Image 1 of 4 Canon HF M13 LCD shut
Canon HF M13 LCD shut
Image 2 of 4 Canon HF M31 controls and screen
Canon HF M31 controls and screen
Image 3 of 4 Canon HF M31 side
Canon HF M31 side
Image 4 of 4 Canon HF M31 main
Canon HF M31 main

Packing some great features, this camcorder is perfect for enthusiasts

High quality from smaller dimensions is Canon’s pitch with the Legria HF M31. Incorporating a 3MP CMOS sensor and 15x optical zoom into a sleek chassis that sits comfortably in the palm, this mid range Full HD model records AVCHD movies to a removable SD/SDHC card like the Panasonic HDC-SD600, but also to 32GB internal memory.

Though not the smallest SD model we’ve seen, the Canon’s overall form factor is compact enough to slip inside a jacket with deep pockets though a shoulder bag would be more comfortable.

View our Canon HF M31 gallery here

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The Canon HF M31's flip-out widescreen ratio 2.7-inch LCD is a touchscreen. This allows the image stabilized 15x optical zoom to be controlled with a tap of the finger.

Canon HF M31: Controls and ports

With a glossy exterior the Canon HF M31 feels plastic-y yet solid to the touch. Ports include microphone and headphone jacks, plus AV, USB and HDMI output for hooking the model up directly to a flat panel TV. Though cables are provided for the former, an HDMI lead predictably costs extra.

Sparse controls fall readily to hand. Once you’ve slipped your fingers under the side strap, your thumb immediately comes to rest against the record button, rechargeable battery pack slotting onto the back where it sits unobtrusively under your palm.

Canon HF M31: Features

Aiding ease of use the Legria features scene and subject recognising and enhancing Smart Auto technology (as found on Canon’s compacts) with 31 scene modes to choose from. Manual features are there too; in capture mode use touch controls to adjust the focus, exposure and tracking options. The 3MP sensor can also capture stills via the shutter release style button on the top plate.

Video Snapshot, which has its own top plate control, records short bursts of footage – two, four or eight seconds in duration – to memory. Chunks of the same duration can also be lifted from existing footage should you want to edit a fast-paced compilation. For publishing online, the camcorder offers an HD to SD conversion option. This is also useful if your (older) PC or non Intel-based Mac struggles to cope with recognizing and replaying large AVCHD format files.

Canon HF M31: Focusing and footage

Auto focus is nigh instant, controls respond rapidly and operation zips along thanks to integral Digic DV III processor. Replayed on a flat panel TV, colours are naturalistically subdued, sound is good, and dimmer conditions are handled with ease, though conversely we did get over exposed highlights.

In playback mode Canon has featured what it calls ‘3D Flip View’, allowing users to locate specific footage quickly by swiping a finger across the screen to find the date in question and then view thumbnails of that day’s imagery.

Canon HF M31: Extras

Up to 12 hours of footage can be captured by a 32GB card, if shooting in long play mode. When the hard drive is full, relay recording functionality means that subsequent footage is automatically saved to memory card.

For those who want to go further still with their movie making, a new WP-V2 underwater case is available for the HF M camcorder series.

Overall the Canon HF M31 is an excellent camcorder, with great features and the benefits of dual recording. Our only real grip is the rather high price of £750.

The Canon HF M31 is out now, find out more from Canon

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Specifications:

Sensor: 1/4 CMOS, 3MP
Max resolution: 1920x1080, 24fps
Still images: 3MP
Lens: Canon 15x optical
Stabiliser: Dynamic Optical Image Stabilier
LCD: 2.7in 211,000
Sound: Dolby Digital
Connectivity: HDMI Mini, USB 2.0, AV
Storage: 32GB int, SD/SDHC
Dimensions: 68x60x124mm
Weight: 320g

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