Canon Legria HFR36

While the HFR36 is a cheap camcorder, you definitely get what you pay for.


7.2
CNET Rating
7.5
User Rating

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Given the reasonable price of the HFR36, it comes as no surprise that it looks, feels and performs like a cheap camcorder. For better-quality footage, check out this model's big brother, the Canon HFM52, which has a number of additional features that make its extra price worthwhile. However, if it's a lightweight, affordable camcorder you want, then this device won't disappoint.

Design and features

The biggest concern we had when using the Canon HFR36 was that it feels flimsy. It's far too small in the palm for anyone with slightly larger hands, and it does feel like you could crush it. Another irritating problem is the persistent rattling sounds we found when moving the camera — it feels like something's broken. Obviously, the body of the device uses a cheap, lightweight plastic, which is to be expected given the price. However, we are happy to see that Canon offers different colours for this model, making it an easy purchase for those shooters who want to make a splash.

With 32x optical zoom and 8GB of internal memory (plus SD/SDHC/SDXC support), there's plenty of scope for taking lots of footage. The 3-inch LCD touchscreen is very disappointing, though, mostly because of the menu interface. It's disorganised and frustrating to navigate, making it difficult to find many of the functions listed, as the category names don't adequately describe what you're looking for.

On a brighter note, it is extremely impressive to find Wi-Fi on this device, as it's unexpected in such an inexpensive camcorder. This sophisticated feature is something that one would expect of a far more expensive device.

Video and image quality

Overall, the video quality on the Canon HFR36 performs like one would expect from a cheaper camera. The footage appears fuzzy, reminding us of an '80s video clip. The colours are grey and dull, everything is flat and the texture is grainy with purple fringing.


To make matters worse, under low light, everything has a cloudy-green tone. We found ourselves thinking that some mobile phones would perform better.


The zoom on this camera also presents a problem, while the image stabilisation is not good at all. The stabiliser has a great deal of trouble focusing at the long end of the zoom, and jolts around erratically, making much of the footage unusable.


To continue the streak of bad news for the HFR36, the audio performs terribly. Maybe if there was an external microphone input, this could be salvaged, but as there isn't an option for this, you will have to endure the cluttered sound. Every shot sounds like you're standing next to the ocean, because it picks up so much background and atmospheric noise ... which is great, if you're standing next to the ocean.

Image samples

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

While the HFR36 is a cheap camcorder, you definitely get what you pay for. Obviously, this is both a good thing and a bad thing; while it won't hurt your wallet too much, you may be left wanting on video quality. If you want to take your filming more seriously, try spending the extra money on the Canon Legria HFM52.



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NoelL Facebook
8
Rating
 

NoelL posted a review   
Australia

Bought this camera on sale for $330aud. I chose canon because my last cassette video camera was a canon and it performed fawlessly. For the money its not bad. Built in 8gig memory will do 2hrs of recording. I find close up work with this camera is excellent, really focuses in up close to the subject. Small size is great fits nicely in my hand.

 

weisken posted a comment   
Australia

Oh, and the image stabilizer is excellent, a friend who has a degree in film (so very familiar with cameras) even commented that it was the best he had seen. It isn't turned on in the first 2 videos shown in the article.

weisken
7
Rating
 

"Not all doom and gloom!"

weisken posted a review   
Australia

The Good:3.2MP chip, proper HD, good build quality, decent picture

The Bad:Terrible battery life, night time shots noisy

I bought this camera to shoot a wedding and overall, wasn't dissappointed. None of the build quality issues the review mentions, the body is solid, the tiny size, I think, is a bonus. Yes, the menus aren't particularly straight forward, but 15 minutes with the manual and it's easy enough to use. I haven't had any background noise issues either. This is one of the few cameras at this price point that has a proper, 3.2MP HD chip, so can do true HD. Not sure if the reviewer didn't play with the settings at all, but I've got much better, more vibrant pictures out of it than shown above. The worst feature is the woeful battery life on the standard battery, budget in a second battery (even a $30 generic one from eBay does the trick with around 2 hours of footage versus about 30 minutes on the standard battery).




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User Reviews / Comments  Canon Legria HFR36

  • NoelL

    NoelL

    Rating8

    "Bought this camera on sale for $330aud. I chose canon because my last cassette video camera was a canon and it performed fawlessly. For the money its not bad. Built in 8gig memory will do 2hrs of r..."

  • weisken

    weisken

    "Oh, and the image stabilizer is excellent, a friend who has a degree in film (so very familiar with cameras) even commented that it was the best he had seen. It isn't turned on in the first 2 vide..."

  • weisken

    weisken

    Rating7

    "I bought this camera to shoot a wedding and overall, wasn't dissappointed. None of the build quality issues the review mentions, the body is solid, the tiny size, I think, is a bonus. Yes, the me..."

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