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Canon Legria HF R606 Camcorder Review

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Key Features

  • Full 1080p HD Recording
  • Intelligent Optical Image stabilization
  • Supports Flash Air Cards
  • Slow and Fast Motion Recording

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What is it?

The Canon Legria HF R606 is Canons latest update to their popular consumer orientated camcorder range. The R606 replaces the R506 and sits at the budget end of the range, that also includes the slightly higher spec’s HF R66 and the HF R68.

Who is it for?

The HF R606 is aimed squarely at the consumer market and hopes to find itself in the homes of families that want to preserve those precious memories: new members of the family, holidays and special occasions. Camcorders like this are suitable for people who are looking to step up in functionality and want to enjoy better video and audio recording quality than what can be captured with their mobile phones or tablets. Whilst its nowhere near the pro league, it could also be used to make YouTube videos or small scale productions for budding new directors that want to make short films on a budget.

Build and Handling:

Looks wise, the HF R606 is almost identical to the R506 it’s replacing, the 606’s top is smoother, has a more streamlined look and there’s a blue trim around the front but you’d be hard pressed to differentiate the two at a quick glance. This is a good thing though because the R506 was sleek and well designed so the same can be said of the R606. The padded grip is comfy against the back of the hand and fingers rest naturally around the curved top. Zoom controls are situated on the top where the fingers rest, allowing easy access. Other external controls are kept to a minimum, a playback button and an on/off switch are located on the side and the camcorder relays  on it’s flip out touch screen to control most of its functions and features. Thankfully, there’s a button to stop and start recordings in easy reach of the thumb.

At 111mm long, 53mm wide and 58mm high, the HF R606 is about as small as a camcorder can get without becoming too small and fiddly. It’s not quite ‘put in your pocket’ small [well maybe if your wearing cargo pants] but it won’t take up much room in a small bag or rucksack and at 235g [roughly the same as 2 iPhones] it’s a lightweight, giving you no excuse not to have it on you where ever you go.

Performance:

First off, the lens has an impressive zoom range between 32.5mm – 1853mm, allowing you to capture fairly wide scenes before zooming off in to the far distance and picking out tiny details. Some people may want something a bit wider for recording stunning vistas without panning too much, but its fair to say the zoom range is suitable for 99% of the camcorders intended market.

The lens is backed up by an intelligent image stabilization system that is employed to combat camera shake. It automatically detects the scene and selects exactly the right image stabilizer settings from 4 modes to counteract movement and prevent blur. ‘Dynamic IS’ is the standard mode, preventing shake the majority of the time, whilst ‘Powered IS’ kicks in when zooming in on far away subjects. ‘Tripod mode’ is actually a lack off IS, the system turns off when connected to a tripod and finally ’Macro IS’ helps out when your shooting a wide angle focal length close to a subject. The lenses minimum focusing distance is 10mm so macro type shooting is possible. The system works very well, canons IS systems are some of the best in the world and the way its implemented means you never have to worry about switching modes, you can just concentrate on what your recording.

The R606 offers full hd 1080p recording from its 3.28 [2.07 mp effective] megapixel sensor. This is what it is and won’t concern the average consumer much but if your the type who likes to edit your videos, then the low megapixel count can restrict the amount of cropping you can do. Not a deal breaker by any means but those in to heavy post production cropping should be aware that other equivalent camcorders like the Sony HDR-CX330E Handycam are packing far more in the mp department.

We can’t be 100% sure but this looks to be the same sensor that was in the previous R506, as the mp count is the same. If so, it’s a bit disappointing that the R606 doesn’t feature a new sensor but it’s likely to have been tweaked and being a Canon, we found that colour reproduction is excellent, the camcorder presents a clear crisp image thats very pleasing.

We found sound recording quality to be surprisingly good! If your coming up from smart phone of tablet recording, you’ll find this is on another level, especially when playing videos back on a TV with a decent sound set up. Similar to the IS system, there are 5 sound recording ‘Scene’ modes: Noise Suppression, Standard, Music, Speech and Forests. You simply select a ‘scene mode’ that best matches what your recording, so say your at your child’s piano recital, you select the music mode to make the music clearer and more prominent in the recording. Some of the modes where a bit similar and we found speech and music to be the best, although noise suppression worked well in certain situations.

A new feature to the R606 is the slow and fast motion recording that can record at half speed for slow motion and 2x, 4x, 10x, 20x, x60, x120, or x1200 speed for fast motion. It’s a fun feature to use and it’s with noting that the R606 also has all the usual effects and picture styles that are included with other camcorders.

Lack of wifi is disappointing but Canon makes up for it by supporting the newer flash Air cards allowing you to transfer footage wirelessly through the card, so no need to pull it out. The R606 also supports the usual SD, SDHC and SDXC cards, although there is no onboard memory like the higher spec’s [and priced] R66 and R68.

Recording formats include the standard MP4 and AVCHD. Each format has 4 different quality recording modes:

MP4:

  • 50p: 1920 x 1080, 35Mbps
  • 25p: 1920 x 1080, 24Mbps
  • 25p: 1920 x 1080, 17Mbps
  • 25p: 1280 x 720, 4Mbps

AVCHD:

  • 50P: 1920 x 1080, 28Mbps;
  • MXP 50i/PF25: 1920×1080, 24Mbps;
  • FXP 50i/PF25: 1920×1080, 17Mbps;
  • LP 50i/PF25: 1440×1080, 5Mbps

Moving on to the battery, lasting around 2 hours non stop recording, battery life is not amazing but can be extended to around 3 if certain energy saving features are enabled, lowering the touch screen brightness for example. This is good for everyday use but If your attending a wedding and plan to capture most of the day, a spare battery or 2 will be in order.

Verdict:

There’s a lot to like in this little camcorder: It’s small and light, the menus are intuitive and it’s quick and responsive in use. If you can live without a few features then you might be able to pick up it’s predecessor, the R506 for less money but if your after a ‘go anywhere’, reasonably priced camcorder, then you can’t really go wrong with the Canon Legria HF R606.

PRO’S

– Supports Flash Air Cards

– Great Picture and Color Reproduction

– Good Build

– IS works well

CON’S

– No on-board memory

– Battery life not great

– Low mp count compared to some rivals

– No wifi

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