Canon VIXIA HF M30 Dual Flash Memory Comcorder Review

The  Canon VIXIA HF-M30 is a dual flash memory camcorder with 8GB of internal memory and a SD/SDHC card slot for expansion capturing full HD 1920 x 1080 video in AVCHD format.

Key Features

  • 8GB Internal Flash Memory
  • SD/SDHC Memory Card Slot
  • Eye-Fi Memory Card Compatible
  • 3.89MP CMOS Sensor
  • 2.7″ Touch Panel LCD
  • Genuine Canon 15x HD Video Lens
  • Dynamic SuperRange OIS
  • 3.3MP Still Image Capture
  • 24p and 30p Frame Modes
  • Microphone and Headphone Terminal

Handling, Ergonomics and Control

The Canon VIXIA HF-M30 is a mid-level HD camcorder, slightly smaller and less expensive than the upper -level Canon VIXIA HF-S21, but with great video quality and it’s simple to use.  The controls are well laid out and easy to use as on most modern camcorders with the exception of the zoom slider.  I feel like I have to reach for the slider at times. Canon could have possibly positioned the slider where the photo button is.  I realize the mini shoe probably forced Canon to push the zoom slider and photo button forward a bit, but this is a small quirk.  The mini shoe is a welcome feature allowing for additional lighting, external microphone, wireless remote or a number of other great accessories.  The touch screen controls are a breeze to use.  I felt at no time like I was fumbling through the menus.  Canon has one of the best touch-screen interfaces I’ve used.  Changing from record to playback mode or video to photo mode is quick and thoughtless.  I found myself doing such quite often because of the ease.  For me the photo capture proved to be quite useful.  Now, it won’t replace your DSLR or high-end point and shoot, but is quite good for quick snap shots.

Shooting with the Canon VIXIA HF-M30

The face-detection feature works very well on the VIXIA HF-M30.  Transition while in motion on a person or panning a crowd is almost seamless as the camera picks out and stays locked on to the face of your subject person.  The auto-focus is fast and precis and the image stabilization is among the best around.  The VIXIA HF-M30 will soak up liberal amounts of shake and jitter.  The stabilization is among the highest features of this camera and still probably my favorite.  Now, the 8GB of internal storage will store up to 3 hours of video and if that is not enough, there is an SD card slot to pick up the slack.  If maximum resolution is your game be sure to pick up some extra memory cards.  8GB doesn’t go very far when shooting at the highest quality setting.  About 40 minutes of run time can be expected.

Hidden beneath the hand strap is a semi-soft cover protecting the camera’s output ports.  There you’ll find the USB, HDMI and component outputs.  While the camera includes a component cable you’ll need to pony up some extra cash for a HDMI cable.  Sony makes one for about half price of the canon piece.  Not that you need the HDMI cable.  Video is just fine with the component output and unless plans are to show a lot of video direct to an HD TV from the camera an HDMI cable is really not necessary.

Video Quality

The HD quality is very good for a camera of this size, but instead of writing about how good it is the video below shows the quality.  Note that this video was shot in the standard quality mode which is slightly less than full HD.

Here is an unedited straight from the camcorder sample still image as well.

Accessories

Canon BP-809B Battery – The Canon HF-M30 comes with one of these rechargeable lithium-ion batteries; however, if you’re going to be away from power for an extended period, you can pick up spares.  The Pearstone BP-819 is a higher capacity batter that should supply close to double the run time.

Bescor LED-35DA Dimmable On-Camera Light – The LED-35DA works as a continuous video light source, or as a flash for still images shot with the HF-M30.

Canon SM-V1 5.1 Channel Surround Mic – The microphone features a shoe mount and accurately captures audio in all directions for accurate surround audio.

Canon ZR-1000 Zoom Remote – The ZR-1000 is a must if you need absolute zero motion from your VIXIA HF S21 while filming.

Canon LCD Hood – If you plan on spending significant time shooting in the harsh sunlight, an LCD hood can be a life saver in allowing you to get a better look at your scene.

Extra Memory – While the Canon HF-S21 comes equipped with 64GB internal memory, you may want the ability to expand that even further.  I’ve used the basic Kingston SD cards in the HF-S21, which worked just fine. No need to go all out on fast memory cards with the HF-S21. You’ll just need to make sure you pick up SD cards that are Class 4 or higher in order to capture Full HD video. The HF-S21 is compatible with all SD and SDHC cards – but not SDXC cards.

Memory card reader – If you don’t own a memory card reader, they make transferring images to your computer a world faster. I highly recommend picking one up with the HF-S21. They’re cheap and big time saver. Lexar makes a good card reader for about $15.

Camera Bag – When making an investment into a high end camcorder make sure it is protected when in storage by keeping is zipped up in a quality storage bag.

Camera Case – If your going to be out and about for an extended period a compact case with shoulder strap is essential for carrying ease and protection.

Conclusion

The Canon VIXIA HF-M30 is a great little HD camcorder.  There are a couple of small grips like the zoom slider position and the lack of an included HDMI cable, but all-in-all I have to say that I really enjoyed this camera and can definitely recommend it.  If you are looking for an affordable HD camcorder take a close look at the Canon VIXIA HF-M30.

Pros

  • Full 1080p
  • Image Stabilization
  • SD card slot for expanded storage
  • HDMI output
  • Mini Hot Shoe
  • User friendly touchscreen interface

Cons

  • HDMI cable not included
  • Zoom slider position could be better
  • Limited internal storage

The Canon VIXIA HF-M30 is available from Tech Tilt’s trusted retail partner, B&H Photo, at the following link:

Canon VIXIA HF-M30 Dual Flash Memory Camcorder at B&H Photo/Video $562 (after adding to cart) Free Shipping

By making your gear purchases at B&H Photo through these links, you are helping Tech Tilt to continue bring quality camera tests, news and reviews. Thanks for your continued support

Comments

  1. Derek says

    Is it better to have the extra memory internal or on a SDHC card? Comparing Vixia HF M 30 (8 GB) with the HF M 31 ( 32 GB). From which would it be best to read/transfer HD video in MXP/FXP mode? Thank you. The price is about the same right now to buy the extra SDHC card. Cpuld get a 32 GB Class 6 (Transcend) for $55.00
    Thank you for your help.

    • says

      Hey Derek – I usually like the SD card option because I can always put another one in if I run out of memory. 8GB is a little thin on internal HD space nowadays, but I would probably go with the smaller internal drive and buy a 32GB card with it – if I had to choose one over the other.

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