Family Vacation with the Canon HF21 Camcorder


Summer break is almost here. You’ve fueled the car, packed the cooler, and programmed the GPS. It’s time for a well deserved vacation! Whether you’re headed to visit Grandma upstate or Mickey’s house down in Orlando, you don’t want to forget the sunscreen or a new HD camcorder. HD video is the gold standard for capturing all kinds of family fun. B&H’s exclusive on the new HF21 makes fun affordable.

My Mom and Dad would have loved the Canon HF21. When our family took a trip or celebrated the holidays, they had to bust out the Gigantor, shoulder-mounted VHS beast. Some back-in-the-day camcorders weighed 14 pounds -- the HF21 comes in at just 14 ounces. Super light and small enough to take anywhere, the camera is able to balance carrying convenience with the perfect amount of quality features.

To keep things ultra portable, many families opt for shoot and share cameras like the Flip Mino HD. These are great for grabbing short clips at an outdoor picnic, but they tend to stumble in low-light or when you need to zoom in on a subject. Blowing out the candles on a birthday cake? Zooming in at Grand Canyon or a dance recital? Shoot and shares aren’t so great in these situations. With a larger imaging sensor and a high quality 15x zoom lens, the Canon HF21’s got you and the fam covered.

I can remember a vacation to northern Indiana when my Mom forgot to pack a VHS cassette for our camcorder. We were staying at my grandparents’ farm and had to drive a ways into town for a tape. Those days are long gone. The HF21 ditches cassettes for 64GB of internal flash memory. For those keeping score, that’s about 6 hours of high quality recording or over 24 hours of web-friendly video. Recording times can even be extended using SD/SDHC memory cards. Solid state cameras have fewer moving parts than traditional tape-based systems. This means added durability against life’s unexpected bangs and bumps.

It’s super easy to share footage with the HF21. Plug in an HDMI cable to your HDTV and viola! All the excitement of the Great Smoky Mountains on your big screen. Wanna burn your Chi-town trip to DVD? Skip the computer and pick up the Canon DW-100. Three buttons (power, record, and eject) are all you need to transfer your Wiener Circle footage to HD or standard definition discs. Of course more adventurous family documentarians can port their HD video directly to a Mac or PC for editing. The HF21 uses the popular AVCHD format. This plays nice with iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, and Sony Vegas.

The camera even sports a host of advanced features for the budding filmmaker in your family. Microphone input, manual exposure control, and 24p recording will help you channel your inner Scorsese. Of course, the default auto settings work great, too.

The Canon VIXIA HF21 is available in the US exclusively at B&H. Be sure to pick up an extra battery and a case.

I’m headed to Maine soon for a working vacation. Where are you going this summer? What’s gonna be in your camera bag?

David Flores is a photographer and filmmaker based in New York City.   

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I apologize for the confusion.  The AVCHD format utilizes MPEG-4 AVC/H.264  (AVC) video compression. The file saved into a computer will not play as it is. You can think of it as a file similar to a RAW file.  Current versions of iMovie 09, Final Cut Pro 3, Adobe Premiere CS5 or Elements 8, and Sony Vegas HD can play the HF21’s AVCHD file. There are some limitations for video shot with the camera’s Cinema or 24p mode.  In addition, an AVCHD file requires a great deal of computer processing power and space to open the large files.




Please E-Mail me any additional questions you may have.

THIS IS NOT TRUE!!!, "...Of course more adventurous family documentarians can port their HD video directly to a Mac or PC for editing. The HF21 uses the popular AVCHD format. This plays nice with iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, and Sony Vegas."

THIS IS NOT TRUE!!! If you are using a mac you have to buy a third party AVCHD Converter program like iOrgSoft to make the thing work. Buyer beware, do your homework befor you get caught like me and waisting a day to find out to make this camera download...IT IS NOT PLUG AND PLAY, IT DOES NOT EVEN TALK TO THESE PROGRAMS. THIS IS NOT TRUE!!!