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Canon confronts smartphones with the itty-bitty Vixia mini camcorder

Jackie Dove | Aug. 1, 2013
Canon unveils the diminutive Vixia mini compact personal camcorder to compete with smartphone video cameras.

Canon is betting that smartphone users—despite their outward enthusiasm for the all-in-one convenience of built-in cameras and camcorders—are privately pining away for a genuine, dedicated camcorder. On Wednesday, Canon comes to the rescue with the 12.8-megapixel Vixia mini compact personal camcorder—6.3 ounces fully loaded.

With a handprint roughly the size of a smartphone, this camcorder packs some serious specs, targeted to the blogger crowd. In Canon's estimation, these users seek superior video, image, and audio quality, along with greater shooting flexibility than smartphones can deliver. The Vixia mini's built-in Wi-Fi lets you upload video to YouTube and Facebook (of course), as well as to your computer. Canon's free Movie Uploader app for iOS, meawnhile, lets you post your Vixia mini movies from your iPhone or iPad.

What makes the Canon Vixia mini better than an iPhone or the veritable army of Android smartphones? "The pictures from this camera," says David Porter, Canon's marketing manager.

"We're looking at the sensor in the camera, as well as the Digic 4 processor being able to give you a good hands-free type application," Porter says. While designed for stress-free operation in one's hands, the Vixia mini can also "stand and be mounted on a table or attached to a tripod, and give you that great angle of view," said Porter. "The way that the screen tilts and rotates allows the users to get live feedback and see what they're recording, and get a great view of what's going on in their surroundings."

Advanced functionality
The Vixia mini offers plenty of smartphone-defying features. For example, its Mirror Image Recording/Playback function lets you view a scene in real time so you can watch while you record. Smart Auto Mode lets beginners capture quick scenes via the touchscreen, selecting from 38 predefined setups for the best shots.

Special Scene modes include Food & Fashion, Sports, and Macro, and offer advanced presets to help capture footage at proper exposures. The camcorder's Slow Motion mode allows shooting at two slow motion speeds, 1/4x (VGA) and 1/2x (720p), for fast moving subjects. Fast Motion mode also offers two speeds, 4x and 2x, for hastening the footage of slower action.

The camcorder comes with a built-in stand and tripod socket for hands-free operation. You can tilt and elevate it up to approximately 60 degrees while the camcorder's tripod socket facilitates flexible positioning. There's even an automatic lens cover.

Advanced features
The Vixia mini features an ultra wide angle F/2.8 fisheye lens for a 15mm wide viewing angle, so you can record video at a 160-degree and photos at a 170-degree field of view. Tap the 2.7-inch, 230,000-dot capacitive touchscreen, and you can shoot at low, normal, and high angles, or self portraits in Wide whole-scene or Close-up modes. The videographer can use the touchscreen to monitor the action and to participate in the video, and toggle back and forth between shooting video and stills. Scenes are recorded in HD MP4 format with a 12.8 megapixel CMOS 1/2.3-inch sensor, powered by Canon's Digic 4 processor.


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