The great thing about video cameras these days? You can now get spectacular results without breaking the bank. Prime example: the new Canon VIXIA HF M400 ($650). Armed with a solid 10X optical zoom lens, this tiny handheld shoots full 1080p with its HD CMOS Pro Sensor—deliberately limited to 1920×1080 pixels to maximize low-light performance and image quality at this resolution, rather than adding extra pixels and noise. Because it’s the latest in a long line of great Canon camcorders, the color rendition’s great, and it also has all sorts of other cool stuff packed under the hood.
To save you cash, VIXIA HF M400 doesn’t have built-in memory. Instead, it includes two SD/SDXC slots, giving you as much room as you decide you need, so you can get a $10 8GB card or go crazy with a couple of these guys. Fill one up and the camera automatically switches over to the other so that you don’t lose a second of footage. Everything is controlled from a three inch touch screen, which allows you to do cool things such as Touch Focus, Touch Exposure, and Touch & Track; tap whatever you want to focus on and the camcorder will keep it sharp wherever it moves across the screen. Combine that with powerful image stabilization, face detection, and some really cool filters, as well as high-quality 24Mbps AVCHD recording that’s easy to import into iMovie on your Mac. What more could you want?