The LEGRIA HFM306 is HD capable, packs a 2.7-inch touch-screen LCD and weighs just 320g. Is this the HD camcorder for you?

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Canon LEGRIA HFM306 HD capture and a swivel LCD are two of the HFM306's features
By  Jason Saundalkar Published  June 9, 2010

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Key Specs

Digital zoom: 300x
Display size: 2.7-inch
Memory: SD/SDHC
Optical zoom: 15x
Output: USB2.0, mini HDMI

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The HFM306 is Canon's latest LEGRIA camcorder and the firm reckons it packs 'awesome' image quality despite its small demeanor.

In terms of size and weight the HFM306 lives up to Canon's claims because it is one of the smallest HD camcorders we've tried. As such it is easy to travel with and despite its compact size it could be used by even those with large hands. That said users with small- or medium-sized hands will have the best experience. Weighing just 320g with the battery installed the Canon is a featherweight; in the absence of a tripod you won't tire too quickly whilst holding this camcorder.

Users of Canon's digital cameras or past camcorders will quickly get to grips with the HFM306 thanks to the familiar interface and menu system. Interaction with the LEGRIA is accomplished via the responsive and precise 2.7-inch touch screen or via the few buttons dotted across the camcorder's body.

The HFM306 packs 1/4 type CMOS sensor and it packs a video capture resolution of 3-megapixels. In use we found this camera proved very responsive despite us making relatively fast movements and playing back the footage, we were impressed with the camcorders realistic colours and crisp captures. Thanks to the sensor's high resolution capabilities we were able to make out finer details such as the wrinkles on a person's forehead.

With 15x optical zoom on offer the Canon proved flexible when capturing distant footage though we recommend using a tripod if shooting via zoom, as even slight movements make footage jump around quite severely. Like other camcorders we've tested the Canon offers digital zoom - 300x - but as we've noted before, the best results are obtained using standard optical zoom. Going with digital we noticed slight muddiness and artifacting in our captures. The camera's microphone system also does a good job of capturing audio. That said the microphones aren't very sensitive so we advice shooting up close where possible.

The battery offers somewhat limited life; we were able to record video continuously for only one hour and 32 minutes on a full charge. This limits the HFM306's flexibility because you'll have to stop shooting so you can replace the battery for a fully charged one or pause shooting until the battery is charged again. This suggests the camera is best for grabbing photos and videos around the house, rather than outdoors where stopping recording could mean missing out on unique, time-critical footage. Canon offers a bigger battery at an additional cost and the company says this battery will keep the camera rolling for approximately five hours. Given that a 32GB SDHC card could give you 12 hours of video, we recommend opting for this if you intend to shoot for long periods at a stretch.

For: Excellent video captures, responsive 2.7-inch touch screen, portable, easy-to-use, great optical zoom.
Against: Standard battery offers limited shooting time, digital zoom is a gimmick. 
Verdict: The Canon offers quality captures and ease-of-use but it needs a better standard battery to shine.

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