Your smartphone can shoot video; your tablet can shoot video; and, if you even still own one, your point-and-shoot can shoot video too. So why, then, might you pick up a mid-range camcorder? Fortunately for manufacturers, there are still a few perks to owning a dedicated video camera. If top-notch image stabilization is what you're after, you'll probably turn to Sony, but if you're a new parent looking to document your young child's early years, Canon wants your business. The company's latest VIXIA camcorders sport a variety of family-friendly features, from livestreaming to your smartphone with the R52 and R50 (think expensive baby monitor), to an "Advanced Baby Mode," which can register up to three babies and track their height, weight and age over months and years of shooting.
Internally, all three cams are quite similar. They include 3.3-megapixel CMOS sensors, 32x optical zoom lenses with optical stabilization and 1080/60p video capture. The $450 R52 and $400 R50 also include internal storage -- 32GB on the pricier model and 16GB on the other -- letting you capture footage simultaneously to the embedded storage and a standard SD card, with archival-quality AVCHD recorded on one and upload-ready MP4 on the other, if you'd like. The $300 R500 excludes built-in storage, so you'll need to add an SD card to store captures there. The pricer pair also packs WiFi, with support for livestreaming and recording directly on a connected smartphone or tablet. Finally, you can also use the R52 and R50 with Canon's new Pan Table accessory, adding to their practicality as a home-security appliance. Expect all three VIXIA camcorders in stores this March.