Designed with the musician in mind, the Canon Legria mini X is a tiny, lightweight camcorder that fits in the palm of your hand. Its unique selling point for musos is that it captures audio as linear PCM, doing away with the need for lossy compression and giving it a leg up over smartphones and other competing devices.
With its diminutive 82 x 30 x 109mm proportions, the device is definitely small and light enough to be considered truly portable. While you're probably not going to be affixing it to the head of your guitar, it's certainly flexible enough for all kinds of other fun shots. Thanks to the 180 degree flexible LCD display it's perfect for taking selfies, and the resulting footage has a cool fisheye look thanks to the 170 degree wide-angle lens. A small stand is built into the bottom of the device that has a wide,123 degree range of movement, and the bottom panel also features a tripod mount.
Video and audio
The Legria Mini X captures video in AVCHD or MP4 formats up to 1920 x 1080 at 24Mbps, and still images as JPEGs. These are stored on class 4 or better SD card (not supplied), which is mandatory as the device has no internal memory. In MP4 mode videos can be shot in slow or fast-motion, which is a great touch and really enhances the device's creative potential.
The quality of the visuals is great, with vibrant colours that really brought out the beautiful blue eyes of our all-too-willing subject in even less than perfect lighting conditions. Of course, you'd expect that from Canon, which has made its fare share of consumer level camcorder kit - the real question for musicians is whether or how the much-vaunted audio capabilities match up. Linear PCM is all very well and good, but the real audio quality bottleneck for most portable devices is at the microphone rather than encoding stage.
Thankfully, the stereo mics sound great - crisp with good stereo definition, and certainly much better than you'd get from a smartphone. There's also a 1/8-inch jack input so you can use a self-powered stereo condenser mic, and Canon offers an optional wireless mic in the form of the WM-V1 Wireless Microphone. Finally on the audio front, there's a 1/8-inch jack headphone output for monitoring and listening back to recordings.
Ease of use, of course, is an important consideration for the musician who'd rather be concentrating on perfecting their duck face than wading through a huge manual, and here's where the Legria mini X shines. The included Quick Start guide is straightforward and helpful, and after charging the device's removable battery we were recording within seconds.
The Legria mini X is controlled via its 2.7" touchscreen, and the interface is pretty straightforward. If you're stuck at any point, tapping the Home button takes you to the device's main menu, where each sub menu has a helpful description that makes it easy to find out which features are available.
At one point during testing we couldn't work out why the slow and fast motion modes couldn't be accessed and needed to consult the manual. This had to be accessed online as a PDF, as there's no hard copy included in the box. We quickly discovered that these modes are only available when recording MP4, and didn't need to trouble the documentation again.
As well as being able to use the touchscreen to begin a recording, there's also a dedicated hard button on the case, plus a microphone level wheel and another hard button for switching between recording and viewing modes. The case itself is plastic but fairly solid-feeling, and the cover that comes down over the lens when the device is turned off is a welcome addition.
Output wise there's a USB connection, though we found Canon's bundled software didn't recognise the device - cheekily popping up with a "no camera found" message when it was plugged in - so we resorted to taking the files off the memory card directly.
The Legria mini X also has Wi-Fi capability, and once you've set up an account on the Canon site you can use a Wi-Fi network to upload both pictures and video to your account and download them via your computer's browser. This works well, and there's also an app that enables you to control and monitor the device from a tablet or smartphone via Wi-Fi. Another output option is an HDMI slot for viewing your work via a monitor or TV.
Finally, a full battery will give you 155 minutes recording time, though for extended sessions you can simply use the supplied power cable to run off mains power.
Overall we were very impressed by the Legria mini X, and it offers some clear advantages over the smartphone and budget camcorder competition. For those who are making video-based content the Legria mini X is a fun, creative tool that's easy to recommend.