Canon has gone for the cheap and cheerful approach with its FS100, which is a standard-definition camcorder.

It's also the cheapest in the range and lacks internal memory, forcing you to shoot straight to SD card. The look and feel is solid yet lightweight, although the silver paint looks poor.

Basic spec

Despite that, Canon has designed the FS100 sensibly with the battery and SD card under a hatch on the bottom, so you can get to them in an instant. The hatch is rather flimsy, though.

The controls are divided between the body of the camcorder and the lower edge of the 2.7-inch LCD screen, which makes it easy to adjust the settings.

You don't get much in the package apart from Canon's ZoomBrowser EX 6.0 software, the battery charger, a USB cable and a composite cable.

Advanced zoom

The specification includes a reference to a 37x optical zoom, but the body of the FS100 states 45x Advanced Zoom.

The answer to this lies in the settings, where you choose from three zoom options starting with 37x optical, moving up to 45x Advanced which uses the DIGIC DV II image processor to provide what we can only describe as decent digital zoom. The third step is 2000x digital zoom, which rapidly turns images to a mass of blocks.

Despite its low price, the Canon FS100 produces a decent picture, provided the lighting conditions are good. In less ideal settings, the quality degrades, reinforcing the idea the Canon FS100 is a camcorder that has been built down to hit a very low price.