The LEGRIA HF S21's manual modes alone would make it a camcorder in need of serious consideration, but it's really the superb overall movie and stills quality that makes it a standout. In this case, the proof of the pudding is all in the viewing and with the S21 you just have to drink it in!
It's not a compact camcorder, but we liked that. The S21 doesn't reduce everything to miniature in order to serve a design ethos; it's about functionality and control.
Both movie and stills are ridiculously detailed and make for superior results, and it is even more encouraging to know you can tweak, change and play with features to better serve the type of images you want to create. The 25p film-like setting adds even more shooting versatility and serves to reinforce how far HD camcorders have come in the search for high-end visuals.
The ease of uploading, and sharing, movies is also an important virtue, and while the Pixela software is by no means pro-level, it does prove that not every facet of an enthusiast camcorder has to be overly complex to be successful. The option for HD-to-SD file conversion shows a clever understanding of what can often be a frustrating aspect of movie sharing – waiting for clips to upload.
In reality, most concerns are mere quibbles. The touchscreen would benefit from being more responsive, certainly, and a large eyecup would help cement the idea that using a viewfinder is the practical solution to framing and composition, rather than using the LCD screen.
The LEGRIA HF S21 is not for the frivolous. It's an expensive and heavily specified camcorder and one that requires time and dedication to create the best results. If that appeals to you then this is one of the most comprehensive and compelling HD camcorders on the market today.