So you think you’re better than Steven Spielberg or Satyajit Ray—it’s just that you could never lay your hands on a good video camera. Well, check out the impressively compact and incredibly pocketable 230g Canon Legria FS22 and let your hidden talents take wing. No more strained shoulders or strength-sapping kit to lug around.

Canon Legria FS22, Price: Rs39,995,

The FS22, with its 1.07-megapixel image sensor, comes with an awesomely far-reaching 37X optical zoom and electronic image stabilization. It boasts dual flash memory—which means that you can store up to 21 hours of movies on its 32GB of internal memory and also record directly to a removable SD/SDHC card. It can record in MPEG-2 digital video and NTSC analogue formats. Its large, pretty-looking 2.7-inch LCD swivel and rotate 123,000-pixel Viewfinder/Display panel is fairly bright even in sunlight.

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Before I go any further, a few words about this zoom mania. Just like the mega-hyperbole manufactured by camera makers around megapixels in still cameras, camcorder designers are tripping over each other to up the numbers quotient on the zoom front.

To me, it doesn’t quite make sense. I know I just called FS22’s zoom “awesomely far-reaching", but that is with reference to the technical aspects. As far as practical usage goes, you must keep in mind that the longer the lens, the more amplified the tiniest shake. Hence, the more unsteady the picture. And then, believe it or not, somehow a featherweight body tends to make things even more unstable in your hands. No one (except the seasoned and the pros) will ever carry a tripod along with such camcorders to redeem matters. It defeats the very purpose of a diminutive luggable, doesn’t it?

Yes, image stabilization helps. But nothing can compensate the exaggerated jerkiness you’ll often find in zoomed-in shots. You can avoid this by increasing your wide-angle shot possibilities.

While the FS22 feels extremely snug and comfortable to grip for an adult hand, even a child will find its compact dimensions very comfortable.

I found the FS22 fairly cretin-proof in operation. Its controls are intuitive enough to be figured out at a glance. I didn’t need to open the manual to start shooting or play back recordings—or just about anything, for that matter. Pretty much child’s play, as it should be.

In fact, its pre-recording function gives newbies (who naturally tend to waste precious time groping for the yet-unfamiliar controls before shooting) 3 seconds of footage even before they hit the REC button. Apart from the ability to grab still shots in the JPEG format—which frankly are pretty avoidable because of their iffy quality—the FS22 can capture 4-second clips called Video Snapshots.

The range of available situational shooting modes includes the usual Automatic, Program, TV, Portrait, Sports, Night, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Spotlight and Fireworks. A battery with quick-recharge abilities and a LED video light further enhances its appeal.

The FS22 video output quality ranges from very good to passable. The colours are pretty vivid and close to original in most situations, depending on ambient lighting. Zooming in and zooming out is super smooth. Such zoom power definitely feels good—but as I said, you need an extremely steady, unwavering arm to use this capability optimally. Audio capture with the FS22’s built-in mic is surprising good.

On the downside, blowouts and loss of image detail in highlights are an issue sometimes and night shots can get grainy, especially around the edges.

I liked the fact that the built-in stereo microphone is front-mounted and not on top. This placement reduces the likelihood of your fingers accidentally muffling audio levels while shooting. Of course, there are microphone input and headphone output ports. Full marks to the lithium battery that just lasts and lasts.

VERDICT: At the end of the day, there’s no denying that the FS22 is a good gadget to pocket—but only if you don’t mind paying such a heavy price. Because value for money it is not.

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