"Great upgrade for a beginner/amateur"5.0 starson by E-Gregoire
Pros: Auto mode is great
Cinema modes are fun
Instant Focus works very well
Camera is light and well shaped
Cons: Touchscreen is horribly unresponsive
Summary: I had a JVC digital tape camcorder that just wasn't cutting it anymore. Granted, it was about 5-6 years old, before a lot of this new technology was available at reasonable price points. I'll preface this review by stating that I am probably just a tad above the average beginner level in terms of camcorder use. The auto mode is great. Like most modern day cameras, there are settings that you can pick to adjust for exposure, aperture, and so forth (Beach, cloudy, bright, portrait, etc). The nice thing about auto mode is that it will automatically change between those settings while you are recording. For example, I started recording a person about 10 feet away from me, then switched to some fine print in a book a few feet in front of me. The M400 did a really nice job transitioning from portrait mode to fine mode in a single recording session. However, if you are more hands on and like to fine-tune the settings yourself, you can do that as well with manual mode.
Also, from an amateur's perspective, the "story" mode is nice. It has a lot of nice cues to help you create better videos. It provides options in terms of the type of event you are filming and what types of footage to record for that particular event (Kids/pets, travel, ceremony, etc). The cinema modes are fun, too. There are about 8 different types of cinema modes to add more character to your footage. That, coupled with the high definition settings, and Image Stabilization really can make your videos look very professional.
This just may have been user error, but if I had one criticism, it's the fact that they include two different software CDs (one is a video browser and the other one is a file transfer utility). It's certainly possible that they mentioned it somewhere in the documentation, but it took me a while to realize that you can install one or the other to your PC, but not both. Not really a big deal as I eventually figured it out. Again, maybe I'll chaulk that one up to user error.
All in all, I am thoroughly enjoying this camcorder. It's perfect for my intended uses ( filming kids, travel and ceremonies such as weddings and such, and if you will buy this camcorder I suggest you have to compare prices before you decide at: Lowest-pricing.info/VIXIA-HF-M400 ).
Hope this help!