So, you bought a Canon Vixia camcorder? The picture is stunning - and it's hard to believe you can get such beautiful images from such a compact camcorder. Unfortunately, there is no way you'll get top notch sound from a compact camcorder, no matter how much you paid for it. This isn't a matter of a design flaw; it has to do with the physics of sound: a directional microphone needs to be long; for best sound the microphone needs to be physically separated from the body of the camera; finally, some kind of muffle is needed to prevent wind and breath from interfering with sound. Canon's DM-100 is designed to achieve all of these things for the sound of the Vixia line camcorders, without overwhelming the simplicity and ease of a compact camcorder. I'm very happy with it.
It plugs in directly to the mini advanced shoe on the Vixia camcorders. When it is plugged in it automatically becomes the mike for recordings - no need to fiddle with settings. Importantly, it is small enough that it doesn't overwhelm the compact size of the Vixia camcorders. Sure, the "Dead Cat" looks a bit silly, but it makes a huge difference outdoors in the wind; and you can take it off for indoor shoots where you want to take advantage of just the directional aspects of the mike. There are three basic settings: shotgun (for focusing sound capture to sounds directly in front of the microphone), 90 degrees and 120 degrees.
ABOUT THIS VIDEO:
For this video I only focused on how this mike improves outdoor shooting, and also on showing what the DM-100 looks like on the Vixia camcorders - I have the HF10 and the HFS10, so I took pictures with it on both of these, with the "dead cat" on and off. I also used the HF10 (no mike attached) to shoot me shooting with the HFS10 with the DM-100 mike attached, then I synched up the sound so I could alternate between the sound with and without the mike. For the purposes of shooting myself in my front yard, I didn't think the directional settings would be useful, so I left it on the DM-100 on the 90 degree setting the whole time. I also didn't think there would be any good way to give a real sense for the quality of the sound via this (quick and dirty) video review - but the look of the mike and the wind elimination are obvious. Note that the video starts out with the sound from the onboard mike of the VIXIA HF10, and then I indicate with cool flashing text when I'm recording with the DM-100 (MIKE ON!) or with the HF10 onboard mike (MIKE OFF!). You should note that it's not just wind noise you hear when I'm recording with the on board camera, there's also just a low system hum that is almost completely eliminated when recording the the DM-100. I know the video is quick but I prefer to put most of my review in the text and think of the video as merely an illustration - if you want to look more closely at the pictures, just pause and gander all you like.
If you care at all about sound, and especially if you will ever shoot outdoors, you probably need some kind of external mike for your Vixia camcorder. There are better microphones than this one, and even cheaper ones; but you have to remember that if you buy another mike you'll also need some kind of adapter if you want it to mount on top of your Vixia, and it won't power directly through the Vixia, plus you'll have a wire hanging around that plugs into the external mike input mini plug. For most non-professional and semi-professional situations, the DM-100 will give you the sound you need, is easy to use with the Canon Vixia camcorders, and looks good on top of your camera.