HandlingThere's nothing too complicated about this camcorder which isn't exactly brimming with bells and whistles. You switch it on with the Power button and turn it off by closing the screen. Shots are lined up using the retractable viewfinder, but it's likely to prove too small for many users. In any case, the 3.4'', 922 000 pixel LCD screen is excellent. It's almost like having a monitor built into the side of your camcorder, and because it's touch-sensitive you can use to access the menus. The interface is a little simpler than Sony's: out go the animated icons, and in their place is a rather complicated list of options that it isn't always easy to work your way though using just one finger. The fact that the screen isn't too responsive doesn't help either.
|The 3.4'' LCD screen has 922 000 pixels
All of the usual buttons are there including the progressive zoom, and a mode dial (cinema, auto, manual). The connectors are to be found underneath the handle and below the screen. Frankly, though, Canon has fallen behind in terms of usability this summer: Sony has added a mini USB cable and a redesigned menu system to its camcorders, but the Canon HF G10 features nothing new. And as we'll see later on, it hasn't switched to 50p video yet, despite the fact that the market is clearly heading in that direction.
The autofocus is incredibly fast and works alongside a face detection system that's becoming increasingly common on video cameras. Purists will be glad to learn that there is a manual focus dial, a feature that we had thought was dead on mass-market camcorders. It turns freely and smoothly allowing you to play with bringing objects in and out of focus.
Video QualityIt's hard to avoid the temptation to compare the Canon HF G10 with its direct rival in this segment, the Sony CX700, especially given the physical ressemblance they share when fitted with a lens hood. Our lab tests had both cameras neck and neck in terms of sharpness, but the Sony edges out in front for being able to pick out more details in text.
The colour handling is different too: the HF G10 tends to make colours look more lively with a purple hue in automatic mode. The CX700 does better in poor light conditions. If you look at the results from the Face-Off, you'll see that in the results of our 3 lux lab test, Barbie is visible in the video shot on the HF G10 but only through a lot of reddish noise caused by the camcorder slowing down and pushing gain up to maximum. The CX700 produces a slightly darker result, but it's much cleaner and looks more natural with less noise thanks to the work of the Exmor R sensor. So, despite the fact that both camcorders have lenses that open to f/1.8, the results in low light levels are very different.
|10 x zoom using the Power IS stabilisation
||30.4 mm wide-angle|
The HF G10 also has a Cinema mode, something that camcorders have had for a while: it's a 25p mode with a progressive scan that leads to jumpy video if you move the camera around. Once again, Canon is falling behind its rivals: Sony added a 50p mode this year, and Panasonic has been offering it since 2010.
Let's take a quick look at the 30.4-340 mm (24 x 36 mm equivalent) lens, which has a particularly effective stabilisation system. By default, it's not too hard to capture relatively stable video holding the HF G10 in your hands. When you're zoomed right in, though, that isn't always enough, so Canon has included a digital stabilisation system that you can turn on by pressing the Power IS button on the LCD screen. It just about freezes any movements, even at full zoom, and it's almost as if you'd put the camcorder on a tripod—and there's no obvious deterioration in quality, either. This feature was available last year, but it's still just as impressive. Take a look at our video of the Canon HF G10 if you don't believe me.
For sound recording, the HF G10 offers a choice between a line-in for an external mic or its own Dolby Digital AC-3 stereo mic. Canon's wireless mic is another alternative (see inset). Other connections include a mini-HDMI output and composite and component video ports. Your video is recorded in 24 Mbps AVCHD on 32 GB of internal memory, which leaves enough room for six hours of recording. If that still isn't enough, you can add up to two SDXC cards of Class 6 or above.