Canon HF10 Review at DVinfo.net

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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
For VIXIA / LEGRIA Series (HF G, HF S, HF and HV) consumer camcorders.


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Old April 26th, 2008, 11:49 PM   #1
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Canon HF10 Review

In case someone is toying with the idea of getting the Canon HF10 solid state HD camcorder, here are some of my impressions:

THE GOOD:

After I made some movie clips I went home to see how they turned out (you can't judge on the tiny camcorder display). So I hooked up the cam to my hd tv, and YES, it's high-definition, just like I know it from National Geographic or the Discovery Channel: The picture clarity & resolution are amazing!! At this point I knew that I made the right decision to dump my previous standard-resolution camcorder.

I got rather anxious when I connected the cam to my Mac as I had a hard time getting my previous JVC camcorder to communicate with my Mac. Big surprise here: I started iMovie, connected the cam to the Mac using the USB cable. The camcorder detects the Mac and asked me on the display if I want to transfer files to my "PC" (ok, it's a Mac and not a PC ... Canon doesn't seem to know the difference). I clicked on yes, and all the clips showed up in iMovie, and I could import them right away. Transfer was very fast and without a hitch, I am a very happy camper!!

- Solid state recording is the way to go. Imagine, no moving parts except the autofocus and aperture! You can record as long as you have tiny SD chips. With the built-in 16GB solid state, you can record about 5 hrs of HD footage in "standard mode" (there are two higher resolution modes I didn't bother to check out yet). Love it! Don't get me wrong, hard drives are a great recording media, but hard drives inevitably fail at some point. I expect that the built-in solid state memory of the HV10 will outlive most other components.

- Nice build quality. Even though the cam is tiny, it looks & feels great.

- The image quality is SUPERB. Colors are natural.

- The "snap autofocus" works extremely well. It's amazing how fast it is. Here is some footage:

http://www.vimeo.com/945150

- Macro: I don't have much experience with camcorders, but it is normal that a camcorder can focus right up to lens??When I press the lens against my pants, I can see all individual threads of the fiber, almost like a microscope! Here are examples:

http://www.vimeo.com/945148

- The OIS works VERY well. Sometimes the image drifts a bit, but overall, this is the best OIS I have seen on a comsumer/prosumer camcorder. The OIS was the decisive factor why I didn't buy the JVC HD7 or HD6 and I don't regret my decision.

- Power up in 1.8 sec! Show me the cam that can beat that. Nothing beats solid state recording (no waiting for a hard drive or tape drive to boot up and be ready).

- The 24p "cinema" setting is actually quite useful. I didn't expect much from that setting, but the different colors/gamma and frame rate give scenes a much more "film-esque" feel & look. On the Canon web site or manuals, there is no mentioning of a different gamma during the cinema setting, but it's actually more important than the 24p frame rate! The color are more mellow, the sky is not washed out, you can see details in the shadows -- wonderful! I am not sure if it's my imagination, but the video looks "softer" to me and has less of a harsh digital video quality. This will be my standard setting. Here are two stills images side by side which show the 60i and 24p settings so you can judge for youself:

http://www.mouthpiecemuseum.com/Misc...10_60i_24p.jpg

Note that the sky is not washed out in the 24p mode, the shadows have more detail, and the colors seems mode mellow.

Here are clips that show standard "60i AE" and the "24P cinema mode" footage:

http://www.vimeo.com/945037

- The built-in microphones are well placed (at the front below the lens), work well and give a wide stereo image and clear & crisp sound. Wind is not a major problem. Bravo, Canon! I bought an Audio Technica Pro24 mic which I expected to sound much better, but I haven't tried it yet.

- The low light performance is good. Event though the footage gets a bit grainy, you can actually film at night under natural light conditions. Under low light conditions you can clearly see the advantage of the large CMOS detector compared to the smaller CCDs of the JVC series of camcorders (which measure only 1/5"). It makes a BIG difference as larger detectors capture more light. Below is a link to some low-light footage:

http://www.vimeo.com/945048

- The standard battery is fully charged within 10-min or so, which seems very fast. It lasts for about 85-min, which is OK for a standard battery, I guess.

THE BAD:

- What was Canon thinking when they decided to put a "miniature accessory shoe" on the camcoder?? So it's "intelligent" -- who cares?? Nothing will fit except the one single microphone that Canon offers and the single one video light that Canon sells -- big bummer. Also, the location of the accessory shoe is weird, right at the end of the camcorder (above the battery). If you put a mic in the shoe, it's right above the zoom button!!!

- Wide angle: The wide angle zoom is not wide enough. The JVC HD3/5/6/7 has a much better wide angle lens! That's one of the few things JVS got right: The lens!

- The on/off button is hard to press and at a weird location at the top of the body on the left hand side (while all other camcorder controls that you need to film are on the right side). I have to use my finger nails to switch the camcorder on (and I don't even have butcher's hands)!

- There are not enough manual controls. You have to zap through the entire menu (using the joystick) if you want to change a setting (e.g., if you want to change the 3.5mm plug from "AV" to "headphone" mode, or if you want to select shutter/aperture priority). We needs buttons, switches and dials! Speaking of buttons ... the zoom button is very small. The zoom works well (you can chose between variable and three fixed zoom speeds), but the button is way too small.

- The tripod thread is at the front end of the cam, not at the center of gravity. This strikes me as very odd! Ok, I admit that the Canon designers must have had a hard time finding space for things like this, but I don't get it: Put the tripod thread and accessory shoe somewhere in the middle!

- OIS: I don't know if this is inherent in OIS (and maybe someone else can chime in here), but I observed a weird thing: when I shoot a house with my shaky hands, the bricks of the house are moving/shaking, but the outline and edges of the house are stable. Is OIS based on an edge-detection algorithm and does it only correct detected edges?? Very very strange!

- Lends cap: It might sound petty, but I don't want a lens cap that closed automatically when I switch off the cam or close the display. I am old enbough to decide if I want to put a lens cap on the lens or not.

- Right out of the box, the battery wasn't charged and only good for 3-min. Why don't they charge the batteries before they ship them?

- No manual focus. Big bummer.

- I wish the body was made of a more durable material (magnesium, aluminum) than plastic. It's only a matter of time until it will be scratched. Let's hope that it is durable enough.

Overall, I am very happy with the cam and feel that I made the right decision. When you watch the above movie clips, keep in mind that VIMEO down-samples the movies. The actual movies look way better. Also, all clips were shot with a monopod, not tripod was used. The clips have not been edited other than imported in iMovie and exported to mov files using MPEG4 compression.
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Old April 27th, 2008, 02:05 AM   #2
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Hey Stefan, thanks for the review! Been waiting for someone to review this tiny HF10. Looking forward for another review using DOF adapter/35mm adapter... wait... what?? no manual focus??
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Old April 27th, 2008, 03:53 AM   #3
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Stefan, two of the vimeo videos you link are protected and not viewable by us.

>- No manual focus. Big bummer.

I believe there is manual focus via the menu, not via an external rolling button as in the HV20. All Canon cameras have that, even the $180 ZR800. :)
It's on the same menu as the exposure menu, no?
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Old April 27th, 2008, 04:58 AM   #4
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Stefan,

Thanks for all these details.

It produce good colours but I have question for you, at 00.07( I am refering this video: http://www.vimeo.com/945037 ) why your video look too bright? The round part of building is so bright, it gives more over exposure, was this in auto mode?

And at 00.15 in 24 cinem mode exposer was better sky was looking good though the top of round building was little little over exposed, not much.

And at 00.18 the passage man walks on is so bright!

And last portion at 00.35 it looks better , the colours, sky, passage and etc, but then the tress are loosing some dfination, it showes generally dark portion witought any defination, and the moment when 24p applied from 00.41 till end video looks very good!

So 24p is giving real video, and I am afraid we try to reduce exposer than what would be dark portion would look like? If gives more darker than its very bad!

In 24p the exposer look perfact, but then in 60i it looks more bright!

What was the settings? This was in manual mode? Or auto?

I have Canon HV20 & JVC GZHD7, both are very good, but I am more comfotable with JVC GZHD7, it has fantastic manual features! For me OIS in JVC GZHD7 was never big issue!

And you wrote you that you did't buy JVC GZHD7 or JVC GZHD6, because of poor OIS, I do agrre with you that JVC GZHD7's OIS is less effective, but then other side you have so many advantages in HD7! And HD6, has 120GB HDD and I have read some reviews of HD6, and it said that in current all HD camera HD6 has the best OIS system! And it has x.v.Colour( better than traditional sRGB system) system and 1080p output to your TV!

Maybe HD6 could have been also good buy, anyway as long as you are happy everything id fine.

Kaushik
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Old April 27th, 2008, 10:09 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaushik Parmar View Post
Maybe HD6 could have been also good
Hi Kaushik,

Yes, the HD6 could have been a good buy and it was among the last two on my shortlist. In the end, I couldn't justify another $300 for the HD6, especially since it didn't offer anything substantial that the HD10 didn't have either. It also lacks the "24p cinema" mode which is very useful. If the HD6 had the manual focus ring like the HD7, it would have been a no brainer. The wide angle of the HD6 lens is nice, though.

Quote:
It produce good colours but I have question for you, at 00.07( I am refering this video: http://www.vimeo.com/945037 ) why your video look too bright?
The camcorder tried to find a balance between the shadows in the trees and the bright building and sky.

Quote:
What was the settings? This was in manual mode? Or auto?
All settings were auto.

Cheers
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Old April 27th, 2008, 10:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eugenia Loli-Queru View Post
Stefan, two of the vimeo videos you link are protected and not viewable by us.
Which ones? They all work fine for me.

Quote:
>- No manual focus. Big bummer.

I believe there is manual focus via the menu...
Yes, that's true. What I meant was no external focus controls.

Time to build that 35mm adapter, huh? ;)
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Old April 27th, 2008, 10:26 AM   #7
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945150 and 945048 are marked private and cannot be viewed by others

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefan Immler View Post
Which ones? They all work fine for me.
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Old April 27th, 2008, 10:27 AM   #8
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Thanks a bunch for this review, Stefan -- moved from Canon HV30 to AVCHD.
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Old April 27th, 2008, 10:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bert Na View Post
945150 and 945048 are marked private and cannot be viewed by others
Sorry about that. I changed the settings, so you can watch the videos now.
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Old April 27th, 2008, 01:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefan Immler View Post
- OIS: I don't know if this is inherent in OIS (and maybe someone else can chime in here), but I observed a weird thing: when I shoot a house with my shaky hands, the bricks of the house are moving/shaking, but the outline and edges of the house are stable. Is OIS based on an edge-detection algorithm and does it only correct detected edges?? Very very strange!
This does seem really strange. Did you check this out several times and/or under several different conditions. I've only played with the HF10 in stores so far, but didn't notice anything like this.

It is certainly possible that due to lens distortions, that one point on the image might be perfectly corrected and others less so, but it's hard to imagine so much of this that it would be so easily visible.
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Old April 27th, 2008, 03:27 PM   #11
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>Which ones? They all work fine for me

Right now they all do. Last night two of them didn't work.
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Old April 28th, 2008, 12:26 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefan Immler View Post

Yes, that's true. What I meant was no external focus controls.
Actually you could consider it external control in that the joystick selects maual focus and then is used to adjust focus.

That is if it is the same as the HF100 (and the only difference between the HF10 and HF100 is supposed to be the internal flash memory on the HF10) pressing in on the joystick activates the joystick menu guide, then the joystick is used to rotate through EXP, FOCUS, and MIC. Push in again to select and left or right to adjust the selected mode.
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Old April 28th, 2008, 10:52 AM   #13
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Just got my HF10 on Saturday for the sale price $999 minus an additional 10% off at BestBuy, so a pretty good deal! Use the savings to buy the 4 year all-peril warranty, have extra battery, charger, and microphone on their way from 47th St. Photo.

Here's some 30p video I shot with it yesterday of friends playing at the Auld Dubliner pub in Long Beach, CA. After doing several tests in Spotlight mode, I ended up using primarily the footage shot in 1/30 shutter priority (Tv) mode:

http://www.vimeo.com/950398

Seems to me that the HF10 has slightly lower noise than the HV20 at equivalent gain-up. Hard to quantify but I really expected some of these shots to be noisier than they are given the lighting conditions so that's a very pleasant surprise!

I'm really pleased with the HF10, was concerned about it possibly being a moderate step down from the HV20, but it is working exactly as I had hoped.

The most recent updates to Cineform HDV that are optimized for use with CoreAVC really have made it very simple and predictable for me to use the HF10 with my workflow.



Cheers,

Michael
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Old April 28th, 2008, 11:36 AM   #14
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Hi Michael --

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Eskin View Post
Just got my HF10 on Saturday for the sale price $999 minus an additional 10% off at BestBuy, so a pretty good deal!
I paid the same, and also bought a high capacity battery, a microphone (AT Pro24, haven't tried it out yet), and Cokin A filter holder with a bunch of filters.

Nice! The audio is clear as well, not bad. Which microphone did you buy? Did you use the external mic for the audio?
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Old April 28th, 2008, 11:48 AM   #15
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This was shot with the built-in mike on the camera using the camera auto-level for the sound. Not too bad!

I have the Canon DM-100 on order, should arrive the end of the week.
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