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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 September 19th, 2006, 01:43 AM   #1
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I haven't had much time to get good sample footage yet- just quick stuff around the house/yard- and need to get upload details from Chris- but here's my initial impressions of the HV10:
(keep in mind, I'm a prosumer home-movie wannabe mostly, not pro shooter w/ paying customers :) ) Also bear in mind I haven't done head-to-head comparisons of same shots/conditions w/ my old cameras yet, just going by previous experiences.

This thing looks very sweet, professional, cool, modern. Sleek.

- Autofocus: VERY good, and VERY fast (instant?). Practically no hunting.

Low light (at night even w/ streetlight), tree leaves , grass, etc. Seems extremely good and quick with either "instant AF" or the visual mode, but I haven't tried yet w/ A-IF off.
The manual forced-infinity setting is really handy.
It has manual focus, and a "focus assist" (zoom/enhance in viewscreen) mode, but it's so hard to keep the cam steady (esp on zoom) while pushing all the buttons, it's hard to say how useable it is. If you have a good solid tripod mount, and need very fine-tuned, it might be useful... otherwise, IAF is rock on.

I had a hard time focussing on anything closer than like 3-5', while zoomed in, eg flowers at my feet from standing height...
would love to have a kind of macro/close-up mode eg for flowers/nature and things... (looks AWESOME in HD) Maybe I have missed a configuration setting?


- Size/ergonomics: this thing is TINY. VERY small. Very cool looking...
Like, size of my palm. Basically 4", more square more than vertical form-factor.
Even the remote is tiny :) too small for AAA, uses a lithium watch batt.

May take some time to get used to the ergonomics, and difficult to press some of the "manual" buttons on the rear, esp w/ larger hands... I used my other hand both to steady it, and push the small buttons.

On the second use, it got MUCH better, both in comfort, holding steady, and accessing the buttons.
Take some time to adapt to it, and/or test drive in a store for a few times.
If you used to the same form-factor Eluras/Opturas, might be OK. (I'm used to horizontal form Optura Pi, so I'm a vertical newbie)
The zoom is a little awkward being on the side, not the top, harder to control w/ my index finger, esp compared to my Optura Pi... but it got better.
The camera does have thoughtful places to rest your other fingers on the front (under the A-IF sensor- careful, don't cover it!) and thumb (left of the power/mode dial).
If you do push buttons a lot, be careful to keep the camera steady.

I think/hope I will continue to improve as I get used to it...
and hope that hand position is comfortable even on long shoots. No way to tell yet.


- Image quality: very good. HD rocks :) Like taking 2MP stills at 60i :)
Very nice detail, color, sharpness, focus as mentioned. Noise appeared to be pretty low, compared to other Optura/ZR models, esp indoors and low light (even night time)... there was some, but it is so fine-grain in HD res & kind of multicolored, it's not as noticeable. I think adjusting the white balance helped? Need more experimentation/comparison.
But comparing to "fake" 16:9 widescreen shot modes in DV cams (which seem very noisy to me), this is no comparison.
I used 40x dig zoom, and looked surprisingly nice (less noisy/jaggy than the regular ZR dv mode?) Pretty usable, if you really want the closeup.

Man, flora looks awesome in HD, you can see fuzzy hairs and ants crawling... spider web strands... and read fine print on papers... :)

The still shots (I used both 2MP simultaneous-recording and still-only mode 3MP) look very good, almost as good as my Canon PowerShot S30 (also 2/3MP.) But, I get a 10x zoom and OIS :) They have a tiny "video" feel to it, very slight.
Flash works pretty well, need to test/compare more...
Without flash, fully zoomed, the still mode seems to have much more noise than the video or comparable still cam...? need to double-check, since some wide shots looked fine w/o flash (bit brighter indoor light)... maybe I had it fully dig. zoomed also, will check.
Rest of the pics looked very nice, in decent indoor (70w CFLs) or outdoors.

So far I would feel comfortable so far leaving my Powershot at home, using this for stills...

- Battery: VERY short. Another batt or AC mode is very important.
I ran it in HDV mode, w/ LCD screen but brightness/backlight off, recorded about 20mins, plus playback/capture to PC few times, and it was dead.
BUY THE EXTRA BP-315 BATTERY. Or two...

Misc observations:
Night mode was VERY good, surprisingly- VERY slow shutter/strobe effect, but if you held the shot still, it somehow locked in the light, focus and detail and got a surprisingly good picture. Many times brighter than natural eyes, and kept the colors ok. Some strange blue-tinged snow appeared occasionally.
Even in regular "auto" mode, parts that had some decent light looked pretty good. I can imagine the sample Japan night street shots posted earlier are valid.
The "sunset" and "fireworks" scene modes seemed nice, but I was at night with no fireworks, merely streetlights :)

Playback has some very nice features... intuitive use of T/W zoom control to go to index mode for still shots on card (like other newer canons), plus you can zoom into still shots AND HD VIDEO!! during playback, with surprisingly nice quality. Can even use the set/adj dial to position the zoom frame!
Cool to use slow-speed playback, zoom in, on that cool sharp detail...

I didn't notice any panning jerks w/ the OIS; got a little bit when I started a pan with a shake or wobble, but if I did it smooth, seemed OK. Need more testing esp on a good tripod to really tell, but I couldn't notice much.

But, esp w/ HD video and so much (sumptious) detail for viewers to absorb, you REALLY want to linger and move slowly... let it soak in... pans and zooms will also blur all that nice HD sharp detail :)

I want to try DV modes later, both down-sampling the HDV on PC firewire capture, and native-recording... and compare that to my Optura Pi DV quality... would be very nice to have the high quality sensor/source image, but DV ease of use. Especially if the HDV->DV capture downconversion is very good, might work well to record in HDV for future on tape, but capture/edit in DV (for DVD or other SD distribution) , making for much lighter load on PC editing software etc.

One quirk I noticed- may likely be more with my editing SW , or maybe w/ HDV format in general- but Ulead MSPro8 didn't seem to utilize the DV-type metadata (timestamp/scene info), with HDV connection/footage. I can't display the shot time-of-day info in the editor, and split-by-scene reverts to "content" scan, not shot timestamp. I tend to like using that data, esp. for home movie stuff, to quickly find the date of an archived shot, plusing using the DV scan/index... no more instant, frame-accurate shot scene splitting may be a loss to my edit workflow :(

The camera does have analog in, both recording (to SD DV) as well as analog in->DV firewire digital out transcoding, BUT: there is no S-video port, only composite. Haven't tested that yet to see what the quality is like.

Zebra stripe feature worked nicely, but I'm not a pro to compare it.
I didn't touch any of the Tv/Av aperture/exp pri modes, just P-AE manual for eg manual focus etc.
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Old September 19th, 2006, 06:06 AM   #2
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Thanks Colin, some good info there.
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Old September 19th, 2006, 07:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
I had a hard time focussing on anything closer than like 3-5', while zoomed in, eg flowers at my feet from standing height.
Try going wide and moving closer. The focus seems to work better that way.
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Old September 19th, 2006, 10:07 AM   #4
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Zoom out all the way to full wide. Move the camera and put it very close to your subject. Now you should be able to focus right up to the glass on the lens. This type of built-in Macro mode is found on just about every Canon camcorder ever made.
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Old September 19th, 2006, 01:57 PM   #5
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Using Remote

Thanks for the report Colin. You may want to try zooming with the remote in the other hand, to allow for smoother effects, this helped me greatly with the Sony HC3 on my one-handed mountain vacation hikes... Awaiting my B&H, HC3 for HV-10 exchange.
Cheers,
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Old September 19th, 2006, 02:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd
Zoom out all the way to full wide. Move the camera and put it very close to your subject. Now you should be able to focus right up to the glass on the lens. This type of built-in Macro mode is found on just about every Canon camcorder ever made.

Thanks for the tip- worked great. Lots of (short) sample flower closeups now, easier to post, once I edit some fluff out :) Hmm, I need some more interesting bugs, I can start my own DiscoveryHD channel!
Never knew this worked, thanks!! though I wouldn't otherwise have thought/bothered to do a macro closeup w/ video, DV/SD res isn't that inspiring... but in HD, it looks delicious...

should have taken the camera to work today for some "sparkling water in sunlight" pics and some of canada geese eating and such...
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Old September 19th, 2006, 02:47 PM   #7
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Colin, is it possible to post your MPEG2 streams instead of transcoded clips? That would really be good to get a handle on real detail. If this is what you are planning then ignore the Email.
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Old September 20th, 2006, 12:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wes Vasher
Colin, is it possible to post your MPEG2 streams instead of transcoded clips? That would really be good to get a handle on real detail. If this is what you are planning then ignore the Email.
I will post only MPEG2 streams- no editing/altering- they will be cut edit only to trim off junk and shorten length/shrink the file size.
I will use MSPro8's "Smart Render" which does not re-encode unaltered portions of the timeline. It should only trim the cut edit points, then copy the mpeg stream in between.

quick comment re the camcorder review:

I took some lower light shots tonight of outdoors before dusk, w/ some flowers in the shade, plus some indoors of my infant, have some others of toys etc. This w/ just inside lighting (5x60w equiv CFLs, or dimmed 2x90w floods). They looked pretty good to me noise/quality wise, but I'm not shooting a test card, and I don't have a light meter, sorry :) will try to post soon.

So far looking at the low-light still shots, there is a lot of video noise on the "simultaneous" still shots (taken while video is being recorded.)
However, so far, the VIDEO looks fine to me. I will try to compare it to my Optura Pi DV , which is significantly less noisy than the ZRs (esp in 16:9)...
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Old September 20th, 2006, 01:18 AM   #9
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Split out from the Joe Russ thread -- this needed to stand on its own.

Colin I've sent you the upload account info -- thanks in advance!
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Old September 20th, 2006, 02:35 AM   #10
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My eyes are drooling !!

Let's see some footage :)



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Old September 20th, 2006, 11:27 AM   #11
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Sample HV10 footage: exterior daytime flower closeups, some stills

OK, finally trimmed down some shots to acceptable length;
1:30min, ~300mb, trimmed-only MPG2 (smart-rendered from Ulead MSPro8), eg video is NOT altered/re-rendered except by cuts.

http://media.dvinfo.net/canonxh/cgHV10_dayFlowers.mpg

These are exterior shots, in bright morning sunlight, (obviously) handheld...
used wide-angle and up-close "macro"-style shots (thanks for tip guys), w/ some pans & small zooms, to get an idea of detail/focus on them... I saw little blurring or jerking.

Final scene (orchid) is indoors, natural lighting, you can watch the focus adjust a bit.

I didn't do any fancy settings, think was on auto, or P-AE but no adjustments.

Enjoy! :)

Later I will try to post some lower-light indoor clips, and pre-dusk exterior shots, to show the color/noise on lower light shots (looked fine to me, but not sure how many lux.) I have some pure-night shots (streetlight only) as well. Bear with me as my Comcast upload speed is verrry slow... and editing is sloww right now..

I also posted some still shots, plus similar shots done by my Canon PowerShot S30 (2MP) still camera, to compare...
one shot is a low-light "simultaneous still capture" during video recording, that is the only case where I've seen really unacceptable noise. The video recording at the same time was fine.
I'll give URLs to those ones later, so you can click/view each matching shot w/ comments next to each other...

or you can browse the raw index at
http://media.dvinfo.net/canonxh/

So far I really like the camera, detail and color clarity is really gorgeous.

I don't have any complaints about low(indoor) light video quality, I'm not expecting pristine, but it really looks better than DV ones that I recall.

(I made some comparison shots on my Optura Pi, plus also re-captured the HV10 footage in "DV-lock" downres mode, to compare DV quality, but that's not edited yet. The HV10 looks fine in DV-lock mode, has all the DV timestamp/control etc features in MSPro8 that I expect, so that's an interesting note.)

The main downside I'm thinking of now is the small size & orientation/button ergonomics... that was mentioned in the camcorder.info review... if you have smallish hands, and occasionally use both, I think you can get used to it. I'm not very favorably inclined to Sony touch-screen ergonomics either, so it's a personal choice/tossup... but you might want to have a few tries in the store to see how it works for you. Try a few times as you get used to it.


One item to note, re mic placement/no jack- as a mostly point&shoot user I don't have too much complaints about the missing jack, but I was worried about the top placement- previous Canons have had tape motor noise problems.
The HV10 does NOT appear to have this problem- maybe a VERY faint whine- MUCH less than the ZRs or my Optura.
Listen especially during the last clip, the indoor orchid. Nearly silent. :)
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Old September 20th, 2006, 12:06 PM   #12
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quick low light clip

I am uploading a <30sec , 75mb nighttime clip, no lighting except indirect streetlights; cars are about 40'+? away, streetlight farther down street on opposite side.
Handheld so you can check out focus and OIS in dark shots.
Sorry the cars were silver and white, can't check out the color in low light :)

http://media.dvinfo.net/canonxh/cgHV...tlightOnly.mpg

Upload is done.
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Old September 20th, 2006, 05:50 PM   #13
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WOW !!!!!!


Wow to the quality and wow to a 298mb file, took around 3 hours to make its way to my computer, but it was worth the wait !!!!

Great detail and colour and I could see the instant focus work on the orchid at the end, it dropped in and out of focus within 1 frame, that's 1/30 of a second at NTSC !!!!!! Instant indeed.

One strange thing is that the files appear to be 1440*810 when opened in Quicktime Pro, everything else sees it fine (VLC, MPEG Streamclip etc etc) The more I use Quicktime Pro the more I find it falling behind the far superior freeware offerings like VLC, anyhow back on topic !!!!!!


Thanks a bunch Colin, amazing stuff for a small hand held camera, truely stunning !!!!!.




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Old September 20th, 2006, 05:59 PM   #14
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The quality of the image is simply outstanding in day light. Night shots were as expected: grainy but things are discernible.

It seems that Canon has paved the way to their future right here..
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Old September 20th, 2006, 06:20 PM   #15
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Yup, it's got just a gorgeous picture.
I kept hitting slow-mo on the remote during playback on my HDTV, cuz I wanted to soak up the eyecandy :) Funnest part was noticing all the ants/spiders/bugs I had missed during taping, harder to miss them on 55" screen!

Sorry about the file size, but it's the raw HDV MPEG stream... runs about 200MB/minute. !!
Took me 2hrs to upload :)
I didn't want to introduce any compression artifacts or confusion over quality (as requested.)
I might try redoing it to WMV-HD or something to see if it's much smaller, now that people have "proof" of the raw quality.

The "visual" refocus on the orchid (middle of shot) is about the slowest it goes. I have a short clip I did forcing a full refocus on the streetlight-lit curb, eg at night low light, and it was pretty fast / no hunting. I need to try it w/ Instant sensor off to be sure, but I doubt the sensor could measure a flat/parallel curb 30' away at night..?
I did test shots of trees, leaves blowing in the wind, panning across grass w/ parallax, and the focus and quality held up very well. Not quite as pretty as flowers but still impressive :)

The camera sees 1920x1080, but it records/HDV is only 1440x1080. (was 810 a typo?)
Maybe this gives it a clarity/sharpness edge over the Sony HCs, from the sample clips/comments so far..

I too find VLC has been the best playback so far, will play m2t transport files as well.
Looks great on my Viewsonic 20"widescreen...

I will try to post some nice still-frame shots later to avoid bandwidth/long downloads, (and yes, the video quality is pretty much the same as those stills), or just small tiny snippets;
I do still have one 200mb/1min "average/poor" interior lighting shot w/ lots of colorful toys, if people can stand the large up/download... (Thanks Chris for hosting!! )
(Hmm, too bad YouTube doesn't take HD ;) )
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