33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
A great camera, but a bit of an anomoly
, April 16, 2011
This review is from: Canon VIXIA HF G10 Full HD Camcorder with HD CMOS Pro and 32GB Internal Flash Memory (Electronics)
I've owned the Canon HFS200 camcorder for a while, and recently decided to upgrade. Not that the HFS200 isn't a great camera - it's just that the quality gap between it and my still cameras seems to be more and more noticeable. Dynamic range and high ISO noise, for example, are more like a point-and-shoot with the HFS200 than with a high-end DSLR.
Looking at the choices, it seems like there are two ways to go: wait for prosumer models like the new Canon HF G10, or take the step and invest in true professional gear.
The HF G10 has a lot going for it. I like that Canon actually went to a lower resolution, optimized for HD at 1920 x 1080. This means each pixel site is larger, giving you much better low light performance and dynamic range. For this feature alone, I'd recommend the HF G10 over the older models.
In addition, the HF G10 offers better battery performance, has 32GB of internal memory plus dual SD slots, and a more sophisticated lens than previous models. The new lens features a rounded, 8 blade diaphragm, making those out of focus parts of your scenes look smoother - no more out of focus hexagons, common with the older lenses. The new lens is wonderful in manual operation, if you want to manually focus as you follow a subject. Many of the other features - image stabilization, auto focus accuracy and so on - aren't appreciably different than the previous generation products (which were already quite excellent).
In terms of construction quality, the HF G10 is about as good as anything you'll find in the prosumer space. It's solid when you pick it up, but lots of plastic parts, and I doubt it would survive getting caught in a dust storm or rain shower. Still, the viewfinder and built-in monitor are high quality and make it easy to frame and compose your shots.
Picture and sound quality are of course stunning, and it's easy to import video into your favorite editing software.
About the only hesitation I had was around the video codec and bit rate. Many people evaluate cameras based on resolution (1920x1080/30p, for example), but another important dimension is bitrate, since that gives you a sense of how heavily compressed the images are. You can have 1920x1080/30p at many different bitrates...consumer camcorders do 10-18 Mbps, higher end products tend to go up to 20-25 Mbps and broadcast quality systems are 40 Mbps and up. The HF G10 is 24 Mbps at its highest setting.
Where the dilemma comes in is that Canon's pro-grade XF100 HD (for instance) is based on essentially the exact same technology as the HF G10, but it includes 4:2:2 color sampling and a codec that goes up to 50 Mbps. It's also more expensive, however.
If the HF G10 offered the codec found in the XF100, I'd give it my unconditional recommendation. As is, while the HF G10 is by all measures a wonderful product, you still might want to consider the higher-end XF100 for absolutely best image quality. Definitely recommended, with that one footnote, however.
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