on November 21, 2011
There's a million articles around about all the merits and disadvantages of the multitude of options available on this camera (24p, full HD, AVCHD, compression, etc.). I'll leave those discussions alone. What I will say is that the quality of video produced by th G10 is outstanding. Wide dynamic range, beautiful low light (indoors), very acurate color - it's all there. A few subtle but key features make this a terrific camera: 58mm filter attachment (let's me access my SLR arsenal of filters), solid built in microphone (it's pretty darn good), light weight yet solid feel, beautiful display as well as a good electronic view finder, manual focus ring, and more.
My first outting (to the zoo) I set it to "Cinema" which defaults to 24p with a "dull" wide dynamic range filter. I was actually pretty disapointed with the picture, and the 24p doesn't do much for me (I rendered to Blu-Ray and played back on my Vizio HDTV). Next outting, I mounted a circular polarized filter on the lens and set the camera to M (Manual). I selected the highest bit rate (MXP) which produces full 1920x1080 and set the frame rate to 30p. Wow. On an overcast Novemeber day (here in Colorado), the footage was amazing. From motion, to dynamic range, to color reproduction the video is truly the best I've ever shot. Auto mode is fine as well, however I think it sets the frame rate to 60i, which I do not like (messy in editing).
I've also played around with some of the other features (there are a bunch of "filters" available in Cinema mode, which are pretty nice versions of standard NLE filters - I recommend doing this sort of thing in a NLE). The 8 blade iris does produce nice bokeh, although nothing like my f1.4 prime slr lens. The "teleMacro" feature happens automatically in AUTO mode, and I still don't see how it is any different than just zooming in with the apeture opened up.
I teach introductory video production using macs, but prefer a PC at home. I have not imported any video to my Mac yet, but the full HD video is cumbersome on my PC (Intel i7). This is not a reflection of the camera, but you should be aware that full HD is a beast. The Canon software seems like it might actually be useful for cataloging and importing (a first for Canon!).
Complaints: Not many. You will need to buy an additional battery. The lens hood is a great feature, but it seems flimsy. I would have prefered a full sized accesory shoe. I could have come up with a better place to put the headphone jack and the external microphone jack. I would also have added another "shoulder strap point" similar to an SLR. The touch screen is not a friendly as my iTouch (you have to press pretty hard). This also makes your preview screen constantly smudged. I often film from the hip, so I would have made the trigger button(start/stop) easier to push while holding this way.
Add ons: Get a bigger battery. Right away I slapped a 58mm UV protective filter on the end (keep the lens safe and clean). I bought an after-market lens cap with a keeper cord. I rigged a shoulder strap from some climbing gear (prusik cord and spectra sling) to keep it tied in (no drop!). I do intend to film some rock climbing from a static line, so I'm trying to figure out a good holster system to keep the camera safe while I jumar up and down. I'm looking at a simple slr zoom holster.
Summary: My last camcorder was a HV30. Great HDV camera, but the mechanism was noisy, and the image quality was pretty flat (no dynamic range). Plus, I'm done with 1440. While expensive, the G10 is a remarkable step up. Be prepared for cumbersome editing with full HD, but the improvement in quality and dynamic range, especially at low light as well as the "pro" feature set, make this camera well worth it.
UPDATE: Well, after three months, I'm even more impressed with the G10. I've learned alot more about the unit, and I think I'll retract my comments about 24f. You can access this in either P mode or the "cinema" mode, and you can also select the other frame rate options from either. I have stuck with 30P as my monitors and HDTV don't refresh at a multiple of 24 (and I just like 30fps more). I use (and teach) both mac and pcs for editing. I use the G10 for personal video, and I publish to blu-rays, so I have stuck to my PC so far for editing the video. I'll update more when I get around to putting some of the footage on my mac at work. A great camcorder - no doubt. You're only alternative is to spend a bunch more or go the DSLR video route (which has it's own advantages and disadvantages).
I noticed that when the internal memory starts filling up, it takes a few seconds to complete a full stop from writing the file. It's really not a problem, but a curiosity (could also be from so many files in one drive?). Any ideas?
UPDATE: I've gone on and imported video to an iMac and MacBook without problem. I've also had a chance to use a Canon HF400 (same sensor, smaller glass). I used the HF400 along with my G10 to film a concert. The video was clearly better using the G10. The biggest area of improvement in the G10 was the high contrast of the subjects on stage (black curtain behind them under high lights). The G10 handled it very well. The HF400 did not do a poor job, but some of the highlights were bleached and lost the good color that the G10 got just fine.