Canon HF10 Saint John NB
Saint John, NB
The HF10 is Canon's first flash-based HD camcorder. It has 16GB of built-in memory, which means you can store around three hours of video at the highest quality setting. There's also an SDHC memory card slot, so you can add extra storage if you need it. Choosing where to store recordings is easy, and you can copy video from the internal memory to an SDHC card and vice versa.
This AVCHD camcorder has a maximum resolution of 1,920x1,080 and can record at 25fps in progressive scan mode. It has a maximum bit rate of 17Mbit/s, which is fairly typical for AVCHD models. It coped well in a wide range of lighting conditions, and was very capable when it came to switching focus and exposure levels quickly. Colours looked bright and vibrant, and there was plenty of detail in the sharply defined video. In this last respect it outperforms Panasonic's HDC-SD9, which produces softer-looking footage. However, we've yet to see an AVCHD camcorder with image quality to compete with that of MiniDV-based HDV camcorders, especially when it comes to panning shots and motion within the frame.
The HF10 is sturdy but still lightweight at just 380g. The battery sits flush with the rear and lasted for a respectable 81 minutes of continuous recording. A larger battery can be fitted, but this would protrude outwards. There's no viewfinder, so you'll have to rely on the 211,000-pixel LCD to compose your shots. It's comfortable to hold for long periods of time, with a wrist strap as well as the usual hand strap to help prevent any accidental falls.
Its compact design puts it in direct competition with Panasonic's excellent HDC-SD9. The HF10 is a little larger and heavier, but has some useful extras that may interest enthusiasts, such as a microphone input and a small proprietary accessory shoe. However, there's no manual focus dial, as seen on Canon's HV30. The 12x optical zoom is impressive in such a small device, and optical image stabilisation is included to improve handheld shooting.
The layout of the controls isn't revolutionary, but everything is exactly where you'd expect. A dedicated power button is provided, so you can turn the HF10 on and off without having to fiddle with a mode dial. This is the first HD camcorder from Canon to include an Easy mode, previously seen only on its standard- definition models. It's a fully automatic setting for point-and-shoot simplicity. It's clear that Canon is aiming the HF10 at casual users.
The HF10 sits somewhere between the enthusiast's Canon HV30 and the more point-and-shoot Panasonic HDC-SD9. You could argue that this makes it the perfect camcorder, but it's considerably more expensive than the HDC-SD9, so you'll need to make the most of its larger storage capability and other features to justify the extra expenditure.
16GB flash memory and SDHC storage, 12x optical zoom, 1/3.2in 3.31-megapixel CMOS, 2.7in LCD screen, mini HDMI, component, composite and phono output, USB2 interface, one-year RTB warranty
Author: Seth Barton