Canon in HD
No more tape? Not for Canon’s new Vixia HF10. It records directly to a built-in Flash memory. As if that weren’t enough, the HF10 also offers high-definition video recording at a 1920×1080 resolution.
Right away, as I pull the sleek black camcorder out of the box, I notice how small it is and how well it fits in my hand. Weighing in at just over 15 ounces with memory card and battery, the Canon Vixia HF10 offers a small package for what appears to be a powerful camera.
From the front, we see the f1.8-3.0 12x zoom lens sitting right above the stereo microphone. To the right of the microphone is an LED-powered camera light for shooting in low-light conditions. To the right and slightly above is a built-in flash for taking still images – a huge plus.
Turning the camera to the right, we see the USB as well as mini HDMI output located right under the hand strap. Above and just to the left, we see the mode selector for still, video, video capture and still capture mode.
The back of the camera houses the record button and battery, as well as the DC input and AV output. Above the AV output is a 1/8″ microphone input, which is one of the great features of the HF10. You rarely find microphone inputs on consumer-grade cameras, so this feature automatically puts the HF10 a step above the rest in terms of functionality.
Looking at the camera on the left side with the LCD window open, we see the SD card slot followed by the component output. Above, we see that Canon has included an “easy button,” a feature similar to that of Sony camcorders, which basically makes the camera do everything for you automatically. Next to that is the battery display button. Looking over to the LCD screen, we see the function and playback control buttons. Also on the LCD screen is a thumb stick used in most features, including the manual controls.
Finally, from the top, we see the power on/off button, photo button, zoom rocker switch and the mini advanced hot-shoe.
When I turned the camera power button on, the first thing I noticed was that there is no viewfinder, just a 2.7″ LCD screen for viewing. Of course, the absence of the viewfinder plays a part in making the camera such a compact size. On a camera this small, you hardly miss a viewfinder.
I first tested the camera indoors, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well the HF10’s automatic white balance, focus and exposure quickly adjusted to the environment, allowing even the most inexperienced user to capture good video. The lack of light for my test shot did force the camera to increase the exposure gain, which introduced a slight loss of saturation and an increase of noise, but overall the HF10 performed quite well indoors. The LED video light works well only for short distance shots, but, in a pinch, this little light could be
My next test of the camera took place outside, and again the automatic features quickly adjusted the camera to the appropriate settings. The color came through vivid and true. I was also pleased at the contrast ratio that came through in the image.
Although it is somewhat cumbersome to use, the Vixia HF10 does offer manual focus, white balance, shutter speed and exposure. When you activate these functions in the menu settings, you can adjust them by using the thumb stick.
Once the video clips are completed, they are stored and easily accessed from the HF10’s internal 16-gigabyte Flash drive by simply selecting from a series of thumbnails viewed on the 2.7″ LCD viewfinder. The video, played back on a 37″ LCD HDTV, came through with crisp, vibrant color and a nice sharp picture.
I’m quite impressed at the quality from such a compact little camera. The audio also comes through very clearly and concisely. You may want to consider getting an external microphone to take advantage of the microphone input, but for quick and easy use, the built-in microphone works quite well.
The Final Word
The Canon Vixia HF10 is a compact HD camcorder with a sleek and solid design. It offers ease of use mixed with high-quality results. The built-in Flash memory drive can hold over 2 hours of video at the highest quality setting (AVCHD, 17 megabits per second at 1920×1080 resolution) and over 6 hours at the lowest-quality setting (5 megabits per second).
The versatility and usability make the HF10 a great option for beginners, as well as advanced users looking to produce semi-professional video or just simply to document a family vacation.
Sensor: 1/3.2″ CMOS sensor (RGB primary color filter)
Lens: 12x HD video zoom lens
Focal Length: 4.8-57mm
Zoom: 12x optical/200x digital
Filter Size: 37mm
Storage: Internal 16GB Flash memory/SDHC memory
Audio: Dolby Digital 2-channel (AC-3 2-channel)
Image Stabilization: Optical
Line In: No
Manual Controls: White balance, focus, exposure
Built-In Speaker: Yes
Built-In Mic: Yes
Accessory Shoe: Mini advanced shoe
Built-In Light/Flash: Flash/LED video light
Mic Input: Yes
Output: HDMI (type C), A/V (mini), USB 2.0, component
Headphone: AV terminal
Dimensions: 2.9″x2.5″x5.1″ (WxHxD)
Weight: 13.4 oz
- Compact size
- Sleek design
- Flash memory storage
- Light, hard to hold still
The small and lightweight Canon Vixia HF10 packs enough punch with its sharp images to compete with the big boys.
Brent Holland is a wedding/event video producer and owner of a video production company.
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