Canon HV10 HDV Camcorder Review

This Canon Camcorder Is Small But Fierce

Canon has finally put the power of HD into the hands of all consumers with the HV10. Weighing in at just 15.5 ounces, the world’s smallest HD camera can literally fit into the palm of your hand. Its sleek design is perfect for beginners, point and shoot consumers, or those who want to capture HD quality footage without a lot of hassle. Although this Canon camcorder has some questionable design aspects to it, a host of features like instant auto focus, optical image stabilizer and fantastic picture quality may be enough to out weigh its flaws.

The Feel of the HV 10 Canon Camcorder

The first thing we noticed after taking it out of the box was the sleek design and size. Sizing in at 2.1 inches by 3.5 inches by 1.1 inches it does indeed make for a good travel companion. We even tried on a few jackets to see if Canon’s pocket-sized camcorder claim was true. It was. Getting started seemed straightforward enough. The battery (which has about an hour and 15 minutes of life,) snaps right onto the left side, below the LCD viewfinder. We found this to be a bonus because it keeps the battery out of your way. At first we found it a bit hard to get a comfortable grip on the camcorder because of the size, but once situated you are ready to start recording HD quality images.

The Menu Controls are placed on the back of the camera which in itself is ok, but the buttons come very close to being flush against the backing, making them hard to push. Although an inconvenience, the HV10 is perfectly at home taking beautiful pictures on automatic modes, which you can switch on and off with a lever right below the record button, minimizing the need to fumble through menu options.

The HV10 captures HD through the HDV format, so you’re still recording onto a Mini DV tape. The tape itself loads into the bottom of the camcorder, which is also where you mount the camera onto a tripod, so you have to remove the camera from the tripod to reload the tape, which is a bit annoying.

So How Does the HV10 Canon Camcorder Perform?

Despite any design annoyances consumers may find handling the HV10, the picture quality it captures is undeniably top notch. The camera records at 1080i/60 16:9 mode, using a 1/ 2.7″ CMOS chip with 2.7 mega pixels. The HV10 scored high marks with a -sharp-and vivid image. Along with sophisticated technology to help you capture great footage, the HV10 Canon camcorder also has a host of attributes to further help you reach that goal.

The Canon HV10 camcorder comes with some impressive features such as Super-Range optical image stabilization and most impressively, the Instant AF (auto focus). With this feature, focusing only took less time to achieve a sharp and accurate focus. Instead of a gradual change from one focal plane to another, the instant autofocus simply snaps into the correct focal plane.

The white balance feature also held up well filming in different lighting conditions. In addition, if you you’re shooting in unique conditions, you can select several different auto exposure presets such as portrait, sports, night, snow, beach, sunset, spotlight and fireworks. We did notice that the HV10 Canon camcorder started to lose some of its quality as the light faded. So if you are filming in dusk, or near to it, the picture becomes a bit grainier and starts to lose that brillant color reproduction we love. Another setback is that you can’t change the white balance during recording, which may cause some frustration for those trying to achieve a particular look to their images.

Canon has equipped its compact camcorder with a 10x optical zoom and a 40x and 200x digital zoom. The aperture can scale from F1.8 to F8.0 and the shutter speeds run from 8 fps to 2000fps. Other options include zebra stripes and markers. Zebra stripes help you determine what will be over exposed in your picture. Markers are interesting because they help you frame your shot by superimposing either a horizontal center line or a grid. You can have these lines displayed in either grey or white.

The audio is recorded in stereo through a microphone placed on the top, towards the back. The placement in the back limits the distance of audio you can capture, which was a bit disappointing.Any distance more then 10 feet and the audio begins to suffer. We also found that some of the audio picked up was caused by the shooter, instead of what we were shooting, the noise captured was made just by adjusting settings and generally trying to capture. Overall, the audio wasn’t that bad, but it seemed to fall behind the quality of the picture. Furthermore, there is no microphone jack in which an external microphone can be plugged, which us doesn’t help matters any.

The Canon HV10 Camcorder Can Take A Still Picture

The Canon HV10 Camcorder also has a still picture feature, allowing you to take photographs with up to 3.1 mega pixels. That comes out to a picture with a resolution of 2048×1536. Despite the great quality it captures in movie mode, the still pictures seemed a bit off. Test after test under different lighting conditions, the HV10 Canon Camcorder showed that it seems to lack natural color reproduction–the image is tad too red. This problem is noticeable and the camera shouldn’t be thought of as an ideal still photo replacement. Though to Canon’s credit, the images captured were very detailed and exhibited very little to no noise.

Conclusion : The HV10 Canon Camcorder Records With Little Effort

Our overall impression is that this Canon camcorder is perfect for those who want the high quality of HD video with little to no effort. Whether it is a trip, a graduation, or family event, this camera is aimed at the point and shoot consumer who desires an ease of portability and the high quality of HD. Some design flaws and missing components won’t make this Canon camcorder ideal for prosumer or Indie filmmakers, but for the rest of us it delivers the basic needs of video capture.


Format: HDV

Number of image sensor: 1 (CMOS)

Size of sensors: 1/2.7″

Pixels on sensor: 2,960,000

Video Effective Pixels: 2,070,00 in HDV

Focus: M/AF/Instant AF

Maximum Shutter Speed: 1/2000

Minimum Shutter Speed: 1/8

Lens f-stop: F1.8- F8.0

Program exposure modes: Portrait, Sports, Night, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Spotlight, Fireworks

Optical Zoom: 10X

Focal Length: 6.1mm-61mm

Image Stabilization: Super Range, Optical

Manual White Balance: Yes

Viewfinder: .27″ With 123K Pixel Resolution

LCD Monitor: 2.7″ with 210K Pixel

Progressive Scan: None

HD Modes: 1080/60i

Video Connections: AV Minijack, Component, FireWire, USB

Mono/Stereo: Stereo

Microphone: n

Manual Audio Level Controls: no

Headphone Jack: yes

Speakers: yes

Still shot Media: mini SD card, Memory Card Included

Wireless Remote: Yes

External Battery Charger Provided: no

Battery Type: Li-ion

Tape Loading Configuration: Bottom

Onboard Video Light: yes

Accessory Shoe: None


  • Great image quality
  • Compact and portable
  • Sleek and sexy


  • Slightly awkward design
  • Poor low light and still photo image quality


The Canon HV10 is a very small, portable camera that captures a great image with high detail and color balance.

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