Late to market with its first SD-based camcorders--Panasonic and Sony both announced third-generation models this week--Canon nevertheless makes up for lost time with a couple of attractively specced models for 2008. They join the modestly revved HV30 HDV model and the currently shipping HG10 and HR10 under the Vixia brand umbrella for HD camcorders.
At the top of the product line, the HF10 incorporates 16GB built-in flash memory--the largest capacity we've heard about thus far--and a slot for SDHC removable flash. According to Canon, it records AVCHD video at a maximum bit rate of 17 megabits per second, and can hold up to 6 hours of video, thought that's probably at the lowest bit rate. The new models capture at 1,920x1,080 compared with 1,440x1,080 for older AVCHD camcorders, and support 30p progressive capture.
The HF100, its less expensive sibling, lacks the internal memory: SDHC recording only. Otherwise, the two are identical, using the same 1/3.2-inch 3.3-megapixel sensor, 2.7-inch LCD, a new 12x zoom lens, a redesigned mini accessory shoe and Canon's SuperRange optical image stabilization.
Changes to the HV30, the replacement for the HV20, are more subtle. It has a sleeker-looking black body, for one, and now supports 30p progressive mode and the high-capacity BP-2L24H lithium ion battery. If you can find the HV20 for less than the HV30's $999 price, it's not really worth waiting until the end of February when it's expected to ship.
The HF10 will cost $1,099 and the HF100, $899, when they ship at the end of April.