Canon Vixia HF G10 (Black) review: Canon Vixia HF G10 (Black)

By most measures of performance, the G10 does well. It meters and exposes correctly and consistently. The image stabilization is solid; the Dynamic setting works well up to about 75 percent of the way through the focal range, and Powered IS is rock-steady at maximum telephoto. It focuses quickly, though you can adjust how gradually that happens (Instant, Medium, and Normal), and you can customize both the zoom speed, which is common, and softness--how quickly the zoom stops and starts--which is rarer. The autofocus works well, but not significantly better than we've seen in previous models, and like all camcorders can inappropriately lock on the background instead of the subject.

However, the camcorder has a good manual focus system to compensate. The front ring feels very responsive, and the variety of magnification and peaking options, including a waveform edge monitor display, makes it possible to focus accurately. Plus, you can temporarily override the AF with manual, which makes it easy to produce a slow, uniform slide-into-focus effect.

The LCD is bright and saturated, although hard to view in direct sunlight. But for that there's a very nice, relatively big EVF. Battery life isn't that long, and the Powered IS seems to drain it quickly. I suggest opting for a higher-capacity battery.


  Canon Vixia HF G10 Canon Vixia HF S30 Panasonic HDC- TM900/ HS900 Sony Handycam HDR-CX560V Sony Handycam HDR-CX700V
Sensor (effective resolution) 2.07-megapixel CMOS 6-megapixel CMOS 3x3-megapixel CMOS 6-megapixel Exmor R CMOS 6-megapixel Exmor R CMOS
1/3 inch 1/2.6 inch 1/4.1 inch 1/2.88 inch 1/2.88 inch
Lens 10x
f1.8-2.8
30.4-305mm (4:3)
10x
f1.8-3
43.5-435mm (4:3)
12x
f1.5-2.8
35 - 420mm (16:9)
10x
f1.8-3.4
26.3-263mm (16:9)
10x
f1.8-3.4
26.3-263mm (16:9)
Closest focus 0.8 inch 0.4 inch 0.4 inch 0.4 inch 0.4 inch
Min illumination (lux) recommended: 100
standard: 1.5
low light: 0.1
recommended: 100
standard: 4
low light: 0.3
standard: 1400
low light: 1.6
Color Night View: 1
standard: 11
low light: 3
Night Shot (IR): 0
standard: 11
low light: 3
Night Shot (IR): 0

EVF

0.24-inch 260,000 pixels 0.27-inch 123,000 dots 0.24-inch 263,000 dots None 0.2-inch 201,600 dots
LCD 3.5-inch 922,000 dots 3.5-inch 922,000 dots 3.5-inch 460,800 dots 3-inch 921,000 dots 3-inch 921,000 dots
Primary media 32GB internal; 2 x SDXC 32GB internal; 2 x SDXC 32GB flash/220GB hard disk; 1 x SDXC 64GB flash; 1 x SDXC 96GB flash; 1 x SDXC
HD recording AVCHD: 1,080/60i/24p @ 24, 17Mbps; 1,440x1,080/ 60i/24p 12, 7, 5Mbps
(also encodes 30p and 24p as 60i)
AVCHD: 1,080/60i/24p @ 24, 17Mbps; 1,440x1,080/ 60i/24p 12, 7, 5Mbps
(also encodes 30p and 24p as 60i)
AVCHD: nonstandard 1,080/60p @ 28Mbps;
1,080/60i @ 17, 13, 9 ,5 Mbps
AVCHD: nonstandard 1,080/60p @ 28Mbps;
1,080/60i/24p @ 24, Mbps;
1,440x1,080/ 60i @17, 13, 9 ,5Mbps
AVCHD: nonstandard 1,080/60p @ 28Mbps;
1,080/ 60i/24p @ 24Mbps;
1,440x1,080/ 60i @17, 13, 9, 5Mbps
Manual shutter speed (video) 1/6 - 1/2,000 sec 1/6 - 1/2,000 sec 1/30 - 1/8,000 1/8 - 1/10,000 sec 1/8 - 1/10,000 sec
Manual iris f1.8-f8 f1.8-f8 f1.7-f16 f1.8-f9.6 f1.8-f9.6
Built-in ND filter Yes No No No No
Accessory shoe Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Audio 2 channels (5.1 via optional mic);
mic, headphone jacks
2 channels (5.1 via optional mic);
mic, headphone jacks
5.1 channels;
mic, headphone jacks
5.1 channels;
mic, headphone jacks
5.1 channels;
mic, headphone jacks
Body dimensions (WHD, inches) 3x3.1x5.9 3x2.9x5.8 2.6x2.8x5.8 1.5x2.8 x5.4 3.6x3.1 x6.9
Operating weight (pounds) 20 17.6 (est) 15.4 (est)/17.5 (est) 15 (est) 17.6 (est)
Mfr. price $1,499.99 $1,099.99 $1,099/$1,399 $1,099.99 $1,299.99
Ship date April 2011 March 2011 March 2011/ May 2011 March 2011 March 2011

The G10's feature set offers a lot of tools for tweaky videographers, as well as a few for the crowd who needs more handholding. For instance, it lets you set a focus preset for a quick focus resume (nice, but I'd really like a zoom preset as well); can display an optional waveform monitor in manual exposure mode; offers a host of audio tools, including mixing internal and external levels, directionality (mono, normal, wide, zoom), equalizer (boost LF, low cut, boost MF, boost HF+LF), a 1KHz reference, and an attentuator; and has a Live Video mode for keying on blue or green. And 3D shooters who want to pair up a couple of G10s on a rig will appreciate the scan reverse recording capability, which provides up/down/left/right image inversion (though there's no lens shift or way to calibrate the images).

While the G10 offers a built-in neutral density filter, which I consider a critical feature for more advanced models, I hate the G10's implementation. First, it's only available in aperture-priority and manual mode. And rather than letting you choose the setting manually, when enabled it automatically kicks in as you change the aperture. Then, for example, when you change the aperture you suddenly have to scroll through several settings for f4, such as f4 ND 1/2, f4 ND 1/4, and f4 ND 1/8, before you can get to f4.8. As someone who also likes to use an ND filter to obtain slower shutter speeds, not just wider apertures, this really ticked me off. You're almost better off with an add-on ND filter. And I really wish camcorder manufacturers would display the current shutter speed when in aperture-priority mode and vice versa. Unfortunately, it's not just Canon.

For shooting 24p, there's a completely separate Cinema mode (in addition to auto and manual) that includes Cinema-Look filters that adjust color depth (saturation), softening, brightness, and contrast. It's a bit annoying that in Manual mode these are called Image Effects instead.

If you're looking for more guided shooting, Canon's novel Story Creator may float your boat. Basically, you choose a theme, such as Party or Travel, and the camcorder provides a list of scene options, like "Planning for the trip" and "Taking off!" They're organized in-camcorder, and you can rate individual scenes for playback filtering. There's also a generic, themeless story if you just want to use it for organizing a shoot. The files reside in the normal AVCHD directory tree, however; the organization is strictly for camcorder-based playback. (For a complete accounting of the G10's features and operation, download the PDF manual.)

While there's a lot to love about the G10, your reaction to the design may be a matter of taste. Overall, the camcorder is well constructed and easy to grip, and the manual focus ring and zoom switch are very responsive. I love Canon's integration of dual SDXC slots into its complete product line. As far as touch-screen interfaces go, Canon's succeeds until you get into the menu system. The shooting menus present you with big, easily selected and navigable onscreen buttons, and because the options rarely rely on sliders (you can click on arrows to adjust settings), and the screen is large, it works pretty well. But I still hate scrolling through the menus. Although you're not limited to using the awkwardly placed scroll bar and can directly select items on the screen, it's hard to do either precisely.

Also, instead of a big control dial on the front of the camcorder as on the S30 and previous models, the G10 has a tiny custom button and dial in the back. It's awkwardly placed for shooting via either the LCD or EVF, and it's too small, and difficult to feel. Holding the button down lets you select among aperture/shutter priority, manual, AGC, and exposure compensation settings, which you adjust via the dial. But instead of making the priority modes two separate options here, you have to first set the one you prefer using the LCD.

There are also two assignable buttons on the LCD bezel, but they're limited to some limited-use reassignments: backlight correction, Face Detect AF, Video Snapshot, WB Priority (swap between current and a preset), AF/MF, and Powered IS.

Conclusions
While the Canon Vixia HF G10 is a great prosumer camcorder, with excellent video quality and a flexible feature set, it's quite expensive and may be more than many people need. And you should definitely try before you buy to determine if any aspects of the camcorder's design and operation bother you.

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Canon Vixia HF G10 (Black)

Part Number: 4923B002 Released: Mar 15, 2011
MSRP: $1,499.99 Low Price: $883.95 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Mar 15, 2011
  • Optical Sensor Type HD CMOS Pro
  • Width 3 in
  • Depth 5.9 in
  • Height 3.1 in
  • Weight 19.2 oz