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First Look: Canon Vixia HF G10

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First Look: Canon Vixia HF G10

3:31 /

While it's got a great shooter feature set and good video quality, the Canon Vixia HF G10 still feels a bit expensive for what it offers.

-Hi. I'm Lori Grunin, senior editor for CNET, and this the Canon Vixia HF G10. The combination of a larger-pixel, lower-resolution HD CMOS Pro sensor along with a high-quality lens results in some of the best video quality I've seen in a consumer camcorder, low light included. While the video can be just a hair softer than I like, overall it's very good and when you play it back directly on a TV, it looks quite sharp. The G10 offers an excellent dynamic range with only the brightest of white highlights clipped. While the automatic white balance tends to be a little bit cooler than I like, overall the colors are good. They're bright, saturated, and relatively accurate. There's little fringing even on the edges of bright highlights. At its top rate of 24 megabits per second, the G10 displayed no compression artifact except in really low light. But one of the distinguishing features of the G10 compared with the rest of Canon's camcorders is support for true 24p. The audio quality is quite good as well. It's got sensitive stereo microphones that provide decent separation and a nice warm tone that doesn't have the tininess you get on lower-end models; but most measures of performance, the G10 fairs well. It meters and exposes correctly and consistently. The image stabilization is solid. It focuses quickly, though you can adjust how gradually that can happen. The auto focus works well but it's not significantly better than we've seen in previous models. And like all camcorders, it 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 peeking options including a waveform edge monitor display makes it possible to focus accurately. The LCD is bright and saturated, although it's hard to view in direct sunlight; but for that, there's a very nice, relatively large EVF. Battery life isn't that long, however, and the Powered IS seems to drain it fairly quickly. I suggest opting for a higher capacity battery or double up on the basic ones. The G10's features set offers a lot of tools for tweaky videographers as well as a few for the crowd who need more hand-holding. For instance, it lets you set a focus preset to quickly resume where you were. That's nice but I'd really like a zoom preset as well. There's a host of audio tools including mixing internal and external levels, directionality like zoom or wide, equalizer, a 1 kilohertz reference, and an attenuator. While the camcorder offers a built-in neutral density filter--something I consider a critical feature for more advanced use--I really hate the G10's implementation. First of all, it's only available in aperture priority in manual mode, not shutter priority. And rather than letting you choose the setting manually, when it's enabled, it automatically kicks in as you change the aperture. Overall, the camcorder is well-constructed and easy to grip and the manual focuser and zoom switch are very responsive. I like Canon's integration of dual SDXC slots into its complete product line as well. While it's a great prosumer camcorder with excellent video quality and a flexible feature set, it's also-- it's kind of expensive and maybe more than many people need and you should definitely try it before you buy to determine if any aspects of the design and operation are gonna bother you. I'm Lori Grunin and this is the Canon Vixia HF G10.

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