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Video Cameras

Hands-on with the Canon HG10

The Canon HG10 is a high-definition camcorder with a CMOS sensor and 40GB hard drive, sporting a distinctly feline theme in the controls

When it comes to acronyms, the world of gadgets falls over itself to clarify things but generally just ends up falling over. Witness the world of camcorders, where models like this here Canon HG10 are HD -- high definition -- and HDD -- hard disk drive. Confusing? Not at all!

The HG10 packs a 1/2.7-inch, 2.96-megapixel CMOS sensor. It shoots 1,920x1,080-pixel HD video, which is downconverted and interlaced to 1,440x1,080-pixel AVCHD footage. You can also capture 3-megapixel stills, or HD frame grabs from your footage.

We're impressed by the 10x zoom lens with Canon's excellent SuperRange Optical Image Stabiliser, which keeps things steady even when a long zoom can magnify jitters.

The 40GB hard drive saves around 5.5 hours of video at top quality 15Mbps, or if you drop the quality to 5Mbps you'll cram in closer to 15 hours. Footage can be distributed via component, AV, mini-HDMI and of course USB output.

Canon seems to have slipped in a cat theme at the back with a cat's eye-shaped record button, and a distinctly feline-faced power toggle. The excellent zoom rocker goes forwards and backwards rather than side to side, and it's a very smooth ride in and out.

An extendable viewfinder with dioptre is an alternative to using the 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD screen. Once you've slid out the viewfinder, there's endless fun to be had firing the accessory shoe cover across the room every time you try and pop it off -- at least until it goes down the back of the sofa or takes someone's eye out.

The LCD screen comes with a scroll wheel set around the edge of a four-way clickpad, with other function controls under the screen. There's no lens ring for manual focus, but some users may prefer the peppy scroll wheel anyway. The HG10 is available now for around £600. -Richard Trenholm