The Legria HF G10 is currently Canon's flagship consumer camcorder. The main attractions include a large 'HD CMOS Pro' image sensor, a high-quality lens and plenty of manual controls. It's a serious slice of camcorder alright, but is it worth the high asking price of £1,200 or thereabouts?
The top end of the consumer camcorder market can be a somewhat confusing place. Prices seem to vary wildly, while a variety of different features have been adopted by manufacturers as key selling points, including progressive recording, GPS and even built-in projectors. With the G10, Canon's tactic is to focus on the quality of the device's high-definition video output, whilst also offering a tempting proposition for those who want to take manual control of their creations.
The G10 isn't small by current standards. The large barrel part of the barrel-grip body forms the housing of the sizeable high-definition video lens. Further bulk comes in the form of a very big, 3.5-inch, fold-out display on one side and the camcorder's grip on the other. Also adding to the beefiness are 32GB of internal memory, dual SDXC-compatible memory-card slots, a mini accessory shoe and an electronic viewfinder.
The result is a fairly heavy -- 545g -- but well-balanced device. The matte black plastic shell feels reassuringly tough but doesn't shout 'prestige' quite as much, perhaps, as a metal one would.
For a manual-control camcorder, there are surprisingly few buttons adorning the unit. On the grip side, there's a function switch that flicks between the auto, manual and 'cinema' modes, the latter comprising a dedicated selection of picture settings and filters aimed at delivering a film-type look to your recordings.
Under the flip-out screen, you'll find only a couple of buttons, and there are only two more user-assignable buttons on the screen bezel itself. The true secret to controlling the G10 lies in its touch-sensitive display, manual lens ring and customisable dial.
Canon's touchscreen controls are better implemented on the G10 than they have been in the past, thanks, largely, to the physically bigger, more responsive LCD screen. The screen itself is very high quality, offering a 920,000-pixel resolution, and the user interface looks sharp. Menus are easy to navigate and there's some support for multi-touch gestures.
The G10's lens ring is there purely for manual focusing. Unlike some multitasking lens rings on other high-end camcorders, there's no function button to toggle control of other settings, such as aperture or shutter speed. That's where the rear-mounted dial comes in.
Pressing the 'custom' button while in manual mode will switch the dial between aperture and shutter, and rotating the dial up and down allows you to fine-tune the settings for each. It's a good system but we found the positioning of the dial to be rather awkward. Unless you're using a tripod, the dial is hard to adjust without wobbling the camcorder and spoiling your shot.