Canon's compact AVCHD camcorders

The company's small SD-based HD camcorders get even smaller.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
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Lori Grunin

Canon HF20
The HF20, Canon's 2009 successor to the HF10. Canon USA

We really liked Canon's first foray into flash-based AVCHD camcorders, the HF10/HF11, and it looks like follow-up models HF20 and HF200 should live up to their legacy. They're smaller--though it's tricky to not jeopardize usability in the shrinkage--and use a new 15X zoom HD lens and a smaller-but-higher-resolution .25-inch 3.89-megapixel CMOS sensor. Each hour of video at the 17Mbps bit rate takes about 7GB of storage or just over 10GB for each hour of 24Mbps video.

Like the higher-end HF S10 and HF S100, these models integrate the new Digic DV III processor, which the company says offers improved face detection--Canon claims it can identify faces at oblique angles as well as preselect faces--enhanced autoexposure with the company's Auto Lighting Optimizer, and better noise reduction.

They also incorporate the features added into the FS series: Video Snapshots, which are 4-second clips used to create a "highlights reel" effect (the camcorders ship with a music CD); quick charges in 10 minutes per half hour of battery life; an electronic lens cover and video light; 3-second prerecord; and Dual Shot for capturing photos while shooting video.

The only difference between the two models is memory configuration; the HF20 has 32GB built in, while the HF200 has none. Though pricing isn't yet available for either model, Canon's Web site indicates a February ship for the HF200 and March for the HF20.