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Christmas Gift Guide

Not a compact

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Smooth zoom

Mics on the side

Buttons on the bezel

Dual mode

Though it records to SD cards, the Canon Vixia HF S10/S100's lens and relatively large 1/2.6-inch CMOS sensor make it a handful compared with typical consumer camcorders.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The HF S10/S100's new Custom dial looks, feels, and operates similarly to the control dial on Sony's prosumer models. That's a good thing--it's a comfortable interface for adjusting options like exposure and focus, though I'm not fond of it for cycling through the Zebra and peaking functions.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The wide zoom switch has an excellent feel, with enough resistance that it's easy to operate at a consistent speed. The power button, however, which sits slightly recessed in the camcorder body, is just a tiny bit too hard to press.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
At first I thought the positioning of the mics on either side of the lens barrel would result in extraneous wind noise, but that didn't happen. And it does allow for larger mics and better separation than you usually get when they're mounted above or below the lens, which seems to make a difference. The HF S10/S100 has very good audio.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Like the power button, the buttons on the bezel are a bit flat and more difficult to manipulate than I'd like.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Though it's not unusual, I dislike the modality of many camcorders. Like the HF S10/S100, they make you select a specific mode that allows you to take still captures while you're shooting video.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET