Thursday, 1 May 2008

First Look: Canon's first flash memory HD camcorder

First Look: Canon's first flash memory HD camcorder 7:56PM, Monday 21st April 2008

Canon's first flash memory HD camcorder, the HF10, is finally getting its European launch, and we've just had our first hands-on test. The HF10 has 16GB of built-in flash memory, which will store around three hours of video at the highest quality setting. There's also an SDHC memory card slot, so you can add more storage if required.
The camcorder feels sturdily built, but is still lightweight at only 380g. An Easy mode makes it simple for casual users, while a small joystick beside the LCD lets you navigate the menu and adjust a wide range of settings. However, there's no manual focus dial, as seen on Canon's HV30. The battery sits flush with the back of the camcorder. A larger spare could be fitted, but it would protrude from the rear.

The HF10 is an AVCHD camcorder

with a maximum resolution of 1,920x1,080 at 25fps in progressive mode (1080p). Like many camcorders using this video standard, the HF10 has a maximum bit-rate of 17Mbit/s. Previous models we've seen with this specification have failed to compete in image quality with MiniDV based HDV camcorders.

Its compact design puts it directly in competition with Panasonic's excellent HDC-SD9. The HF10 is a little larger and heavier, but has some useful extras - like a microphone input and accessory shoe - that will interest enthusiasts. The 12x optical zoom is impressive in such a small device, measuring only 64x73x129mm, and optical image stabilization is included. The LCD has a respectable 211,000 pixels, though we've recently been impressed by higher resolution displays on HD models from both Panasonic and Sony.

We'll be spending the next couple of days putting Canon's latest model through its paces. Our first impressions of its performance, along with sample clips and images, will be available here over the next couple days.

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