Canon Vixia HF G10 Camcorder Review
Ease of Use
Ease of Use (6.50)
The HF G10 is not geared towards beginners, let's make that clear. It is more like a prosumer or professional product wrapped up into a compact package. The camcorder has a lot of features, particularly advanced features, than your average novice user would be most likely to ignore. Despite all this, the G10's auto mode is simple and easy to use—it's really no different than the auto mode on any other Canon camcorder. Pros may complain that the camcorder feels constricted and awkward due to its cramped design, but Canon does attempt to offer customization (with assignable buttons) and a professional feel with the large manual focus ring.
Canon produces some of the best instruction manuals in the business, and, while the HF G10 is a complex camcorder, the manual should help you figure out everything you know. The camcorder itself doesn't have any tool tips or info boxes built into the menu system, though, and that is something we'd like to see.
The menu system on the HF G10 can be daunting, specifically because the camcorder is, well, loaded with controls. There are so many options crammed into the little camcorder that the menu looks flooded with features. It's not a huge deal, and we're sure any dedicated user will get the hang of the menu system, but it is definitely confusing at first look. Canon doesn't help by giving the menu options very good labels or icons. Some of them are difficult to decipher for this reason, so you'll probably need a bit of instruction manual perusing before you master the menus on the G10.
There's two menus on the HF G10. When you press the function button on the LCD it brings you to a screen full of small icons (the confusing screen we talked about above). These icons and buttons represent all sorts of features on the camcorder that are meant to be quickly accessible, as well as accessible during recording (for some of them). The full menu, which has the traditional scrolling list design, can be viewed by clicking on the menu button that sits at the upper left after you open the function menu.
Auto Mode (10.47)
Get ready for a lot of information in this section, as the HF G10 is absolutely loaded with auto controls, manual controls, and key features. It has nearly all of the auto controls that you'd find on the Canon HF S21, plus a bunch more. Canon expanded the Smart Auto scene selection to include more scene modes (38 different modes, to be exact), added a new medium autofocus speed, and employed a boatload of zoom speed controls.
The AF/AE tracking feature is still present, as are single "touch" options for focus and exposure. All controls on the G10 can be manipulated with the LCD touchscreen and most of them can be set with a small, rotatable dial on the back of the camcorder. This small dial is one thing we hate about the HF G10. We don't like the way it feels, nor do we like the roundabout manner in which it works.
The auto controls on the HF G10 function very well, although we did notice the auto exposure wasn't always smooth when moving from light to dark scenes (we saw this issue with the HF S21 too). With the camcorder set in its dedicated auto mode you cannot access many controls: only zoom, decoration, story creator, and video snapshot are available. You can also take still photos in auto mode and the camcorder's stabilization system is automatically engaged.
The Cinema mode on the HF G10, which we talk about in more detail later in this section, is like an advanced auto mode. You pick a certain filter (there's nine options) and you can adjust basic controls to set their look and style. You still have options for controlling most of the features that you find in Manual mode, but a few are not available in Cinema mode.
Exposure - There aren't quite as many exposure controls on the G10 as there are focus controls, but there's still quite a few. You can set the exposure in 1/4 EV increments from -3 to +3 values. There's also a zebra pattern setting to keep an eye on overexposure, an auto exposure lock feature (AE Lock), touch exposure with the touchscreen, and a waveform monitor.
We love all these options for basic exposure adjustment, but we don't like the implementation of the rear-mounted control dial that can be used to set the exposure controls. The dial is small and not nearly as precise as the large lens ring that is dedicated to focus (nor is it as good as the control dial found on the Canon HF S21). You can set exposure by tapping touchscreen buttons as well, and we may actually prefer this method to the tiny, hard-to-reach control dial on the back.
Color & Image Controls
Image Effects - There's no preset color modes in this setting anymore (presets have now taken the form of Cinema Modes -- see below), but the HF G10 does have four image effect options that can manually be increased or decreased. These include color depth, contrast, sharpness, and brightness. All of them have adjustment ranges from -2 to +2.
ND Filter - We talked about the ND filters a bit in the aperture section further up on this page. "ND" stands for Neutral Density and it essentially cuts the intensity of all light equally when activated. So a 1/8 ND filter would cut 1/8 of the light. ND filters are activated by adjusting the aperture.
x.v. Color - Allows the camcorder to record using the xvYCC expanded color gamut. You'll only be able to see the expanded colors if you view the footage on a compatible television.
Cinema Filters - This is one of the more interesting new features on the HF G10. There are 9 Cinema-Look filters on the camcorder when you switch over to Cinema mode. All of these filters (other than basic Cinema mode) have intensity levels of low, medium, and high. Regular Cinema mode allows you to set color depth (±2), contrast (±2), softening filter, and key lighting. The Cinema Filters include: Cool, Dramatic Black and White, Dream, Memory, Nostalgic, Old Movie, Sepia, and Vivid.
Zebra Pattern - Displays striped patterns on the screen to show areas of the frame that are overexposed. Can be set to 70% or 100% sensitivity levels and this option can be selected during aperture or shutter speed adjustment.