Canon Vixia HF G10 Camcorder Review
- Handling (7.35)
- Portability (4.51)
- Battery Life (5.70)
- LCD & Viewfinder (12.54)
- Stabilization (6.26)
The shape and size of the HF G10 isn't much different than the Canon HF S21. It has a round shape and it is all lens up front (we're talking large lens). The handstrap is thick, padded, and one of the best in the business for a consumer camcorder. Canon usually does well in the handstrap department. The LCD is expansive and pristine and its flat design without a raised bezel is both stylish and functional. The touchscreen has a good feel to it—somewhat like an iPhone or iPod touch—although the touchscreen interface can still be frustrating when there are a lot of onscreen buttons displayed.
The HF G10 is big, but it feels good in your hand.
The big difference with the G10 is its new lens ring, the accompaniment of a detachable lens hood, and a new control dial on the back of the camcorder. The lens ring is well-built and feels great, but it has one bothersome issue. Since the lens on the G10 doesn't jut out from the body of the camcorder, using the lens ring can result in your fingers bumping the edge of the LCD panel if it is open (particularly if it is tilted).
The control dial on the back is one of the G10's weaknesses in terms of handling.
More of a problem is the poorly-designed control dial on the back of the camcorder. We don't like where it's placed and we don't like the roundabout way you have to set up controls to be manipulated by it. We wish Canon would have allowed the lens ring to control other functions in addition to focus, but that's not the case (the ring does focus only). Shutter speed, aperture, gain, and exposure can all be set with the rear-mounted control dial, but you must first select the manual options for these controls (other than exposure) in the G10's menu system. This means the dial cannot be used on the fly with the LCD panel closed. It's a confusing system, and it is probably something Canon could have simplified. Still, we like the amount of control the HF G10 offers—that is something we cannot ignore.
The large LCD displays video beautifully, and the camcorder has one of the better touchscreens on the market.
The biggest advantage the HF G10 holds over other models in terms of handling is its customization and control. The camcorder has two customizable buttons on the LCD panel, and you can adjust far more controls than you can on most consumer camcorders. The G10 has professional-grade tools like a waveform monitor, zebra stripes, and advanced audio controls as well. The method for adjusting said controls isn't always great, as we pointed out with the criticism of the control dial, but the fact that the HF G10 includes these options is a wonderful asset. This is a prosumer camcorder in a consumer cam body.
There's no built-in lens cover for the camcorder, but it comes with a large removable one.
The HF G10 is among the largest consumer camcorders on the market, and it wights about 590g fully loaded with its battery pack and lens hood. This is a good 70g heavier than the Canon HF S21 and over 100g heavier than the 2010 flagship models from Panasonic and Sony (see table below).
But... the HF G10 isn't meant to be a slip-in-your pocket toy-cam. It's designed to be a powerful camcorder loaded with pro-grade features. It has a giant lens, two memory card slots, a viewfinder, a big LCD, and lots of connectivity options. Even with all this, it is still far smaller than your average pro camcorder, yet it has nearly all the controls and features of a pro model.
Basically, the HF G10 is about as small as you can get for a camcorder loaded with as many features as it has. Sure, it's a good deal bigger than certain other flagship models (particularly Panasonics), but when you're choosing a high-end product sometimes a little bigger is better. The bulk of the HF G10 offers a sense of professionalism and sophistication in lieu of a more compact and lighter design.
Battery Life (5.70)
As far as flagship camcorders go, the Canon HF G10 did quite well in our battery life test. The camcorder lasted for 114 minutes of continual recording, which is more than a half hour longer than the Canon HF S21 lasted. We applaud this improvement by Canon, as the company went from one of the worst battery life performers (on its flagship model) in 2010, to one of the best. It's battery life wasn't hugely better than what Sony and Panasonic were capable of, but the improvement over the dismal 80-minute performance by the HF S21 is what impresses us. More on how we test battery life.
The provided battery pack did well in our testing.
LCD & Viewfinder (12.54)
Canon didn't appear to change the LCD on the HF G10, as it is the same size and has the same resolution as last year's HF S21. Video looks great on the sizable 3.5-inch screen, but we still had a bit of trouble with the touchscreen interface (despite the large surface area). This is more of a critique of Canon's menu system than anything else, and the fact that the HF G10 has a lot of onscreen buttons and menu options that you have to deal with using the touchscreen interface.
The 3.5-inch LCD is both stylish and functional.
On the back of the HF G10 is a small electronic viewfinder (EVF). The viewfinder has little in the way of an eyepiece, but it does have the ability to extend (about a half inch) from the camcorder and it has a diopter adjustment slider. We found the viewfinder was difficult to lock in place after it was extended fully, which meant it was sliding around at times when we didn't want it to.
We wish the viewfinder would pivot up and down in addition to extending out from the camcorder.
The Canon HF G10 put up very similar numbers to its predecessor in our stabilization test. This shouldn't be much of a surprise, as the HF G10 is equipped with the same optical image stabilization options as the HF S21 before it. The hard numbers for those who are interested: the G10 reduced 42% of the shake in our low shake test and 32% of the shake in our high shake test when using its optical image stabilization.
The G10 does have a dynamic stabilization mode and a powered IS setting, but neither of them helped out too much in our low shake test. Dynamic mode reduced 37% of the shake and powered IS reduced 44% in the low shake test. Strangely, in the high shake test, the powered IS did a very bad job—reducing the shake by just 18%. What this tells us is that Canon's basic OIS should get the job done fine. You don't really have to use the other modes unless you notice them helping for your specific shooting situation. More on how we test stabilization.