Canon Vixia HF G10 Camcorder Review
Lens & Imaging System
The Vixia HF G10 features a brand new lens and sensor system that have not previously been incorporated on a consumer camcorder from Canon. The lens is similar to what we saw on last year's HF S21 (same max aperture, 10x optical zoom, and filter diameter), but it has a slightly different focal range. The sensor, however, is very different from what Canon employed on last year's models. It's still a CMOS imager, but the size is just 1/3 of an inch with a pixel count of 2.37 megapixels.
This pixel count is a significant drop from what Canon offered on the HF S21. The reason? Canon feels that the high pixel count does not improve video performance, but is really only helpful for capturing still images. Since the HF G10 is a high-end camcorder, the still features aren't nearly as important as good video quality. This 1/3-inch CMOS is the same CMOS Canon uses in its professional camcorders, so that should give you an idea of what the company is thinking with this switch.
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.
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.
Being a flagship camcorder and a borderline-professional product, Canon smartly protects the ports and inputs on the HF G10 with strong covers and doors. Unfortunately, Canon did leave one important input uncovered—its 3.5mm external mic jack. The mic jack is located up front, on the right of the camcorder and just behind the lens. We like this placement, but we wish the port was better protected. Mic jacks like these are often vital for professional videographers.
Further back on the right side is a well-protected collection of ports that are located behind a hard plastic cover. Here you'll find the wired remote (LANC) port, an HDMI output, and a USB terminal. All three are labeled well, but they can be difficult to access due to their location behind the G10's large, plush hand strap (their location also prohibits you from being able to hold the camcorder comfortably while you have a cable running to any of these ports). On the upside, the wired remote port is an excellent addition, and its presence on consumer camcorders is rare these days. Another new perk is that Canon ships an HDMI cable with the HF G10, so you don't have to go out and buy an overpriced one from Best Buy.
Turning around to the left side of the camcorder you'll find a number of other ports inside the LCD cavity. A small slide-up door reveals the Component-out port and the AV-out terminal (which also doubles as a headphone output). To the upper right of these two video outputs are the dual memory card slots labeled "A" and "B". Both slots work with SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards, which means you can expand the recording capacity for the G10 quite a bit.
Probably the most important connectivity feature on the HF G10 is the camcorder's DC-input, which is aptly located right by the battery compartment on the back. This position keeps the power cable mostly out of the way if you ever need to wield the camcorder while it is plugged into a wall socket. The HF G10 also has a Canon-proprietary mini accessory shoe on the top (behind the zoom toggle). It's the same shoe Canon has used on its consumer camcorders for years.
The HF G10 comes loaded with 32GB of internal flash memory along with its dual memory card slots that work with SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards. 32GB of internal memory is nothing to sneeze at, but many flagship models offer double that amount. The fact that the G10 comes with two card slots does do a bit to remedy the media capacity situation, though, so we doubt capacity should be a problem for most users.
According to Canon, a single scene can be recorded for 12 hours. After 12 hours of recording, the HF G10 will automatically stop recording (for roughly three seconds) before starting a new clip. Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of various media types.