Canon Vixia HF G10 Camcorder Review
Low Light Performance
Low Light Sensitivity
No consumer camcorder has done as well on our low light sensitivity test as the Canon HF G10. It seems Canon was absolutely correct in their tinkering with the sensor system on the G10—the smaller amount of pixels vastly improved low light performance over last year's HF S21. In our testing, the HF G10 needed just 5 lux of light to hit 50 IRE on our waveform monitor. This is an improvement of 9 lux over the HF S21 and it is 6 lux better than the Panasonic HDC-TM700, which we consider to be an excellent low light model. More on how we test low light sensitivity.
Using the HF G10's alternate frame rates (PF24, PF30, and 24p) enable the camcorder to produce a viable image with even less light. All three of the alternate frame rates needed just 2 lux of light to hit 50 IRE on our waveform monitor. These are unprecedented and impressive results. We also tested the Canon HF G10 using its widest aperture setting to see how much this improved low light sensitivity (this required using no optical zoom with the camcorder). Using its f/1.8 aperture, the HF G10 needed 3 lux of light to reach our testing benchmark. Needless to say, the HF G10 fared exceedingly well in all shooting modes with our sensitivity test, which is something we cannot say about many high-end HD camcorders.
Low Light Noise
Honestly, we expected the HF G10 to do poorly in this test, but the camcorder surprised us with another impeccable performance. In its regular shooting mode, the HF G10 averaged 0.81% noise. This is a whole lot less noise than the Canon HF S21 produced in low light, and it is consistent with some of the best low light noise scores we've seen on a consumer camcorder. More on how we test low light noise.
Strangely, the 24p and PF30 frame rate options on the HF G10 did not help the camcorder in this test. We measured a slightly higher noise level on the G10 when recording with its 24p mode (around 1.0%), and we saw a similar amount of noise when we opened the aperture up a bit on the camcorder (to around f/2.0). As you can see from the crops above, the HF G10 doesn't have the sharpest image in low light, but it sure isn't bad (we'd say its at least as sharp as the Sony CX550V). Besides, the lack of noise and overall clean image from the HF G10 is enough to overlook a slightly diminished sharpness.
Low Light Color
Continuing with its strong low light performance, the Canon HF G10 produced colors in our low light test with very good accuracy. The camcorder managed a color error of 3.89 and a saturation level of 76.73%. Both of these numbers are a bit worse than the G10's bright light performance, but they are still well ahead of the competition (particularly last year's HF S21). More on how we test low light color.
As we did with our low light sensitivity test, we also tested the HF G10 in color accuracy using its alternate frame rates. The alternate frame rates did allow the camcorder to produce a brighter image, which resulted in higher saturation levels, but the color accuracy didn't increase significantly (as you can see from the chart below). We saw the same amount of improvement when we shot with the camcorder using less zoom and an aperture of around f/2.
As you can see from the images below, the HF G10 doesn't have a much brighter image than the competition, but its colors are very strong (and it is a bit brighter than the HF S21 overall). What the camcorder's excellent sensitivity score tells us is that its image doesn't get much darker than what you see below—until the light levels get extremely dim. Essentially, the HF G10 is able to produce a usable, consistent image until there is very little light in your shooting environment.