Canon Vixia HF G10 Camcorder Review
Still Features (8.45)
Canon made the focus of the HF G10 on video recording, and that means still image controls take a back seat on the camcorder. You can still capture photos, but there's only one size option (1920 x 1080) and the camcorder has no dedicated still image mode. All the traditional options are there—simultaneous video/still capture, a continuous shot mode, and a self timer—but the G10 does not have a built-in flash.
Honestly, we don't think this is a big issue, and that's what Canon is banking on as well. The company thinks that most buyers of the HF G10 will be concerned about video quality first and foremost, hence they designed the camcorder to work best at capturing video rather than photos. Anyway, if you're serious about still image photography, you should be using a dedicated digital camera or DSLR rather than a camcorder in the first place.
Even though Canon did not emphasize still image performance on the HF G10, the camcorder was still able to put up some reasonable numbers in our testing. The G10 managed a color error of 5.21 and a saturation level of 110% in our still color tests, both of which are decent numbers, yet a bit worse than the camcorder earned in our video testing.
Noise levels weren't bad on the HF G10, but they were definitely higher than what the camcorder averaged in our bright light video test. The HF G10 registered 0.95% noise in this test, which is a middle of the road score in this category.
Since the HF G10 doesn't have a large pixel count, it shouldn't surprise anyone that the camcorder didn't put up strong numbers in this test. What is surprising, however, is that the camcorder didn't fall completely flat in still sharpness. In fact, it actually put up some so-so numbers. The camcorder measured a horizontal sharpness of 946 lw/ph with 8.4% oversharpening and a vertical sharpness of 828 lw/ph with 4.4% oversharpening. These numbers are clearly worse than the competition, but that's all due to the HF G10's sensor design that puts video quality ahead of still image performance.
Other Features (4.50)
You can add faders or wipes (in a couple of different colors) to the beginning or end (or both) of your clips.
Canon has had this feature for a couple of years now and it hasn't changed all that much. With Video Snapshot you set a time limit to your recordings (2, 4, or 8 seconds) so that they all of your clips are roughly the same length. You can then group these clips together in playback mode, add music, and make your own little videos.
This new feature is a bit complicated to explain, but once you start to use it the system makes sense. In brief, Story Creator provides you with an outline or guide as to what shots you should collect in order to tell a specific "story." There are five story templates to choose from: Travel, Kids & Pets, Party, Ceremony, and Blog. Within each of these story templates are a number of scene ideas. For example, there's a "Setting up the venue" scene for the Party story and a "Snuggling - close-ups" scene for the Kids & Pets story. Many of the scenes give you advice as to how to get the shot (like saying "close-ups" or "wide-shots") and they all have a recommended time limit.
After you shoot a number of scenes with Story Creator, you can then view your stories in playback mode. Here, you can rearrange scenes, or view scenes as a labeled list. In playback mode, the stories function something like a more advanced (and better organized) playlist. There's also an Unrestricted story mode that does not provide you with any scene ideas or labels, but it still lets you rearrange any shots you took in playback mode.
Yes, Story Creator is very confusing to explain. It can also be difficult to work with, particularly if you're not fond of using the touchscreen interface on the LCD. Dedicated users, however, may find the function interesting and fun, and it definitely helps with clip organization. We're not sure a camcorder like the HF G10 is the best outlet for Story Creator, but we think the feature may be more popular on lower-end models.
Want to add fun little stars or text to your video? Well, now you can with Canon's new "Decoration" feature. Honestly, we're surprised that Canon implemented this option on its flagship camcorder instead of trying it out on lower-end models first. Because that's really who this type of feature is meant for—beginners. Of course, it would be hilarious to watch a professional videographer add animated stamps to their video.
Canon has had this feature on its camcorders for a while, so at least some users should recognize it. Pre Record keeps a continual buffer of your video recording, so that as soon as you hit the record button the camcorder has already magically recorded 3 seconds of video. This feature will use up battery life, but it can be useful when you're trying hard not to miss any unrehearsed action sequences or exciting moments.