Pros: Low cost. Professional features. Small. Light. Impressive video quality for price.
Cons: Noticeable compression artefacts. Poor support from Adobe’s applications.
This model was reviewed as part of our group test of HD camcorders.
At first glance, the HG10 might look rather out-of-place in this line-up. Costing a fraction of any other model in our group test, the HG10 looks like a purely consumer-oriented model. But it has several features that could make it suitable if your HD video-production needs are modest and occasional.
As this is essentially a consumer camcorder, the HG10 is based around a single sensor. But this is a large 1/2.7in CMOS with 2.96 megapixels, using two-thirds of this when shooting video. So Canon calls the HG10 ‘Full HD’, as it picks up the entire 1,920-x-1,080 HD pixel resolution. However, this is recorded as AVCHD at a resolution of 1,440-x-1,080, with four quality settings. In the top HXP mode, the 40GB hard disk is still enough for five and a half hours of video.
This is no basic camcorder. An accessory shoe is hidden under a plastic flap at the top, and mini-jacks for microphone and headphone are available. In manual mode, you can choose between shutter or aperture priority modes. A separate exposure control operates iris and video gain together in the former, or shutter and video gain in the latter. The HG10 even offers progressive 25PF shooting, similar to the XH-A1’s 25F.
Unfortunately, the consumer focus of AVCHD means that not all professional editing applications support the format; Adobe has been particularly slow with its adoption. The majority of AVCHD-compatible software is consumer-focused, although Final Cut, Avid and Canopus Edius can edit it. With Panasonic’s announcement of professional AVCHD later in 2008, this could change, but for now the format is restrictive.
Nevertheless, our test-frame grabs reveal why we have included the HG10. In the best conditions, colour reproduction is vibrant and faithful, although the AVCHD compression produces more noticeable artefacts. light performance is even more impressive for a single-chip camcorder, with colours almost as bright as the best available. But heavy grain destroys detail in areas of low contrast, which the compression further accentuates.
The HG10’s sister product, the HV20, has become the entry-level HDV camcorder of choice, and its HV30 successor looks set to continue that. The HG10 is essentially a tapeless version. If you need to record hours of HD video for test shoots, it’s a good value option.