• Price When Reviewed: 799

  • Pros: Vivid colour capture. Good set of manual controls. Convenient controls

  • Cons: Poor low-light performance. No external microphone port.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

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Canon’s HV10 is the company’s first palm-sized high-definition camcorder. It makes a strong debut producing impressive video and it’s easy to use, though it does suffer from a somewhat bulky design.

The HV10 records high-definition video to MiniDV tapes using the HDV format, which stores high-def video in the same space that standard-def video occupies. In our testing, video quality was excellent: we saw bright, vivid colour and plenty of detail without noise in video shot in daylight. Overall the video was a little more appealing than that shot by the Sony HC3. Colours looked more natural, and because the HV10’s video showed less contrast, it has a more filmic quality.

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The camcorder’s low-light performance is disappointing, though. Using the HV10 indoors or in the evening, the resulting video’s colour looked pale and weak. You can tweak the results a bit by using the manual controls, but output still looked gloomier and less appealing afterward than output from other models under similar conditions.
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The camcorder itself feels a little awkward in the hand. At 56-x-104-x-106mm, it’s bigger than most vertical-style DV camcorders, and it felt a little too large.
The HV10 has conveniently located controls. The zoom control falls under the user’s index finger, and the record button sits under the thumb. The other controls are located either on the back of the camcorder or underneath the LCD screen.
<b>Screen dream</b>
In informal tests, the HV10’s battery lasted for around 70 minutes with the very clear and bright 2.7-inch wide-aspect LCD screen in use. That duration is a bit shorter than most camcorders offer, but it suffices for most users, and Canon sells higher-capacity batteries if you need more juice.
A built-in optical stabilizer works well at smoothing out the effects of minor camera movements, and the HV10 can snap acceptable-looking 3.1-megapixel still images. The camcorder lacks an external microphone input and an HDMI digital video output.
Considering the size, the HV10 takes good quality high-def video, and it’s relatively easy to use. It can’t measure up to its big brothers – Canon’s XL H1 and XL A1 – but if you have a need for a small high-def camcorder (for discrete documentary work or cramped environments), the HV10 is a good choice.
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