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Customer Ratings and Reviews
Finally an AVCHD Camcorder worth buying, 03 April 2008
By Educated Parent
(Bethesda, MD United States)
I had the award-winning HDV (tape-based) HV20 prior to this, and the HF10 is almost indistinguishable in terms of image quality. Given the dramatic difference in image data between an HDV image and an AVC image, that means this is one heck of a camcorder. I have tried out other AVC camcorders and have been really disappointed. Not so here, and I purchased this one. It has 24p and 30p recording, in addition to 60i. (Don't be confused by Canon's nomenclature, it is true 24p, just recorded in interlaced 60i.) The cinema mode has a bit of a wash-out effect on colors. The camcorder is surprisingly small. Power save mode is great, and is virtually instantaneously on when the LCD screen is opened. One warning about AVC in general, if you don't have a fast computer, it will grind it to a halt. I have a quad-core with 4 gig RAM and editing is fine, but I wouldn't want to use an old computer. Sony Vegas works great with the files. Wish the camcorder automatically saved to the SDHC card when the internal storage was full. Otherwise, this is the best thought out camcorder since my DVX-100. Nice to occasionally see consumer products worth their expense.
How to import video into iMovie on the Mac, 16 July 2008
By J. W. Hoelter
(Mill Valley, CA USA)
This is a marvelous camcorder. Rather than repeat what some of the other reviews have mentioned, I thought I'd explain how to import video on the Mac, because it wasn't obvious to me. First, you must have an Intel based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard). You also need iMovie '08, which comes with new Macs. If you're running an older version of Mac OS X (such as Tiger) or have an older version of iMovie, or have a PowerPC based Mac, you won't be able to import video from this camera.
To import video, attach the camcorder to the Mac with the USB cable that's included with the camcorder. Make sure you plug your camcorder into AC power, running from the battery won't work. Set the mode dial on the camera to video playback (the little blue camcorder icon). Turn on the camcorder. Now open the LCD display on the camcorder, and you'll see it's asking you a question: use the joystick to choose "computer" for where you're connecting the USB cable. I spent some time the first time I wanted to import wondering why iMovie couldn't see the camcorder until I finally tried opening the LCD screen and noticed this question. Once you've made this choice, iMovie will detect the camcorder and will be able to import video, and you can do the rest from iMovie.
Very nice camera. Be aware of AVCHD limitations., 28 May 2008
(North Carolina, USA)
This is a fantastic camera but people need to have more realistic expectations of what to expect from AVCHD. It is a highly compressed format so using this camera in low-light conditions is going to produce pretty "grainy" results. In good lighting AVCHD output from this camera can produce some really great looking results in HD but don't kid yourself into thinking you're going to get professional HDTV quality. This is a point-and-shoot.
I love the camera, especially how fast it focuses in good light, so I'm going to concentrate on what some of the other reviewers said to correct some misconceptions.
I use both Macs and PC and I have to tell you that you that PCs suck for AVCHD - you will waste a lot of time and pull your hair out. I'm sure PC video software vendors will address this eventually, but seriously folks if you want to do this the easy way get an Intel-based Mac (caveat: only Intel based machines using Leopard support AVCHD) and use either iMovie or Final Cut Express 4. Both of these programs (iMovie 08 and FCE4) just LOVE this camera (and two other Sony AVCHD cameras I've tried as well) and they work like a charm. Video making has never been this easy. FCE4 lets you mix AVHCD, HDV and SD video on the same timeline and save in whatever format you want so it's worth the $200 if you want to do that or have more exacting control over your videos. It is basically a (lightly) stripped-down version of Apple's excellent professional video software (Final Cut Pro) and it is very good. For most home videos iMovie 08 (which comes in iLife 08) will be just fine.
I've had no problem transferring the movies directly from the camera but, as mentioned earlier, you do need to have the camera plugged into the AC to do it. You can avoid plugging the camera into your Mac to transfer the files if you're only recording on SDHC cards, rather than internal memory on the HF10, but it works just fine. For this reason I would recommend buying the HF100 (over the HF10) and getting an extra 16Gb memory card or two. You will save money that way and have more flexibility. I bought the HF10 because I had to have it the next day and, at the time, the HF100s were delayed a bit. Transcend's excellent 16Gb SDHC Class 6 card comes with a nifty little card reader for only $78.98 here on Amazon, you can get two of them for less than the $200 difference in price between the HF10 and HF100 so you'll have 32gb to work with instead of 16gb for less money. I don't mind having the internal memory as a backup but you pay more than it is worth for it.
The video camera is just acting like a USB reader when you connect it to your Mac anyway - it is the file layouts that the software recognizes. When read in and converted to Apple Intermediate Codec at 1920x1080 they will balloon in size. If you want to store the raw video in a more compressed way you can simply copy the root directory of the card to another directory and copy it back again later. If you're working with AVCHD you need to buy the biggest hard drives you can afford. 60 minutes of video will use up something like 50Gb of storage on your Mac when converted to 1920x1080. If you just want great looking home video to show on your HDTV, but don't want to go broke on hard drives, Apple offers to import the movies at a slightly lower resolution (960x540) which takes up a LOT less space with very little drop in quality. I have been making home videos and showing them on an Apple TV at that resolution and they look stunning. The quality difference between that resolution and full HD isn't that big of a deal.
If want to try to get truly professional-quality video you should avoid AVCHD cameras and stick to the HDV format concentrating on cameras with larger sensors. But this is great camera for HD home videos at a great price.
The user interface on this camera is slow and clunky. Sony's AVCHD cameras have a better interface (using a touch screen) but you can still watch back the videos (which is the main thing you'll do) and it beats the heck out of a tape camera. I wish they had added a dial or button set for adjust exposure and/or backlighting control on the camera. The joystick works surprisingly well for this however in bright light the screen gets washed out enough that it is hard to tell if your exposure is really that great or not. This is where a viewfinder would really help. But these are minor nits because the camera does a good job at exposure control on its own.
As I said earlier this is a very compact point-and-shoot camera that shoots HD video and for that it's excellent.
Love/Hate relationship, 03 May 2008
By Tool "SFjarhead"
(Pax River, MD USA)
The Canon HF100 is the same as the Canon HF10, except it has no internal memory (the HF10 has 16GB) and the HF100 is $200 cheaper. For $75 I can buy a 16GB SDHC card which works great with the camera;... you do the math.. ~ three 16GB cards for the same price has the HF10 which only has 16GB of memory (but can take external cards also)
Records video at Standard Definition (SD), 720p and 1080p (also takes still shots) This is a must for those that have upgraded to an HD TV and want to watch their home movies in HD.
Here Be Dragons...
If all you want to do is watch your videos directly from the camera, no problem; comes with composite and component cables (will take HDMI sold seperately) However, if you actually want to save your videos, without buying new SDHC cards, then there are a few hiccups. The camera will download to your PC, but only in the format filmed; no filming in HD then downloading in SD. It will capture the HD you filmed in, but the software will not edit the HD format and you will be hard pressed to find a codec that will play the H.264 format nicely.
Here's my problem. I want to film my son's soccer games in 1080p for viewing on my 57" TV, so I film in 1080p. His coach, along with 1/2 the parents, want SD because they still use DVD players, while I can play the HD via my PS3. I tried many video capture/editting software to capture the HD I film in; nothing recognizes my camera. If I film in SD, everything works great, but this defeats my primary reason of wanting HD (so I can view on my 57" TV, thereby justifying to the wife that HD is worth it...) So, here's what I do. I film in HD, 1080p, use the Canon DVD burner that connects directly to the camera (sold seperately $250) to capture 1080p source (by the way, no blue rays reqiured, a 1 hour soccer game fits nicely on 2 standard DVDs; 1 half per disk - that can then be played back via my PS3) For the coach, and the rest of the parents, I use a Pinnacle 500-usb Video Capture box (about $50) This little device was intended for turning VHS tapes into DVDs. But just plug into the composite output of the camera, and into the usb of your PC, and your PC DVD burner will make the 1 hour of 1080p video into 1hour of 480p on a normal DVD; plus the Pinnacle software also allows you to edit anf make menus and all the good stuff that the HD software hasn't really caught up with yet.
Numerous quirks not mentioned in reviews, 29 April 2008
By Bryan F.
(Madison, WI USA)
While I wanted to like this camera (and use it to replace my Canon HV10), the growing list of annoyances and downright bugs are making me doubt this purchase. I can't find too many faults with the technical aspects of the camera (which all the reviews on the web seem to focus on). But trying to use it gives me a lot of frustrations. Notably:
1) As mentioned in another comment, you cannot extract video over USB without the camera also being plugged in to its AC adapter. Period. Yet you can extract pictures without external power. This makes no sense and is quite a drawback to anyone who wants to pull video off it in a hurry or to a laptop away from an AC outlet.
2) The ability to take still pictures during video recording is greatly hindered by the fact that it will often (always?) not let you take more than one picture until you stop recording and let everything get written out to memory.
3) Many aspects of the interface are maddeningly slow (particularly when displaying picture/video thumbnails). With only a dozen still pictures saved in my camera, switching to "view pictures" mode takes 10+ seconds, and flipping between pictures takes several seconds. Expect to see a lot of "READING MEMORY" messages. I've even had it hang up entirely just when switching between modes, requiring me to pull the battery.
4) The "premium" of built-in memory in the HF10 doesn't seem worth it. The camera treats it and the SD slot as distinct storage areas you have to manually select and switch between. Unless you are going to use the internal memory exclusively, you might be better off with the less complicated HF100 and a big SD card.
This is a nice camera in many technical respects, but in my mind falls flat in the implementation. The interface is littered with various "DO THIS/DON'T DO THIS" messages; too bad they didn't spend the time to eliminate the need for the messages instead.
Great HD camcorder a few drawbacks, 27 April 2008
By Daniel Claflin
(Sanatoga, PA United States)
I have owned this camcorder now for 2 weeks and have loved it since I got it. The video quality is amazing. In full HD the the detail and color accuracy really shows. The camcorder also auto focuses incredibly fast even while zooming and panning. The quick record mode is very nice (especially if you have children). When the quick record mode is on the camcorder will come out of sleep mode and be ready to record in about a second. Literally by the time you flip the lcd open, it's ready to record. The still shots are ok, but I wouldn't get rid of my stand alone digital camera. The transfers of files to pc requires the use of the included software. There is a quick burn option with the software that can create either an AVCHD dvd or a standard definition dvd. I also tried using the software for editing and authoring but found it cumbersome for that usage. I personally use Nero 8 and it works perfectly with the files created by the Canon. The drawbacks to the camcorder are the battery and the awkward menu. The included battery barely last hour with normal recording. I'll be buying the BP-819 2.5 hour battery by summers end. The menu has a few awkward sections. For example, to fade in or out when recording you have to select the fade effect from the main menu. But to use the selected fade while recording, you have to use the joystick to activate the fade effect assigned before recording. Overall, this camcorder is very good. It has great video quality. The software package, though a little cumbersome, is pretty decent. I don't regret this purchase one bit. It seems pricey, but once you see the differnce on a HD tv compared to SD mini dv, you won't regret it.
Excellent Family Camcorder, 03 June 2008
By Mr. Early Adopter
Don't let the few negative reviews out there fool you, this camcorder is amazing for family recording.
- Just the right level of storage built into the camcorder, with room to grow in the SDHC card. Do you really want to come back from a vacation with 8 hours of video? Really? Cause I think 30 minutes into reviewing your footage you will be kicking yourself. I could be wrong, but I don't think so...
- This thing is tiny, about the size of a can of coke. Its so small in fact, all camcorder bags we looked at were cavernous in comparison to it. We ended up purchasing a Lowepro SLR Lens case to hold it. Fits like a glove.
- In bright to moderate light, the video quality is just amazing. It really is. Sharp as can be and the 12x optical zoom really grabs picture detail. HD really shines on this recorder.
- I was expecting poor stills, but they are actually pretty good. Not as good as a $300 camera, but so good I would think twice about bringing a regular still camera on a vacation.
- I have seen some complain about the ergonomics. I just don't get it. Pulling the hand strap tight so that the top of the strap rests directly below your knuckles, situates the camera so that it rests on the fleshy part of your palm, your thumb naturally lands on the record button and your index finger lands on the Zoom rocker. Perfect!
- It's dead silent. When you record in a silent room, you record silence. There is no click of a hard drive or purr of a tape unit.
- Get the large capacity battery. Just get it. Don't debate, just buy it. Its not really an option.
- In low light you get some picture noise. It picks up available light very well, but also introduces noise. A Sony recorder is green in low-light, so pick your poison.
- On a Mac, there is really no way to nicely disconnect the device. I just eject the internal and SDHC mounted drives and pull the plug. No problems yet, but you do get the warning telling you not to do that...
- No travel charger. I picked one up, but this is an option because you can use the power adapter and charge via the recorder.
- Image stabilizer is just okay. At full 12x zoom, you really have to work to be still and pan slowly. The device is very light, so there is not much mass to keep it steady.
- On the Mac OS, I found iMovie to work pretty well. It makes intermediate files which are about 5 times larger than the raw AVCHD files. To save hard drive space, I backup the raw files to DVD and delete the intermediate files when I have finished my edited home movie
- Interestingly enough, if you copy the video to the SDHC card and plug that chip into a PS3, you can browse your RAW footage directly on your HDTV. (I know many of you don't have a PS3, but if you do, its a huge Bonus). Instant reviewing of content!
- If you buy Toast 9 and buy the HD plug-in, you can create a Blu-Ray video disk. This allows you to put 20 minutes of HD Video on a REGULAR DVDR. If you put this disk in your PS3, it will allow you to watch your footage with DVD Menus. This uses the RAW footage, so you get very sharp video. This ONLY works on a PS3!!! As an added bonus, if you put this DVDR into your Mac and launch iMovie, iMovie will actually act as if that DVDR is a camcorder and prompts you to import the video as if you were pulling from the camera. Pretty Swanky if you ask me.
Overall, my opinion is that this is the best consumer grade HD Camcorder currently on the market.
Great HD performance, be prepared to shell out money for editting software, 07 June 2008
By Truth Teller
This camcorder really is quite fantastic. I previously had the HG10 and was disappointed by it mainly due to it's low light performance and it's tendency to produce smeared / ghosted images - fast moving objects seemed to leave a trail behind them, particularly in low light. Fast forward to the HF10 and I am a much happier person.
The HF10 has quite good low light performance and I have not noticed a problem with smearing or ghosting like the HG 10. The camera is very small and lightweight. Small enough to almost be completely unobtrusive, so much so that I've now got into the habit of just taking it along and putting it in the pocket of my cargo pants or cargo shorts. I could go on and on...
The only downfall of this camera is also a primary reason to get the camera - AVCHD. Put simply, AVCHD enables you to take full resolution HD video with a tiny camera using removable memory in a relatively small file size. However, support for editing AVCHD is spotty right now at the CONSUMER level:
- Canon does include a viewer app that can also export standard MPEG at 1280 * 720, but not 1920 * 1080. In other words, the software is good enough to create a version that most video editing programs can work with, but it can't do any editing with the AVCHD itself.
- Windows Movie Maker does not support it.
- iMovie on the Mac pseudo supports it. It can transcode the AVCHD to quicktime HD and work from there. This means a much, much larger file size and doing the transcoding is pretty painful on everything but a multiprocessor Mac Pro Workstation. I have a dual core 2GB macbook pro purchased in early 2008 and it works like a dream with everything BUT AVCHD... Then it turns to molasses.
- The major vendors - Pinnacle, Ulead, Sony (Vegas), etc all have offerings claiming support for AVCHD, but you'll need a super fast computer or a lot of patience. Besides that, they still seem to crash at times when working on HD projects. You can tell that their AVCHD support is still a serious work in progress. Adobe premiere elements doesn't support it at all as of this writing and when they do I would expect that it'll take a few patches to work through issues.
So, my final take at this moment in time is that the camera itself does a very good job capturing in AVCHD, but you will have to suffer the poor AVCHD support by video editing software vendors. However, if you want HD and don't want huge files or tapes, then this camera is definitely the camera for you.
Unmatched video quality marred by lack of support, 17 June 2008
By Chris Lee Mullins
(Highlands Ranch, CO)
So I've had my HF10 for about a month now. I'm extremely impressed with video and audio quality. Provided you are shooting with enough light, playback in full 1080P is amazing. Low light performance leaves a little to be desired. Autofocus hunts a little too much, again mostly in low light. The onboard light casts a strange blue glow that my wife calls "The Alien Abduction Cam".
The camera is extremely light (other reviews have said the HF10 is about the size of a beer can - true that). Both my wife and I have no issues with the size. She has small hands, mine are a little ogrish.
The fact that the PS3 directly supports playback from the SDHC cards is a major bonus (I'm assuming other Blu-Ray players with SDHC slots will do the same). No need to burn off to a DVD just to check out something you've just shot.
As for the AVCHD codec. Argh, what a pain it is to try and edit this stuff. The codec requires lots of horsepower to edit natively and converting to HDV or WMV/AVI either takes too much time or lots of HD space. There are plenty of solutions out there that will edit AVCHD natively, but most of them are just plain garbage. I've tried several suites - Vegas, ULead, Studio Plus - but have found them to be unstable or user-unfriendly. I typically use Premiere Elements 4 on my PC for this stuff, but Adobe doesn't yet support AVCHD.
For now, I've been backing up the raw M2TS files to a couple of mirrored external back-up drives on my PC, then using iMovie 2008 on a MacBookPro to convert to Apple's Intermediate Code (dropping from 1920x1080 to 960x540 in the process - yes, you WILL notice). From there, its all easy editing but its still a painful workaround. Hopefully, Apple and Adobe will add direct support for AVCHD in the future, but then...I was thinking the same thing last year.
If you can overlook those issues (I almost couldn't, which is why I didn't get an AVCHD 'corder last year), you'll be rewarded with some spectacular video.
Great Little Flashcorder, 22 May 2008
By David Smith
I just got my Vixia HF10 yesterday, read the manual, charged the battery, and realized I will need a second battery as the one that comes with it will only last about an hour. While looking for this battery I read some of the reviews on this flashcorder and about choked when I saw the review entitled "Some Bad Features - Beware". I quickly grabbed my HF10 and did my first recording. I plugged it into my iMac, opened up iMovie, the program instantly found the HF10 and I uploaded the video without any problems. Possibly the previous poster wasn't using the same OS. I'm using Mac Leopard 10.5x and iMovie which comes bundled with iLife 08. If I had to do it over again I think I would have bought the less expensive HF100 as I found that you must manually switch between the internal flash memory and your removable SDHC card. I was under the incorrect assumption that the HF10 would automatically switch from internal to external flash memory when it was full. I may be premature in my rating but it seems to take great video. Much better quality than my previous miniDV camcorder but to be fair it's six years old. I like not having to mess with tapes anymore. I damaged the ilink port on this Sony miniDV camcorder and thought I would just buy a miniDV player to transfer them to DVD but to my dismay they are quite expensive, many times more than the camcorder. It looks like flash memory is the wave of the future with tapes going the way of cassettes and VHS.
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