Cons: Memory cards don't store video; switching between video and stills is fiddly; HD footage is very data-heavy
Bottomline: With a bright and clear screen and viewfinder, the HG10 handles like a dream
Digital camcorders that can be hooked up to a PC to download and edit footage aren’t new, but cheaper models can now shoot widescreen high-definition (HD) footage, and rather than using tapes, Canon’s chunky HG10 contains a 40GB hard disk.
That capacity allows for a generous 15 hours of full HD 1080i video (1080 being the number of horizontal lines that make up the picture), utilising the new AVCHD format, which stores the video so that it can also be played back on most Blu-ray players including the Playstation 3.
The HG10 further features a slot for a micro-SD memory card on which can be stored 3-megapixel still photos.
An image stabiliser supports the 10x optical zoom lens, resulting in steady, shake-free footage even at maximum range, and there is a port to attach a microphone should you want to improve the sound quality. As it was, the performance of the built-in mic was adequate.
Despite its sophisticated options, the HG10 is intuitive to use, the record button falling readily under the thumb as the body is gripped in the user's palm, composing and reviewing footage on the flip-out 2.7in screen.
Though it is slow to warm up at around 3-4 seconds there is a standby button at the side that allows you to get back to the action in a second.
On the downside, the HG10’s rechargeable battery lasted for just an hour of shooting, and if you opt for the highest quality recording option, you get a ‘mere’ five hours' worth of video. Like its still photo equivalents, you’ll have to buy your own memory cards, and only stills, not video, can be put on the card.
On the plus side, the HG10 delivers a robust and reliable performance, displaying excellent warm colours, ably coping with changes in lighting that can sometimes confuse camcorders, plus there’s a pull-out viewfinder for when sunlight renders the screen difficult to see.
Its design may not be the coolest, but it’s a good place to start exploring the possibilities of HD video, and fairly priced too.