Pros Feels solid, good video, very convenient.
Cons Basically the less-than-ideal sound quality. Absence of an electronic viewfinder (EVF). Instead of a remote control, I would have preferred an HDMI cable...
Summary I bought this camcorder as a replacement for an aging mini-DVD Hitachi DZMV380A, and because I had been longing for a decent flash-based cam for years: and now with HD and 16:9, the time had come to upgrade. First impressions were quite good, this cam does seem to be of good build quality.
I use my cam almost exclusively to film piano concerts of our son, and other musical events.
My main complaint: I find the sound *significantly* worse than on the Hitachi. I believe one of the main reasons is the automatic volume control, it seems to flatten the dynamics, everything is always loud, even within notes. So I now record with manual volume control, and normalize volume during post-processing. The results are certainly better (altho I think they are still worse than the Hitachi was, with latter on automatic volume control -- not sure I could go manual on it). See samples below.
The second major problem I noticed in some recordings is a ringing effect heard at times: see sample below. At this point (analysis on-going), I don't know if it's:
- the room acoustics (I doubt it, as I've heard it in a few rooms),
- the mics, or maybe their position on the side,
- the analog-to-digital converter,
- the Dolby AC-3 encoder, or
- the decoding on PC, or my post-processing (not at all impossible).
But it's almost as annoying as the other problem. No workaround for now.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to find much on the web about the audio quality of any camcorder (a suggestion to editorial reviewers: get the audio folks into the picture). And I wish I could better understand how these automatic volume controls work, and why my old Hitachi seemed so much better in this regard (perhaps it had less sensitivity and the automatic volume control hardly kicked in -- I tried mic attenuation on the Canon, but that went too far to be useful).
Wrt video, I notice that there seems to be a bit more video noise compared to my old Hitachi (comparing stage recordings done in the same room). But obviously, the video looks much better, no question there.
I did have one incident which intrigued me somewhat. With the cam on a tripod, and very little movement on the stage, the image went out of focus for a few seconds then back in focus: see sample below. Not too sure why. I only noticed this once, but perhaps it has happened more than once (my eyesight isn't what it used to be, if I'm not paying attention, I might not notice). So maybe I'll switch to manual focus too :-).
Four short (~15 sec) samples: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SU2KhfSlh6E
- Automatic volume control --> not good
- Manual volume control, with post normalization of the audio --> better
- Ringing effect in the sound --> not good
- Focus glitch for no apparent reason
(earphones make the first three problems easier to hear)
AVCHD processing is indeed taxing on the PC (even with a decent PC, it still takes four times elapsed to process the video into DVD-compatible video). But the end result on a DVD is much better (for the video) than the old Hitachi.
Finally a few comments on the documentation. It does not describe what "cine" mode does. Sure, I can just try it out, but maybe I won't see all it does, and so not know just when I'd want to use it. What I see is reduced contrast and color saturation (I can see some use for that, stages are very contrasty). And the manual doesn't tell me how much the mic attenuation is (is it -20dB, or more as it seems). But in general, it is very good, with cross-references all over, and enough icons for a lifetime.
"Simply the best."on by photolito
Pros HD Video Quality, Excellent Microphone placement, sound is pretty good: better than expected, Lens is big, above average photos from a camcorder, big sensor, good grip, nice looks, HDMI, internal storage and sd, nice video light for night recording.
Cons No firewire, generic battery won't display time and always prompts for usage at beginning, no hdmi cable included, a bit expensive (but it's excellent value), there's so many features that it's a bit hard to control and understand.
Summary The video quality of this camera is simply the best. You are paying a pretty penny for it, but it will pay off since you know it's a piece of technology that will not be obsolete for a long time. Hooked it up to a 50" Pioneer Plasma and it looked as good as the video on other HD channels. Microphone placement is smart, and some will choose sony and panasonic over this camcorder as they have 5.1 channel Dolby digital, but really it's more or less the same,and I can't see any problems with the sound quality and I think the sound matches the amazing video quality. The big sensor helps while taking pictures, especially since the high end sony claims to take 12 mp stills even when it only has a 6 mp sensor ... Although, I do really wish they included firewire so transfer could go faster. I could go on and on about this camcorder because it's just so great, but if you're thinking about buying it, and you're not sure, just buy it. If budget is an issue , then I would look at the Vixia HF S100, and if it's still an issue, then the HF 200 and 20 are excellent choices as well.
Pros Excellent image quality specially at night or low light events.
Cons really insignificant to mention compare to the pros.
Summary I'm really impress with this camcorder. Must Camcorders (and also regular cameras) work really poor in low light ambients. This is almost natural in all cameras. I bought this camera and the fist thing I record was an event in a small auditorium with almost no light, only couple spot lights in the stage. I though I will find later a High Quality (1080) but grainy image. And what was my surprise to fine a Clear NO GRAINY image. I was in shock. Then I hook the camcorder to my Samsung 46" HDTV (LN46A750) and the image was excellent, no grainy, clear edges, the color was perfect. I can identify every single person on the stage.
At the moment, I only test the camcorder on low light (night events). I'm sure that any event during day light will be almost like movie style. Obviously it is not a profesional camcorder but for any person who want one that work really well at night with excellent quality, the HF S10 is the #1 option so far. Hope other people share my opinion.
If I need to say something bad about the camcorder it will be lens cover, it shake a little bit if you shake really hard the camcorder (no big deal) but I heard this before from other people and it is true. Also I'm a MAC computer guy I the software to edit video only cames for PC.
I recommend 100% this camcorder.
Pros The features that I really enjoy are the 24p cinema mode and the fact that sound quality equally matched that of video quality.
Cons The menu style takes a little getting used to but, if have a canon powershot camera then you will be able to easily navigate the menu on the hf s10.
Summary My bottom line is that the camcorder offers superb video quality. I like the fact that all sound is recorded in Dolby Stereo (I understand the the Sony models record in 5.1 Dolby but, the zoom aspect of the microphone does not fully allow 5.1 configuration). There is no complaints to camcorder as of yet. Thank you canon for producing another quality product.
Pros I love the fact that is is totally digital and full 1080p HD results. It has a built in 32GB memory and I bought a 32GB SD memory card for the memory slot. You can choose to store video on one and photos on the other! I can shoot hours of video!
Cons When you "pan" around with the camera, since it is digital, there is a little noise until you steady on your subject but the effect is negligible. This camera simply shoots the best digital images I have seen on a consumer product.
Summary For the price, you are getting one of if not the best consumer digital video camera on the market. Canon has put some great optics on an already well built solid state chassis. Hands down this camera rocks and worth every penny!
I am very happy I invested in this camera as I was so tired of losing those family treasures to time and decay with tape and the mini DVD camcorder I bought was sub-par compared to the video quality this thing can produce. I canno say enough great things about this camera...just go buy one already and ditch all the DVD and Tape media! You will not be disappointed!