The big trends in hi-def camcorders right now are incredibly compact bodies and low, low prices. Canon’s LEGRIA HF S10 has neither of those things, choosing instead to offer the triple whammy of Full HD video, complete creative control via manual modes and, thanks to 32GB storage and an SD slot, the possibility of 24 hours of movie recording.
Not that it’s a lardy heavyweight by any stretch – the HF S10 is an intelligently laid out HD model that’s sure to suit moviemakers who want a sturdy, stable and durable filming partner. From the contoured mode dial at the back of the camcorder to the custom key next to the lens – used for controlling a multitude of modes, including focus, exposure and audio levels – the quality is impressively high.
Perfect storage solutions
‘Dual flash memory’ isn’t a Canon-only concept. All the leading manufacturers offer models with internal memory and removable media storage, for example Panasonic’s HDC-TM300 and Sony’s HDR-X105 – it’s simply a very practical shooting solution.
The HF S10’s 32GB internal storage is enough for over 12 hours in its 1440x1080, 5Mbps, mode. Combine this with SD-card recording and you can double that figure.
However, you won’t really want to languish at this resolution when you see what the camcorder’s capable of in its 1920x1080 24Mbps top resolution.
In fact, it’s when you untether the HF S10 from auto and start playing with its extensive and detailed menu that you begin to see its potential.
As well as manual settings for focus, exposure and white balance, there’s a 25p progressive mode to recreate the look of film and a range of automatic exposure settings for different shooting situations including pro-focused options like aperture and shutter priority.
For that added professional touch, a zebra-pattern warning highlights over-exposed areas of your shot so you can manually correct them. And if you’re looking for audio excellence, an external microphone socket and headphone output equals exceptional control over your finished masterpiece.
Terminals allowing you to connect to an HDMI-equipped TV or a computer complete an impressive picture. Be aware, though, that the HDMI connection on the camcorder is mini-HDMI, so you’ll need to invest in a separate cable.
A grand finale
As you’d expect from such an impressively built camcorder, images are utterly compelling. Deep, rich and accurate colours are complemented by a very high level of detail. You’ll travel a long way to see anything better than this from a consumer camcorder – even its low-light performance doesn’t disappoint in the way most models do.
We did dig up a couple of grumbles (albeit small ones) in the lack of a viewfinder, which pro-moviemakers love, and in a small amount of picture noise on faster pans. But ultimately those niggles don’t really effect an end result that’s so impressive and satisfying that you’ll soon be storyboarding your debut movie.