For CES 2011 Canon has taken the wraps off of a new video camera called the HF G10. They updated their entire lineup of video cameras but this is the top of the line and one that interests me more than the others. Unfortunately it’s not a large sensor DSLR style video camera as everyone is probably hoping for. Canon seems to be dragging their heals in that department. We can learn a few things about the future from the details of this camera though!
Here is a rundown of the important specs
- 2MP Sensor 1/3″
- Fixed 10x optical zoom lens with a variable aperture that goes to f1.8 at it’s widest
- 30.4mm-304mm equivalent lens
- 1080p at 24p and 30p
- Manual focus ring
- Dual SD Card Slot
- 32GB built in memory
- 3.5″ Touch Screen LCD Screen (911K dots)
- Electronic Viewfinder
- 2MP JPEGs
- Polycarbonate body similar to the Canon 60D
- 3.5mm Mic Jack
- Approx $1,499
What it does NOT have
- XLR Mic inputs (Available on the XA10)
- Any sort of professional way to attach an external monitor
I only bring these up in this way because I know some pros are going to be wandering if they can get away with using this for anything. More on that later….
Ever since the launch of the 5dMKII people have been trying to second guess Canon’s future video lineup. That camera opened people’s eyes to what was possible to achieve from a small camera with a large sensor and it wasn’t long before Hollywood features and top rated TV shows like HOUSE were using them to shoot with. For the compact size, they produced an image with incredibly short depth of focus and a look that seemed, with a passing glance at least, to have come from a MUCH more expensive camera. Here is a video I shot with a 5dMKII for example, and this was my first ever video!
The problem was the lack of video specific functionality and form factor and people have spent years figuring out how to add to the 5dII, 7d and 60d to get them to be more ergonomic. The question on everyone’s lips was when would Canon integrate this new stuff into their video camera lineup? So many pros were clamoring for such a camera that it’ll certainly be a surprise, and perhaps a frustration that Canon has launched a consumer camera first. Panasonic’s AF100 has hit the shelves in the last month or so and with it’s 2MP Micro Four Thirds sized sensor and interchangeable lenses , has garnered some very favorable reviews. Sony has also demoed their new PMW- F3 with a super 35 sized digital sensor so it seems that Canon is going to be last to the party in the professional, large sensor, interchangeable lens stakes. Not yet it would seem…..
I want to draw attention to this 2MP sensor the HD CMOS Pro as Canon are calling it . Now everyone is used to hearing numbers like 15 or 16MP these days, or even more in Pro cameras. So 2MP might sound like a step backwards….
One of the major problems that people had with the Canon DSLRs that shot video was the artifacting that occurred during the capturing process. You see HD video is only 1920×1080 pixels , but the DSLR sensors natively capture MUCH larger images (more than 5000px wide). The cameras used a method known as pixel binning in order to capture a smaller image for HD video. Think of it like throwing away every other pixel from the image. It creates some terrible moire artifacts among other things. Not only that, but you are cramming many more millions of pixels onto a chip that does not require them when shooting video. Digital noise from low light situations is largely attributed to the proximity of one pixel to another. On a 16mP sensor they are very close together.
Now enter the 2MP sensor. 1920×1080 is just a touch over 2MP actually, but by only putting on the pixels you need, now the camera does not have to “bin” any pixles. Each pixel is captured for the video that is recorded. On top of that, now you have only 2 million pixels on this sensor, so the distance between the pixels is MUCH larger. This will equate to some incredible low light capabilities, really only at the expense of being able to take large photos. In other words this IS a video camera and NOT a hybrid camera. Hybrid cameras and convergence were a great buzz word in 2009 when the 5dMKII came out but it seems we have all gotten bored of the compromised caused by such an idea. Amen.
Furthermore Canon has actually delivered a top of the line camera with LESS megapixles than the lower ones which is great news for those who prefer image quality of largely pointless numbers. Perhaps this is a sign of the future too as Canon’s marketing department actually made a video about how less megapixles is better in a video camera. I never thought I’d see the day! Now this sensor is unfortunately not APS-C sized like the 60D, and 7D which is a real disappointment for me. Though it is larger than what used to be considered a typical size for such video cameras by a small amount.
End of an Old Lineup
One of the most puzzling things to me is the name of the camera, G10. Just 2 years ago there was the Canon G10 point and shoot. I know many people who still have it and this is going to cause major confusion with accessory sales and search engine results for people looking for info on this camera. What this DOES mean though is that this camera signals the end of the Canon Powershot G-Series of point and shoot cameras. In the last couple of years Canon launched the new S-Series alongside the G-Series and with pretty much the same internals as the G-Series but in a smaller package they sold far better. I myself have a Canon s95 and I LOVE it! Removing the top of the line point and shoot camera though certainly leaves a nice hole in the lineup for a compact (ie mirrorless) interchangeable lens camera…… or at very least a large sensor fixed lens compact, something like the Fujifilm x100 (in spec, if not in design). Canon has typically updated that lineup every year at PMA so we’ll have to wait at least until then to see what they will replace it with!
Who is this camera for ??
Well not for photographers that’s for sure. A few years ago that would seem like a very strange thing to point out, why would a video camera ever be for a photographer ? But things have changed and now I know 3 film makers who shoot solely with a 60d for example, which is a stills camera. So yet these day’s it’s necessary to make these distinctions. With only a 2MP sensor you are going to be able to print that very large. You know the first thing that came to my mind as a good usage was website journalists. If you were covering a tradeshow for example and you wanted to shoot some quick videos of new products and some decent , but not HUGE photos then this would be a great option. I think it’s going to get adopted pretty quickly by those that need to travel to shoot, because its a very small and sleek package and the ability of just grabbing it out of the bag and turning it on without dealing with lenses is great. I’d actually love to get one for my business to shoot video of my travels. Even though I travel with a 1dMKIV and a 5dmkII I rarely shoot video on my trips because its just hard to do it on the fly. You’d probably be surprised about how many TV documentaries are shot with small video cameras these days and also a great many web based shows. This is great for those applications as well as people heading to film school, or shooting action sports like skating, snowboarding etc who need an ergonomic solution to move with the action.
This will certainly fit the bill for many of the people who were considering getting a 60D or T2i just to shoot video. For non professional applications I think those people will be very satisfied with this G10 as an option and it will be a far more user friendly experience for first time HD shooters.
UPDATE: In a bizarre move, Canon also sneaked out a Pro version of this camera in the form of the XA10. Essentially it’s the HF G10 but with a top handle that includes full manual audio controls with twin XLR inputs , a bump up to 64GB internal storage and infrared shooting mode.
My buddy Chris Gampat over at The Phoblographer was able to get some hands on time with this camera prior to it’s launch. Check out his thoughts on it HERE
Full press release :
New 2011 Canon VIXIA Camcorders Enable Users to Easily Capture Stunning HD Video Quality and Push Their Creative Limits
Features Include a Newly Designed HD CMOS Pro Image Sensor to Improve Resolution, Enhance Low-Light Performance and Expand Dynamic Range
LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Canon U.S.A., Inc, a leader in digital imaging, today announced an exciting new line of eight VIXIA High Definition flash memory camcorders. The 2011 high-definition lineup includes Canon’s new flagship model the VIXIA HF G10, the high-end VIXIA HF S30, three compact VIXIA HF M-series models and three entry-level VIXIA HF R-series models. Constantly pushing digital imaging forward, Canon has improved upon its Full HD CMOS image sensor, with the introduction of the new HD CMOS Pro Image Sensor, available in the VIXIA HF G10 and VIXIA HF M-series camcorders. This new sensor incorporates larger, more sensitive pixels resulting in high video resolution, outstanding low-light performance and an expanded dynamic range [www.usa.canon.com/HDCMOSPro]. Other new features enhancing Canon’s 2011 VIXIA lineup include dual SDXC-compatible memory card slots for maximum storage capacity, Cinema-Look Filters that add various cinematic effects, and new Story Creator and Touch Decoration features for an easy and fun way to shoot great video and add creative flair.
“Canon’s tradition of delivering best-in-class image quality and performance is continued with the introduction of the new HD CMOS Pro Image Sensor. Our enhanced sensor technology helps deliver better overall image quality with stunning resolution and low-light performance for HD video”
“Canon’s tradition of delivering best-in-class image quality and performance is continued with the introduction of the new HD CMOS Pro Image Sensor. Our enhanced sensor technology helps deliver better overall image quality with stunning resolution and low-light performance for HD video,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Consumer Imaging Group, Canon U.S.A.
All of the 2011 VIXIA High Definition camcorders retain Canon’s proprietary imaging technologies – a Genuine Canon HD Video Lens, Canon DIGIC DV III Image Processor, and Canon Full HD CMOS Image Sensor. Additional advanced features include:
New Advanced Technologies and Features:
- Canon HD CMOS Pro Image Sensor: A new 1/3-inch native 1920 x 1080 sensor which delivers professional-level HD video performance. Unlike image sensors found in other consumer camcorders, Canon HD CMOS Pro uses fewer pixels, which are significantly larger (61 percent) and more sensitive, resulting in high video resolution, outstanding low-light performance, and expanded dynamic range1:
- Video resolution of 900 horizontal and 800 vertical TV lines, for Full HD video with professional precision
- A 25 percent improvement in low-light sensitivity with a minimum illumination rating of 1.5 Lux, Canon’s lowest Lux rating to date in a consumer HD camcorder2
- A 280 percent improvement in dynamic range for exceptional reproduction of both highlights and shadows3
- Dual SDXC-compatible Card Slots: Each new model in Canon’s 2011 VIXIA lineup includes two card slots which ensure that users always have multiple sources of memory and allow for super-high capacity storage that expands as the capacity of SDXC memory cards increases.
- High-Quality Microphone: Canon has enhanced the internal microphones on its 2011 VIXIA models to give users the high-quality sound to match their HD video. With four directional options, users can set internal microphones to Monaural, Normal (Stereo), Wide, and new Synced with Zooming mode. When in Synced with Zooming mode, the microphone will adjust directionality to coincide with the lens’s focal length position to properly match the audio with the portion of the scene being captured. Users can also adjust frequency response characteristics to dampen the effect of unwanted noise.
- Tele Macro: Reduces the minimum focusing distance at the telephoto end of the zoom range to 1.3 feet (from 3 feet) allowing users to capture spectacular close-ups at full telephoto with the appearance of a shallow depth of field for stunning imagery. This is one of 38 scenes available in Canon’s Smart Auto mode.
- Cinema-Look Filters: Nine different built-in cinema filters – Cinema Standard, Cool, Dramatic B&W, Dream, Memory, Nostalgic, Old Movie, Sepia, Vivid – allow users to create video with a variety of professional cinematic looks.
- Story Creator: Canon’s new Story Creator assists you in the process of storyboarding an organized and sophisticated video shoot. Choose one of five themes – Travel, Kids & Pets, Party, Ceremony, and Blog – and the camcorder provides a list of suggested scenes to shoot to help walk users through the process of creating a complete video storyline.
- Touch Decoration: While shooting, Touch Decoration allows users to add creative flairs to video via the Touch Panel LCD screen. Users can superimpose fun images into their video, such as animations (i.e. shooting stars or thought bubbles), freehand drawing or writing, clip art, or decorative frames.
Popular VIXIA Features:
The 2011 VIXIA line-up retains many popular features that make it easy to record outstanding HD video, such as Canon’s Smart Auto mode which intelligently detects and analyzes brightness, color, distance and movement and automatically selects the best setting for the scene being recorded. Canon’s Touch & Track feature allows users to select any subject on the Touch Panel LCD screen with their finger, the camcorder will then track the subject ensuring sharp focus and proper exposure. All 2011 VIXIA models have Relay Recording for seamless uninterrupted video recording from one memory source to the next. When the primary recording media is full the camcorder continues to record the scene by switching to the next memory source, so that users won’t miss a moment of action. Canon’s Powered IS provides a higher level of compensation for subtle hand movement at the telephoto end of the zoom range. In addition, all VIXIA camcorders with built-in memory feature HD-to-SD Downconversion which enables users to convert recorded high-definition video to standard-definition files while preserving the original HD footage. These down-converted files make it even more convenient to share video online or create a DVD. Each new model is also compatible with Eye-Fi SD Memory Cards, allowing for wireless uploading of video content to a computer, social networking site or video sharing website.
VIXIA HF G10:
Packing in every feature a video enthusiast could ask for, the VIXIA HF G10 Flash Memory camcorder is Canon’s new flagship consumer camcorder providing the ultimate in HD video performance and quality. Recording Full HD 1920 x 1080 video, this camcorder features a Genuine Canon 10x HD Video Lens (35mm equivalent of 30.4mm-304mm) with an 8-blade iris providing smooth background blur and reduced lens diffraction. The lens also includes a dedicated manual-focus ring for enhanced control. The VIXIA HF G10 features the new HD CMOS Pro Image Sensor for high video resolution, outstanding low-light performance and an expanded dynamic range. It also features a 3.5-inch High Resolution (922,000-dot) Touch Panel LCD screen for a large, bright display and easy menu navigation. A Custom Key and Dial can also be used to assign commonly used functions for quick and easy access. As the flagship model in the lineup the camcorder includes, selectable zooming speed, Face-Only AF, Canon’s new customizable Cinema-Look Filters and Tele-Macro as well as Touch & Track technology, Smart Auto, Relay Recording, Powered IS, and HD-to-SD Downconversion. The VIXIA HF G10 comes with 32GB of internal flash memory and dual SDXC-compatible card slots which allow for simultaneous card recording enabling users to create immediate back-up.
For more advanced videographers, the VIXIA HF G10 includes manual color temperature adjustment (2,000K-15,000K in 100K increments), color bars with test tone, manual shutter speed and aperture control, a built-in Remote Control Terminal (which supports LANC protocol), and Native 24p recording. For shooting on a sunny day, the camcorder also includes a color viewfinder which offers a reliable viewing environment when shooting in bright conditions. The VIXIA HF G10 Flash Memory camcorder is scheduled to be available in March with an estimated retail price of $1,499.99.
VIXIA HF S30:
The Canon VIXIA HF S30 Flash Memory camcorder continues the appeal of Canon VIXIA HF S-series camcorders with professional and easy-to-use features to allow anyone to capture outstanding HD video quality and high resolution photos in one device. The camcorder captures Full HD 1920 x 1080 video and features a Genuine Canon 10x HD Video Lens and a Canon 1/2.6-inch, 8.59-megapixel Full HD CMOS Image Sensor for stunning video and outstanding eight megapixel photos. Equipped with 32GB of internal memory and two SDXC-compatible card slots, the camcorder features Canon’s 3.5-inch High Resolution (922,000-dot) Touch Panel LCD screen and a color viewfinder. The VIXIA HF S30 offers Canon’s Touch & Track technology, Smart Auto, Relay Recording, Powered IS, HD-to-SD Downconversion, and Advanced Video Snapshot. Users can also to assign commonly used functions to the Custom Key and Dial for quick and easy access.
The VIXIA HF S30 includes a host of professional features such as color bars and selectable Zebra patterns, a built-in Remote Control Terminal (which supports LANC protocol), and Native 24p recording. The VIXIA HF S30 Flash Memory camcorder is scheduled to be available in March for an estimated retail price of $1,099.99.
VIXIA HF M-series:
The Canon VIXIA HF M41, VIXIA HF M40 and VIXIA HF M400 Flash Memory camcorders offer consumers stunning HD video in an ultra-sleek, compact and lightweight body. Recording Full HD 1920 x 1080 video, the new VIXIA HF M-series feature a Genuine Canon 10x HD Video Lens and Canon’s new HD CMOS Pro Image Sensor for high video resolution, outstanding low-light performance and a wide dynamic range. All three models include Canon’s 3.0-inch Touch Panel LCD screen for a large display and easy menu navigation. The VIXIA HF M-series include Canon’s new Cinema-Look Filters, Story Creator and Touch Decoration, as well as Touch & Track technology, Smart Auto, Powered IS, Tele Macro, and Advanced Video Snapshot. The VIXIA HF M41 and VIXIA HF M40 incorporate 32GB and 16GB of internal flash memory, respectively, and feature HD-to-SD Downconversion. The VIXIA HF M400 records directly to dual SDXC-compatible card slots. The VIXA HF M41 features a color viewfinder which helps provide a reliable viewing option, free from glare, when shooting in bright conditions. The new VIXIA HF M-series is also compatible with the new Canon WP-V3 Waterproof Case. The VIXIA HF M41, VIXIA HF M40 and VIXIA HF M400 Flash Memory camcorders are scheduled to be available in March for an estimated retail price of $799.99, $699.99 and $649.99 respectively.
VIXIA HF R-series
The Canon VIXIA HF R21, VIXIA HF R20 and VIXIA HF R200 Flash Memory camcorders offer the ideal combination of price and performance for the budget-conscious consumer who wants Full HD 1920 x 1080 video. All three models include a Genuine Canon HD Video Lens with 28x Advanced Zoom, 3.28-megapixel Canon Full HD CMOS Image Sensor, a 3.0-inch Touch Panel LCD screen, Touch Decoration, Dynamic IS, Smart Auto and Advanced Video Snapshot. All three models feature Relay Recording while both the VIXIA HF R21 and VIXIA HF R20 include Canon’s HD-to-SD Downconversion. Additionally the VIXIA HF R20 will be available in three stylish colors, black, red, and silver. The VIXIA HF R21 and VIXIA HF R20 models incorporate 32GB and 8GB of internal flash memory, respectively, and the VIXIA HF R200 records directly to dual SDXC-compatible memory card slots. The VIXIA HF R21, VIXIA HF R20 and VIXIA HF R200 Flash Memory camcorders will be available in February for an estimated retail price of $499.99, $399.99 and $379.99 respectively.
In addition to the new VIXIA High Definition lineup, Canon is also introducing two standard-definition models, the FS40, and FS400 Flash Memory camcorders. The Canon FS40 model records to 8GB of internal flash memory, while the FS400 records video directly to an SDXC-compatible memory card slot. Compact and lightweight (approximately 7.8 oz.), both new FS models offer 41x Advanced Zoom to help capture great video even at extreme telephoto distances, as well as Dynamic IS. In addition, the Canon FS400 will be available in three eye-catching colors, silver, red, and blue. The Canon FS40 and FS400 Flash Memory camcorders are available in February for an estimated retail price of $299.99 and $279.99 respectively.
New Optional Camcorder Accessories
The new Canon WP-V3 Waterproof Case helps protect any of the 2011 VIXIA HF M-series Flash Memory camcorders in depths of water up to 130 feet, allowing users to capture exciting HD footage even underwater. The ultimate camcorder accessory for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts, this compact and lightweight housing seals the camcorder, allowing easy on-camera operation and control. The Canon WP-V3 Waterproof Case will be available in February for an estimated retail price of $599.00.
Also new from Canon is the WM-V1 Wireless Microphone* for recording accurate audio without cumbersome wires from up to 164 feet away, ideal for ceremonies, family events and recitals. This new WM-V1 Wireless Microphone is compatible with the new 2011 VIXIA HF G10, VIXIA HF M-series, and VIXIA HF R-series camcorders and will be available in May for an estimated retail price of $250.00.
About Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Canon U.S.A., Inc., is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions. Its parent company, Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ), a top patent holder of technology, ranked fourth overall in the U.S. in 2009†, with global revenues of US $35 billion and is listed as number six in the computer industry on Fortune Magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies 2010 list. Canon U.S.A. is committed to the highest levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty, providing 100 percent U.S.-based consumer service and support for all of the products it distributes. At Canon, we care because caring is essential to living together in harmony. Founded upon a corporate philosophy of kyosei – “all people, regardless of race, religion or culture, harmoniously living and working together into the future” – Canon U.S.A. supports a number of social, youth, educational and other programs, including environmental and recycling initiatives. Additional information about these programs can be found at www.usa.canon.com/kyosei. To keep apprised of the latest news from Canon U.S.A., sign up for the Company’s RSS news feed by visiting www.usa.canon.com/rss.
* This device has not been authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. This device is not, and may not be offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, until authorization is obtained.
†Based on weekly patent counts issued by United States Patent and Trademark Office.
All referenced product names, and other marks, are trademarks of their respective owners.
Prices, specifications and availability are subject to change without notice. Prices are estimated retail prices. Actual selling prices are set by dealers and may vary.
1 This is compared to the pixel size of Canon’s Full HD CMOS image sensor, available in the 2010 and 2011 VIXIA HF S-series camcorders, of 1.7µm. The current HD CMOS Pro pixel size is 2.75 µm reflecting a 61.76 percent increase in size.
2 Rating measured with auto shutter speed of 1/30 seconds
3 This statistic is the result of comparisons with Canon’s Full HD CMOS image sensor, available in the 2010 and 2011 VIXIA HF S-series camcorders.
It’s worth pointing out that both the Vixia line and the G10 will output to an HDMI monitor through the miniHDMI port. The resolution of the output will depend on the monitor itself (from 480p up to 1080p) but that capability is there. This I had to find out on my own since there was absolutely no mention of it in the literature.