The Canon Legria HF S10 is a flash memory-based 'Full HD' camcorder equipped with 32GB of built-in storage.
It replaces the Canon HF11 as the company's flagship consumer-level camcorder - which arguably makes it the new benchmark for high-definition video. (After all, the HF11 was one of the best camcorders of its generation).
The Canon Legria HF S10 gave a solid all-round performance and comes with some useful features on board, including a new Video Snapshot mode, a revamped user interface and a wealth of manual controls.
Presumably in an attempt to boost brand-awareness and/or identity, Canon has christened its new camcorder range ‘Legria', where letters and numbers once sufficed. (We're guessing it's Spanish for something cool, but a Google search turned up nothing). Rather cheekily, Canon has re-branded its previous camcorder range under the Legria banner too, but apart from a name swap they remain unchanged.
Rather than merely adding a ‘hair tracking' gimmick or a fresh new paintjob, the Canon Legria HF S10 has been redesigned from the ground up. It consequently bears little resemblance to the HF11. By far the biggest improvement is the enlarged 1/2 .6in CMOS sensor, which replaces the HF11's modest 1/4in offering.
This helps give the Canon Legria HF S10 a significant boost in resolution, with a gross pixel count of 8.5 million pixels (compared to the HF11's 3.3 million). It also comes with a new DIGIC DV III processing chip that delivers a quicker imaging performance. It retains the HF11's 24Mbps bit rate, which remains the fastest on the market.
Other improvements include advanced face detection (which can detect up to 35 faces), an 8Mp stills mode, a control dial for precise manual adjustments and the afore-mentioned Video Snapshot. This is a beginner-friendly mode that records video in quick, 4-second bursts.
The clips can then be automatically merged into a montage via inbuilt editing software (you can even add your own music), resulting in a slick ‘highlights reel' devoid of meandering shots. While it obviously won't suit every occasion, Video Snapshot is a great way to get punchy results fast.
The Canon Legria HF S10 is a very good looking camcorder, with a sleek black body dominated by a disproportionately large lens. For menu navigation, it uses an LCD-mounted joystick configuration, which is functional yet dull. While there's nothing wrong with the interface per se, it lacks the intuitiveness of Sony and Panasonic's touch screens - especially if you're a member of the iPod brigade. On the plus side, the menu is chock-a-block full with advanced modes and features, including a wealth of focusing options. This makes the HF S10 a good choice for budding filmmakers and documentary makers.
The Canon Legria HF S10's main rival is probably Panasonic's HDC-HS200-K - a similarly priced HD camcorder with wildly divergent features. Each model comes with its own unique pros and cons, which makes crowning a winner somewhat difficult. When it comes to bang-for-your buck, the Panasonic HDC-HS200-K trumps the Canon Legria HF S10 due to its 80GB hard drive.
However, the Canon Legria HF S10 wins out when it comes to manual controls and features. Both models produce excellent picture quality, with Canon’s superior optics providing a slight edge. Unless you specifically require lots of inbuilt storage, we’d subsequently plum for the Legria HF S10.