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Canon HG10 HD video camcorder

I recently bought a Canon HG10 video camera to replace my old Canon ZR DV camera. The ZR is still going strong, but the firewire port on the camera is broken and hence I cannot transfer videos to the PC anymore. I am left with pile of mini DV tapes, many of which I forgot to label.

I like the HG10 for the following reasons:

  • It is high definition (HD) i.e. 1080 lines. I don’t have a HD TV but I think it best to be prepared for a client who needs high def. You can always convert down – but not up.
  • It is an HDD camera (hard disk drive). This offers me the opportunity for an all digital workflow and no unlabeled tapes lying around. In addition the hard disk drive has enormous capacity (9 1/2 hours according to the manual).
  • The camera is small, light and unobtrusive.
  • It has a 24 fps and cine mode option.
  • It has a mic input. The sound quality sounds ok from the built in microphone, but any serious project would require and external microphone.
  • It has 43mm screw threads in front of the lens. The first thing I did after buying the camera was to get a set of filters. Not only are these useful of aesthetic effects, they also protect the precious lens (which has its own automated lens covering).
  • The camera includes a large, well lit 16:9 attached monitor, as well as a viewfinder.
  • My initial thought about the battery life is that is is going to be substantially better than the ZR. The battery attached to the rear of the camera and is charged by plugging an input into the actual camera.
  • The camera has HDMI output, AV out (which also doubles as a headphone monitor), a component out terminal and a USB terminal so that you can transfer clips to a PC.
  • My camera came with backup utility software, a Canon Digital Video Solution Disk, InterVideo WINDVD SE, Ulead DVD Movie Factory SE and DVD Movie Writer SE. More about software below, but one of the quirks of the AVCHD video format used by the HG10 is that there is not a lot of software available for editing it. With the software included, it is possible to transfer files to a PC, play them on the PC in their native format, do some rudimentary editing, transfer back to the camera and burn DVDs. Ideally one would keep the video footage in its native format all the way through the editing process. Once such software that promises to do this is Pinnacle Studio Ultimate version 11. However the PC requirements to do this include an Intel® Coreâ„¢2 Quad 2.66 GHz or higher required for 1920×1080 AVCHD editing (according to the Pinnacle web site). This is a very powerful machine.

Editing software

I have experimented with a couple of different options so far in terms of editing the footage.

  1. Shedworx has created a program, VoltaicHD, that converts AVCHD files into AVI files. These files can then be edited using Windows MovieMaker (which is included with Windows XP) at the camera’s full resolution. The software is very easy to use and Shedworx were incredibly helpful when I asked them some questions. The software is also very inexpensive and so this represents a great way of being able to edit for probably as low a price as possible.
  2. I also investigated software from Elecard. They offer a wealth of software including software to convert AVCHD files to MPEG files for editing.

One quirk I have discovered is that even though the camera’s sensor picks up information at 1920 x 1080 pixels, it stores it to the disk at 1440 x 1080. This means that when you start a MovieMaker session, you need to set the resolution back to 1920 x 1080, otherwise everything will be squashed horizontally.