With the FS11's 1/6in CCD, we weren't expecting particularly great video performance, despite the DiGiC DV II image processor. In bright outdoor conditions, colour was reproduced faithfully enough, although the detail was a tad soft. Despite Canon's claims about Advanced Zoom, the softness was slightly more noticeable at extreme telephoto.
However, in lower light there was a fair amount of grain visible, and this increased as the illumination decreased. In a room lit by a single tungsten bulb, a lot of multi-coloured noise was evident. Unfortunately, low light performance is a perennial problem with small 1/6in CCDs, and Panasonic's SDR-S7EB-K has similar issues. Yet, the FS11 maintains more colour in lower light, at the expense of grain, where the Panasonic's video looks washed out but a little less noisy. The FS11's video light helped a lot, but its range is short.
When it comes time to edit footage, you can either transfer footage to SDHC and insert that in your editing system's card reader, or hook up via USB 2. The FS11 records regular MPEG-2 to MOD files, so most video editing applications will have no trouble handling the footage, including the Windows Vista version of Movie Maker. The A/V mini-jack comes with a breakout cable sporting composite analog video and stereo RCA audio, for connection to a TV.
Canon has embraced Flash memory with gusto in the last couple of months. However, where the HF10 is a groundbreaking device, the FS11 is merely good in its class. Video performance is marginally better than Panasonic's SDR-S7EB-K, and it has more features. But where the latter will actually fit in a jacket pocket, the Canon FS11 is a little too portly. With a 16GB SDHC card costing around £50, and the FS100 costing over £100 less than the FS11, you are also paying a premium for the model with on-board memory. So this is a handy little camcorder, but it's not perfect.