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Canon HF100 - Canon HF100

By James Morris


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The HF100's features are undeniably rich, but image quality is where this camcorder really slays the competition. Colour is vibrant, and the slightly smaller CMOS compared to previous HD models is made up for by the true 1,920 x 1,080 recording and higher data rate, which together deliver the most detail we have seen from an AVCHD camcorder. Sony's HDR-SR12 might shade the HF100 and HF10 for dynamic range, but it can't match their pin-sharp clarity of image.

Low light was where we expected the HF100 to fall behind larger-chipped Canons such as the HV30. Here again, however, the extra sharpness mostly outweighs the reduction in colour. To further boost low-light performance, engaging 25PF mode allows the shutter to drop to 1/25th without ill effect on motion, and this effectively doubles the light sensitivity over 1/50th and boosts colour noticeably. In this mode, the HF100, like the HF10, provides the best results we've seen from any AVCHD camcorder in our ‘living room lit by 100W bulb' test. Considering how often you might want to shoot family events under these kinds of conditions, here the HF100 is a real winner.

When it's time to edit, the HF100 provides a USB 2.0 connection to transfer footage to a PC or Mac, and we had no trouble editing our video in any AVCHD-compatible app we tried - which is virtually all of them now, bar Adobe's. Otherwise, you can use the built-in HDMI connection to view footage on a HDTV, although this is of the mini variety so will require an adapter. A proprietary component output is also available, and the headphone minijack also doubles as an AV output, switchable in the menu. Note that all analogue connections are output only, however, so you can't record video back to the HF100.


In comparison to the HF10, the similarly-specced HF100 actually works out better value when you factor in the price of memory. Ok, the HF10 can add a 16GB card and give you four hours of shooting in FXP - comparable to a hard disk-based model - whilst the HF100 will need an extra memory card to perform the same feat. But that's hardly a major hassle, and for this reason the HF100 usurps the higher-end HF10 as our top AVCHD camcorder choice.

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Video Review


August 11, 2008, 6:26 pm

Perhaps I'm getting old but I just can't get away with a camcorder without a viewfinder.

Is it possible to comment in reviews if the viewfinder is present or if we have to wave the camcorder around while trying to see the picture in the screen in the sunlight?


Geoff Richards

August 11, 2008, 7:35 pm

I'm not an expert (and James Morris is on holiday this week) but I would hazard to guess that there are very few camcorders these days with optical viewfinders... Just as we've seen with compact digital cameras, most people prefer framing shots using 3-inch + LCD screens rather than holding it to their face.

This is probably true even more for camcorders really. The solution is to improve the sunlight visibility of the LCD screens used. If you really must have an optical viewfinder I suspect you'll be researching the upper end of the market ie bulkier, semi-pro models rather than sexy little things like the HF100

James Morris

August 22, 2008, 6:00 pm

I'm back from holiday now. There really are very few camcorders left with a viewfinder for under a grand. The Canon HV30 is one, which records HDV to tape, but the AVCHD choice is virtually zero. Panasonic has recently released the HDC-HS100 and SD100, which do have viewfinders. Watch this space for full reviews!

Lee Tracey

September 1, 2008, 3:59 pm

An interesting point, at least for me, is the ability or not, for the camera to output its video and audio stream directly to a hard drive rather than record storage internally to a built-in flash or an inserted SD card. If I can provide external DC power and also record direct to a HDD, even via a PC, and retain the full 2 megapixel or 8M or higher, then I have a low cost megapixel camera I can use as a CCTV surveillance camera and at a reasonable price. Can this Canon provide that facility or can any other camcorder provide it?

Gavin Hamer

September 5, 2008, 6:09 pm

Sweet video review, although perhaps the skyline in the background at the start should be Bracknell? ;-)

Andy Vandervell

September 5, 2008, 9:06 pm

Aha, in fact all the backgrounds are from IPC Media's office in London. Frankly, you wouldn't want backgrounds from Bracknell. ;)

Chew Hock Aun

September 19, 2008, 6:51 am

There is no mention here that lesser moving parts and motor noise predominant in previous Canon models (mini DV) can prove to be a buyer's point. My attempts to replace the recorder head on my Panasonic antiquated camcorder could set me back at least RM 400.00 to RM 600.00. I presume hard disks will also consume battery power enough to reduce the usage time on any one charge.

Geoff Richards

September 19, 2008, 11:42 am

The power consumption by the hard disk is not a significant issue. They are low power and there is no problem with battery life. Higher capacity batteries are available if you really need longer life.

Never underestimate the convenience of having video stored on disc already, and my box of dozens of miniDV can attest - I just can't face having to rip them to my PC in slow-ass real time :(

If I could just drag & drop the entire footage like you can from Flash / HDD-based camcorders, I would do a lot more editing than I currently do.

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