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Canon HG20 - Canon HG20

By James Morris



Our Score:


All the features which made the HF10 and 100 so popular here at TrustedReviews are still to be found on the HG20. Minijacks for microphone and headphone are built in, and there is an impressive level of easily accessible manual control available. Switching out of Easy, which configures everything for you, there are five different manual shooting modes available. The basic Program AE offers just brightness configuration, but there are also aperture and shutter priority modes to choose from. These enable you to set the iris between F1.8 and F8, and shutter from ½ to 1/2000th respectively. You can then use the brightness slider to provide quasi-independent control over the setting you haven't configured directly.

The HG20 also offers Cinema mode, which sets the gamma curve for a more film-like look, with greater mid-tone detail. Unfortunately, you can't use this in tandem with the priority modes. The fifth option is to choose a scene preset, with Portrait, Sports, Night, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Spotlight and Fireworks options to choose from. Progressive shooting mode is available, too. This uses the 25PF system, where the progressive frame is stored in an interlaced signal, allowing devices and editing software only compatible with 1080i to get the full benefit. Canon also provides Image Effects, from which you can choose Vivid and Neutral modes that boost or reduce saturation compared to the default. There's a Low Sharpening setting, plus Soft Skin. Best of all, the Custom setting lets you adjust Colour Depth, Brightness, Contrast and Sharpening independently by plus or minus one increment.

One of the only downsides of the HF10 and 100 is also replicated on the HG20, unfortunately - the proprietary "S" Mini Advanced accessory shoe. This won't support standard third-party attachments, instead forcing you to use Canon's own peripherals. The HG20 also lacks a lens ring - hardly an uncommon omission, considering Panasonic's HDC-SD100 and HS100 are the only consumer AVCHD models currently offering this control mechanism. So manual focusing relies on the joystick. This is aided by a Focus Assist system, which temporarily zooms in the LCD view by a factor of two during focusing. Once finished, the LCD goes back to showing the full frame. But even with this aid, manual focusing is a little fiddly.


November 27, 2008, 4:50 am

I want to see real upgrades! things like:

- 1080p @ 60fps for keeping up with sport and good slow-mo's

- bigger sensors for better low light shooting

- larger optical zooms, i mean is 12x really the best they can do?

- reducing prices, the people with money have bought their HD cameras by now, now lets allow the rest of us bask in the HD goodness! (Following Samsungs lead)

James Morris

December 5, 2008, 3:57 pm

50p and 60p formats are only available in AVCHD when shooting 720p, not 1080p. So we would only see 1080/50p or 1080/60p with a new camcorder format.

Bigger sensors are available - look at the Samsung VP-HMX20. However, the latest Canons have amazing low light performance from their existing sensors, as do the top JVCs and Sonys.

Optical zoom is a matter of size. A bigger sensor requires a physically larger camcorder to get the same zoom factor. This is why cheap consumer camcorders with 1/6in sensors have 20x or even 35x optical zoom, whereas the HD ones with bigger sensors max out at 10x or 12x. Size is such an important sales point I doubt we will see camcorders getting bigger just so we can have larger optical zooms.

Samsung is reducing prices - hunt around and you can find the VP-HMX20 for as little as 𧹡. Canon's HF100 has fallen in price a lot too recently.

Chris Carr

March 10, 2009, 4:35 am

just need a bit of advice ... im mostly interested in the 25P feature .. would you go for this , the hg10 or the hf100 the basis of the 25P?

Dave Deacon

June 19, 2009, 12:44 am

I agree with James that the format dictates the possibles. Can't have one's cake and eat it.

Greater zoom can be had via say a 2x converter which can be had reasonably cheaply; obviously too you can add a wide converter. Raynox make some very affordable converters which are optically very good. I have a Raynox 250 (£45 normally but I paid £8 on Amazon :) and a Raynox wide converter (£23). The Raynox 250 also fits my Pentax 16-45, etc, on my super cool Samsung GX20. I'd like to add too, since it does not figure much in camcorder talk, that the Canon lenses on my HR10 and HG20 are very good lenses.

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