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Canon HG20 - Canon HG20

By James Morris



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Canon's top AVCHD models already lead the market for image quality, so the HG20's higher data rate should only make things better. Colour fidelity in optimal conditions is not noticeably different from the HF10 or HF100 - in other words bright and vibrant, with the usual heavy saturation found in consumer camcorders (this can of course be tamed with the Neutral Image Effect). However, detail appeared slightly finer, thanks to the less aggressive compression.

Low light performance was the biggest revelation with Canon's 2008 AVCHD models, however, and the HG20 continues that tradition. Even in quite poor illumination, the HG20 will still pick up quite realistic colour, even if there is a fair amount of noise evident. The image remains sharp, too, which makes this grain bearable. Performance in low light improves even further if you engage 25PF mode, because this allows the shutter to drop to 1/25th without any negative effects on resolution. The result is a brighter image, and there will be few lighting conditions you will encounter where the HG20 fails to pick up usable video. However, the higher data rate isn't so obviously beneficial in lower light.

The HG20 incorporates USB 2.0 to pull the footage off onto a computer. Despite the higher data rate, the footage still proved to be compatible with every AVCHD-capable editing app we tried - including the latest Adobe Premiere Elements 7. There are plenty of options for watching footage on a TV. An HDMI port is available, but of the mini variety, so an adapter will be required for attaching your HDTV. Alternatively, there's a proprietary socket for a component analogue breakout cable. And the headphone jack doubles as an AV output (switchable in the menu).


Yet again, Canon has proven that it currently bestrides the camcorder market like a colossus. The HG20 is another strong contender. We wish it had a lens ring like the latest flagship models from Panasonic, and a regular-sized accessory shoe. But the superb video performance makes up for both these things, under most circumstances, and otherwise the features are comprehensive. Whether you're looking to shoot family memories in the best quality possible, or have some professional pretensions, the HG20 has loads to offer, and it's reasonably priced as well.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Value 9
  • Image Quality 10
  • Features 9

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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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