So in terms of features the Legria HF S10 ticks even more boxes than its predecessors, albeit with some of the same foibles. But the more important question is - can it beat the Panasonic HDC-HS300's stunning image quality? In good lighting, you would have difficulty saying which of the two is better, coming down primarily to personal preference. The Canon produces a more saturated image by default, where the HS300 is more naturalistic. Neither is necessarily better, and Canon's Neutral image effect provides tamer colour.
However, the S10 pulls marginally ahead in lower light. The S10 maintains a brighter image than the HS300 as illumination drops, and here its greater saturation pays off as more colour also remains. There is quite a lot of grain in low-light shooting, noticeably more than the HS300 produces, but as with last year's Canons it's very fine. The grain, therefore, doesn't ruin the image and more detail is visible than with the HS300. Overall, it looks like a single large CMOS has bettered three slightly smaller ones yet again.
We're still only in March and 2009 is already turning out to be a bumper year for camcorders - credit crunch be damned. Canon knew it had to pull out all the stops with the successor to last year's HF10 and HF11, and in terms of features and quality it has. We still prefer Panasonic's lens ring to Canon's wheel when focusing, and the HDC-HS300's use of a standard accessory shoe leaves your peripheral options open. But in other respects the Legria HF S10 provides an even more mature set of controls.
Our only concern, yet again, is the price. Camcorder costs have increased by around 20 per cent due to the weakness of the pound. But even taking that into consideration, the S10 is hugely expensive. So although it's another great camcorder, in the current economic climate its greatness is likely to reach fewer purchasers than it should.