Two more shooting modes are also available. Cinema mode shifts the gamma to improve the detail in the mid-tones at the expense of dark and light, which is closer to the way film cameras behave. However, you can’t use this at the same time as any of the other modes. The final alternative is to use a Scene preset, which leads you to a further menu where you can choose between the usual options of Portrait, Sports, Night, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Spotlight and Fireworks.
The Function menu also provides access to Canon’s Image Effects. This is where you can tweak colour saturation and sharpening. ‘Vivid’ boosts colour above normal, whilst ‘Neutral’ reduces it, or you can select Low Sharpening. Whilst only one of these presets can be used at once, there is also a Custom mode available which provides independent control over Colour Depth, Brightness, Contrast and Sharpening, but only by one notch up or down from the default in each case.
Sundry further options can be found in the full menu. You can switch from 50i interlaced to 25F progressive shooting. Canon uses 2:2 pulldown for the latter, so the signal is still recorded as a 50i file, for greater editing compatibility. But the underlying footage is progressive so won’t suffer from jagged edges on fast-moving objects, unlike interlaced video. Despite the HF11’s small size, it still integrates microphone and headphone minijacks. The latter also doubles as an AV output when hooking up to a TV, switchable in the menu.
However, the HF10’s few shortcomings are also carried forward to the HF11. There is no lens ring, so manual focusing is performed with the joystick. The focus assist system magnifies the frame automatically to help things out, but you’re still more likely to leave things to the Instant Autofocus system, which is fortunately quick and accurate. The accessory shoe is of the “S” Mini Advanced variety, forcing you to rely on Canon’s proprietary add-ons. We hope that one day Canon will produce a version of the HF11, or HG20, with a full-sized accessory shoe. If Panasonic can fit this (and a real lens ring) on a camcorder as small as the HDC-SD100, Canon has no excuse for omitting one from its models.