But these deficiencies were easily forgiven with the HF10 thanks to its amazing image quality. The new 24Mbits/sec mode offered by the HF11 is intended to improve this still further. If you study the HF11’s footage really closely, it is possible to spot a slightly greater level of detail compared to the HF10. In particular, moving objects look marginally sharper, as you would expect with a 40 per cent higher data rate. But you would really need to be extremely picky to tell the difference in most situations.
Similarly, whilst the HF10 is a great performer in low light, the HF11 doesn’t make significantly noticeable improvements here either. The camcorder’s ability in poor illumination is the best we’ve seen in a consumer high-definition camcorder, especially in 25F mode. This allows the shutter to drop to 1/25th sec rather than the 1/50th minimum available in 50i mode, so the image is brighter and less grainy. Even in very low light the grain is fine and uniform, keeping the footage usable in most conditions.
Despite the higher data rate of its footage in the top quality mode, the files recorded by the HF11 proved compatible with every editing app we tried with AVCHD support. If you want to watch footage on a TV, aside from the composite AV output already mentioned, there’s a proprietary component video port, for which a breakout cable is provided, and a mini HDMI port, for which a full-sized adapter isn’t included.
The Canon HF10 and HF100 were the first AVCHD camcorders to offer video quality beyond the best HDV models, and the HF11 isn’t a hugely different model. The greater data rate and extra memory are welcome, making a great camcorder even greater. However, the HF11 is currently priced at £800, where its direct predecessor can now be had for under £600, and its SDHC-only sibling the HF100 for closer to £500. Unfortunately, the HF11 isn’t £250 better than the HF10. So until the HF11’s price goes down, or the HF10 and HF100 are withdrawn from sale, it will remain a great camcorder but not as good value as its predecessors.
Score in detail
Image Quality 10