The HG10 uses Canon’s fast-access menu for most other functions. You can choose between Program AE, shutter priority, aperture priority, Cinema mode and eight scene modes, including Portrait, Sports, Night, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Spotlight and Fireworks. You can vary the shutter from 1/6 to 1/2000, and aperture from F1.8 to F8, but not independently as only priority modes are available. You also can’t use either with the Cinema mode, as this is an option on the same menu.
The function menu also houses no less than six white balancing presets, as well as automatic and manual options. There are five image effects, which are basically sharpening/softening presets, plus a selection of digital effects. You can even switch between the four recording qualities from here. If you do delve into the full menu, there’s also a progressive shooting mode to be found, so you can record 25 frames per second instead of 50 interlaced fields.
Since it has the same CMOS sensor and optics as the excellent HV20, we were expecting great things from the HG10. On many levels, it lives up to our expectations, too. The brilliant colour fidelity of the HV20 is carried forward, with a vibrant but not over-saturated image. However, AVCHD does have a tendency to show more artefacts than HDV, and this was evidenced by a slightly less sharp picture, even in very strong outdoor lighting, which was even more obvious with moving objects.
In low light, the HG10 fared surprisingly well, and actually exhibited marginally less noise than the HV20, but the image was still not as sharp overall. Switching to progressive mode had a similarly beneficial effect on colour in low light with the HG10 as it did when we tested the HV20. Unfortunately, where we loved the progressive shooting mode of the HV20, which improves image quality without any obvious loss in smoothness during motion, the same cannot be said of the HG10. Turning this mode on with the HG10 resulted in jerky pans and very laggy response from the LCD. As a result, we wouldn’t recommend using it, so you won’t be able to take advantage of its benefits for low-light shooting.