Another neat feature is the 1.7x digital telephoto, which takes advantage of the extra CMOS pixels to provide a digital zoom that doesn’t involve interpolation – something Canon has already been offering on its standard definition models, such as the Advanced Zoom on the FS11. You can also use this menu to access the built-in video light, which pops up on top of the lens in the same housing as the pop-up flash.
Naturally, Canon offers its usual suite of manual control modes via the Function button. The shutter and aperture priority options are there. Alongside the Exposure setting, these provide quasi-independent control of both parameters. Alternatively, you can use Cine Mode or one of the eight Scene presets. The Image Effects give you a wealth of control over how your video is recorded, offering Vivid and Neutral colour, plus Low Sharpening, Soft Skin, or fully customisable options.
However, one area where Canon remains resolute is in its non-inclusion of a lens ring. Previously, the company claimed its Instant AF was so good most people wouldn’t want manual focus. Now Canon goes halfway with a little wheel beside the lens. By default, this operates the manual focus. But it can also be configured to control exposure, assist functions, mic level, and AGC limit.
To sweeten the deal still further, Canon now includes an optional peaking display, which works in the same way as JVC’s Focus Assist. This puts coloured fringes around objects which are in focus, and you can also switch the LCD to monochromatic to make this even more obvious. But the frame still magnifies during focusing to aid adjustment, so peaking can be left off if you don’t get on with this method.
Our other bone of contention with recent Canons was the lack of a standard accessory shoe. The S10 continues this irritating tradition, but at least houses its proprietary “S” Mini Advanced Shoe under a solid sliding cover, which is in a different league to the plastic flaps most manufacturers use. We’re also not happy to see that the tripod mount remains towards the front, at least an inch away from the camcorder’s centre of gravity. But the AV mini-jack also doubles as a headphone connector, with its function switchable in the menu. There’s a mini-jack for an external microphone near the front of the lens too.