Canon VIXIA HF100 Flash Memory High Definition Camcorder – HF100 vs HV20: observations on video quality trade-offs and editing/distribution

The canon vixia hf100 flash memory hi-def camera is excellent. It’ll be the only camera you want to use. Especially if you are on a tight budget. Plus living in a small apartment, space and size is a factor so i had to get something small enough to stow away without any hassle. Instead of tape, you shoot directly to a memory card (best is the sd 16gb card that’ll last for 2hrs of video recording). The hf100 shoots great in low light and the audio is quite good and even better with the shotgun mic. In adddition, also got the wide-angle telephoto lens that worked perfect shooting a live stage show. The only drawback is you’ll need a quad-core processor on your pc to edit the footage as it takes a long time to render hi-def. (a one hour live performance took about 3hours to transcode on my dual core desktop). Plus you’ll need a blu-ray or a hd burner to make cd’s.

I must say, the quality that this camcorder produces is jaw dropping. This thing takes such good video i would not be surprised to see it used to film a low-budget film. Very easy to use and canon quality – not much more you can ask for. The 30p made takes great video and the optical zoom is quite impressive. The only complaint that i have, and the reason for the one star deduction, is that it forces you to have it plugged into power to do pretty much anything outside of filming. I hate that i have to plug it into the wall when i want to hook into a ps3 and show video. The means that i have to carry the ac adapter around anywhere i go if i think i might want to show video. I have an extra battery – why can’t i just use that???. It also requires it be plugged in when importing video to your computer (which makes a bit more sense since you don’t want it to die in the middle of that). Other than this one complaint this is an amazing deal and product.

This is a remarkable camera that weights practically nothing and takes very realistic hd video with extremely clear stereo sound. I bought a mini-hdmi to hdmi cable to plug it directly into our hd lcd tv and the quality rivals what you can see on discovery hd. You will not be disappointed with the video quality. Still images too look fantastic. I set it to 30p frame rate since our tv and computers are progressive scan displays and the 60i seems a little shaky with software support. The stills at 2 mp may not have enough resolution for large prints, but they are incredible again on an hdtv as it displays them at a 1:1 ratio. The only thing lacking is good software support for the avchd format. The crappy software that it comes with is windows only and has limited editing. We are a mac/linux household so i’m still waiting for native avchd playback support on my mythtv box. The mac can import from the camera using imovie though it converts it to apple’s format which is huge and can take hours. Here are the specifications for the Canon VIXIA HF100 Flash Memory High Definition Camcorder:

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  • Capture high-definition video to flash memory
  • 12x optical zoom; SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer
  • 24p Cinema Mode; 30p Progressive Mode
  • 2.7-inch widescreen Multi-Angle Vivid LCD
  • Simultaneous photo capture

I did a fair amount of research, and this camera has the best quality and features for the price. It’s small, easy to use, and has no moving parts. The only bad things i can say about it is the quality of the still photos is good but not awesome, and the sound quality is also not professional. If you’re looking for something that’s broadcast quality, you’ll need to spend more and go prosumer; otherwise you can’t beat this one. Transferring the video and still photos to an intel mac with osx leopard is easy:- for still photos, take the card out and use an external usb reader. The card mounts and you can preview and drag the ones you want to your computer (or use iphoto). – for video, you need imovie to capture, but it’s easy. The video files will expand to 10x their filesize, so you’ll definitely need an external hd. I have a 16gb sdhc card and even at maximum resolution i can get a couple hours of video and/or 10,000 photos.

I also did quite a bit of research between various sony and canon hd models and kept coming back to this one, partially because it had very similar specs to some of the more expensive models, and partially because the indication seemed to be the quality was top-notch for hd video. Let me tell you i have not been disappointed. It is true that the default battery loses its charge pretty quick in the higher quality modes, when stopping and starting your record sessions (i film landscape stock footage so i do a lot of 1-3 minute takes and that’s it). So first off, get yourself the higher capacity battery for this camera and an ac charger for sure. You’ll need it unless you only plan to use your camera sparingly. I do not use the canon software so i can’t comment there (i use adobe premiere pro cs4, which does a really nice job of letting you look through the avchd files on your camera and quickly pick the ones you want to include and edit in your project), but the quality of the hd output from this little camera is truly amazing for such a small camera. No banding of any kind, good white balance performance (little off in spots but not a big deal – easily corrected in premiere pro), and the detail is outstanding. Color rendition is very good also, but again like a digital photo i tend to handle the colors in the applicable program rather than always leave them as-is. Because i deal with a lot of wind, ultimately i will probably get the sennheiser boom mic and a ‘dead cat’ for the mic, but really, if you have your extra batteries, memory cards (they get filled up quick.8gb recommended at least) and a tripod you can produce some professional quality video clips with this camera.

Reviews from purchasers :

  • Great daylight video but mediocre low light performance
  • Compact, Outstanding Output, Works With Mac (Final Cut Express)
  • Great value at the current prices

I shoot small-time art videos, mostly. Documentaries, dance performances, musicians’ performances. I’ve owned numerous camcorders, my favorite being a tape-based top of the line sony. Actually, my recent dv tape panasonic is a sturdy and good camera. I use it for backup and for 2 cam shoots. But the canon hf100 has been splendid and met every expectation. Am using a macbook and lacie external hard drive. I think you know that with the sd-based system you’re going to want a ton of storage. I learned final cut express. The books i ordered were somewhat of a waste inasmuch as i finally learned the procedures via video tutorials.

I don’t have any experience with any other camcorders so i can’t give a real expert review but let me tell you this little baby is a lot of fun to use and gives great results. I mainly use it to record and share my musical performances with my family, and it’s great to be able to show them my life in high def video. The menus are very intuitive if you’re experienced using canon still cameras. The internal microphone is total garbage; you need the dm-100 microphone to get good sound (and once you use that, the sound is great). On a mac, imovie will – very slowly – pull your movies off the camera card and convert them to space-hogging aic (apple intermediate codec). If you need to convert straight from mts files, the only program i found that can do that is called iskysoft imedia converter – a very ugly program but it works very well (but you have to rename the files first to m2ts, then send them to iskysoft). Iskysoft can convert the files to mp4 which is good for several reasons – one, you save a lot of space, and two, if you don’t want to add titles or otherwise edit the clip, you can trim it very quickly in mpeg streamclip (a free program) and then send it on its merry way to youtube, vimeo, cd-r, idvd, or whatever. Voltaichd is the other program that converts mts but it doesn’t work on my computer. I found a web site one time that gave the proper quicktime export instructions for a successful youtube hd upload. Look for that if you need it.

I was a little skeptical at first. This camera seems too good to be true while reading all of the specifications listed. But i really have to say that it lived up to all of my expectations. In a well lit area the picture is absolutely stunning–a sharp and true-to-life image. In darker rooms the picture doesn’t get grainy at all from my experience. Obviously a darker room isn’t going to be quite as stunning as a brighter one but i’m still impressed. The mic picks up wind but not to a distracting point. Burning to dvds/blu-rays is actually pretty easy as well. I use sony vegas movie studio and it imports the video and is easily edited. My computer isn’t the most amazing, so the video may take a second or two to buffer before i can preview it but i’ve been cutting videos and burning them easily since i bought the camera just a couple months ago.

I purchased this camera to record my football teams games with. The camera itself is very nice, i do not have one single complaint, and battery life is pretty good. I do have a huge complaint with the crappy software that comes with this camera, it is junk. I have been searching high and low for some decent software, and it does not seem to exist. Some people recommend pinnacle while some recommend others, the bottom line is for every good review of one software package, there is an offsetting bad review. This avchd format that all the camera manufactures are using has caught everyone off guard. I am able to suck the video down into imovie, which is a junk program, and then share it with idvd which is also junk, to then be able to burn a dvd that i can watch on an ordinary dvd player hooked up to a tv. If you want to just watch on your computer, then no problem, its when you want whatever you recorded in a dvd format you can watch on any old dvd player that things go to heck. It takes me about 2 hours to transfer a single football game from the camera to an actual usable dvd. So if you think hey, i am going to get this camera, and then burn some dvd’s for my family or friends, you need to think again.

The hf100 is a great deal right now. Compared to my old standard def minidv (canon zr-30) camera, the hf100 is a hands down winner. One big area of improvement is the image quality in ‘room lighting’. Under incandescent bulb lighting, the detail, color and sharpness are very good. There is still noise in low light, but it is much more reasonable. The camera creates a new file on the sdhc card each time you press the record button. You can view and delete each ‘scene’ in camera, allowing you to free up valuable space. Compared to tape, the non-linear nature of the videos is a big plus. No fast forwarding or rewinding required. I have found the following downsides so far.

I bought the vixia hf100 for the fantastic all-in price of $750 at amazon/j&r. I chose this canon over comparable flash-based panasonic and sony cameras because it had better reviews, and i liked the external microphone option because i record a lot of concerts. After 2 days of experimentation, my conclusions:pros: small, light, quiet. Also, it wasn’t clear from the reviews, but you can actually adjust the volume of the built-in mikes, and not just external mikes. Audio level control is a big plus for recording loud rock concerts without distortion. There are also windscreen and mike attenuation options, but i haven’t had any loud outdoor concerts to test these as yet. Daylight and bright light video was crystal clear. I didn’t notice any ‘purple fringing’ or any distortion when viewed on my 50′ plasma. Unlike another reviewer, i had no problems snapping multiple photos while recording video — i’m using a class 6 sdhc transcend card, so it may be function of using a higher speed sdhc card.

This is the first camcorder i have ever owned, so i am no camera expert. I purchased this camera because i wanted a high definition camera to film my new baby. I didn’t want him to grow up and look back at the video and wonder what kind of ancient technology it was filmed with. Plus, since it records to flash cards, the storage capability is basically endless and if you need more storage for a vacation or whatever, just go buy another card to take with you. So far i have really enjoyed using the camera. It’s very user friendly even for a novice like myself. It’s not hard to take beautiful video with this camera. As with any camera, low-light scenarios greatly impact the video quality. However, there are settings that can be adjusted to help this, plus the camera has a built-in light for really dark situations. Also, the still camera takes awesome photos.

I bought this from amazon about three weeks ago and can’t say anything bad about it (except the price keeps dropping. Oh, well, gotta buy it when ya’ need it. The avchd format is stellar, and this is using p2 as a reference. In fact, i’ve been using the company hvx200 but henceforth i’ll probably use my personal hf100, which is super small and super light, with just enough manual controls to make it prosumer. The images are sharp and the audio rocks. I was surprised by the warmth of the built-in mic, and being enclosed it has a cardioid effect. Instead of buying the dm-100 as i planned, i bought a rycote gustbuster so i can use the built-in mic outdoors where it’s usually windy in this area. The mic input and manual gain option are sweet, as i can run my wireless sennheiser me66 shotgun mic or any compatible mic, and it’ll even work with a mixer, as i have the sound devices mixpre (the mic attenuation option seems to invoke line input). I have final cut express 4 on my macbook and final cut pro 6 on a mac pro at my workplace.

After reading the reviews on this site and others and seeing the awesome videos on youtube i decided to buy this camcorder. I give it 5 stars because i believe it lives up to everything that has been said about it. However, if you are a camcorder newbie, such as i am, be aware of the following: you will not be shooting ‘star wars’ caliber movies simply because of the camera. All my footage looks like i am in the middle of an earthquake (i do have very shakey hands). I finally went out and bought a $30 tripod from wal-mart. The on-screen menu structure is alien to me. There is going to be a high learning curve in understanding all the modes this camera has and what they do. I bought the transcend 16gb card with the card reader and it was a breeze transfering the files to my computer. However, it then took me nearly 4 hours to get my computer to play the mts files.

I highly recommend this camcorder but you need to be clear what you are ordering. I have used this for over a month and the videos are of high quality, something you would expect from canon. The camcorder is very light and easy to use; in fact it has an easy setting for those who don’t want to use the many settings. Canon has many options and some are quite involved. The standard battery that comes with it lasts about one and a half hrs. , just keep it charged (takes about 2-3hrs to charge it). I use a 16sdhc flash card which can record for 1-2 hrs depending on the quality setting. This easily downloads directly to my computer through an sd port. The stills are very good, equal to 4-5 megapixel cameras if used correctly; they are also easily downloaded the pixela image maker software is acceptable although there is better software on the market.

Color reproduction is probably better in sony. No lag time between recordings. Battery life is 45-50 minutes2. You have to spend money on sd card. Charger is very big and bulky. Considering the fact that camcorder is so small, you can’t fit the charger in a small bag. Canon could have provided a compact charge.

Have been doing photography for almost 40 years. I started at 12 with my own dark room but no darkroom needed with the new digital camera/video cam. Be advised this camera is tiny. Almost too tiny but that does make it easy to drag it along with you. The good: great optical zoom capabilities. Recording on flash is easier and better than i thought. I like the seamless transition and not having to line my tape up to the last shot if i removed the media. I found a bonus with the format -take out the media card, insert into a usb reader and attach to your ps3.

I bought this camera for it’s small for factor and convenience of the flash drive. It looks great on my home tv, which is a 42′ 1080p lcd. I was using a sanyo cg6, whose for factor is awesome, but it looked like crap on my big screen as it only records in 640×480. The canon looks great outside, whether cloudy or sunny, but inside it’s just ok. I’ve seen better low light cameras. It’s not unusable, just be sure to turn on some lights. It is a little jittery, as all hd cameras are, just pan slower. The image stabalization does help tremendously. The battery life is medium, about 45-50 minutes @1080p, not as bad as people say.

I did a lot of research before settling on this camera. That said, i had very high expectations. Video quality: i wasn’t quite as impressed as i thought i would be. I watched the demo video on canon’s web site and i thought it looked amazing. Don’t get me wrong, its very nice compared to standard def camcorders but there are pros and cons to the video quality. Let me break it down:for starters, i have only recorded using the highest quality setting (17mb/s) so i will only comment on that bit rate. That said, there is some evident compression (mostly demonstrated by poorly delineated skin tones) that happens at all light levels. Not surprisingly, the greater the complexity of the subject, the better fidelity of the video. Someone with very wrinkly skin (more complex) will have greater detail than someone with very smooth and even toned skin. That person’s skin will be more compressed because the image processor assumes that it is a single simple color like a painted wall. )its not a deal-breaker but it is a little unfortunate. Outdoor/sunny video looks beautiful for the most part. Shadow delineation is spot on and contrasts are handled very well.

Very happy with optical stabilization, flash memory storage, and image quality. I found that being able to quickly switch from video to stills and back was much more useful than i thought it would be. It is nice to have a series of high resolution stills to edit into a slide show with music to accompany the videos on a dvd. I am very impressed with the still images. Optical stabilization gives me sharp zoomed images that i could never get on my other camera, and with the capacity of an 8gb memory card, i can store thousands and thousands at the highest resolution. Flash memory is the only way to go. It is so easy to transfer data to the computer. The absence of tape drive, mini-dvd, or hard drive motors really improves the sound quality. The low light video is not too good, but the low light still images are fantastic.

Before i bought an hf100, i first bought an hv30 due to reports of it having better video quality. But i ended up returning that camera the moment i heard the audio play – the tape noise was loud and distracting. I knew canon made the highest quality hd cameras, though, so i went with the hf100 as a replacement based on good reviews and the fact that it had no moving parts that create noise (like the tape drive on the hv30 or the hard disk drive on some other models. )having now shot several things (a baby shower, a friend’s farewell party) i can tell you with confidence that i absolutely made the right decision. I think the video quality is just as good as the hv30. I was worried it wouldn’t be, but it absolutely is. (low light footage is expectedly a bit grainy just as it was with the hv30 – and always is with small handheld models – and daylight footage is near perfect. ) and the audio quality is as good as i’ve ever heard from a consumer camcorder. And then there are the bonuses:- this camera is noticeably smaller and lighter than the hv30. – the avchd format is 100% functional with a current mac (i tested footage shot with this camera on a macbook and the lastest version of imovie). The process is seamless, in fact. Absolutely handier than importing from tape.

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Canon VIXIA HF100 Flash Memory High Definition Camcorder with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom
4 of 5 stars, based on 256 reviews