Canon HF10 and HF100 Review

Executive summary: The Canon HF10 and Canon HF100 are two new sibling HD camcorders from Canon that can record in full 1920x1080 resolution onto SDHC cards. They are conveniently small and perform very well for cameras in their price range. I recently purchased the HF100 and took it on my trip to San Francisco; here is my experience.

If you're reading this, you've probably already done a little research into the two cameras, so I'll skip detailed specs and the like. The HF10 and HF100 are nearly identical, except that the HF10 contains 16GB of internal flash storage (plus an SDHC slot for expansion) and is black, while the HF100 has no internal storage (only SDHC) and is silver. I went with the HF100 because it was less expensive even if one adds the price of a 16GB SDHC card.

I think that the best way to go about this review is to use bullets! You may notice that there are more "cons" than "pros" listed - this is simply because there are many implied "pros" that can be gathered from the camera's feature list, so I have generally omitted the normal features that work as advertised. The "cons" are just the areas of improvement I've noticed during my four weeks of use so far.


  • The optics and sensor yield excellent sharpness under most conditions.
  • Optical image stabilization (OIS) works well, even at 12x.
  • The camera's tiny size makes for unintrusive recording. I find that big, professional-looking cameras cause people to act less naturally, either avoiding the camera or giving it excessive attention, so this one doesn't suffer from that nearly as much
  • SDHC cards are very fast and seem to be a format that will be around for a while.
  • Little to no compression artifacts appear in the video except in the busiest scenes.
  • Several output formats are available: composite, component digital, and mini-HDMI (which requires a cable that costs $5-$6 on
  • AVCHD, the codec used to store the video files, looks like a relatively futureproof format. It's the format used on Blu-ray discs.
  • Canon's wide-angle adapter for the HF10/100 (model WD-H37C) is excellent.
  • Captured sound quality is excellent because there's no tape noise.
  • HDMI output can be 480i or 1080i, and all outputs support 4:3 or 16:9, which provides a good range of support for older and newer TVs alike.
  • Many manual controls exist: frame rate (24p, 30p, or 60i), focus, shutter-priority, and aperture-priority.


  • The included battery's life is subpar, lasting roughly an hour. You'll want to get the BP-819, which usually lasts me more than two hours. Still, both batteries are impressive considering their diminutive size.
  • The default viewing angle is not very wide, which is a problem that exists on many video cameras. Luckily the wide-angle adapter (model WD-H37C) works well, but it adds to the overall cost.
  • Purple fringing is apparent when aperture is wide open (in night scenes).
  • A powerful PC needed to play videos, and especially to edit them.
  • The optical image stabilization (OIS) takes a couple seconds to stabilize when shooting from a tripod.
  • The remote control's IR output is weak, and the camera's IR sensor requires the LCD display to be open because it is mounted on the inside of the display.
  • The camera has no Firewire output. Without Firewire, it's currently difficult to capture live HD output. The existing video outputs will show live video, but the cost of an HDMI or component digital capture card is currently high. USB supports file transfers only, so it's not an option for live video.
  • Using the USB connection requires AC power hookup, even when the camera's battery has plenty of juice. This is pretty silly considering that the camera has its own battery, and there is up to 500mw of power available from the USB port.
  • The included software is pretty useless; it only extracts and organizes the videos, and it seems to have issues when you have lots of nonstandard codecs and DirectShow filters installed, like I do.
  • 24p mode records as 60i, requiring 3:2 pulldown removal in post.
  • There is no s-video out.
  • Browsing clips is sluggish, and it takes too many steps to delete files. Here is the shortest key sequence to delete a selected file: FUNC, left, OK, OK, right, OK, OK.
  • I can't currently say that it's the camera's fault, but several codecs that claim to support AVC have issues decoding the MTS files that come straight from the camera.

If you're in the market for a new camcorder, hopefully this list will help you in your decision making process. Despite its flaws, I like the camera and feel that it was definitely worth the money. I consider image and sound quality to be the most important aspects of the camera, and the HF100 does not disappoint. We may even see some of the software issues fixed in a future firmware release. I imagine that recording video files to a flash card will become a much more popular option in the future, and for that reason this camera is a pioneer in its field.


  • Ryan
  • May 8, 2008
  • 12:39 pm
just incase you don't know you can grab an HDMI cable for $8 shipped from
  • Ethan
  • May 8, 2008
  • 12:43 pm
I mentioned that in one of my bullets, but it bears repeating. It's sad how many people must get duped into Monster-branded cables that are incredibly overpriced.
  • Ron
  • May 8, 2008
  • 4:04 pm
It is recommended to turn off OIS when using tripod.
  • Ethan
  • May 8, 2008
  • 4:10 pm
That's usually true, but when you're in a situation where the wind is jostling the tripod and camera (if you have a lightweight tripod), OIS helps keep things motionless.
  • Kevin C
  • June 4, 2008
  • 7:49 pm
- The remote control's IR output is weak, and the camera's IR sensor requires the LCD display to be open because it is mounted on the inside of the display

I like to make a comment on this one.
Actually you don't have to open the LCD, just position the back of camcorder to face to your remote control will do the trick ( I discovered this one by accident). I also increased the remote control power by making the remote control battery contact better. I increased the control distance from 3 ft to 15 ft or so.

Another, the reason they want you to use AC power since they are afraid of corrupting file while using USB to transfer video file and battery dead in that moment. Of course, you may argue the AC power may go dead as well.

Hope this help.
  • Mr. B
  • June 8, 2008
  • 8:26 am
>> The existing video outputs will show live video, but the cost of an HDMI or component digital capture card is currently high. USB supports file transfers only, so it's not an option for live video. <<

Does this mean with a HDMI/Comp capture card an uncoded HD video signal could be recorded live to a HDD through NLE capture?
  • Ethan
  • June 8, 2008
  • 10:18 am
@Mr. B: Yes. I can hook up the HDMI output to my TV and watch live video coming from the camcorder, so if you have an HDMI capture card, it should be able to do that.
  • Duncan
  • October 8, 2008
  • 8:40 am
thank you for your review.
Could you let me know if composite video output is working while recording?
Are PAL or NTSC formats available from composite output?
Thank you
  • Dan
  • December 5, 2008
  • 3:27 pm
Can this camcorder be connected to a standard definition tv to play video?
  • Ethan
  • December 5, 2008
  • 4:47 pm
@Duncan: I know it outputs HDMI live, so I suspect it will also do live composite output, but I have not tested this. It looks like the camera is PAL/NTSC-specific, so you can only have one model or the other. In other words, it's hardware dependent.

@Dan: Yes, the camera has analog outputs (composite) for standard definition TVs
  • Mark
  • December 7, 2008
  • 1:22 am
I just got this camera and can't figure out the 24p, 30p, and 60i settings. When I import the files everything is coming in at 29.97! Is there something I'm missing here?
  • Ethan
  • December 8, 2008
  • 12:21 am
@Mark: All files are recorded the same on the camera, as 60i. Here's what you end up with in the files:
Record 60i = 29.97 frames per second, with two different fields per frame.
Record 30p = 29.97 fps where the two fields are captured at the same time, which prevents interlacing effects. It's not actually true 30p since each frame's data is stored as two separate fields (rather than being stored as a single progressive frame).
Record 24p = 29.97 fps after the 3:2 pulldown is applied. You'll have to do an inverse/reverse 3:2 pulldown (also called reverse telecine) to get true 24p (or 23.976 fps).

This stuff is all pretty silly in my opinion. If you read the HF10/HF100 manual, it refers to 30p and 24p as "PF30" and "PF24", which is their way of saying "it's not really 30p or 24p". You end up with a usable result either way, but it requires you to play tricks in post production.
  • Mark
  • December 8, 2008
  • 9:04 pm
Thanks for clearing that up Ethan. I think it's misleading that Canon push the 24p and 30p as features without saying the final result is 29.97. I thought I was getting actual 24p and 30p frame rate footage right up until I checked the files on the computer.

Do you have any tips for getting the file to actual 24p without too much fuss? I've looked around on the internet but many of the options seem so convoluted and involve many different programs.
  • Ethan
  • December 8, 2008
  • 11:53 pm
@Mark: I broke down and wrote a blog post about it. This method won't pass your "too much fuss" criteria, but once you get it working it tends to be reliable, and it teaches you some helpful open-source tools along the way:
  • Mark
  • December 11, 2008
  • 11:01 pm
Thank you for your help Ethan, I really appreciate it!

This was Canon Canada's reply when I quizzed them about the frame rate via email:

This is normal. You are correct, the ViXIA HF100 is equipped with 24p and 30p frame rate settings. Recordings made with these frame rates are converted to 60i when saved to memory. However, saved footage will reflect the "look and feel" generated by the selected frame rate.

If you require footage on a 24p or 30p timeline, a reverse telecine procedure may be performed with a third party program. However, for most intents and purposes, 24p / 30p footage saved in the 60i envelope by the camcorder is not problematic.
  • Paul
  • May 10, 2009
  • 12:36 pm

I bought a Canon HF10 a couple of months ago and, because the viewing angel is indeed not very wide, I am interested in buying a wide angel adaptor. Some people however tell me to be very carefull as some wide angle lenses leave like a round "frame" in the film, so that afterwards, you see the bl
  • Neal
  • May 19, 2009
  • 4:31 pm
Thank you for the great web site - a true resource, and one many people clearly enjoy.
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