Canon puts high-definition video recording in your pocket, although to make room in said pocket requires removing more than £800 from it. Still, that makes the Canon HV10 the cheapest, smallest HDV camcorder to date. (For the uninitiated, the HD video (HDV) format records compressed hi-def video onto standard MiniDV tapes.) The HV10 has more going for it than just this month's novelty value, if you can overlook some quirks.
If you're acquainted with the vertical design of Canon's 2005 Opturas, the HV10 will feel immediately familiar -- lightweight (440g), attractive, jacket pocket-friendly and functional. However, the HV10 paradoxically manages to be both well designed and awkward to use. All the controls are in the right places, easy to reach and easily understood. But many are also too small, too difficult to operate, or too easy to make mistakes with. To compensate, you'll found it necessary to steady the camcorder with your left hand while making adjustments with your right, which isn't always practical.
As with its snapshot cameras, Canon splits the menus into two groups. Shooting options, such as white balance, exposure settings and still photo quality, are brought up via the Func button, while you access most other setup-related choices via the Menu button. You navigate them on the 69mm (2.7-inch) widescreen LCD using a jog dial.
On the inside of the HV10, a 3-megapixel 1/2.7-inch CMOS sensor captures 1,920 horizontal and 1,080 vertical pixels for 1080i hi-def or wide-screen standard definition video. It down-samples the horizontal resolution to 1,440 when capturing 576i standard-def video. When capturing stills, it uses 2.76 megapixels (1,920x1,440) in 4:3 mode and 2.07 megapixels (1,920x1,080) in 16:9 mode. The HV10 couples the sensor with a 10x Canon HD video lens, a scaled-down version of the 20x lens in the XH series, which shares the optical characteristics of Canon's professional L series of lenses.