The QiRanger Adventures

The HFS11

with 11 comments

The Canon HFS11One of the most amazing gifts I have ever received was the Canon IVIS HFS11 Jo gave me during the holidays. Since receiving the gift, I have been diligently playing experimenting with camera, trying to use all its features to see how well it really works.

The reason I received this camera, is that for years, I’ve been using Canon cameras and have loved them. The one thing that I haven’t enjoyed is using MiniDV tapes. I really didn’t like recording to the medium and then having to import them to the computer. I also didn’t appreciate the fact that from time-to-time, there was a glitch when importing. So I’ve been long wanting to go to a tapeless system.

There are several cameras out there that record to disks, but none that really did what I wanted to do. Then I saw this camera on the Canon website. Not only was it an HD camera, but it recorded on solid state media. Furthermore, it also had a slot for an SD card allowing the camera to store up to 96gb of data per recording. I’ve been drooling over the camera, since it does everything that I wanted, and would finally get rid of that problem that I had with the Vixia30… the mics being placed right next to the tape drive, thus creating extra noise.

So let’s talk about the camera… It records in full HD at 24megabits per second. That’s a great resolution for digital recording. Something that I’m really happy with. I was also happy that the camera CCD was upgraded from 3.1mp in the Vixia to 8.1mp in this camera. The improved CCD does a great job filming and capturing images. In fact, it’s slowly replacing my point and shoot camera as the one I take with me.

Everything else on the camera is pretty much the same as the older models in the Vixia line, with the exception of the flash and mics. The flash/lights are now in a pop-up next to the camera lens and that makes things a little slower when you need them. However, the ones on this camera work very well. The mics are placed on either side of the lens and are very sensitive. I’ve spent a month playing with various recording levels and still haven’t worked it all out yet. I tried hooking up the H2 directly to the camera yesterday… and let’s just say I need more practice on that.

The other thing on the camera that could use some improving is the lens. Now, the lens is great, but like all modern HD camcorders, they seem to be stuck on limiting your viewing to 10x optical zoom. When I had my standard definition Canon camera, I had a 25x zoom. It was awesome! I really wish they’d bring that to the HD camera arena. The other thing I don’t like is that the lens really isn’t a wide-angle lens. I had the same problem with my Vixia… If I wanted to vlog or do a close up shot, it was hard to get my face in the shot at arm’s length.

Jo corrected this problem by ordering me the wide-angle lens attachment. OMG – it is awesome! I highly recommend getting this attachment (no matter the make or model of your HD camera) since it makes close-up shots so much easier to frame. I usually don’t use the lens attachment when I’m out and about, but if I need to shoot something close, then I screw it on and go.

I’ve also been quite pleased with the battery performance. The standard battery lasts about 3 hours. Something my Vixia30 was never able to do.

File formats are JPG for the stills and MTS for the movie files. The latter presents a problem, since the films are encoded in the AVCHD format. It’s not native to Apple computers, so Final Cut (5.x) and iMovie (’06) can’t read them. Later versions of the editing programs allow for import and transfer, but I don’t have that option without forking over cash for new editing software. I opted to buy Clickwrap to convert the movies into .MOV files.

I learned that keeping the files in compressed format chugs my computer and Final Cut really doesn’t like it. So I’ve taken to converting the MTS files using the Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC). This is the same process the newer versions of iMovie and Final Cut use to read the AVCHD films.

So there you have it. My little review on the new toy. I love the camera and Jo for her thoughtfulness in getting it and the attachments for me. If you have any questions regarding the camera or editing, drop them in the comments below and I’ll respond with what I know.

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Written by Steve Miller

January 6, 2010 at 7:00 am

11 Responses

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  1. Perhaps he was being sarcastic (I can never tell), but I remember being really dumbfounded reading Nalts’ blog in which he talked about preferring to have a drawer of miniDV tapes than risk hard disk failure.

    Once you figure out how to incorporate the H2 there really will be no stopping you!

    Have fun.

    John Lacey

    January 6, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    • I never save tapes to begin with, so everything I have is on disk… which is then burnt to dvd as a backup. 😉 Tapes are a very reliable medium, but I can’t be bothered with keeping things around that I may use once very long down the road.

      Steve

      January 6, 2010 at 5:48 pm

  2. II guess it wouldn’t be for me, as I’m a Mac person ;), but seriously, this looks like an awesome toy. My dream toy would be a Nikon, but this will have to wait another few years hehe

    Mélanie

    January 7, 2010 at 7:46 am

    • Well, it certainly does take a little used to importing and translating it to a MOV. However, I love it and found the camera to work very well in Final Cut. My Sis-in-Law has a great little Nikon DSLR… but Jo and I prefer Canon since we have tons of lenses for them. I hope you get your camera soon!

      Steve

      January 7, 2010 at 7:50 am

      • True, it is more convienient if you already have the lenses 😉

        Mélanie

        January 7, 2010 at 7:55 am

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    February 5, 2010 at 1:02 am

  6. Thanks for your well written informed post.
    I have latest macbook but can’t figure out how to import a playlist (selected scenes) that I have created on camera.

    iMovie seems to want to grab the lot….ugh….

    Can’t even match up the thumbnails to choose individual scenes.

    I am sure I have missed something here …either at the canon end of things or the mac side.

    Any Canon/Mac gurus out there to enlighten a dummy?

    Kieran

    kieran

    May 26, 2010 at 8:31 am

    • Wish I could help you, but I usually store the lot and then work with it later.

      Steve

      May 26, 2010 at 9:21 am


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