Canon’s Vixia HF G10 was introduced to widespread praise in the year 2011. The G10 was one of the camcorders that received the highest scores from us due to its high-quality sensor that was fine-tuned specifically for HD video, as well as its many other great features and manual controls. At long last, the successor, the Vixia HF G20 has arrived to take its place.
Canon VIXIA HF G20 Design & Usability
Canon didn’t want to mess with a good thing, thus the exterior of the HF G20 is almost exactly like that of its predecessor. It is a camcorder that is light enough to carry for long periods of time without becoming uncomfortable, and it will not add unnecessary weight to your backpack.
Considering the technology that is at work and the quality of the image that is produced, photography fans who are accustomed to using much larger gear will likely enjoy the tiny packing of the G20.
(In point of fact, Canon produces a modified version of this camera in its professional series under the name XA10 with more internal flash memory, XLR audio connectors, and a standard hot shoe.)
The G20 has a limited number of physical buttons, but if you know where to look, you can access a large number of the device’s manual capabilities. When you slide the mode switch to “M,” the camcorder’s full potential becomes available to you (more on this later).
The touchscreen on the flip-out 3.5-inch LCD makes it possible for both inexperienced and seasoned photographers to access a vast array of shooting options and customizations. The fact that the touchscreen still uses the more traditional resistive touch technology was a very disheartening discovery.
Users who are accustomed to the silky-smooth capacitive scrolling seen on smartphones and tablets may find that operating this device is a little bit annoying. In light of the fact that Canon’s more recent entry-level HF R camcorders feature the more responsive capacitive touchscreen technology, this decision is one that leaves a lot to be desired. In the event that this is an aspect of functionality that is important to you, the resistive touchscreen on the G20 performed admirably even when used with heavy gloves.
Canon VIXIA HF G20 Features
A cursory examination of the product specifications indicates that the HF G20 shares a great many characteristics with its predecessor. Those of you who were holding out hope that the G20 will include a killer new feature that the G10 lacked will be disappointed to learn that it won’t.
The G20 has precisely the same recording modes as the G10, which means that users are restricted to the default setting of 60i and do not have the option of recording in 60p. It is an absolute disgrace that the G20 did not bring this function to the table, particularly when one considers that the G20’s competitors (such as Sony’s HDR-CX760V, and our Camcorder of the Year for 2012) have improved their frame rate capabilities.
We may count ourselves fortunate that both the native 24p and the alternative frame rate possibilities (software-based PF30 and PF24) have been preserved. This year, Canon did not introduce any new important features to any of its camcorders, unlike several of its other models, which had additions like Wi-Fi connectivity, 3D recording, and MP4 video recording.
The G20, like the G10 from 2011, comes with 32 GB of built-in flash memory, and the manufacturer has been clever enough to provide not just one but two additional SD card ports for further storage space and an easier way to transport files.
Some of the other features, such as color bars, zebra patterns, an audio level display, and variable zoom rates, are buried deep within the menus. In Cinema mode, you can use the same nine filters (Cinema Standard, Vivid, Dream, Cool, Nostalgic, Sepia, Old Movies, Memory, and Dramatic Black & White) to give your footage a cinematic quality. These filters are Cinema Standard, Vivid, Dream, Cool, Nostalgic, Old Movies, Memory, and Dramatic Black & White.
The image stabilization characteristics of the G20 are identical to those of its predecessors. Even while it still has an excellent set of qualities, the G20’s armor is beginning to show some signs of weakness. Fans of the G10 won’t find anything about the G20 that makes it worthwhile to upgrade, given that the lens and the CMOS Pro sensor are virtually indistinguishable from one another.
Canon VIXIA HF G20 Performance
The HF G20 continues to excel, as seen by its strong performance across the board in our battery of evaluations. Both the dynamic range and the color reproduction in low light continue to be strengths of this camera. Because it functions so well in dimly lit environments, this camera would be an excellent choice for an aspiring auteur who dreams of making a film in the film noir genre.
Another one of the G20’s many strengths is its sharpness, which compares well to that of the best DSLRs in terms of the amount of detail that is apparent even while the subject is moving. You would be hard-pushed to get low-light performance that is this amazing anywhere else unless you purchased a more costly, professional-level camcorder.
We discovered that the battery life was comparable to what we witnessed with the HF G10, coming in at 111 minutes for a single recording that was continuously played back. The main drawback to the battery performance was the fact that the Canon HF G20 came with Canon’s smallest compatible battery. This was the only negative aspect of the battery’s performance. It would have been wonderful if Canon included a larger battery with the G20 considering the pricing point of the camera.
Canon VIXIA HF G20 Conclusion
An improvement that is more evolutionary than revolutionary for Canon’s HD darling.
Those who were hoping for a significant leap forward from the HF G10 will be left disappointed. The HF G20 builds on the successes of its predecessor while also introducing a few nuanced and understated upgrades.
The HF G20 is an excellent choice for anyone who needs high-quality images in addition to a full range of manual settings unless you are dead-set on shooting video with a DSLR.
In spite of this, it is not difficult to get the impression that Canon arrived a day late and a dollar short with their lack of support for 60p recording. Canon decided to lower its prices in an effort to increase sales.
In 2011, the base price of the HF G10 was $1,499, however, the base price of the HF G20 is just $1,099. To pay such a fair amount for such a wonderful collection of items is not unreasonable. In light of the price reduction, professionals on a tight budget who are thinking about purchasing a Canon XA10 would do well to compare it to the more affordable G20 before making a purchase decision.