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VIXIA HF G30
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very good prosumer cam
Initial review of Canon “Vixia” HF G30 Camcorder
This review is based upon about two weeks of ownership and a few trial shooting sessions plus one long (1 hour) shoot. I will try to update this later as I gain more experience.
I have only begun to explore the many options. Some of the functionality is sufficiently complex that one would need significant time to understand it well enough to use it effectively.
Overall, I am very happy with this device so far and rate it as four stars. But nothing is perfect, of course.
• Image quality (focus, sharpness, color balance)
• Long zoom ratio (20:1)
• Extremely comprehensive and useful audio features:
o Mic in can be set to line in, meaning it can accept signals from devices such as an audio mixer or CD player. This is a huge advantage over any other consumer camcorder I have personally used.
o Audio level indicator
o Audio level adjustment so that you can ensure the recording level is where you want it (or you can use automatic level adjustment if you prefer)
o Audio mixer (external input and built-in mics can be mixed)
o Other adjustments for built-in the audio characteristics of the built-in mics
o Option to connect a Canon accessory mic that can produce 5.1 channel surround sound
o Adjustable headphone level
• Extensive feature set and menus for adjustment of numerous camera features
• Large, clear LCD, with good touch sensitivity for use with the on-screen menu system
• Viewfinder with Diopter adjustment
• Joystick for menu navigation, which works with both the LCD and the viewfinder, and can minimize touching the LCD screen (which helps avoid fingerprints on the screen and inadvertently shaking the camera)
• Ability to record in AVCHD and MP4 simultaneously (called dual recording), or to record on two SD cards in sequence (relay recording) to maximize program length
• Lens hood with flap to protect the lens when not shooting (but see the cons)
• Ability to manually zoom or focus with large ring at front of lens
• Comprehensive user manual
• Zoom lens, while sufficiently long for my usual needs, is not quite as long as what I’d have liked and have had on other camcorders with a numerically smaller zoom ratio. (In other words, the lens favors the wide end over the telephoto end of the range.)
• There is no pre-programmed audio/video fade feature. I have had this on every other consumer and professional camcorder I have owned or used for the past 20 years, so I think this is a big omission -- very basic, especially for a device this expensive and with so many other features, some less useful to me. I find it especially puzzling that this feature was omitted but a pre-programmed “soft zoom” was included. I would use the audio/video fade much more often than soft zoom or many of the other more obscure features.
• Many small buttons.
• As others have noted, the button associated with the Custom Dial at the front of the camcorder (which lets you manually adjust aperture or shutter speed – a good feature) is especially difficult to find and use – I expect it will take a lot of practice to find this without looking and successfully activate the feature. Also, the button is almost inaccessible when the camcorder is mounted on my video tripod plate. In my first tripod shoot, I was able to actuate the feature, but with difficulty. (I have not looked into whether there are other plates that might not be as wide.) When on the tripod, the adjustment wheel is also less accessible, so that makes it harder to use and harder to turn smoothly.
• I have found the camera’s zoom rocker button to be a bit touchy, so it is difficult to modulate the zoom speed when in the variable speed mode. It seemed more difficult to modulate the speed when using a tripod than when hand-held. In my first production shoot, using a tripod, I used a fixed zoom speed to avoid distracting variations in zoom speed. (Practice may help on this but it is surprising to have this problem because this technology is well proven.)
• The LCD screen is difficult to use in bright light, as most are, especially if the screen has fingerprints from using it as a touch screen.
• Viewfinder is very small and cannot be used with eyeglasses. (Diopter is provided.)
• I am disappointed with the power supply. The supplied charger will not charge the battery except in the camera. This forces the purchase and use of a second battery charger for all but the most casual user, and is an unfortunate additional cost. Every other camcorder, consumer and professional, I have owned over the past 20 years has had a charger that could charge the batteries without being connected to the camcorder. In addition, the cord from the power brick to the camcorder seems flimsy, is fairly stiff, and a bit too short. When the camcorder is on my tripod, the cord barely reaches from the floor, which may strain the cord and means the cord bangs against the tripod legs when you turn the camcorder. The cord should be a foot or two longer, sturdier, and more flexible.
• The lens hood does not fully protect the lens when the flap is closed. There is an opening at the bottom for a sensor, so dirt and moisture can still get into the lens with the flap shut. So users would be wise to use the lens cap and/or a protective filter when the camera is not in use for any prolonged period.
These may or may not turn out to be disadvantages but are offered as additional observations.
• This might just be me, but I found it easy to get my left hand in front of the lens opening when hand-holding the camera. The natural place to place my right hand so that my index finger is on the front focus/zoom ring, with the other fingers along the lens hood. But the hood is not long enough to keep my last one or two finger out of the field of view. I will have to be conscious of this as I shoot. (This can happen with a tripod as well, if one uses the zoom ring for manual focus or zoom.) The other problem I noticed is that it is easy to inadvertently place your left hand with one finger on top of the left microphone, which might muffle the sound. So this suggests using a separate mic for important shoots.
• The process to upload files to a PC is a bit cumbersome, especially because Canon supplies two separate software applications. One (ImageBrowser EX) is used only for MP4s and still photos. The other (Data Import utility) apparently can be used for both types of movie files (not still photos) and must be used for any videos that were recorded in relay mode or that were split because of scene file size limitations. It is confusing that you apparently cannot just connect the camera or a card and have a single process to upload all new images.
• The supplied USB cord for uploading videos seems flimsy and quite short. One way around this is to remove the SD cards from the camera and plug them into the PC’s card reader if you have one. This saves the effort to hook up the camcorder.
• I have only had a few short shooting sessions so far, but it looks as if it could be uncomfortable to hand-hold the G30 for long periods. There is something uncomfortable about the way the unit fits onto my right hand. But this may be amenable to adjusting the hand strap or my position, and will certainly vary with users.
April 1, 2014
Durable excellent Camcorder
Shot with this camera Saturday March 29 in Alabama. Cold Wet rainy, dirty dusty muddy, with rocks fying at it at 80+ mph. Camera was hit twice and knocked out of my hand. it rolled several times and bounced off a couple rocks. I own hammer down Productions filming and we shoot rock racing southern style and all other types of racing as well. This camera performed flawlessly with the BP -828 extend battery. Picked it up, brushed it off and started working no problems. Size is a tad heavy but after a couple uses I don't notice it anymore. the lens and perfect and the functions are amazing. I would definitely recommend this camera and have done so in the past. I will purchase another in the future.
March 30, 2014
Great everything except for audio
Let me start by saying it's a great camera. I bought it for personal use and I loved using it; had great video quality. But the audio was poor at best considering the quality of everything else. The internal microphones are on the top of the camera, just behind the lens. I could barely here what I was recording, but could hear the jets flying over and my breathing really good. The problem can be totally solved by having an external shotgun mic mounted on the top similar to the old XL-1 and XL-2 cameras. The camera was returned to the place of purchase.
January 23, 2014
I've had this camera for a little over a week now and I'm loving it. I have been using my T2i for the last 3 years and felt the need to complement it with an actual video camera.
I do the video for our youth football games and needed something with an actual zoom rocker and automatic focus. Being able to shoot in 60p with a high shutter speed also help when I want to put a play in slow motion for the final video. My T2i would overheat too much when I tried to go that route. The built-in mic is not horrible, but it's a built-in mic. Do yourself a favor and spend a little money on a decent external one. I also ended up getting 2 extra capacity batteries since I couldn't find any specs on how long the included battery would last. It looks like the included one can get me easily 2 hours of record time. The extra large capacity I can get easily 3 hours out of each with plenty of room to spare. Maybe even 4 hours if I drain it completely. I'm still not a huge fan of having to hunt in the menu for various functions but being able to assign the custom buttons works nicely. Lastly, image stabilization. All I can say is WOW! Unbelievable. It's not tripod rock steady, but it's pretty close.
September 24, 2013