Archive for January 5th, 2010

The new Canon AVCHD cams

Today Canon announced a slew of new AVCHD camcorders, as they do every year at CES (I hope you didn’t buy an AVCHD cam for Christmas, always wait for CES). The particular model of interest for most readers of this blog is the new HF-S series, the HF-S21. The particular new features that are interesting to high-end consumers are only two:

1. True 24p. No need anymore for pulldown removal. Yay!
2. Touch & Track. You just click on the huge 3.5″ touchscreen LCD, and the system will automatically track the object while you move with the camera. Particularly useful if you’re using a steadycam for music videos or short movies.

The rest of the new features are just fluff for clueless consumers, or nasty software hacks (e.g. the claimed “better low-light support” that this camera now has, while it’s the same sensor/glass as the previous model).

However, the HF-S21 is still missing the point. No full manual control, no real focus ring, and no bigger sensor at around 1/2.0″ (to combat the dreadful low-light performance this sensor/lens combo has on that model). And no 720/60p either (the hardware can do it).

What’s important to remember here is that the Canon 7D is eating away the high-end consumer and much of the prosumer market. The 7D has the best performance/price ratio for what it gives you. And that includes good low light, a selection of lenses with focus rings, 720/60p for good slow-mo, and of course, full manual control. Any serious amateur filmmaker would root for the 7D instead of any of the AVCHD Canon cams.

In other words, the 7D has up’ed the bar. For the engineers at the consumer department at Canon to keep their jobs they MUST have offered the equivalent of a high-end consumer camcorder in the face of the HF-S21. They don’t have the luxury anymore to do incremental updates as they do every year. The high-end consumer model has to be _serious_. They needed a new HV20-style AVCHD camera feature-wise. When the HV20 came out in 2007, it changed the landscape. That’s the kind of product (in spirit of course, not in features) that Canon’s consumer department needed TODAY.

Oh, well, here’s one more year waiting for that Canon department to get off its ass. If I hadn’t already bought the 5D (for reasons I explained in a previous blog post), I would still be with the HV20 and not upgrade until Canon got it right.