Best All-Around Video
Our testers loved the Vixia HF10 (see our November 2008 review), praising its HD quality and tough-as-nails housing. This model's upgrades made a big impact during testing in Alaska, Vietnam, and the Grand Canyon. The larger 32GB hard drive let shooters capture 12 hours of full HD video at an improved bit rate (24Mbps) for the highest quality in the AVCHD format (read: you could take your movies to Sundance). The 2.7-inch LCD widescreen review panel swivels 180 degrees, allowing testers to frame–and film–themselves with ease, and the key buttons and zoom toggle are accessible with just a thumb and forefinger (essential when the other hand is gripping an ice axe).
The HF11 also shoots 3.1-megapixel still photos in true, vivid color with no noticeable grain. The images are so sharp, we've used them as big as a half page in this magazine (see a Grand Canyon slideshow at backpacker.com/gcphotos). Testers got a full week of filming on just two battery charges, and the built-in audio capabilities minimized interference in 30-mph winds. That was a huge benefit in Wales, where we used the HF11 to film our gale-tossed 2009 Editors' Choice test trip (see it at backpacker.com/snowdonia). Caveat: Battery life plummets by half in cold temps, so carry the HF11 in a pocket whenever possible in winter. $1,199; 15 oz.; SD/SDHC memory cards; lithium-ion battery; usa.canon.com