Canon’s new HF S100 has quite a few new innovations built into this latest model. It has a large, 8.59 megapixel sensor, much larger lens, and a lot of new controls. It is priced at $1099, a little less than some of the other contender’s models. It uses removable SD/SDHC memory cards for recording and they are sold separately so there is no internal memory. The HF S100 is a little larger than the other current models but still seems to fit well in the palm and the strap is comfortable and well designed.
The HF S100 has a tremendous amount of manual controls but it is somewhat daunting for the beginner. The controls are split between three menus and navigation can get tricky. Not having any internal memory can make backing up the video a little confusing for those not used to needing to use a back-up feature. Besides the features found standard on most of Canon’s other models, the HF S100 also includes an auto gain control limiter, three zoom speeds, color modes, white balance presets, audio level adjustment, and various frame rates. It also has a custom control dial that works in conjunction with these and other features making it a manual control dynamo.
Canon’s new addition does have one major drawback, no electronic viewfinder. Electronic viewfinders are becoming less prominent on today’s camcorders, but the 2.7 inch LCD may not stand up to the rigors of filming in a high-glare environment. Another drawback was low light performance. When shot in bright light, the camcorder performed very well with a crisp and clear picture. During low light shoots, the performance was barely average and didn’t stand up to the performance of other similarly priced models.
The HF S100 is not a model for beginners. The control features are designed for experienced users who have knowledge of the functionality of these types of manual controls. The custom control dial is a good addition to the camcorder and offers numerous control functions available easily by thumb tip. The control dial is designed well, simple to get to and operates smoothly. It does have one weakness and the depth of level needed to use some of the functions on the menu makes it a liability and switching back and forth between functions can be annoying. Additionally, the placement of the port jack is a poor design and emphasized by a totally unprotected microphone jack on the front end of the camcorder.
Canon’s HF S100 camcorder has a lot of competition for high-end models. Newcomers to camcorder usage will not find this to be a user friendly product and so will shy away from purchasing this model. Advanced users will find some disadvantages in the model that other company’s entries into the high-end market won’t. This is one of those products that need strong consideration and research to see if it provides the necessary features needed by the consumer. It may just ‘fit’ the consumer’s needs and will perform more than satisfactorily for anyone who chooses it.