Video Accessories Misc
- Written by John E. Johnson, Jr.
- Published on 25 December 2008
I spent a lot of time with this camera because it was so much fun to use.
Battery life was about 1 hour of picture taking. Even though the VIXIA HF11 doesn't have any moving parts (motors) except for the focus and zoom, there is still the LCD display, which uses lots of power. The camera is small, so the battery also has to be small. The result is perhaps even less battery life than some cameras that do have other moving parts. This can be solved by simply purchasing an extra battery, making sure it's charged, and keeping it in a small plastic bag of the the type that can be sealed, like Ziploc®. Nevertheless, the advantages of a camera that uses memory cards are that the camera can be more compact (the HF11 is incredibly small), and there are no major moving parts that can break down.
Fortunately, I had it during a trip to Maui, Hawaii, where there is a plethora of beautiful subjects to photograph. All photos (video frames) shown here are unmanipulated except to size them so they will fit on these pages. The Auto White Balance mode was used, except where specified.
Let's start with a shot of the beach, looking towards the northern part of the island, seen in the distance. From the azure blue skies to the deep green foliage, it makes me wish I was still there. As this was an early morning shot, with the sun low and to the right, you can see the shadows of palm trees on the sand.
I shot this plant with light coming from behind. It illuminates the yellow and green of the leaves. It was a good test for red as well, and it looks great.
Speaking of yellow, this is a yellow Hibiscus. All the subtleties of the leaves are shown in excellent detail.
Here is another Hibiscus, of the pink variety.
And, the red Hibiscus. For both the pink and red Hibiscus, I had to set the camera to shadow mode, even though the flowers were not in deep shadow. Otherwise, the color was too blue. The red looks a bit oversaturated, which is a common problem with digital cameras.
Large beds of flowers decorate all the gardens in commercial areas of Maui, and this one is New Guinea Impatiens. Every color is represented here except deep blue. The deep pinks and reds are oversaturated. These problems can be overcome in the editing stage with your PC non-linear editing program. If you show the video direct from the camera to your HDTV, it will look oversaturated as it is the original unedited version.
This flower is the Bird of Paradise, found all over Hawaii, and it California too. This shows red, greens, and blue. With all those addtional lines of high definition image, the color simply has much much greater depth than you would get with an NTSC video camera.
The following two shots were in the late afternoon, with clouds hiding the sun, but I was able to get the reflections of the sun coming across the water. Notice in both photos, there is a small dark triange in the right bottom corner. This represents one of the only complaints I have with the HF11. That is the hand strap. Unless you put your hand through the strap, it tends to fall foward and will block the corner of the photo. I make a lot of shots at odd angles where I cannot use the strap because it would prevent me from getting that angle. So, therein lies a problem Canon should address. Change the strap mounts so that it cannot fall in front of the lens. If these photos were simply snapshot camera photos, I could fix the problem in PhotoShop, but I can't do that with the video (without some much fancier editing software).
In December, we attended a Christmas party at Filoli Gardens. We do this every year, and this time, I had the VIXIA with me.
Here is the entrance (the party was in the evening), shot in Auto White Balance mode. Notice that it looks quite yellow.
Switching over to Tungsten mode for the rest of the photos, I obtained this, which looks much more natural.
Inside the home were lots and lots of decorated trees and plenty of ornaments. Here are some that were in a basket (all of the ornaments, along with myriad other goodies, were for sale at the party as it was a fund raising event). The soft gold pastels are rendered perfectly.
The VIXIA does very well with blue. Most digital cameras don't have a problem with blue. It is the deep reds and yellows that often cause the difficulties. I want to note here also that the incandescent illumination in most rooms was not very bright. So, here is an area where the VIXIA HF11 excels: in low to medium illumination.
These fresh cranberries look edible right off the computer monitor.
The weave of this cloth is very detailed. Light was coming from behind the cloth. Note that camera strap problem in the bottom right corner. Canon needs to address this.
On the way home from the party, I noticed this house that was covered with Christmas lights. I shot it in Auto White Balance mode. I did not use the Night mode, because it was just not necessary. This camera is very sensitive.
The test with a single bright light in the dark showed typical streaks. This will reduce detail with specular reflections. The only camera where this did not occur was with the Sony PMW-EX1 that we tested a few months ago. But that is a much more expensive camera and has three larger sensors. Nevertheless, this is an issue I hope the camera manufacturers will address in future designs.
Here is my standard shot of a vegetable rack in a grocery store. White balance looks good.
These pink roses were sitting on a table in my dining room, illuminated from diffused light coming from a nearby window. I could not resist. The nuances of the soft petals are all rendered in fine detail. Not to mention the beautiful color.
Overall, beautiful performance in all kinds of lighting situations.