Canon took a step in a different direction with its new high-end and mid-range HD camcorders this year, as the company opted to use a new image sensor with its HF G10, HF M41, HF M40, and HF M400 camcorders. The image sensor isn't exactly "new", however, as it is similar to the CMOS sensor used on Canon's line of professional camcorders (like the XF105 and XF100, as well as the new XA10 that you can read about here.).
The sensor is 1/3 of an inch in size and has a pixel count of 2.07 megapixels, which corresponds exactly to a 1920 x 1080 resolution. Canon's theory is that by having a sensor that matches to Full HD resolution, the video image will benefit overall. It is true that we have noticed poor low light performance from many camcorders with high-pixel sensors, so Canon's theory here may prove to be correct.
The downside of having a lower pixel count is that you lose the ability to capture high-quality still images. Canon admits this fact out front—these new models are not designed to take good photos. These camcorders are meant to record video and they have been designed with that in mind. They can still take 2-megapixel still photos, however, it's just that the higher-resolution options aren't there.
The Vixia HF G10 is the highest-priced model in this set of camcorders, and it is Canon's flagship model for 2011 (along with the prosumer XA10 camcorder). In addition to including the new HD CMOS image sensor, the HF G10 has two SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slots, a 3.5-inch touchscreen, and 32GB of internal flash memory. The camera is nearly identical to the new XA10 prosumer model from Canon, except it lacks XLR inputs, an infrared sensor for recording in darkness, and it has half the internal memory (the XA10 has 64GB).
The HF M series has three models and each has a different amount of internal memory. The HF M41 has 32GB, the HF M40 has 16GB, and the HF M400 records to memory cards only. Like the HF G10, all of these models have two memory card slots (compatible with SD, SDHC, or SDXC cards), and each feature the new 1/3-inch CMOS sensor. The HF M models are a bit smaller than the HF G10, and only the HF M41 will include an electronic viewfinder (also found on the G10). The HF M models have 3-inch touchscreen LCDs, but with a slightly different design than what you see on the HF G10.
All of the HF M models, as well as the HF G10, will have 24Mbps recording with AVCHD compression. The HF G10 will also feature a native 24p frame rate in addition to the regular 60i mode. Canon will ship HDMI cables with all of these camcorders and they all have 1080p output via their HDMI connections.
Canon also implemented a few new interface features on these new models. These include cinematic filters, creative style controls, manual mic settings, and a mode called story creator. Story creator helps the user organize and sort individual clips into a story-like movie by providing a list of scene ideas. It is somewhat difficult to explain, but basically Canon is giving you an outline of ideas for a story or short video. You then collect the various shots, organize them on the camcorder, and can play them back as a complete video.