Canon HF11 vs HF S11: what differences? + other questions from a newbie


Standard Member
I extensively browsed these last nights the web to get more information about video and camcorders (here namely) as I am a complete newcomer to that field (I am in still photography, using Nikon), and I clearly appreciate the quality of this forum! Hope to get some good answers too! ;)

I plan to buy a HD camcorder for both personal and a bit of professional use (mainly outdoor as my business is trekking) but also some indoor for cultural shots (I live in an area with amaizing etnic groups traditional singing and dancing).

I have been convinced to go for a flash memory camcorder. I did considere HDD at the beginning, but it seems a bit more expensive, HDD camcorders seem heavier (I need something light when trekking) and I am likely to shoot small video clips so I am not searching for dozens of hours of memory capacity.
Since I use DLSR with SD cards (and other IT products with SD cards), I am rather encline to avoid Sony and their Memory Sticks. From that, I mainly focused on Canon as I know nothing about JVC, Sanyo or Panasonic.

It came then to me I should target either
- Canon HF11 (or HF10)
- Canon HF S11 (or HF11).

I excluded HF 20, 21 and 200 for budget reason.

But I can't find proper information to compare the HF11 (or HF10) with HF S11 (or HF S10).

  • Are the "HFS" just better version as they are newer (HF are discontinued)?

  • But then why the HFS have less good zoom (x10) compared to HF (x12)?

Living in China, prices are quite lower compared to UK, European or USA prices. And some many sellers everywhere give me the option to consider "older" version like HF instead of HFS.

  • But what inconvenient could it represent to buy HF11 compared to HFS11?

  • Each time, it seems the "11" version was just a bit better than the "10" version (HF11 compared to HF10 & HFS11 compared to HFS10), as I have the chance to buy any of these, what are the major setbacks of choosing a cheaper "10" version?

And some global questions:

  • Does focusing on Canon only is a stupid thing?

  • For Canon, can anyone confirm Vixia/iVIS/Legria are just marketing names with no technical differences?

Considering my future use of the Camera and the above-mentionned issues:
- mainly outdoor (as a trekking guide)
- few access to AC/DC power (I am likely to need at least a additional battery),
- I will consider buying a external microphone to improve sound recording quality when I will go for more "documentary" shooting (it is bonus for my business, not core activity),
- I am using windows XP system,
Does anyone have some advice to give me regarding the model I should buy?

Coming from still photography (and that will remain my main activity, video will be only secondary I guess), I did thought buying a DLSR with video option (Nikon D90 or D5000, Canon 7D, etc.) but they seem to be more expensive and with major inconvients and fairly more expensive.
The only real advantage it could bring me would be when shooting landscapes (Himalayan & South West Chinese landscapes are really incredible!) as it would have better Depth of Field (bigger CMOS sensor and wide range of lenses).
So all in all, a specific camcorder seems a better choice (except if I had the money to buy a Canon EOS 7D or Canon EOS 5D Mark II being said for shooting real good videos). Am I right with these considerations?

Last question which it is less critical to me: what is the major benefit of a viewfinder? (I told you, I am really a newcomer)

Thanks a lot for tips and advice!!! :)


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