The Canon HF20 records HD video using the AVCHD codec. Last year, AVCHD was just beginning to be the standard compression for HD camcorders that record to nonlinear media. Now, AVCHD has solidified itself as the primary compression method for most HD camcorders. The codec still has its faults, however. Video files are large and full of information, which makes them very difficult to work with unless you have an extremely robust computer.
AVCHD camcorders come with a standard warning—the recorded footage can be very difficult to work with and edit on a computer. Now, if you’re just doing some minor editing, the AVCHD video probably won’t cause you much trouble. Be forewarned, however, all but the most robust computers will run into problems when working extensively with AVCHD.
The Canon HF20 comes bundled with Pixela ImageMixer 3SE as well as a Digital Video Solution Disk. The Video Solution Disk includes drivers and some software to help your computer and camcorder function together (the software is compatible with both Mac and PC). The Pixela software is a basic editing system that allows you to add titles and transitions or trim and split your footage. The program also assists with transferring footage from the camcorder to your computer—something that can only be accomplished with the aid of software (you can’t drag and drop the video files). Of course, the Canon HF20 also works smoothly with consumer and professional editing software alike. We had no trouble importing video files using both iMovie and Final Cut Express.
According to Canon, the HF20 comes with a music CD. We didn’t get copies of these disks with our review model, so we can’t give you our thoughts on Canon’s taste in music. We assume they’re meant for adding background music to your videos during editing or for use with the camcorder’s playback features (which allow you to add music). And, if nothing else, you can always add them to your record collection.