Video Test – Canon SD960 Vs. Canon VIXIA HFS100

I’ve received quite a few requests asking for a comparison test between the Canon Powershot SD960 IS digital camera and the Canon VIXIA HFS100 HD camcorder. On the surface, this seemed like a one-sided comparison. After all, I’m putting up a $299 digital camera against a $1,300 (when paired with a Canon WD H58 Wide Angle Lens ) prosumer level HD camcorder. However, the little digicam from Canon held its own pretty well.

A couple of things to keep in mind. First, the quality of the HFS100 is higher than what is shown in the test clips. The VIXIA records at full 1080 HD resolution but Vimeo is limited to 720 HD uploads. Still, the difference in quality between the HFS100 and SD960 is pretty easy to see. If the HFS100 sounds better it’s because the camcorder records in stereo while the SD960 is limited to mono sound.

My conclusion is both are great cameras. The SD960 is a great take it anywhere and shoot type of camera while the HFS100 is geared toward more professional work. Any blogger should be happy with either units. Which one do you like more?

35 thoughts on “Video Test – Canon SD960 Vs. Canon VIXIA HFS100”

  1. Robb Sutton says:

    You will be able to see a HUGE difference on a TV. Video compression for HD online is still in its infant stages. Great comparison though.

  2. I actually prefer the video from the SD960, because of the brightness. It is hard to really compare though since the online video compression degrades the true quality of the HS F100

  3. From a blogging perspective, I can’t see how spending an extra $1000 for the the HF S100 is justifiable. Vimeo and YouTube don’t broadcast at a high enough resolution to take full advantage of the higher video quality. The sound is a little more sensitive, but again, for blogging, I can’t imagine it making a difference. The SD960 sounds like a steal for the quality/price.
    This comparison reminds me of John’s Guns and Butter article.. the SD960 sounds like a true piece of artillery.

  4. dg says:

    The Canon SD960 is very nice, but my next camera will be a Casio because of their slow motion 1000-frames-per-second feature.

  5. Yeah the Canon VIXIA HFS100 is better like the Canon Powershot SD960 IS. But think about it, as you sayd john, the online wideo sharing sites ar limited to resolution and quality, and online can’t see so mutch diference, maeby only in colors a litle bit. but think the Canon Powershot SD960 IS costs $259.88 and with a full 8Gb accessorry kit costs only $309.95, so.. the Canon VIXIA HFS100 costs $999.99 and with a full accessory kit costs $1,149.95 So you save mutch more money that you win with the video quality, i say that if you would use one camera in one video, and the same one with other name, eweribody sayd that is another one. So it’s the same, if you buy the small digital camera it’s enough, if you want image, and prestige, you but the Vixia, it’s so easy.

  6. Canon makes good digital cameras. I have one of their older version Powershots. I wonder, if they use some sort of light enhancener with Powershots. When I use my camera in the dark and watch through the display it looks a little bit brighter than normal view through your eyes. On the other hand, what is the difference between these cameras, when you use zoom?

    1. John Chow says:

      The HFS100 has a 10X optical zoom. The SD960 has a 4X zoom but it can’t be used during video. Well you can use it but it’s digital and looks really bad.

  7. Wes Novack says:

    Did you have both devices on the “auto” setting?

    At first glance, the Canon SD960 IS video samples look better due because they’re brighter, but the Canon VIXIA HFS100 could probably look just as good, probably better, with the right settings adjustment.

    Either way, the SD960 IS looks pretty awesome and I’m now thinking about picking one up.

    1. John Chow says:

      Ya, I left both cams in full auto setting. However, the HFS100 was at XP+ resolution which is only 8bit. At its highest setting, it records in 24 bit.

  8. “Profession” work?

  9. EarningStep says:

    300$ versus 999$ but i see nothing different at all except sd960 has more natural motion quality than the expensive one. canon maybe wrong with the hf s100 or the price may failing in this few week because of this review….lol

  10. Wizno says:

    Based on what I saw, the SD960 seems to work wonders for being the small unit that it is. I could use a nice portable digital cam w/ video but it’s not in the budget right now. haha.

    Thanks for the comparison John

  11. We’ve been attempting to decide what camera to take with us as we travel around the world starting in October, so your review is both timely and helpful.



  12. Dana says:

    I choose the cheaper one. It is because both is great camera, so it is enough to have the cheaper one. 😀

  13. Lyndon says:

    If I had some sort of video podcast or online show I’d probably go with the HF S100.

    But since I don’t, I’d definitely buy the SD960. Not bad for the price. If they added stereo sound, it would probably be a must buy!

  14. liciece says:

    The biggest difference is about the sound:SD960 has only mono channel whereas HFS 100 has stero one.The picture qualities are the same which I saw from the online comparison,however,I like the colour from shooting from SD960.That means the cheaper one apparently is not a worse one,at least the distance between these two is not so far in front of HD online.

  15. The quality of the SD960 looks better, and the sound is a bit more crisp, but you can’t really tell with Internet video anyway. I’m sure the HF S100 is much clearer when played in its raw format.

  16. If they fix the price on $ 1300 than I am sure there is something which is not in around $300.

    I must say that quality of both is quite good. If you want to carry a small and tinny one than you can go for 960 otherwise HFS100 is always first choice.

  17. Like comparing an old beetle with a porsche – both bring you from A to B

  18. videostar says:

    I think the cheaper price is more attractive for the people if we choose among the things of the same quality.

  19. PLR Videosc says:

    Canon looks very neat. I should be getting one soon and replace my old cam. Thanks for the great review. 🙂

  20. Honestly I’d rather get a Flip Mino HD over these two, lol.

  21. fas says:

    The Powershot is quite amazing for its price. I found it really awesome.

    1. All of them are available at affordable prices and picture quality is amazing.

  22. fas says:

    John how about the SD980IS? That has Digic IV, this one has Digic III.

  23. 300$ and 999, the price difference is big. The video quality on both cameras good, so I choose for 300$…

  24. Kevin says:

    John, I’ve been looking for the perfect digital camera that takes great pictures and amazing videos.. Looks like I’ve found the one.

    Video looks great and I’m sure the photos look fantastic as well.

    I’m going to have to pick this one up real soon. Thanks John.

  25. Affiliit says:

    Both look extreme good quality.

  26. Cool test. It’s amazing what a $300 video camera can do these days.

  27. It is a good video compression. But I think, if we watch this video on TV then it will show much more quality result. Anyways, I would suggest canon beach cam for video lovers.

  28. videostar says:

    $300 video cam is best sold it is clear why.

  29. I would strongly recommend Canon, i am using a older version of canon for quite some time… both looks of extreme quality

  30. The Canon SD960 is very nice, but my next camera will be a Casio because of their slow motion 1000-frames-per-second feature.

  31. LDS says:

    I’s absolutely mind boggling that Canon has still not produced a true 1080P prosumer camcorder. Interlaced cameras present problems when editing video for both a Personal Computer and LCD TV.

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