Canon has unveiled a high-definition camcorder that it says is the world's smallest and lightest such device.

The HV10 is based on the HDV tape format that uses conventional MiniDV tape for storage of HD (high-definition) video. Unlike previous HDV camcorders from competitors, the HV10 looks much more like a traditional compact consumer camcorder.

The camera measures 56x104x106mm and weighs 500g, including battery and tape. That compares favourably with Sony's most compact HDV camcorder, the HDR-HC3, which measures 82x78x139mm and weighs 560g with a battery pack.

Like other HD camcorders it can manage full 1,920x1,080 resolution. It has a 10x optical zoom lens and optical image stabilisation.

When it goes on sale in September it will be the latest of a number of HD camcorders to hit the Japanese market. Just last week Canon announced two HDV-based camcorders for the professional and high-end consumer market, while earlier in July Sony and Sanyo took the wraps off new models aimed at consumers. Sony unveiled two models, one based on the new AVCHD format and another that stores video on a hard-disk drive, while Sanyo's camera uses memory cards.

Sony is aggressively targeting consumers with HD models and hopes that half of all the camcorders it is selling in Japan by the end of the year will be HD models. Other camera makers are equally keen, especially with the back-to-school season coming in Japan. Many schools hold sports days around September, which makes it the busiest period of the year for camcorder sales.

Sales of Canon's HV10 outside Japan are due to begin in mid-September in the US and late September in Europe. Prices for those markets haven't been announced, but it will cost around ¥150,000 (about £700) in Japan.