JVC GR-D73 is not a common brand in New Zealand shops, but there’s no doubting its pedigree. A few years ago it would have been surprising to see another manufacturer on the shelves beside Sony and Panasonic. However, the introduction of brands like JVC has seen choice for consumers greatly expand. A visit to my local Bond and Bond showed a huge range of cameras, many hovering around the JVC price point, so they have some work to do to gain traction within the local market.
As you might expect given the price difference, the JVC offered the best overall performance of the three cameras. The colours were nicely saturated, giving the picture a warm feel that I really liked.
In the side-by-side comparison, the JVC and Sony looked identical in this respect. I filmed some native timber furniture and the JVC and Sony captured the texture and depth of colour
of the wood best, showing a marked difference from the somewhat disappointing Canon.
Of the three, the JVC handled extreme contrast best. The wide shot of the mountain was perfect and the exposure was correctly maintained as I zoomed into the peak. This contrasted with the Canon, which slowly brought the mountain into correct exposure near the end of the zoom, and the Sony, which did the same, only sooner.
However, the auto focus struggled at times compared to the Sony camera. I framed a shot
with a person working partly in shade and partly
in full sun. This severely tested the Canon’s autofocus and the JVC also hunted for a short time. The Sony handled this situation best with a mere hint of hunting.
But JVC kicks sand in the face of its rivals when it comes to low-light performance due to its built-in light. The value of this will be appreciated if you find yourself filming your daughter’s birthday and someone kills the lights as the cake is brought in with candles blazing. The auto exposure of most cameras will shut down to expose the candles. By flicking on the built-in light you can restore the desired image.
Users need to be wary though, these lights will chew through battery power at a significantly faster rate, so I would recommend purchase of a spare, large-capacity battery — good advice for any camera, but essential for the JVC.
This is the only camera to come equipped with a memory card, which I personally find a waste of time. If you want to take high quality digital stills, buy a proper digital still camera. If you really have to take stills, then prepare to be disappointed with the quality. I accept that not everyone will agree with me, but it means I am paying for a ˜step-up’ feature I will never use. I would rather sink my extra money into a better lens or more CCDs.
If the higher price of the JVC is putting you off, or you already own a good digital stills camera, it may be worth looking at the D73’s little brother the D53, which I am guessing will offer the same performance minus the SD card.
Until now, video cameras have meant hours of post-production editing. The new Everio range from JVC helps make movie-making simpler by organising your video into clips that are ready to write to DVD (it records in MPEG2 format). This means that if you have a DVD recorder instead of a VCR, you simply plug your camera into the recorder and make a DVD ready to share with friends.
No More Tapes
Instead of using a tape or a DVD disc, this camera records directly to a hard drive in the camera. It also has an SD card slot for additional storage or to save your still images to. You can record at different levels of resolution: seven hours of Fine quality recording, or up to 24 hours in email resolution.
Simple editing can be done in-camera, like changing a clip from colour to sepia, B&W, classic film or strobe. You can also do some subtle fades and wipes between frames to add that professional touch.
Super Simple, Super Fast
The body shape is squat and small enough to comfortably hand hold without feeling awkward. You quickly come to rely on the 2.5-inch screen, as there is no viewfinder. However, this isn’t a hardship, as the screen can be twisted and turned to almost any angle for easy viewing.
When in the ˜M’ for manual mode, the Everio has overrides for ISO, exposure compensation, focus control, shutter and nightscope, effects and picture modes. You can also shoot in low-light as the lens is a super fast f1.2. The 15 x optical zoom covers a wonderful range and is backed up with even more power if you like to use digital zoom — this bad boy has the ability to zoom out digitally to 700 x or you can limit it to a more realistic 60 x.
The MG50 camera has so much to offer in terms of fun, simple movie-making, it is disappointing the image quality is not of a higher standard. Compared to footage from my Mini DV camera, the Everio occasionally blew out highlights and suffered from colour fringing.
The editing software — Capty MPEG Edit EX for Macintosh — left me a little cold. I guess I’m spoiled using a Mac, where the iMovie editing program is simple. I found Capty software a bit awkward and not intuitive. I have edited a two-minute movie in iMovie and have posted it on the web, so you can judge the image quality for yourself. Please remember that this file is downsized from the original. View the video at: http://web.mac.com/fraserkitt/iWeb/Site/Podcast/09580805-5790-4E85-BDCC-78A58E9FC883.html
This camera is powered by a single Lithium Ion battery, which gives about an hour of recording.
The built-in LED light, which can help illuminate a scene, is hardly a burden on the battery. This light can be set to Auto or turned on manually. As this camera can record over seven hours of high quality video footage, you will need a spare battery.
Connections on the camera are S-video, USB2, AV out and DC mains power. For the seasoned videographer, there is no Firewire socket, but the USB2 cable quickly downloads the MPEG2 data.
These are early days in a rapidly changing digital landscape, so expect future camcorder models to yield better picture quality and have improved battery power.
At only 1.3 megapixels, it won’t replace your digital still camera. However, the GZ-MG50 delivers video making in a simple manner without needing a computer for editing and it can record huge amounts of material.