The JVC HD Everio HM series are quite popular because they all use flash memory as a primary storage device while supplying an extra memory card slot for even greater storage capacity. This enables JVC to make some of the lightest and most compact camcorders without stripping away valuable features. The HM550 is a good high-end device to get if you have extra money to spare, but the JVC GZ-HM1 is in an entirely different category.
Design & Interface
The JVC GZ-HM1 looks different than the other camcorders in the HM series. It sports a silver finish rather than a black and it has that a more heavy duty look thanks to the improved back-illuminated CMOS sensor.
However, the main design features are in-line with other models including the navigational experience where the same “Laser Touch Operation” system is used for convenience. Users can use the touch-sensitive scrollbar on the left to select options, scroll through photos, and zoom. The touch-sensitive buttons on the bottom can activate any icons shown above them. JVC’s approach is to bring the benefits of a touchscreen without forcing users to add fingerprints on to their screens. A multi-function dial can also be used to manually adjust the focus, brightness, and other settings.
The “2-way Grip Belt” is also featured in the JVC GZ-HM1 where it is primarily used as a grip belt for holding the device in place while recording. When not in use, the belt can detach to form a wrist strap for easy carrying.
The JVC GZ-HM1 doubles the storage capacity of the high-end HM550 totaling 64 GB of flash space. This translates to longer recording times even when the high quality UXP mode is used allowing nearly 6 hours of video before the internal memory runs out of space. Using seamless recording, additional recording time can be added simply by adding an SDHC card. This allows users to expand the total memory to 96 GB after inserting a 32 GB SDHC card.
The image sensor matches that of the HM550 sporting 10.62 megapixels. It uses the same Konica Minolta HD lens to give it the 20x optical zoom and 200x digital zoom. These high-end specs give the JVC GZ-HM1 the ability to do ultra high-speed video recording at 500 fps. It can also capture 5.7 megapixel still images while continuously shooting at 50 fps simultaneously. When still mode is activated, 10 megapixel still images can be captured at 15 fps.
The high-quality recording is backed up with some technologies including the K2 technology for improved sound along with the new “Super LoLux” that makes use of its back-illuminated CMOS sensor to vastly enhance the low light performance. The “Advanced Image Stabilizer” also enhances the stability allowing users to run around and do shoots without sacrificing recording quality. All of these internal features revolve around the same HD Gigabrid Premium II engine that powers all of the 2010 Everio models.
“The first thing I’ll get to is the question everybody seems to be asking, how is it in low light. Well, I have to say, fantastic. This camcorder has the largest sensor I’ve found available in the consumer class, and coupled with the new backlit sensor it takes very good low light video with a minimal amount of grain. The last camcorder I had was a Sony with the nightshot mode, and I was hoping for something similar in this, the ability to take video in complete darkness, but unfortunately the sensor is not THAT good. You won’t get anything in complete darkness, but if there is just a little bit of light, the video will look great.
The 2.8″ screen is a little on the small side, but I like it hands down in usability compared to touchscreens. There are for selection buttons at the bottom and the Laser Touch strip on the side. Like many reviews have said about the Laser Touch strip, it is a bit of a hassle to use; it is similar in function to scrolling down a page on a laptop. It works, but it’s not the easiest thing to use, and I often find myself overshooting menus. It also functions as up to 4 buttons depending on what mode the camera is in. In normal shooting, you can use it to zoom and enable or disable the image stabilization.
That leads me to my favorite feature, the image stabilization. It’s excellent, and it’s the feature I find myself showing off the most. With it enabled, you can look at the lens and see these two little rings moving like crazy, smoothing out your video. I was very surprised at how much shake it actually removes. If you have a steady hand, it will look almost like you’re on a tripod, that’s how clear it is.”– Ryan Maclean(USA)
Although this camcorder is for enthusiasts, uploading to YouTube remains simple by pushing the one-touch upload button. This makes exporting to computers just as easy as the same Everio MediaBrowser is provided for advanced video management. It also features advanced face detection where up to 16 faces can be identified on screen. Every face can be given a thumbnail so it is easier to search for videos containing certain people.
The new “Time Lapse REC” feature is also present which allows users to set a certain interval in which frames are taken. Once set, the camcorder continuously shoots following that interval to form a slideshow-like video that shows lengthy changes over time.
The JVC GZ-HM1 costs around $1,100 because of the various shooting options particularly the high quality ones. The best thing about this camcorder is that space is no longer a major concern and it even surpasses some of the older models that feature a 40 GB hard disk. The flash memory gives it a significant boost in performance and keeps the device lightweight for easy handling. This device is recommended for people that need to put these high quality features to good use without depending on a larger camcorder to do the job.
More user reviews:
• “After very careful study and consideration over the last several months, I decided to go ahead and go with this JVC GZ-HM1 rather than the Canon HF S21 or Sony HDR-CX550V.
One of my main concerns was low light shooting. Although I believe that both the Canon and JVC to be similar in their great quality picture during normal lighting conditions, unfortunately, the Canon does not have a backlit CMOS sensor introduced this year by JVC, and last year by Sony.
In the end, I was left debating between this JVC and the Sony. The Sony has a larger and much more beautiful 3.5″ touch display, opposed to the 2.8″ display on the JVC (the JVC uses nice touch sensitive buttons, which keep the screen clean and smudge free, which is also a good feature). Also, the Sony offers more automated features for novice users.
I went to a local camera store, and tested both units using a very high quality HD display and connected both camcorders via HDMI. The quality and clarity of the image on the JVC unit was far, far, superior, and text/minute details at a far distance that weren’t legible on the Sony, were clearly legible on the JVC. The manual controls, and physical button layout, as well as the awesome zoom rocker, really set the JVC apart from the Sony. The general sensation is that the Sony model was packed with gimmicks, and designed to be “idiot proof”, while the JVC was designed to be controlled by the user, and is fantastic for someone who isn’t scared of manual controls (not to say that the automatic mode isn’t good).
The more I use it, the more I love it…”– John B.K(USA)
• “There are plenty clear advantages of this camcorder over Sony, Panasonic & Canon similar quality models:
The Laser Touch System for navigating Menus is one of the mayor advantage of this camcorder because you can use the LCD to change settings without have to touch it which keeps your LCD clean and also is more responsive that LCD Touch Screen System. You have 3 dedicated buttons that gives you quick access to aperture and shutter speed controls. Another Plus is the excellent Control Dial, which you can use for focus or exposure. The achievement on the Control Dial is superb and it’s very easy to swap functions between exposure and focus. There’s also the familiar User button that can be set to scene select, backlight compensation, white balance, continuous shooting speed, focus assist, shutter mode, and high speed recording. Most of the ports are very well located in a single long port cavity. This rubber covering protects a headphone input, component video output, mini-HMDI, and DC power input. Above the battery are two more ports: AV-out and a mini microphone.
In the still photo department, this camcorder seems to be ahead in the prosumer line, also the low light performance is excellent.” – Gabriel(Miami,FL,USA)
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