Finding a compact and lightweight camcorder that can record a lot of high quality video may seem like too much to ask at least in the past years. Now storage media are physically decreasing in size, but amazingly going up in storage capacity. Buying lots of memory is not even as expensive either which is why so many new camcorders are made with internal flash memory like the JVC GZ-HM340. JVC is going in the right direction in capturing the average consumers that want to go beyond the limitations of their digital cameras.
Design & Interface
Compared to the average digital camera, the JVC GZ-HM340 really is not that big. Since there is no hard drive inside, the GZ-HM340 weighs around 305 grams and the “2-way Grip Belt” makes it easy to handle. From its name, the “2-way Grip Belt” can either serve as an ordinary grip for stable recording or can detach to be used as a wrist strap for carrying around when it is not in use.
The 2.7-inch display may seem ordinary at first glance, but there no physical buttons present. The screen is not a touchscreen either because the touch-sensitive controls are found outside the screen. The left scrollbar on the side navigates through menus and adjusts zoom settings while the touch-sensitive buttons below are multipurpose depending on the active screen.
“You couldn’t find a better camcorder for the money especially anything in HD. The unit is compact and good in your hands. The ergonomics are pretty similar to most cameras on the market except, the HM-340 boasts a laser-touch slider on the side of the screen to control most functions of the unit, including Recording and Zooming. While this is somewhat confusing and one might think that it is touch-screen controlled in fact it isn’t. There are actual buttons placed [on the housing] under the screen icons. It took me a few tries to get used to it and I’d rather have it this way than to run moisture and dirt all over the screen. Works well after a while!” – 80sGuy (CA,USA)
The HM340 is an HD camera that is equipped with a powerful Konica Minolta HD lens. Zooming capabilities are decent with a 20x optical zoom and 200x digital zoom. It uses the HD Gigabrid Premium II Engine to power the 1.37 megapixel CMOS sensor for speedy image processing. A few new techniques make the JVC GZ-HM340 a worthy upgrade especially if camera shake is a major problem. The “Advanced Image Stabilizer” feature eliminates that even if the subject is moving quickly. Low light performance was also an issue with older JVC models, but the MH340 incorporates the new “Super LoLux” where the natural colors are preserved in low light.
The JVC GZ-HM340 boasts twice as much flash memory as the HM320. With 16 gigabytes of memory to spare, any recording mode can last more than hour. Recording videos using the lowest possible setting should last for 7 hours until the capacity is completely filled. If that is not enough, the seamless recording feature can take control if you have an SD card inserted in the slot. With a card in place, recording is not interrupted even if the internal flash memory is consumed because the camcorder cleverly shifts to the SD memory immediately. High capacity 32 GB SDHC cards are supported.
The “Face Detection” feature is significantly improved detecting up to 16 faces at once. This feature can be used when recording or taking still photos. The interface can display thumbnails of the detected faces to make it easier to identify the people in the video.
Sharing movies is just as easy as the previous models thanks to the bundled Everio MediaBrowser. After connecting the USB 2.0 to the computer, all it takes is a simple press of the corresponding one-touch button to upload videos to YouTube or export them to be playable on portable devices.
Exclusive to the JVC GZ-HM340 and other 2010 models, two new video recording modes are added with the first being the “Time Lapse REC” mode which shoots single frames at set intervals and the “Auto REC” feature which turns on the recording when a subject is in sight. Both of these modes can be useful for creative purposes. They are ideal for unattended recording where camcorder does not make a single move.
The 2009 Everio HD models were pretty good for casual usage, but the JVC GZ-HM340 addresses some of weaknesses while offering more storage space than the HM320. When combined with a 32 GB SDHC card, the HM340 should be ready to capture lots of interesting footage in full 1920 x 1080 HD quality. It is also reasonably priced costing around $500. JVC’s new line-up of 2010 devices serves as proof that the prices will continue to go down even if the devices are getting smaller and more feature-rich.
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