JVC Everio GZ-HD40 review

£773
Price when reviewed

Where every other mainstream camcorder manufacturer adopted AVCHD for its non-tape-based models, JVC struck out alone with MPEG-2 compression for its first few HD camcorders. Now, with the Everio GZ-HD40, the company has joined the crowd. This model also marks another switch – to CMOS technology rather than CCD. But unlike Panasonic, JVC also adopts a single large sensor, as have Canon and Sony.

JVC Everio GZ-HD40 review

The changes have clearly paid dividends. Comparing footage shot with the HD40 to its most recent predecessor the HD6, the improvement is obvious across the board. But the most significant change is how this camcorder performs in poor illumination. Thanks to the 1/3in CMOS, footage is only slightly noisier than the Canon’s HF10 produces in the same conditions, and is equal to anything Sony currently has to offer.

Despite the HD40’s support for AVCHD, JVC hasn’t abandoned its MPEG-2 past completely. The HD40 offers two MPEG-2 recording modes alongside its trio of AVCHD options. Although you will probably choose one setting and stick with it, having both formats available lets you select the one most compatible with your editing software, which will probably mean AVCHD.

JVC includes a capacious 120GB hard disk for storage, which is enough for a huge 15 hours of footage at the top 17Mbits/sec AVCHD data rate, and ten hours in MPEG-2 format. Both modes offer Full HD recording options, too, for the complete 1,920 x 1,080 frame, but no progressive shooting is available.

The HD40 doesn’t have quite the consummate level of features sported by JVC’s first foray into high definition, the GZ-HD7. In particular, it has no lens ring, relegating manual focusing to the joystick on the side. But at least this is aided by JVC’s Focus Assist system, which colourises areas in focus for precise adjustment.

The remaining manual features, although quite comprehensive, are buried in the menu. You can adjust shutter and iris, but the process is too fiddly for regular use. There is a full-sized accessory shoe, plus minijacks for an external microphone and headphones are available.

This means the Everio GZ-HD40 is more appropriate for those hoping to shoot great HD without much user intervention. And though this model’s price is too high at £672 (exc VAT), the Everio GZ-HD30, which has same features and a smaller 80GB hard disk, is a much more reasonable £542, and one of the best value HD camcorders on the market.

Specifications

Camcorder HD standard 1080p
Camcorder maximum video resolution 1920 x 1080
Camera megapixel rating 2.7MP
Camcorder recording format AVCHD
Accessory shoe? no
Camera optical zoom range 10.0x
Camera optical image stabilisation yes
Electronic image stabilisation? no
Screen size 2.7in
Number of sensors 1

Storage

Integrated memory 120GB
Camcorder internal storage type Hard disk
Memory card support Micro SD

Accessories

Remote control? yes

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