JVC Everio GZ-HD3EK review

Price when reviewed

JVC’s Everio GZ-MC100 (web ID: 67022) brought the hard disk camcorder to the masses back in 2005. But the company has been a bit late to the party with high definition. Sony was already on its second generation when JVC released its first foray, the GZ-HD7 (web ID: 120492), aimed at the premium end of the market. Just a few months later, we have the GZ-HD3, which loses a few features but is significantly more affordable.

JVC Everio GZ-HD3EK review

The GZ-HD3 has some very similar specifications to the GZ-HD7. It uses three 1/5in CCDs, each with 570Kpixels. It also incorporates an identically sized 60GB hard disk. But it has lost the HD7’s Full HD mode. The highest resolution is 1,440 x 1,080, and image stabilisation is electronic. It also sports a cheaper Konica Minolta lens compared to the Fujinon Professional in the GZ-HD7. Nevertheless, the top XP recording mode has the same 26.6Mb/sec data rate as the GZ-HD7’s Full HD, so the hard disk is enough for five hours of video, or seven hours in SP mode.

The GZ-HD3 has a few features to appeal to the enthusiast. It has a microphone mini-jack and accessory shoe, but no headphone socket. It also lacks the GZ-HD7’s manual focus ring, and its ability to adjust shutter and exposure independently. However, priority modes are available to vary the shutter between 1/2 to 1/4,000 of a second, or aperture from F1.8 to F8.

The JVC’s image quality couldn’t quite keep up with the best that HDV has to offer, but it still beats any AVCHD model we’ve yet seen. Colours were pleasantly saturated in daylight. There was a mildly green tinge in low light, and more noise than a top HDV model such as Canon’s HV20 (web ID: 125305), but overall performance indoors will please most everyday users. Still image capture, with a max resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, is reasonable enough for occasional use.

The GZ-HD3 lacks a number of key features that make the GZ-HD7 potentially a great camcorder, but it’s cheaper. So, while Sony’s HDR-SR8E (web ID: 128858) has the upper hand as the next-generation HD camcorder of choice, the GZ-HD3 is on the right track.

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