Pros Highly adaptable, light weight
Cons Auto setting is not worth using
Summary While I know there are many excellent so called prosumer camcorders out there, the JVC GZ-HD7 is up there. Iâ€™m perplexed by the range of negative comments floating around the web so I thought Iâ€™d add my two cents, both of negative and positive attributes Iâ€™ve found.
Firstly Iâ€™ve been using this camera in combination with a black MacBook 2GHz with 2GB RAM, upgraded 185GB HD running OS X 10.4 with FCE which I use for editing. Iâ€™ve had this setup for about a year now to make short films and documentaries, and find this set up with the GZ-HD7 to be excellent. I can not comment on how it works with a Windows machine or other editing software.
One of the first things which I find easy with the GZ-HD7 is operating it. It is light but feels very solid in the hand, the controls are well laid out and logical in their positions. I find the manual focus ring a little long in manipulating, so to use it well I need it mounted on a tripod. The operating system is very clear and logical in flow, again well designed. One criticism is I did not realize at first how limited the Auto setting is, and to really tap into what this camera can do, one needs to get familiar and comfortable with the Manual setting. Another criticism, though I think most of the postings online Iâ€™ve read are way overblown, has to do with the OIS, there is clearly shake when zooming in and none when zoom is wide. However I find the large number of negative comments on this odd, since the distance one must zoom to notice the shake is significant e.g. the object is a quarter mile off. I suppose if one were shooting wildlife off at some distance this would be a serious issue, but when I mount the camera on a tripod there is no discernable shake. Another issue which I find irksome is the lack of an audio out, however anyone worth their salt will tell you the AV jack is the audio out, you just need a four post adapter (or make one yourself) for your headphones.
One of the smoothest operations of this camera (though Iâ€™ve seen as a common complaint), has to do with JVCâ€™s .TOD file format and transferring video. While I think the user manual which comes with the camera nearly worthless, JVCâ€™s online video instructions for transferring recordings to your computer are very clear, basically to transfer HD to your Mac you need to be recording in 1440 CBR, the following link to the instructions is clear http://media2.jvc.com/camcorder/macHD.mov so I think if you follow it youâ€™ll have a pleasant experience.
If you want to record in 1920 x 1080i youâ€™ll need MPEG Streamclip free from the apple website http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/video/mpegstreamclip.html which is a handy utility to have anyway.
Over all, I find the large number of complaints to be mostly by people looking for a quick fix to their frustrations and not taking the time to get to know this camera.
Pros Feels great and nice playback options
Cons Terrible Optical image stabilization
Summary I bought the camera and used it for about 2 days at a track meet that my son was in. The close ups and regular distance shots were great. The playback with the slow motion and the step by step freeze frame is great! The shots taken at a distance were so bad that I could not view them on my computer or TV. I called JVC up and they said that they have had no other problems with the camera and then I did a Google search and found that many others have seen the same thing and that they had to return the camera which is what I did. If you are taking movies of the family OK but sports etc , it was terrible. I used it limited to 10X only since longer zoom shots were even worse. Either there is a major problem with the quality control and all the units that are coming out now are defective or the design of the unit is faulty and the optical image stabilization is non existent. In the store you would have to zoom to the end of the 10x range and view the shots on a computer or TV. Others have said you need to use a tripod but at that price I dont think so!
Pros Long recording in HD; solid, good looking cam, good color saturation, manual controls
Cons File format; battery life, interlace artifacts,
Summary Overall, I liked this camcorder. It has a very solid feel to it, and it looks cool. A stupid reason to buy a camcorder, but it is something all purchasers silently consider, whether or not they admit it. The video quality is good; the colors are rich and saturated (but not always accurate), and it is nice not to have to worry about tapes. The battery time is a bit short, although I have not had the problems CNet mentioned with their battery (I've always gotten an hour or more from the stock bettery). Even so, I have an additional larger battery I keep charged up as well. The HDMI output is a must have. The manual controls are very nice to have, especially the focus ring. CNet is absolutely right about the stabilizer- it's worthless. You'll need a monopod or tripod if you're going to have any zoom shots worth watching. The worst part of the camcorder (In my opinion) however, is getting the files off the camcorder and into the NLE of your choice. I don't care for the included NLE or the software for archiving the files. I use Premiere Pro CS3, and was about to EBay this camcorder until Cineform updated their software to include the files from this camcorder. Before that it took 17 steps to convert the footage so it could be used. Now it takes two. So IF you can use the footage, and you don't mind using something to stabilize the cam, then it's worth considering. Is it worth $1600.00? No. If it is in the $800-$1000 range, that would be more reasonable.
Pros 3 1/5 Progressive CCD Chips for near-true color rendition. Extensive Manual Controls. Full 1920x1080 HD. Fast startup. Cold Shoe allows for non-proprietary addons.
Cons Lack of LANC. No Earphone Jack. 24p option not available.
Summary In order to get the best possible result from this camera, you need to be conversant with the Manual Controls. I find the Manual White Balance extremely useful when shooting indoors or in low light settings. The focus ring is also extremely useful. With practice, it gets better. The auto Mode is extremely good for daylight outdoor setting, but you get better Depth of Field with Aperture Priority in the Manual Mode. JVC provides a utility for the .TOD Files to work in Macs. You can easily convert the files to .MOV or other formats with QuickTime Pro ($29.95). Editing is not necessarily as complicated either. I use both Final Cut Express and Final Cut Pro. When I use the Apple ProRes 422 HQ conversion, the outcome is outstanding. You cannot use a Remote Control Tripod with this camera because it does not have a LANC port. That is not necessarily a bad thing. To compensate for the lack of Earphone Jack since you wont be able to monitor your audio in real-time, I recommend the use of an external microphone -- depending on the environment -- with Windshield or Windjammers. Additionally, ensure that the Sound Meter is enabled. Finally, for the lack of the 24p option, one can de-interlace the clips. In my opinion, there may be a very slight and negligible degradation when the clips are de-interlaced. This is one of the greatest cameras ever made. If one were patient enough, one would come to truly appreciate this great product. I highly recommend it for anyone who intends to do serious videography as entry-level equipment and for the professionals as a backup camera.
Pros Great picture, great sound, great storage, easy to use menu
Cons Battery life, and the software
Summary Bought the camera based off of reviews from CNET and it's users. The camera out of box is really point and click, anyone can use it, and it is light and small enough to really go out and about with it. The battery life is just beyond sad, even with the extended battery I got close to an hour and a half.
JVC skipped on paying for the rights to .mpg, and have their own file extension on the camera, .tod file extension. The software that comes with the camera is the only way to convert the file extension. So far it has taken me 18 minutes to convert a 8 minute video. And if you try to use the PowerProducer on the camera it is just as bad.
I have manually tried to change the file extension, but the video will play but no audio. I called JVC tech support, and right now the Cyberlink software that comes with the camera is the only option to make the change on their own file extension.