Pros Size, features, DVD burning ability, image quality/performance, zoom, hard rive format, cost
Cons Could use better low-light optics, 1MPCCD or better
Summary I did 2+ months of research before finally buying a hard-drive camcorder, and I was dismayed by many of the reviews -some perfect scores, some zero's, on the same camcorder. Quickly figured out the professional-level and amateur are both reviewing these things, with very differnt viewpoints and needs. Hopefully this review will help all of you!
I have owned 4 higher-end camcorders for the past 10 years - those that the "normal" consumer (family) would buy for use, without having to pay $1000 or more (all of mine were $600 or less). I am NOT a professional photographer, but rather a very avid/busy photographer interested in capturing family experiences - concerts, sporting events, graduations, vacations, pets, grandparents, family times, etc - what 95% of us use camcorders for. All the previous camcorders I have owned have been 1MP or better CCDs to provide the best video possible for the "normal" user, without paying more than $600 for any one of them. I have historically only owned Canon and JVC camcorders, and recommend both lines.
All previous camcorders were mini-DV tape format - I just recently had 100+ tapes converted to all DVDs - very nice if you have not done so yet. It will cost you about $11-13 per DVD (2 hours of video) to get yours professionally transferred, with menus, etc. Well worth the $$. I just resold my previous Canon Elura70 1.3MP camcorder, which served me well for 3+ years. I wanted to move to the "future" and go with either a DVD, HD, or flash-drive, or combo. Something that would allow me to better archive and copy my footage myself (DVDs, etc).
After 2+ months of reviewing, I was all but sold on the Canon HG-10 - high-def, multi-MP camcorder, with a hard drive. Reviews were very strong. But I liked the size/features of the JVC. The HG-10 looked unbeatable. Then I went to a store and compared them side-by-side, and was pleasantly surprised by the JVC performance and feel (in the store) and by the notable size difference (HG-10 about twice the size). I decided to take a chance on the JVC, even though it was not high-def, 1+MP CCD resolution, etc.
For the above explained purposes, this camcorder is, hands down, THE BEST VALUE and size and features and results that the "normal" user can ask for, at this price. The size is phenominally small, the features, ergonomics, and usage are near perfect, and the video quality is excellent to very good under most instances. I have now used this to film outdoors, indoors, and what I consider a VERY difficult scenario - a high school concert, dimly lit in a big auditoruim, with bright backlighting behind the performers, and from a distance of several hundred feet, zooming in 20x or more to see a full face image (my 16-year old) in the screen. Under this very difficult scenario, and viewing the video on my 52-inch 1080P Samsung (a VERY unforgiving LCD TV for less-than high-def images - remember the larger the playback monitor, the harder it is on video as it will show every imperfection in the signal/images), the video was EXCELLENT up to a zoom length of about 22x. After 22x zoom (which is pretty darn far), the image got somewhat grainy on the 52" TV. Images at less than 22x zoomed, on my huge TV, looked phenominal under these poor image filming conditions. This is impressive, if you consider the zoom ratio (and hand-held!), and then played back on a hi-res 52" monitor!!! When viewed on a smaller 20" TV or my 17" computer monitor, the zoomed video looked flawless in these dim conditions up to the full 35x optical zoom - I was impressed, and sold on keeping the camcorder. The digital image stabilizer works well once zoomed to where you are going, but a bit jittery while zooming - I did the above hand-held resting my elbow on the seat armrest only, and had NO jitters in the image once zoomed in or out. I was blown away by the quality of this less-than 1MP, less-than-Hi-def CCD sensor even given the tough situation/playback described above - BUY THIS CAMCORDER!!!!
All other videos I took under normal lighting - in the house during the day, outside, etc. were flawless when viewed on my 52" TV.
There is an Auto mode (everything done for you), and a Manual mode, where you can adjust the most common settings (white balance, shutter speed, "scenes" or enhancements to the video, etc.) I tried both, and for most of what I will ever do (and have done for 12+ years), Auto is all you need.
The laser-touch slide bar for menu access is intuitively genious, and easy to use. Menu's are simple and understandable, the users guide is brief and informative, and within 15 minutes, I understood every feature of this machine. Battery usage has been reported less than great, but I get a full 90-100 minutes from the standard battery - just buy another one for a spare. And the on-screen battery life sensor (minutes remaining) is way cool with JVC batteries.
Burning DVD is SIMPLE, and connectivity is SIMPLE on this camcorder. I was able to burn and copy a DVD with the push of 1 button when connected to my desktop that has a DVD burner. Very simple to use. I am 100% sold on this camcorder for what I (and most people) will ever use it for.
I cannot underscore the simplicity of usage. That, on top of the image quality, sold me.
For stills, don't even bother using this - I did not even try (seriously), and never will. If you are a true photographer, even amateur, spend $150 and get a 6+MP digital Canon camera or similar, fits in your shirt pocket, and KEEP STILLS SEPARATE FROM VIDEOS!! I have had 2MP CCD video camcorders in the past that took terrible stills, so why bother???? THIS IS A VIDEO CAMERA!! I would love to see manfacturers stop trying to combine both into 1 package.
If you are a high-end videographer, you need to skip this (why are you even considering a camcorder for under $500????), buy at least the Canon HG-10 (which is wonderful except a clunk in size compared to the JVC), or go for an even better camcorder and spend an extra $500 doing so. For the price, this is more than 99% of what the normal users will ever need and expect for under $600. Period.
My only reccomendation to JVC - consider upgrading the CCD to a true 1MP or better, for enhanced low-light video imagery. This is a wish list only item, as the images are pretty darn good as-is, and the larger f1.2 lens and 1+MP CCD that would be required for that will defeat the size/form factor that you get with the 330.
Bottom line - best darn harddrive based mini-camcorder out there at close to this price - BUY IT!! (and you can choose any of the cool colors - a WOW factor to say the least). And, if you buy from a reuptable dealer, you'll have 15-30 days to test it like I did, and not worry about having to return it. If that happens, nothing lost, just get the HG-10 or better!!
Pros Good Video Quality, Compact Size
Cons It's Never Ready!! Buttons Are Unresponsive, Drop Detection!!! Focus Sucks, Zoom Is Shaky, Night Shots Are Impossible
Summary Every time I go to use the camera, it takes AT LEAST 10 seconds before it's ready to shoot. Every day, I go for walks though a heavily forested park with all kinds of wildlife. I'm trying to put together a video of all the sights and sounds I see every day on my walks. I carry the camera in my hand everywhere I go but the problem is, if I don't keep the monitor open, the camera automatically shuts off so when I go to open it and get the shot, I have to wait while it tells me it's an Everio, then I have to wait while it thinks, then I have to wait while tells me the "Drop Detection" is turned off. By the time the camera is ready, the shot is gone. Whatever I was trying to catch on video has long since left. Walking around with the monitor open is just not feasible so I always end up missing the shot. I have started opening the monitor every few minutes and hitting "Record" for a couple of seconds to keep the thing from shutting off. But if I don't get to it in time, the whole restarting process starts all over again.Good luck getting any of your videos to play on the PC!! Apparently JVC uses an obscure file called MOD. It is recognized by almost nothing in the computer world which means you have to convert all of your video files to something else, which means you have to buy a converter and convert them all yourself and even then it's no easy task for the average computer user. What a piece of garbage this camera is!! DO NOT BUY THIS CAMERA!!!!! I will never buy the JVC brand again.
If I'm lucky, and the camera is ready to shoot, I might be able to get the buttons to work. The zoom sometimes takes several attempts before it actually starts working. The record button is even worse. If you don't hit it just right way in the just the right spot, it won't work. And once you do get it going, you have to hit it just the right way in just the right spot to pause it again. The menu buttons are sometimes unresponsive as well but are also sometimes hyper-sensitive. One second you're scrolling up a couple of videos and WHAM! You're all the way back at the first video!!
And the drop detecion is terrible. If you leave it turned on, any slight movement makes the camera think you've dropped it and it goes into protect mode. When that happens, you have to go though all kinds of nonsense when you start the camera up again. If you turn the drop detection off, it will tell you about it EVERY SINGLE TIME you turn on your camera!!! I find myself yelling "I know it's turned off!! I'M the one who turned it off!!"
If you try to zoom in on something (say a bird in a tree) it will focus on everything but the object you're trying to film. It will focus on the leaves behind it or the leaves to the side of it or even the leaves in front of it but not on the subject. And if it does focus on the subject, it will go in and out of focus the entire time you're shooting.
And if you plan on using the zoom, bring a tripod. Even with DIS turned on, when I steady the camera on something like fencepost, even the slightest movement will make the video shaky. Even on a tripod, if you walk to near, it will cause the video to come out shaky.
And don't even bother shooting at night without some sort of light. The one on the camera is terrible and the camera can't pick up anything. The night mode is terrible as well.
If I had it to do over, I would not buy this camera again.
Updated on May 23, 2010
Updated on May 23, 2010I wish I could give this camera minus stars.
Pros very handy
Cons hard drive is not rigid enough to stand long hour of continous use.
"love this camera"on by KRAZYKAJUN
Pros light weight, takes both still and video and screen is a great view finder
Cons need tripod to take 800 zoom video
Summary love th e fact i can ut thsi camera in shirt pocket, and taakes wonderfuf still picts used on vacation and took pictures in a cave that caem out better than my regualr still digital camera.
went out labor day and too bictures from across a bayou about 600 yards dn wa able to see the fan on the purch of the cabin across the water.
just wish it came with an extra battery
Pros small, lightweight, large hard disc, good picture quality.
Cons .MOD extension will drive people nuts, light is weak.
Summary I like this camera alot but was a little confused with the .mod extension. I thought you could pull the files off the hard drive and drop them into a folder and done. Not the case, The video would play but no sound. This problem kept me busy searching the net for solutions for a better part of the night. I am no computer geek but i can usually figure things out eventually. Here is what i did, I renamed the .MOD extensions to mpeg through the "folder options" on Vista. After renaming, i was still unable to hear sound.If you get no sound, You probably need to download the AC3 filter Codec.( www.free-codecs.com/download/ac3_filter.htm). This download was quick and solved the problem immediately. The software that comes with the bundle is a video editor that once you drop your .MOD video file into the story board, you can save it as a different file extension. If anyone needs help with this, feel free to e-mail me.