Pros Video is dvd-like in quality-well thought out features
Cons video light good not great, manual could be better
Summary I have never bought a JVC product before nor do I have a specific bias toward JVC or other brands one way or the other. I know the four top-tier companies make good products. I currently own a Canon digital still camera.
What impressed me the most about this camera is that it exceeded my video quality expectations. What surprised me was the how the reviewers downplayed it's performance.
First of all on price, the discounters make it affordable. You don't have to reach for the pause button unless you pay retail at the big stores.
I was a little skeptical on video quality because some reviewers said that hdd camcorders like the Canon were 6 out of 10 on image quality. They went on to say mini-disc still had the edge. I just don't see it. The JVC rep. at Circus City emplored that this model was dvd-like in imaging. He even went on to say that Sony, Panasonic and others were better than mini-disc. I still had my doubts until I bought it. It's simply amazing. Apparently, first generation hdd cameras were not that good. Those days are over. Colors are rich and acurate with excellent detail in foreground and background. The zoom is swift and precise. Yes, it is dvd-like in image quality.
Be careful when reading professional reviews, they tend to nit pick. The auto-focus was described as being "sluggish". That word is harsh. I wouldn't use one word to describe it. It is completely situational. At times it needed a split-second to come into focus but it's very rare. You have to be walking and or zooming frequently while changing your depth of the object you are shooting. For practical purposes filming family events and general purpose video it performs excellent. I don't have an issue with the auto-focus. I couldn't care less about still imaging because I use my Canon for digital stills. I'd rather see them spend the money on video quality. The reviewers say the stills are decent. I haven't tested the still imaging however.
I prefer the the toggle switch vs. touch screen. It's easy to use and very intuitive. If a touch screen breaks you're screwed.
Hats off to JVC for packing this with usable features like the rack on top of the camera for an extra light or microphone. It has a built in lens cap(kudos), and a built in flash and light for shooting video. It also has a digital image stabilzer that works great. Even though they say optical is better. JVC figured out how to make it work.
Lastly, the docking station is fantastic. I can charge the battery and use a USB, S-video or RCA port to plug into a monitor. WOW!
If you use an RCA cable to a tv of course the video will be poor. Use the s-video and it's crystal clear. 10 out of 10 on quality and features!
Lastly, don't pay attention to the other reviewer who gave it a 1 out of 10. Seriously, he's got a pc problem if his audio is not matching, or it's simply a bad unit.
Caution with some professional reviews. There is a hit piece out there no doubt paid by someone to give it a less than favorable review. They said the still imaging was good but the video was terrible. Are you serious?
Pros Size, Video Quality, ability to download or transfer to DVD.
Cons Photo Images; Battery Life
Summary I have been in the market for quite some time for a replacement of my Hi-8 camcorder and was intrigued by the hard drive models.
The most difficult part of the purchase was the dearth of information on this model. Based on reviews of the hard drive format in general, I apparently am losing some image quality in choosing a hard drive over mini dv tape. My understanding of the video image is that it is compressed on the hard drive and this is the reason for a slight quality degradation when compared to the mini dvs.
That said, for a recent party I ran the Everio 555 through its paces and was impressed with its video quality. The few images I took in camera mode, were not impressive - luckily I did not purchase this unit as a replacement for my digicam too.
Nuts and Bolts:
Menu is very straight forward. Even without reading manual, it is rather intuitive.
Size is a positive, though (I assume because of the hard drive) it is wider than all mini-dv's I looked at. If compactness is your #1 priority, this may not be the unit for you.
Download time to PC is fairly brisk. Certainly faster than a tape format.
The lens cap opens with a manual slide on the side of the camera. This was a surprise to me, but luckily the camera displays a warning if you power it up with the lens cap closed.
For those who concern themselves with "ergonomics", all buttons seem to be in the right place when holding. Toggle/menu buttons on the left side of the lcd screen are well place and easy to use. Well thought out in my opinion.
The battery will last a rather meager 1.5 hours while recording. With no optical view finder, I assume it is the lcd screen that burns through the charge(?). An extended battery is available for about $70. Why would you sell a unit that can record 7 - 35 hours on the hard drive (depending on quality setting) with such a battery? A big thumbs down to JVC for opting to sell with an inadequate battery. Very lame.
I plan to use much more in the next month and will update the review for others contemplating this camcorder. Of particular interest to me will be how the transfer process straight to dvd goes.Updated
After several opportunities to use, the only downside other than those listed: In certain conditions, i.e at night with flames in the background or at the beach with multiple objects in view the auto-focus is PAINFULLY slow. The work-around seems to be to focus in on the object and then hit 'record'. This seems like a very basic issue to experience with a relatively high end camcorder.
Pros Excellent still digital images
Cons Focus of video is slow and any movement of the camera creates jumpy video. Camera must be on auto and perfectly still to get decent video.
Summary For the cost of the GZ-MG555, the quality of the video is disappointing. I wanted to take video of my grandchildren, but the camera does not focus fast enough to get any movement. Regards, fishnlady.net
Pros Small if you like small... pretty good stills
Cons Crappy video. Low light was awful, good light was choppy, menus were poorly designed, docking station is pointless.
Summary First-off, Newegg.com sucks. Secondly, the GZ-MG555 is terrible too. I had spent probably 15 hours doing research on a decent consumer camcorder and found this to be the best reviewed camcorder that I could find in my budget. What I got was a really disappointing waste of money. I already have a DSLR for still pictures... so that wasn't really a concern. I bought this thinking it had excellent video quality. Camcorderinfo.com said it was pretty good for a consumer camcorder. Well if this is pretty good, I'd rather just use the video function on my point-and-shoot $200 still camera, honestly it's just as good. This has bad performance in low light, which I knew going into it, but it also has really bad sunny performance. When you pan from side to side, it pixelates MAJORLY. It's really distracting. Everything breaks up into little squares and is just terribly annoying. The cheap camera I got from Costco is better.
SO DONT WASTE YOUR MONEY!
Pros Multiple Features for the price.
Cons Accessories seem overpriced.
Summary Recently purchased this camera to use interviewing subjects as part of a dissertation. Immediate impression is that the still and motion capture quality is very good. Based upon the available features, price, and required quality (SD-only) this camera stood out among the competition. The transfer of files to my computer was fairly straight-forward once I installed the trial-use software that came with the camera.
I am not usually a fan of proprietary features (most of the reason I avoid Sony products (e.g. memory stick)) however after reading more on the types of files the camera stores I believe I will have better luck converting the files, editing, and publishing my video.
Since I have only owned a week my review is limited however, I am certainly pleased with the results so far.