JVC Everio GZ-HD7 Camcorder Review - The First Full HD Hard Drive Camcorder

The Everio GZ-HD7 is the first consumer camcorder to record at the full 1080i HD resolution.   This camcorder is also the first HD camcorder to record to a hard drive.   It’s utilizes a third-party broadcast quality Fujinon lens with a 10x optical zoom. It has an optical image stabilization system, a 60 GB hard drive, an SD card for taking photos, and much more. This camera carries a four digit price tag is expensive but a good choice if your looking for HD quality without dealing with tapes, this is it.

Look and feel
As a consumer, when you pick this up you have to think “WOW, This looks COOL!” The HD7 body with the hood on has a very snazzy look. The whole thing itself is less then two pounds.  Even though it is light it still feels very sold with it’s hard plastic, brushed aluminum and metal body. The hand strap is very easy to adjust while being very secure. It’s a very comfortable camera to hold with one hand.

For a compact camcorder it’s a bit large in size which isn’t a bad thing. This is a semi-professional –consumer camera that looks like a miniature size of those big bulky cameras. With this you’ll look like a pro at the family gathering.

The zoom notch is very smooth to use. The size of the knob is a bit small and takes some time to get comfortable using. Compared to other consumer camcorders I’ve used, the JVC HD7 has the smoothest zooming. I felt very comfortable with recording and zooming the way I wanted to. It also has a very smooth manual focus ring and solid focus assist that is very easy to reach.

In the box you’ll find an AC adapter, Battery, Component Cable, Audio/Video Cable, USB cable, Removable Lens Hood, Shoulder Strap, PowerCinema, PowerProducer, Power Director, Digital Photo Navigator, Remote Control, and a Lithium Battery.

This camera is very easy to use and brings us an extremely clear HD quality video. It has the very simple point and shoot simplicity with a wide array of manual tools. These tools include a manual focus ring, aperture priority, shutter priority, white balance, and brightness (under/over-exposing). Using the manual focus on any camcorder can be difficult so the HD7 has a focus assist feature which displays the in-focus areas in color while the out-of-focus areas to black and white. The aperture can be set from f/1.8 to f/8 and the shutter from ½ to 1/4000th of a second. The brightness can be set from -6 to +6. There are also five auto=exposure settings and a night mode. There is an accessory shoe and mini jack for a mic input. There unfortunately is no headphone output or manual audio controls but most consumers will never want this anyways.

The camera also features a drop detection that shuts down the camera so the hard drive wont get damaged. This camcorder hard drive gives you five hours of recording space at full HD quality and seven on SP mode which uses stronger compression.

The lens equipped is a Fujinon aspherical lens. The lens has an aperture range of f/1.8-f/1.9. It is 3.3mm to 33mm with a 46mm diameter. The JVC comes with built-in image stabilization however it doesn’t really work well enough to use. Your shots are going to still need a tripod. It also has digital zoom up to 200x which is somewhat ridiculous especially since most consumers will just be frustrated with how blurry and shaky it is. This can be turned off as well as limited to a smaller amount of digital zoom.

To view the camcorder you can view the nice almost 2.8 inch LCD or the viewfinder on the back. Figuring out the viewfinder took a little time; you have to pull it out to use it.

JVC also provides a complete editing and archiving solution for your camcorder. Out of the box it comes with the Cyberlink BD Solution software. This gives you the tools to do basic editing and play the HD video.

For a semi-professional-consumer camera it’s missing a few features. It could use a headphone jack and a real hot shoe instead of a cold one. The only accessory offered by JVC for the slot is an external mic.

Picture size wise this camera produces very beautiful HD footage. Compared to other HD camcorders and DV camcorders the JVC HD7 doesn’t handle motion very well. There are often artifacts on the edges. For most people this won’t really be an issue but if you’re a picture quality fanatic then this camera may not be for you. The low light recording on this camera is also very poor. It was hard to record anything with dim lighting even using the manual controls to try to compensate.

Backing up, copying, and editing the videos from the JVC HD7 are a lot simpler since it records in MPEG2 format. The files are .tod format and can be renamed to .m2t for ease. You don’t have to have a firewire cable to be able to transfer the videos which is a HUGE convenience for those of us without firewire. You can get their optional Everio Share Station which allows you to archive to a DVD-R/RW.

Being the first full HD camera on the scene it’s defiantly not going to have the best picture quality compared to newer cameras being worked on released after the HD7’s release. If you want an HD camera that looks really cool, very comfortable to hold and use, less troublesome to edit, and uses a hard drive then the HD7 is the camera for you. If you’re looking for top picture quality, image stabilization or an external headphone jack then your search continues. The JVC GZ-HD7 has a street price of about $1000 as of December 07.

Visit JVC for more information on their GZ-HD7 Camcorder.

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