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Although the HD3 is the lower-end member of the Everio HD range, JVC still hasn't skimped on hobbyist features. There's a mini-jack for connecting an external microphone, and a standard accessory shoe, although no headphone socket is available. The major missing feature is the HD7's manual focus ring, so you now have to enter the menu to perform this task, but the Focus Assist button is still available. Instead of being able to adjust shutter and aperture separately, the HD3 only has priority modes, where you can have one or the other, but not both at the same time. Shutter speeds range from ½ to 1/4000, and aperture from F1.8 to F8, yet again the same as the HD7. You can add + or -6 exposure on the top, too, independently of aperture.
The HD3 offers the usual program auto-exposure modes, including Twilight, Portrait, Sports, Snow and Spotlight - all accessed via the menu. It's also possible to engage + or -5 levels of sharpness. But we found that pushing this too far either way had a detrimental rather than positive effect on image quality. The HD3 has a few other handy features, which will be welcomed by point-and-shoot users. The built in video light has its own separate button, and the integrated lens cover operates via a solid slider on the bottom of the lens.
Despite its higher bit rate, the HD3 still didn't quite match the best we've seen from HDV for video quality, such as Canon's HV20. But its performance was still ahead of any AVCHD camcorder we've tested. In bright sunlit conditions, the HD3 provided well saturated overall colour, although it did have a slightly warm look, particularly with skin.