Summary

Our Score

8/10

User Score

Review Price free/subscription

Sony’s tape-based HDV models kicked off the move to high-definition camcorders, but now that format seems to be settling into the semi-professional realm. Instead, Sony and Panasonic have opted for a new H.264-based format called AVCHD for their latest consumer-oriented HD camcorders. JVC, however, is not part of the club. So this month’s GZ-HD7E eschews trendy MPEG-4 in favour of good old-fashioned MPEG-2, as does HDV.



But that’s not the only difference between JVC’s new baby and Sony’s latest models. The GZ-HD7E is in the unique position of being the only consumer camcorder to record what JVC calls ‘Full HD’. Where the highest-resolution version of HDV only operates at 1,440 x 1,080, the GZ-HD7E can capture at up to 1,920 x 1,080, although it still uses field-based interlacing so the Full HD name is a little misleading. Ironically, JVC’s professional HD camcorders are in the other HDV camp – they record in the progressive 720p mode, where frames are 1,280 x 720 with no fields.

As with JVC’s other Everios, the GZ-HD7E uses a hard disk for recording – in this case a substantial 60GB in capacity. Even in Full HD High Quality mode, this is enough for five hours of footage. You get the same amount of time out of the 1,440 x 1,080 Constant Bit Rate (1440CBR) mode, but seven hours from SP mode, which is also at 1,440 x 1,080 but with higher compression. The GZ-HD7E doesn’t have any non-high definition recording modes. I guess spending a grand on a HD camcorder and then not using its full resolution would be a bit of a waste, but having that option available would have been handy.



The imaging system consists of a trio of CCDs, not the CMOSes now gaining favour with Sony and Canon. However, these are relatively small at 1/5in and each one only has 570,000 pixels – you would need four times that for true HD resolution. So to bump up the resolution JVC uses its pixel-shifting technology, whereby the green chip is offset by half a pixel in the X and Y direction. JVC calls upon Fujinon mounting technology to ensure the prism and CCD line up correctly, which until now has only been found in professional models.

Next page
comments powered by Disqus