The A button enables an aperture priority mode, so the knob then adjusts iris F-stop. Press the S button instead and you get a shutter priority mode, where the knob controls shutter speed. You can’t configure both parameters simultaneously, however. The third button is marked U, and it can be adapted to a number of different functions via the full menu. These include focus assist mode, backlight compensation, photometry area, white balance, the high-speed recording setting, shutter mode and continuous shooting speed. The knob then adjusts the parameters for the given function, in the majority of cases, or the button itself may be used to cycle through the options, for example if it has been configured to control high-speed recording.
The latter is a fun option, which lets you capture footage at frame rates much faster than usual, for smooth slow motion at the regular speed. Many Sony camcorders also offer this facility, but with only a single setting. The JVC has three options – 100 frames/sec, 250 frames/sec, and 500 frames/sec. However, all necessitate quality compromises, with footage shot at resolutions of 480 x 270, 480 x 116, and 640 x 72 respectively. You’re also limited to under five seconds of shooting in each case, and under three with the fastest option. The resulting footage is longer, as it’s played at 25 frames/sec, but high speed recording is more of a fun feature than of serious use.
The user-configurable button, though, is very handy indeed. We would have liked to have seen manual audio control as one of the options. But it’s good to see high-end features like Focus Assist there, which fringes areas in focus with blue for easier control. The remaining settings require use of the main menu via the fussy Laser Touch Operation, which is controlled via a finger-sensitive strip down the edge of the LCD screen and is not very accurate. So it’s fortunate you won’t need it for everyday controls. There is a new option to be found there, however – sharpness. This isn’t the same as the extensive picture control offered by many Canon camcorders, but useful if you want to take out some of the artificial detail found in consumer-grade video.