With the HM400’s enthusiast orientation, it’s reassuring to find a standard-sized accessory shoe on offer. However, JVC has situated this on an external adapter, rather than directly on the camcorder body itself. A sliding cover on the top of the lens reveals a screw mount for the adapter, so the shoe sits high up. It’s a perfectly workable solution, but you have to remember the adapter (or leave it permanently attached), although if you’re not using it the camera is sleeker without it.
There are minijacks available for an external microphone and headphones, as well. Annoyingly, these are situated under different flaps at the back of the camcorder, so both flaps must be open when you use both ports at once. Video outputs are comprehensive, however, and include an A/V minijack for composite video connectivity, a proprietary component port, and mini HDMI.
With its huge sensor, it’s no surprise that the HM400 can shoot extremely high quality footage. Both colour and detail are superb in good lighting. JVC has included its K2 Technology in this model to improve image processing, and this appears to have paid dividends. The HM400 outperforms the JVC Everio GZ-X900, although this is most noticeable in low light. Video remains bright at worse levels of illumination, with more colour retained and less noise. Nevertheless, the HM400 is still not quite up with the best models from Panasonic, Canon and Sony in low light. It performs well in most conditions, but there will be situations where models such as Panasonic’s HDC-TM300 can still pick up an acceptable image, but the HM400 might not.
The JVC Everio GZ-HM400 is an impressive return to the high-end for JVC after a year of absence. The level and ease of control is on par with the best of the competition, providing ample settings for the creative video enthusiast. The sub-£700 price is also very encouraging. Only the mediocre low light performance lets the side down. Otherwise, this is a capable, well-designed camcorder worthy of consideration if you’re serious about your videomaking.