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In the auto setting, there's nothing more to do than point and shoot. But if you do want to tune your video more finely, there are plenty of options available. The MG330 has a novel control system called ‘Laser Touch Operation', which consists of a strip down the side of the LCD, which you stroke to change settings up or down. The pulsating blue light involved is rather gimmicky, and more than a little reminiscent of Knight Rider's KITT. But it's a fairly pleasant and easy system to use.
In manual mode, the MG330 offers a decent selection of controls. However, all of them are found a few levels into the full menu system. There is no joystick-operated quick-access system as found in Canon and Panasonic camcorders. Backlight compensation, auto-gain control (AGC) and the program AE modes are available at the first level of the menu. The latter includes all the usual subjects - Night, Twilight, Portrait, Sports, Snow, and Spotlight.
But all other options require a trip to the next level of the menu, via Manual Setting. White balance choices include Fine, Cloud and Halogen presets as well as auto and manual. Exposure control is found under the heading Brightness, and offers single steps from +6 to -6, with no direct correlation to iris F-stops. But you can set shutter speeds from ½ to 1/4000th. You can even swap between whole frame and spot metering. Finally, there's a tele-macro mode and the usual array of digital effects, which are only worth using if you never intend to edit your footage on a computer.
Despite the decent level of manual controls, this is not a camcorder for the enthusiast. It has no input for an external microphone, and no accessory shoe to mount it on. There's no minijack for hooking up headphones, either. The MG330 has a few other novel features for the home user, though, most notable amongst which is the Register Event ability. This lets you log all video shot under a preset heading, such as Vacation 1, Holiday 1, Sports 1, Anniversary 1 and so on. These can then be used to group your files in playback mode, which will be handy when you have hours of footage stored on the JVC's hard disk.
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