Although the GS-TD1 doesn’t offer a lens ring, it still provides a commendable selection of manual controls and enough buttons to make these easy to access. In manual mode, the Adjust button on the rear provides access to an array of settings, which are then adjusted by a nearby wheel. Press and hold to call up the menu, or press once to adjust the current parameter.
The available settings include brightness, focus, shutter speed, aperture, white balance, and parallax. Aperture and shutter speed can be configured separately, but not at the same time as brightness. The parallax adjustment lets you widen or shorten the separation of the two sides of the stereoscopic image. Although the image should be calibrated already, you may want to make changes for various creative reasons. There’s also a User button which can be assigned with a range of functions, to provide immediate access.
With its duo of 1/4.1in CMOS sensors, the GS-TD1 promises decent, if not absolutely high-end image quality. In good light, colour fidelity and detail are excellent whether you’re shooting 2D or 3D. The 3D effect is very respectable for objects more than a meter away, when viewed on a large 3D TV. As we predicted, low light performance is noticeably superior in 3D mode than other models we’ve tested. Colours are not quite as faithful as 2D mode, but the level of brightness is similar.
However, the dual-Full HD recording does have its drawbacks. This uses a proprietary MP4 format, which will appear to non-compatible editing apps as 1080/50p footage. We found this played in Windows Media Player as if it was just 2D footage. Pixela’s Everio MediaBrowser 3D is provided for converting the MP4s, so you can output them to sites like Facebook and iTunes in 2D mode, and YouTube in 3D mode. The 2D and 3D AVCHD formats are more widely compatible, however. The 3D version uses the now-standard side-by-side system, so you could even upload this manually to YouTube, add a tag, and watch it using anaglyphic glasses. The other alternative is to use the GS-TD1's Mini HDMI connection to output directly to a TV. The GS-TD1 will convert its MP4 footage to side-by-side, so most 3D TVs will be able to handle it.
Although we’re still not entirely convinced by 3D either as a domestic viewing format or for grabbing your home movies, JVC has at least created a product with potential to cross over into the semi-professional arena. Where the Panasonic consumer models so far have been very limited in 3D mode, the GS-TD1 behaves similarly whether you’re shooting with or without the third dimension. This makes greater creative possibilities available, so the GS-TD1 has the potential to appeal to student filmmakers or even experimental videographers on a budget. Unfortunately, the price is at least £1,400 from most stores, so only the very richest hobbyists will be interested. But otherwise this is the most competent consumer-oriented 3D camcorder yet.