JVC might not have the top end of the camcorder market exactly sewn up, but it regularly competes very well at the other end. Priced in the same league as pocket Internet models, the JVC Everio GZ-E15 is nevertheless a fully-featured camcorder, with quite a few more settings and options.
Unlike the candybar and pistol-grip models that have been increasingly popular over the last few years, the JVC Everio GZ-E15 uses the conventional handycam format. A 2.7-inch LCD panel flips out from the side, with the record button where your thumb naturally rests, and the zoom rocker on the top. The strap on the side doubles as an adjustable wrist loop, to assist carrying the camcorder when not in use.
The JVC Everio GZ-E15 is based around a relatively lowly 1/5.8-inch CMOS sensor with just 1.5-megapixels. This isn’t quite enough natively for the Full HD video that the camcorder shoots, but the sensor is back-illuminated, so should outperform its dimensions in low light. The familiar AVCHD recording format is used, with data rates available up to 24Mbits/sec. You can also shoot in standard definition, with the standard MP4 format adopted in this case. A single SDXC-compatible memory card slot is provided, with a 16GB module providing enough storage for around 90 minutes of footage at the top quality setting. It’s worth noting that this camcorder doesn’t have the ability to take photos, however, which is somewhat unusual these days and might make it a less attractive option for some.
The JVC Everio GZ-E15 incorporates JVC’s Advanced Image Stabiliser (AIS). This is an improved form of digital image stabilisation, which has been combined with optical image stabilisation in JVC’s higher-end models, but not in this case. It crops into the frame, where the JVC Everio GZ-E15's regular digital image stabilisation doesn’t noticeably, but is much more effective at smoothing out jerky handheld camerawork. The regular handycam-style camcorder body means there’s plenty of room for lens movement, so the JVC Everio GZ-E15 offers a decidedly decent 40x optical zoom, and there's a 70x Dynamic zoom available in standard definition as well. The lens protector is also manual rather than automatic, so you will need to remember to flip it open and closed yourself for each shooting session.
One area where the JVC Everio GZ-E15 definitely puts itself ahead of only slightly cheaper pocket Internet models is its manual settings and features. You can enable fully manual mode using the button on the top of the camcorder, just behind the zoom rocker, which is often used as a digital photo button on many camcorders, although as we mentioned earlier the JVC Everio GZ-E15 doesn’t have this ability. Switching to manual mode enables scene modes, although there are actually only two of these – Nightalive and Spotlight – not the usual array of sports and landscape options.