You can also focus manually, and adjust brightness between -2 and 2 EV, although it’s not possible to configure shutter and iris separately. Alongside the auto mode, white balance options include presets for sunny and cloudy conditions as well as halogen indoor lighting, but not tungsten, as well as fully manual. Backlight compensation and tele macro modes are also available. However, we would have preferred these modes to be more readily available, rather than buried a few levels inside the menu system.
In Intelligent Auto mode, you can still choose whether face priority auto-focusing is enabled. There’s an auto gain up option, and a time lapse facility which can grab a frame at intervals of between one and 80 seconds. However, the settings are a bit fiddly to get to as the JVC Everio GZ-E15 doesn’t have a touch-sensitive LCD, instead relying on the buttons on the side of the camcorder body for control. Bizarrely, there’s no physical power button on the camcorder body, either, so the only way of turning the JVC Everio GZ-E15 off and on is by opening and closing the LCD panel. Another omission compared to JVC’s higher-end models is the funky animated effect system found in, for example, the JVC HD Everio GZ-V515. We don’t particularly miss it ourselves, but some would enjoy these facilities.
The JVC Everio GZ-E15 offers both analog and digital outputs, with a minijack for the former and a mini HDMI port for the latter. A mini USB port is available for downloading footage to a computer. However, there is no output for analog component video. Naturally, though, for an extremely low-cost camcorder, there is neither an accessory shoe nor a minijack for an external microphone. The AV output also doesn’t double as a headphone jack.
With its small sensor, the JVC Everio GZ-E15 isn’t going to give more expensive camcorders a run for their money in image quality. Nevertheless, there’s a good level of detail and brightness. Colour fidelity isn’t always perfect, with reds rendered a little more brightly than is natural, but otherwise the colours are rich, with good contrast. Thanks to the back-side illuminated CMOS, performance in low light is decidedly impressive for the money. There is some loss of colour as lighting levels drop, but the image remains bright to reassuringly low levels, thanks to the back-side illumination technology. This is a camcorder that will pick up decent video in gloomy indoor conditions. The autofocus is a little slower to react, but the image remains relatively grain free.
We have consistently been impressed by the image quality that JVC’s cheaper camcorders can muster, right from before high definition was the norm with models like the JVC Everio GZ-MG330. The JVC Everio GZ-E15 follows this tradition. It’s not going to give more expensive camcorders much to worry about, but at a price of £150 or less from some vendors, there are impressive levels of image quality available for the money. If you were considering a similarly priced candybar or pistol-grip format camcorder, the extra features available from the JVC Everio GZ-E15, particularly the 40x optical zoom, could well make it a better choice – if you can live without built-in digital camera capabilities.