Digital cameras have been offering an increasingly attractive alternative to camcorders for a year or two now, particularly amongst video-making professionals. A season's finale of hit TV show House was famously shot on a fleet of Canon EOS 5D Mark 2 digital SLRs, and now many of the consumer-grade models can do a decent job recording video, putting increasing pressure on the much smaller camcorder market.
If your camera can grab decent footage, why purchase a second device? With the GC-PX10, it appears JVC has decided that if you can't beat them, join them. This may look like a digital camera, with an uncanny resemblance to Sony's NEX range, but lurking inside is a camcorder with a slight identity crisis.
JVC has relocated the battery from the main camera body to form a hand grip. With its traditional camera-style chassis, and shutter button sitting precisely where your forefinger would expect, the PX10 is pretty comfortable to use in stills mode. There's no viewfinder, which might annoy some, but the 3in LCD monitor is articulated so that a variety of shooting postures will be comfortable. The monitor can be flipped 180 degrees so that it points forwards, making self-portraits easy, although it won't angle downwards for above-the-head shots.
When shooting video, the record button is on the back, ready for pressing with your thumb like a regular camcorder, although the zoom rocker is located next to it, which is less orthodox. It's also quite hard to operate one-handed, as the hand grip doesn't feel entirely secure when you remove your thumb.
As a digital camera, the PX10's specification compares reasonably well with current super zooms. Its 1/2.3in CMOS sensor sports 12.75Mpixels, and is of the back-side illuminated variety so offers greater sensitivity than a regular CMOS. This allows stills shooting up to 12Mpixels, with a resolution of 4,000 x 3,000 in 4:3 mode. You can even shoot 3,840 x 2,160 resolution stills at the same time as recording video. All of these features compare very favourably with other camcorders, and are on a par with superzooms and other non-DSLRs - although they are a little behind compact system cameras sporting APS-C or Micro 4/3rds chips. The 10x optical zoom is also a little behind the top super zooms, but better than most compacts.