JVC has always been the most unusual of the traditional big four camcorder brands. Someone at the company has clearly taken the old advertising adage about zigging when others zag very much to heart. Where most of its competitors focus on their premium offerings, JVC seems to give a little more attention to its budget range, which has paid dividends with the success of models such as the Everio GZ-HM445. So whilst JVC's HD Everio GZ-E205 is no headline act, it is a budget model which seems a little more finely honed for its target audience than some.
The base specification is relatively modest. The sensor is a small 1/5.8in CMOS with just 1.5MP. But it is also a back-side illuminated unit, which means it will be more sensitive in low light than a standard CMOS. The resolution is a little below that required for the Full HD video the E205 shoots at its top quality setting, but JVC has taken full advantage of the AVCHD recording format used and offers 24Mbits/sec as the maximum data rate. With a 64GB card installed in the SDXC slot supplied for storage, there will be space for around six hours of footage. The E205 can shoot standard definition video as well, with two quality options. The low sensor resolution also makes for modest digital photography abilities, with 1,920 x 1,080 the top resolution for stills, and even that will include some interpolation.
The small sensor does have one benefit, though. For optical reasons too complicated to explain here, a smaller sensor makes a larger optical zoom possile in a smaller space. In the E205's case, despite the camcorder being one of the smallest handycam-format models on the market, it still manages a hefty 40x optical zoom. There are 80x and 200x digital zooms also on offer, but as always we would recommend ignoring these and leaving them turned off, as they reduce image quality noticeably.