Despite its YouTube orientation, the MS100 still has a few manual features worth considering, although they are rather buried. Settings are configured using JVC’s new Laser Touch Operation, which we first came across in the Everio GZ-MG330. This involves stroking your finger along a strip to move up and down menus. But there is no quick way to get to the manual settings. Once you have switched from auto to manual, you need to go through the full menu to get to manual configuration.
Manual options include a Brightness control, which varies exposure, but only in steps from -6 to +6, with no direct relation between these values and iris or video gain. You can configure the shutter separately from ½ to 1/4000th of a second. There is also manual focusing, which is a little fiddly to use with the Laser Touch, and even the ability to switch whole screen or spot exposure metering, although this is rather confusingly referred to as ‘Photometry’. After all, why use plain English when an obscure technical term is available instead.
The Register Event system is available to tag your videos with a label such as Holiday, Sports or Anniversary, to aid future searching. Plus there’s the MS100’s most distinctive feature: the discrete button for Upload mode, which limits recordings to 10 minutes each, automatically splitting longer clips into 10-minute segments as you shoot. When the camcorder is connected to a PC, it also enables the much-vaunted One Touch YouTube upload – but more of this in a bit.
Like the MG330, the MS100 doesn’t have an accessory shoe, microphone minijack or headphone socket. Apart from the USB port hidden under the lens at the front and the DC input, there is only a minijack for A/V, with a cable supplied offering composite video and stereo RCA audio. But it does have a built-in LED video light, which can be set to turn on automatically when low light conditions are detected. This is one feature not present on the MG330, for some reason. We would have preferred a discrete button for this, however, as hunting through the menu to turn it on is a right old rigmarole.
The GZ-MS100 produces a very bright, colourful image in the best lighting. Colour fidelity and detail are still pretty decent in good artificial lighting, too, so long as the auto gain control (AGC) is turned on. Like the MG330, colour is retained to fairly low levels, without a huge amount of grain, and the brightness can be boosted by using the manual shutter settings to drop down to 1/25th. A yellow cast becomes increasingly apparent as the level of light drops, but overall the MS100 is reasonably capable in poor illumination, like the MG330 – no surprise, since the recording medium is the only major difference.