My Canon HV20 vs. JVC GZ-HD7 experience at DVinfo.net

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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
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Old April 8th, 2007, 01:25 PM   #1
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My Canon HV20 vs. JVC GZ-HD7 experience

I had first purchased a Sony HDR-HC5 for my honeymoon two weeks ago. After watching the video when I got home I was not impressed. I returned it and exchanged for HV20 which is my god, head of over heels, better then the HC5. I bought a GZ-HD7 last night for comparison reasons and here's what I found:


So my first test was tonight in my living room. 1 overhead ceiling light which consists of 2 75 watt bulbs. 2 floor shaded floor lamps. Both cameras tri-pod mounted. I wanted to start with a low-light test before I do my daytime tests tomorrow. I figure this is the most critical test for alot of you guys. I by no means am a professional tester or have any testing equipment to measure s/n ratio. The only test equipment I have are my eyes and my 1080p set.

Quick initial impression is that the Canon HV20 outperforms the HD7 in low light situations. I had thought because of the 3CCD array that it would actually perform better but that is most definitely not the case. My wife and I came to the unanimous conclusion that the Canon just has better image quality based on recorded video. The JVC's shadow delineation is not smooth at all and actually showed a huge hotspot on my wife's forehead cast from the overhead light that the Canon rendered much more smoothly with no hotspot. Also where the light was hitting her hair the Canon revealed detail that again was blown out on the HD7. I tried exposure compensation but that did not help. I can only think something in the recording algorithm is doing this possibly?? I don't know. Another area where the Canon was better was in CA/fringing. The HD7 revealed blue/purple CA around my wife's black jacket against our light sage green couch and red fringing around a white piece of paper that was on our coffee table. Again, the Canon handled this flawlessly. Noise levels to me looked almost the same with a slight nod to the Canon and actually a clearer picture too.

Build quality of the JVC is nicer however. It's a little bulkier in the hands which for me is not good since I have relatively small hands. The Canon for me works better here. The lens protector on the HD7 is manual and is open/closed by a switch on the front right side. The manual focus ring is a nice touch. Pulling up videos is faster on the JVC due to the hard drive. No big surprise there. BTW, the HD7 can be had at Circuit City for $1499 if interested. They have the in stock in store, though website says they don't. But, they do. Same for Best Buy. Best Buy prices matched CC for me. None the less, I will almost def. be keeping the Canon. I'm going to shoot some outdoor tomorrow to see if things improve but the clipping/hot spots/loss of detail & fringing have me concerned.

Sorry for such a short impression but I know you guys are eager to have a comparison between the two.

Oh and the HD7 does NOT have 24p. It has cinema effect like the Sony's which simulates 24p but is nowhere near as good as the Canon's true 24p.

Alright so I got up this morning and shot with the GZ-HD7 outside, same areas I've shot with the HV20. Again, and I can't say I'm surprised, I find that the HV20 outperforms the HD7. Maybe it's the CMOS sensor, maybe it's the DIGIC II processing, but to me the HV20 video just has that "professional" look to it, especially with 24p, that both my Sony HC5 and now, the JVC HD7, lack. It's hard to describe. The outdoor performance of HD7 is by no means bad. but it does overexpose by default and for me the red channel is over saturated. I'm sure these can be corrected for, but for the average consumer who will just pull it out and use it in auto mode, the HV20 gives you better final output.

Again, I saw CA/fringing that is NOT there on HV20. The fringing is there around contrasting edges. Particulary on an American flag I've been recording blowing in the wind. Where the red meets white and the outline of the flag silouetted against the sky. I found alot more artifacting in the JVC HD7 video also. I don't know, maybe I need to test more, but I think I'll be keeping the HV20. It's video is obscenely clean in proper lighting and with 24p I don't think it can be beat. I just WISH it had the ergonomics of the HD7 or HC5 or the build quality of these 2. But in the end what really matters is what shows up on your display and that, IMHO, is where the HV20 can't be touched.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 02:54 PM   #2
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Wow - thank you soooo much for posting this because I have been torn since I put the JVC in hand a couple o days ago.

I would like to ask - how did the color of the footage you shot compare? I have always been under the impression that 3CCD made a HUGE difference in richness of color and increased low-light capability. You have proven the HV20 in low-light, but how does the color compare to the JVC?

If you have the time and means, would it be possible for you to shoot similar footage with each camera (simultaneous footage would be an excellent test) so we can see the difference? I don't know if you have the capability to drop it to a manageable size file, but I'd truly love to see the differences when shot in the same mode (60i would be a common mode, I guess, since the JVC doesn't support 24p).
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Old April 8th, 2007, 03:11 PM   #3
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Terry:

I have a 3ccd Sony FX1, as well as the HV20, and frankly, the video from the HV20 is very pleasing and very comparable, nicely saturated, and appears to be a bit sharper. This is my first CMOS, other than still, but I am impressed by the HV20. I do think the FX1 holds the highlights a bit better than the HV20, but care in exposure setting can resolve any issue there.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 03:29 PM   #4
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Tony,

I know these things are subjective, but in your opinion, what if a person absolutely wanted an HDD or SD over tape (for whatever their reasons), and thus were not necessarily comparing with the HV20, would you think they would be disappointed with the quality of the video? Or would you honestly say that the issues you are seeing are noticeable enough where they would seriously consider not getting this HD7?

Erik
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Old April 8th, 2007, 04:52 PM   #5
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Wow, my biggest fear when this camera was announced was it's highlight clipping handling- and sadly it appears to be in full negative effect. This is also the case with other JVC cams like the HD1 & HD10U's....I don't know why JVC has such an issue with highlight clipping- their cams just don't seem to be able to deal with areas of high contrast where Canon and others seem to get it right (Canon best in my opinion.)

Well it's a bit sad to read this post as myself and others were hoping this camera would be near equal to the performance of some of the current HDV cams and it doesn't seem so. CA fringing is also a indicator of lens design and sensor sensitivity of which JVC touted new sensor technology and broadcast quality lens: just doesn't seem to be cutting it. Sad sad sad.....I can see why JVC is having some issues as a company and is for sale..........I guess we'll have to wait for Canon to come out with an internal HD camera to get really good video!

~I'm bummed out......should have held onto my FX7 or A1 a bit longer.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 05:29 PM   #6
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By NO means is the quality of the JVC bad. Personally, for me though, the Canon image quality is in a league of it's own compared to the JVC GZ-HD7 and the Sony HDR-HC5 (which I had before the Canon). Unfortunately I can't upload any clips because I don't have the means to do so yet. Again, to me, colors, highlights, quality of compression is better on the Canon. Again, this is just my opinion. Professional reviews may be totally opposite from what I experienced. I can only tell you what I saw when recorded the same scenes between the 2 cameras.

I even found the image in low-light to be better on the HV20. The main reason I wanted to get my hands on the HD7 was to see how much better a 3CCD array would be with low light. Quite honestly, again, to me, it's not better, and in some areas worse. But again, this is probably mostly do to JVC's compression/image processing engine. I know in digital SLR's Canon's got it all over the competition as far as reducing image noise thanks to their CMOS sensor and I can only figure they've found a way to transmit that tech over to their HDV camcorders.

All this, plus you get 24p. 24p is a dream in my opinion. I shot some stuff yesterday and it just looked jaw dropping.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 05:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos View Post
Terry:

I have a 3ccd Sony FX1, as well as the HV20, and frankly, the video from the HV20 is very pleasing and very comparable, nicely saturated, and appears to be a bit sharper. This is my first CMOS, other than still, but I am impressed by the HV20. I do think the FX1 holds the highlights a bit better than the HV20, but care in exposure setting can resolve any issue there.
Let me add to what Chris is saying: I've got the FX7, a 3-CMOS HDV camcorder. I actually prefer the HV20's HD picture to the FX7. I find it equally sharp, less artifacty with less in-camera sharpening and color that's every bit as good, if not better, as the 3-chipper. So basically the question of 3 chips vs 1 chip becomes moot. It's more a question of how good a job a given manufacturer does with each technology.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 06:01 PM   #8
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Highlight clipping has been a problem for JVC's medium level camcorders since I entered the "hobby" some 7-8 years ago....I saw a clip posted in a Japanese website shot with a HD7 and noted some clipping as well. I had a HV10 and it didn't clip and had great tonality....it just seems JVC can't get a handle on this issue.
Because I use these camcorders for showcasing my airbrush work- highlight clipping is of concern to me because of the reflective surfaces....I just can't accept a high level of it and if - expo can't cure it, resulting dark video isn't a solution.
Canon & Sony seem to be at the forefront of HDV technology and now mpeg2 cams as well.....JVC has some catching up to do.

I know this was one person's count on the subject but it was the one area I was concerned about- and again it pokes it's ugly head...and seems to confirm the issue.
At the HD7's price point- I may get one to try out, but I'm prepared for disappointment...and a return if it's as bad as I think.

I'll keep my fingers crossed that it's good enough for my amateur needs!

(A circular polarizer will only work to some extent- so I know it wont be a cure-all.)
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Old April 8th, 2007, 09:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik CaPaul View Post
Tony,

I know these things are subjective, but in your opinion, what if a person absolutely wanted an HDD or SD over tape (for whatever their reasons), and thus were not necessarily comparing with the HV20, would you think they would be disappointed with the quality of the video? Or would you honestly say that the issues you are seeing are noticeable enough where they would seriously consider not getting this HD7?

Erik

After seeing the pic quality of the Sony HDR-HC7, JVC GZ-HD7 and the Canon HV20 I would hands done only consider the Canon. Top-notch pic quality and true 24p. I showed my friend 24p video tonight and he was awestruck.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 07:49 AM   #10
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This small camera (Canon HV20) is a winner even for professional use.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 04:18 PM   #11
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I wonder if the built in gamma curves could help

My understanding is that JVC has several built in gamma curves for video processing. It may be that one of them gives more dynamic range to highlights. Potentially this means leaving less detail in shadow, but when the subject is the brightest spot - you don't want to overexpose. Would it be possible to repeat the low light test with each of the advanced settings?
Another area that I am interested in would be how the compression handles pans with lots of detail. For this a real smooth video head is needed plus the optical stabilization should be off. Could you please pan and see how the speed of pan affects the image quality? Alternatively a quick zoom on manual focus setting could do the trick if no video head is available.
It would be great to see some actual footage. There are sites that let you post gigabyte size files for free, we just need a pointer to the file to download.
Thank you in advance.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 04:45 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Tony Parenti View Post
Unfortunately I can't upload any clips because I don't have the means to do so yet.
What means are you lacking? If it's web space there are plenty of free hosting sites. Try http://divShare.com, a fairly new site. I can give you others if you need them.

I think I speak for many; we'd love to see some of your video. Both cams, that is.

Good luck.

Dennis
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Old April 9th, 2007, 06:32 PM   #13
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Unfortunately I just don't have the computer to do it. Right now I'm stuck to just my laptop which unfortunately does not have a IEEE 1394 port. :( I'm sorry guys. Hopefully within the next couple of days a real professional will review the unit. Until then I can only speak for what my eyes saw. I just did another test recording my fresh water fish tank and again the HV20 is just stellar. The JVC did not render the detail of the HV20, showed fringing and more noise. I feel JVC compression tech. is maybe part of the problem. Color gradiations also looked much smoother on the HV20.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 09:36 PM   #14
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Wow, makes you wonder how many HD7 orders got canceled due to this thread.

Its really a shame as the HD7 was so sexy looking....
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Old April 9th, 2007, 09:53 PM   #15
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Well, I took the plunge and ordered my HV20 from Circuit City yesterday. I had to call in order to get the 10%-off coupon to work, since the website kept erroring out when I tried to apply the advertised coupon. Paid the extra $8.00 for 2-day shipping and should have it by Thursday - YAY!!!

Thank you all for the help with this choice. It has not been easy and yes, the JVC was hard to turn away because it is a very nice looking camcorder.
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