GY-HM170/HM200 issues at

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JVC 4K Pro Handheld Camcorders
GY-LS300, GY-HM200, HM170 and HM-Q10 recording 4K Ultra-High Definition video.

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Old February 3rd, 2016, 04:37 PM   #1
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GY-HM170/HM200 issues

I bought and have been using the HM170 for about 3 weeks now and am trying to decide if I should return it or accept to live with its shortcomings. The problems I am facing are the following:

1. Not enough ND filters: I filmed kids playing in the snow (sledding). I pushed the ND filter to the max, F8, still had to use a very small shutter speed (must have been 1/250 or more). The result is very choppy, not smooth video. Each frame is too sharp and at 4k-30P, not pleasant for action video.

2. White balance in Auto Mode: although I know this camera is supposed to be used primarily in manual mode, it does have an All-auto mode in which the white balance is just very bad. I have not found a situation where it could be used reliably.

3. LCD quality is poor: I've had multiple instances where the lcd displays the wrong color. The footage seems to be OK, but the red component is weak and even absent from purple shots, so the LCD displays blue only when it was supposed to be pink or purple. Even in its "bright" setting, the LCD is not accurately reflecting the brightness of the scenes. It is hard to know if the end result will be good by relying on the LCD. This is particularly evident when shooting 4k, less so in HD.

4. Viewfinder is even worse than the LCD. There is a dark brown area in the middle of the VF. I only noticed it recently when filming a performance on stage where the room was dark and spolights were used for stage lighting. Outdoors, the viewfinder is not large enough to cover the light coming from the sides. It is unuseable.

5. Battery is too small, only lasts about 90 minutes on the HM170 recording 4k. the HM200 has a different battery. I can't find a replacement battery for the 170 equivalent to the one that ships with the HM200 and seems to last twice as long.

6. Pressing the Record button produces a noticeable clicking sound on the audio track every time.

7. Gain is only adjustable in increments of 3. Now I am not a Pro and this may be standard on all Pro cameras, but on my consumer Panasonic HC-V750 they added half steps (3, 3+, 6, 6+, etc...)

So what do you think, is it possible that I have a bad unit, or have you noticed the same issues with yours?

I had high hopes that this entry level Pro camera would be ideal for me. My biggest problem is the lack of reliable preview option due to the poor quality of the LCD. It feels like I am shooting in the dark, and have to hope that the actual footage will be better than what I can see while taping.
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Old February 3rd, 2016, 11:07 PM   #2
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Re: GY-HM170/HM200 issues

Under the heading of “your mileage may vary,” and speaking only about the ND filter, in my case (I’m not a cam owner), shooting on water and white gel coat, the third ND filter (ND64) would be required. The work-around would be to use a screw-on ND-Polarizer filter and one that wouldn’t introduce vignetting. Say, a CPL + ND filter. It may be that a thin filter is required so that narrows down the field of choices. Good filters don’t come cheap, either.

Then there is the hassle factor such as screwing one on and off. Some threads engage easier than others so one that is difficult to get started is a pain. The purpose of a camcorder is that it has controls at the ready so one doesn’t have to drill down through a menu. There are times when one would really want the ND64 and to have to grope around in the kit bag for the screw-on filter would be a hassle. If you knew in advance that it would be needed then it could be made available ahead of time.

Would the lens shade vignette after a filter is screwed on? Something to check.

If the ND filter is needed, it is very likely that the the CPL filter would be useful, if not even needed.

Is this a deal breaker? Tough call and “your mileage may vary.”

Item 4, Viewfinder: For some reason, viewfinder issues seems to be a fairly common issue with camcorders.

Item 5, Battery: With regard to the battery, the manufacturer’s batteries (no matter which brand) are expensive. Aftermarket batteries can be problematical and the good brands are typically expensive. Recently got some Wasabi batteries (same as sold by B&H but cheaper) off eBay and they didn’t come close to their advertised mAh (based on the hours remaining as displayed in the LCD). Contacted the seller and they said “That may have been a batch that was mislabeled” and sent me another batch (two bats + charger). Again, same thing, They didn’t come anywhere near close to the Sony battery. Were they really mislabeled? Have no idea but having a bunch of under-capacity batteries is …. well, not helpful.

Item 6, Record button: I forgot, does this cam have a pre-record feature? If so, then the record button noise would be a problem, if not, and it’s at the beginning of the clip, isn’t that something that can be edited out?

As for the other irritants, besides seeking input here, suggest one explore contacting the the JVC Tech Rep and see what they have to say.

With regard to having high hopes, I can’t blame you for that. I saw the cam at an expo last spring and it looked like it’d be good but I had a lot of questions that never got answered so sprung for a used Sony AX100 instead. Still looking but have a ton of footage that needs editing, and it keeps coming!
John Nantz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 4th, 2016, 02:09 AM   #3
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Re: GY-HM170/HM200 issues

1. Not enough ND filters:
I just checked and saw the camera only has up to 1/16 which indeed is not enough, the ls300 has a 1/64 filter as well which you definitely need, if you shoot in the snow and want to use a normal shutterspeed then you have no other option then to add a filter to the lens.

3. LCD quality is poor
Sounds typical jvc, the ls300 also has a lcd that looks like it was ok 10 years ago but not today, however, to judge exposure I use the zebra's and histogram and to assure my color is right I manually whitebalance. For this I don't need the lcd to be color accurate (a complaint that has been made by some ls300 owners as well) but I do agree having a coloraccurate viewfinder does make it easier to tell if you have the wrong whitebalance dialed in if you are shooting manually.

4. Viewfinder is even worse than the LCD.
On the ls300 the viewfinder is also worse but not so bad as you describe on your hm170, I think it's clear this is not where jvc excels in.

7. Gain is only adjustable in increments of 3.
I have made the exact same complaint here: JVC GY LS300 firmware wishlist and was hoping jvc would allow changing iso values, like you can with the f-stop, using the small dial on the front side of the camera. While this 3 fixed assignable values have been standard on pro camera's in the past it doesn't work on modern large sensor camera's that have a much higher range of usable iso's. In the past you assigned 0, 3 and 6 db to these switches because that was about the max gain most camera's could take before the image became unusable but on a todays camera you first select your f-stop because that determines your depth of field (was not such an issue with small sensor camera's in the past) and then you dial in the right iso, having only 3 predefined values on a switch makes this almost impossible to use the right iso and forces you to dive into the menu and reassign the iso, no problem under controlled conditions but doesn't work in run and gun situations.
My sony nex-ea50 also had this problem and eventhough many users complained, sony never did anything about it, I only hope Jvc understands their customers needs better.

So what do you think, is it possible that I have a bad unit, or have you noticed the same issues with yours?
I think it is "normal" what you are experiencing and I mean what you experience as shortcomings is just the way this camera has been designed.
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Old February 18th, 2016, 03:40 PM   #4
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Re: GY-HM170/HM200 issues

Thanks all for your ideas, feedback and overall confirmation of my findings.

I ended up returning the camcorder and am now starting to look for a replacement. The Sony PXW-X70 is back to the top of my list. Apparently its LCD is top notch. I wish there was a store where I could see it without having to order one online. It's been around a couple of years and may get a refresh soon that would be 4k natively instead of an optional license.
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