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JVC GR-HD1U / JY-HD10U
All about the original single-CCD HDV camcorders from JVC.


 
 
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Old June 20th, 2003, 01:47 PM   #1
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GR-HD1 [un]impressions

OK, I have yet to get my hands on a JY-HD10U "pro" model, but I spent a good 4 hours with the GR-HD1 this morning. Here's what I have to say about it....

First off, the camera design is like all other JVC consumer level cams, it's crap. If it weren't for the rotating grip this would undoubtedly be the most uncomfortable camera to hold. Buttons are in annoying places are a pain to use, even with my somewhat small hands. Fixed position viewfinder, combined with horrible viewfinder quality doesn't help either. The flip-out LCD is a joke, nice and big, but low res and poor picture. Also, if this is a 16:9 native camera, why not a 16:9 flip-out LCD??? My GameBoy Advance has a nicer LCD screen on it than this camcorder does.

Exterior features aside, now here's my opinion on the controls... A COMPLETE JOKE! The controls are at best plain-jane consumer level. And that's for auto mode. Manual mode is completely worthless on this camera (actually, manual mode doesn't really exist) as I could not get anything on this camera to allow full manual control. And before anyone directs me to the MC 101 thread, I will say right now, this camera DOES NOT work like that. There is NO WAY on this camera to set both the iris/aperture AND shutter speed at the same time. Either can be locked in, but not both at the same time. After setting them, the camera will hold the settings until it encounters a bright light source or extremely dark setting and then it will automatically try to adjust instead of just holding the settings. What a bunch of crap - manual mode, my a$$. The zoom and focus rings are awkward as well since they are just a phony conrol to use instead of the rocker switch. I think it's so soccer dad can stand in front of his minivan and make other soccer dads feel jealous while he twists his lens like a pro and doesn't touch a rocker switch. It serves no other purpose and is less accurate than the zoom rocker.

Now on to picture quality... Surprisingly, this aspect of the camera did have a few pleasant attributes. I connected the thing in native 720p and 480p output modes to a 50" Samsung DLP (native 720p) HLN507W display. Color reproduction was excellent, very much on par with a lot of $3K 3CCD cameras. JVC's non-RGB CCD they're using looks pretty good here. Lens optics are definitely sub-par for the price range of this camera. I didn't have a resolution chart, but it was pretty apparent that even if there were higher res CCDs in this camera, the optics would still hold it back. Still, the resolution and detail captured in 720p mode is a large step above 480i DV. However, the compression on this camera is the main problem. It's obvious that their DSP used for compression can't keep up with the constant bit-rate set. Lots of motion artifacting and MPEG mosaics if there's a lot of action (standing about 60 feet off a highway and panning slowly in the opposite direction of traffic). But shots of fairly calm surroundings can look very good. I've got a shot of some flowers swaying in the breeze that looks just as good as a lot of broadcast HDTV I've seen.

The 480p60 mode gives about the same results with the same annoying compression. Essentially, it's keeping the same quality by trading resolution for FPS. Due to it's 6FPS, it would work well for drop frame conversion to 24p and still gives superior resolution to standard DV. However, the MPEG compression artifacting would still be a major issue for any real editing or composition work.

I connected the camera to a PC (dual 1.6GHz AMD, 1GB RAM, twin 17" DVI LCD displays @ 1280x1024). The PC displays confirmed what I saw when connecting to the DLP HDTV set. Pulling in the video and editing within Vegas 4.0 was easy, no issues there. However, attempting to place edited video back out to the camera is problematic, or at least I have not got output to the camera with MPEG2 to work. I'm probably doing something wrong and will have to try some other things. Output to the camera in DV mode works just fine. But I do hope it lets me put HD MPEG2 streams back to the camera because for now I have no other way to deliver the MPEG2 to an HDTV set or a DVHS recorder. ...Unless there's a utility to allow a PC or Mac to talk to a DVHS deck via firewire and then I could transfer from one of my workstations.

I have to take the camera back tomorrow, but I will try some more tests this evening and in the morning. I want to see if I can get HD output to the camera to work and I want to test how the 480p and 720p footage works for converting source material for DVD production.

To sum up...

Pros: Great color for a single chip camera, native 16:9 aspect CCD, It does 480p at 60FPS, It does HD 720p for under $3500 even though it's a bit gimmicky.

Cons: This camera is an ergonomics nightmare, average optics, kinda heavy for its size, over-compression, artifacting and motion errors with busy scenes, does not like low-light, manual mode is a complete joke, viewfinder and LCD display don't match the camera's native CCD aspect and are poor quality. Video quality for DV is no better than a $450 JVC DV camera, HD/SD quality is hit or miss. I've taken a few shots (about 8 seconds worth) that make me say "hey that's pretty cool", but the other 60 odd minutes I've shot make me belive that I can live without the resolution for now and continue using my XL1S. And the controls make me feel the same way. I have seen people compare the control of this camera to a Canon GL1. I used to own a GL1 and I can say that I found the GL1 to be much more intuitive and much better when it came to manual control.

As mentioned above, this camera is more of a gimmick than a real product. I get the impression that they are testing the water to see if the market for a real prosumer HD camera even exists. I want to know if the manual control mode on the JY-HD10U is any better and if settings can be truly locked without the camera second guessing the user and futzing it all up. If so, I may consider buying the HD10U, but until then I won't bother. I'll continue to wait for Canon to release their successor to the XL1S and hopefully it will have native 16:9 (or higher res 4:3) CCDs for true anamorphic widescreen and hopefully 24p as well. HD ability would be a nice bonus too.
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Old June 20th, 2003, 02:21 PM   #2
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Thank you for preparing such a detailed early report, Jeff. I'm sure it will be interesting ready to many fellow members, as this new camera has garnered a great deal of pre-release hyperbole.
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Old June 20th, 2003, 02:54 PM   #3
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Could it be that the camera companies, JVC included, don't want to make a pro-sumer level HD camera because they fear smaller houses that currently use HD, like news stations, will no longer pay $50k for an HD camera if they can get one that's slightly less quality for about $5k?

So they make this HD camera that is clearly geared toward consumers that is basically impossible for filmmakers to use (no 24p - and please, don't let this start a 24p v. 30p flamewar, I'm just saying...), has bad controls, has no interchangeable lenses, etc. Now there's no risk that the local ABC affiliate will buy it instead of the high end HD cam.
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Old June 20th, 2003, 03:00 PM   #4
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Why would JVC fear that? they don't have any part in the current "real" HD market, it's all Pana and Sony. It intrigues me how JVC has managed to fail, either technologically or marketing-wise, so many times in the past with "revolutinary" products, like the Digital-S and Cineline. Hopefully they'll turn it around with the next HD1
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Old June 20th, 2003, 03:08 PM   #5
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<<<<I want to know if the manual control mode on the JY-HD10U is any better and if settings can be truly locked without the camera second guessing the user and futzing it all up. If so, I may consider buying the HD10U, but until then I won't bother. I'll continue to wait for Canon to release their successor to the XL1S and hopefully it will have native 16:9 (or higher res 4:3) CCDs for true anamorphic widescreen and hopefully 24p as well. HD ability would be a nice bonus too.>>>>>


I spoke with Ken Freed from JVC yesterday. I asked him if the HD10 was improved in any areas. One of the things he said was the enhancement/detail is reduced and the camera is adjusted for better peformance.


<<<<<Now on to picture quality... Surprisingly, this aspect of the camera did have a few pleasant attributes. I connected the thing in native 720p and 480p output modes to a 50" Samsung DLP (native 720p) HLN507W display. Color reproduction was excellent, very much on par with a lot of $3K 3CCD cameras. JVC's non-RGB CCD they're using looks pretty good here.>>>>

<<<<Still, the resolution and detail captured in 720p mode is a large step above 480i DV.>>>>

<<<<I've got a shot of some flowers swaying in the breeze that looks just as good as a lot of broadcast HDTV I've seen.>>>>>


Thanks for the review Jeff. The one thing I take away that is a positive in your review is what you had to say about the picture. It's like i said before; this is a box camera that has no thrills but on thing, it's picture quality. If it passes my tests when I get my hands on one, I will buy a HD10. I am sick of SD res.


Jeff is there a way you could post a few frames you liked at full res?

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Old June 20th, 2003, 03:31 PM   #6
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<<<-- Originally posted by Yang Wen : Why would JVC fear that? they don't have any part in the current "real" HD market, it's all Pana and Sony. It intrigues me how JVC has managed to fail, either technologically or marketing-wise, so many times in the past with "revolutinary" products, like the Digital-S and Cineline. Hopefully they'll turn it around with the next HD1 -->>>

Exactly, no reason for JVC to fear it. Although, I am always baffled as to how the video and camera world continues to evolve so slowly when other electronics industries continue to progress at alarming rates. All it takes is one manufacturer to release a serious product that threatens products from another and then the other will counter. JVC failed to do that here, which is really too bad for both them and the consumer. You can bet that if Canon releases an update to their XL series that does native 16:9, 24p and 30p, maybe even SD (doubt their next model will do HD) that other camera makers will scramble to compete.

The JVC HD1 has the appearance and feel of a camera that was put together "just to throw something on the market". There are many aspects of the unit that anyone who designs or uses cameras would probably question.

To add to my review above I want to clarify a little more about about the HD1's colors and image. Like I said, color reproduction is very good. However, the overall range isn't as good as most cameras at the same price. Highlight and shadow detail is lacking and it's easy for highlights to blow out. But for colors within range of the CCD, the tone and saturation is very good. Other notes about image quality is high contrast edges are very sharp, sometimes to the point of being very annoying. Converting both 480p and 720p output to a 720x480 anamorphic DVD stream works very well. However, much of the MPEG2 artifacting and mosaic effects are still visible in the DVD transfer, especially when played back on a computer or progressive scan player to an HDTV set. Overall, the DVD conversion done both through tMPEGENC and Vegas 4.0 give the same results. Colors are muted and the image has a very soft appearance. Personally, I didn't find it very appearling with the bland softness and MPEG artifacting playing back from the DVD player. I personally think I get better DVD source material out of my XL1S, even though it doesn't have the resolution this JVC camera does.
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Old June 20th, 2003, 03:43 PM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by Michael Pappas : I spoke with Ken Freed from JVC yesterday. I asked him if the HD10 was improved in any areas. One of the things he said was the enhancement/detail is reduced and the camera is adjusted for better peformance. -->>>

That's good to know. I will still consider buying one of these cameras (yes even with all the negative things I found), if the HD10 does have edge enhancement dialed down and if it allows for the manual controls to work as they should. Or at least allow the settings I lock to not change on me when the camera encounters major lighting changes. Besides, I'm sick of 480i and a lot of the work I do could benefit from 720p.


<<<<Thanks for the review Jeff. The one thing I take away that is a positive in your review is what you had to say about the picture. It's like i said before; this is a box camera that has no thrills but on thing, it's picture quality. If it passes my tests when I get my hands on one, I will buy a HD10. I am sick of SD res.


Jeff is there a way you could post a few frames you liked at full res?-->>>

No problem. The one thing about this camera that has been driving me nuts is the lack of any decent reviews or information. All the japanese sites I've been pouring over the past couple months have been full of nothing but amatures oogling over how the output looks on their tiny 15" monitors. And no mention at all about the HD10U or the HD1's manual control ability.

I'll see what I can post. I will at least get a still or two up in the next day or so. My DSL is acting up, but I'll try to get an un-altered MPEG2 stream from the camera posted as well.
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Old June 21st, 2003, 06:09 AM   #8
 
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gotta weigh in on this discussion. IMHO, the first product to market in any new area is always sub-par. JVC has a reputation for such sub-par offerings...witness the jy-vs200u "professional" DvCAM. If one has deep pockets they can afford to buy this "toy'. Otherwise, my advice is to wait until two things happen:
1-a more professional offering appears...such as canon's next XL2
2-wait until HD displays drop in price.
Personally, I don't much like being the beta tester for 3000+ dollar experiments.
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Old November 2nd, 2003, 02:10 AM   #9
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I know this is an old thread, but after viewing the DV 3 chip vs JVC footage, side by side, on this thread:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...threadid=16513
I say that this defines the usual 3 chip DV cam stuff as poo poo.
It just looks out of focus, plain and simple.

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