First Impressions with JVC HD100U at DVinfo.net

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Old August 26th, 2005, 04:16 PM   #1
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First Impressions with JVC HD100U

First Impressions on JVC HD-100U Camera

We've received our demo model of the new JVC HD-100U HDV camera, and we'd like to share our first impressions with you.

Out of the Box Notes
- Camera feels solid and nice
- Quite easy to assemble the lens, viewfinder, and mic
- With supplied battery, lens, viewfinder, camera weighs 3.5 kg or 8 lbs.
- Camera sits on your shoulder nicely - more ergonomic than Canon XL series
- Little speaker that nicely fits on your ear when using the viewfinder is brilliant
- Switching between 30p and 24p requires a system re-boot, and takes up to 10 seconds

Lens Notes
- A real focus ring! A real zoom ring!
- Camera iris can either be automatic, where the camera decides the exposure, or manual. Love the manual iris - it's so nice to dial in exposure.
- Focus ring is nice, but people who have been shooting with DVX100s, XLs, PD150s etc and use Autofocus are going to have to change their shooting habits - there is no autofocus on this camera. There is a nice feature called Focus Assist, which is great
- Lens is wider than you expect, but still not as wide as the DVX100. Telephoto range is incredible. Most people will probably need a wide angle attachment, but try the lens out first before ordering - you might be surprised. No one, except perhaps private investigators, police, or spies will ever need a telephoto attachment.
- 82mm Filter thread

24P Impressions
- Yes, real 24p. Looks much better than the Cineframe on Z1, surprise, surprise. 24p is more filmic than the 30p the JVC can also shoot in.
- Personally, I found I had to tweak the settings to get an image more to my liking. I found the Cinegamma setting too flat, so I left it in the default colour matrix. But the biggest trick is bringing the Detail setting way down to -8. Part of what makes the DVX100 image so appealing is the softer feel when you go into 24p. They do it by reducing the Detail to -4 automatically. With the JVC, I found the Detail at Normal too crisp (the curse of HD), so I dialed it down and as a result took the edge off and made it much more DVX100-like. In the end, the HD100 delivers.
- Image Quality is good - what else would you expect from a high def camera?

Low Light
- Sony has always been the King of Low Light, and well, they still are.
- With the HD100, you have to hit the Gain button to -9 in low light situations, period. -9db is clean and doesn't degrade the image, so it works. -18db produces some noise, liveable but not as clean. But honestly, not as good as the Z1.

Audio Notes
- Comes with a shotgun mic, unlike Z1, DVX100 et al. Haven't tested the quality of said shotgun, so can't comment on the quality of it
- Since it is unlikely this shotgun will be of Audio Technica or Sennheiser quality, the supplied mic holder nicely holds an AT897 or ME66 shotgun, unlike the Z1 where the diameter is too wide
- Did not test the audio quality of the XLR inputs yet, so can't comment on how clean they are

Viewfinder & LCD Screen
- Can't have viewfinder and LCD screen on at the same time - it's one or the other
- Viewfinder is color only
- You can turn on Safety Zones for 16x9, 4x3, or both, which is nice (especially if you're shooting HDV but will have to deliver 4x3 versions ...)

Battery Life
- This camera sucks batteries at a much higher rate than a Z1 or DVX100. The standard battery the camera comes with will last 20 - 30 minutes, and takes a lot longer to charge than 30 minutes :)
- Those shooting with Sony or Panasonic "10 hour" batteries will be disappointed to know there is no JVC equivalent - the longest battery they have will last approximately 1 hour in this camera
- Battery charger can take 2 batteries at once
- No battery bar indicator in the viewfinder (surprisingly)
- I think people will be looking the optional Anton Bauer batteries very quickly

Menus, Menus and More Menus
- Very extensive menu control over the image characteristics, so you can tweak to your hearts desire. Probably first camera since the DVX100 that actually surpasses it in menu image control
- What's missing is the ability to store different profiles and easily switch between them, like Panasonic has done so brilliantly on the DVX100, or Sony not quite as elegantly in the Z1. I really like to be able to switch between 24p and certain image presets and "regular" mode. It appears on first glance that the HD100 can't do that without menu surfing and having to memorize your settings. I have to investigate the SD card option more to 100% say that however.

Miscellaneous Observations
- This is more of a manual camera in so many ways than the DVX100, PD170, Z1 etc. This is not the type of camera you can hand to a novice, tell them to keep it in Auto, and have them produce good results. You got to know what you're doing to use this camera.
- Camera and it's companion deck have 6 pin firewire ports, as opposed to the normal 4 pin one usually finds on cameras and decks
- The manual says don't use 80 minute cassettes, just like in the DVX100
- JVC has discovered packaging - the box for both the camera and deck have like ... logos! pictures! colors! Not the typical generic packaging they've been using in their professional products since we've been selling them.

These are my opinions, and as with any opinion, your mileage may vary. Also, I am not a professional shooter, and don't earn my living shooting images, so my analysis may differ than someone's who has spent 15 years shooting, or who has immense technical knowledge. I am no Roger Deakins or Adam Wilt :) My perspective is more from the director/producer who's been shooting miniDV since the VX1000, and salesperson selling these type of cameras since 2001. Enough caveats!

We will be conducting HDV comparison tests with the Sony and DV 24p tests with the DVX100 in the next 10 days and will share our thoughts here as well.

Terry Steyn
The DV Shop
Toronto, Canada
www.dvshop.ca
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Old August 26th, 2005, 04:23 PM   #2
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Thanks Terry. That's rad of you to write in such detail.

Now where's mine?
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Old August 26th, 2005, 04:53 PM   #3
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"I found the Cinegamma setting too flat, so I left it in the default colour matrix."

Fantastic -- they really implemented a gamma designed for video that will go to film -- not a gamma that claims it will make video look like film.

That's one of Varicam best features.

You'll have to set-up a monitor calibrated (as Panasonic offers) for this gamma.
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Old August 26th, 2005, 05:01 PM   #4
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Thanks for all the useful info. I'm very interested in the Z1/HD100U comparison.

A shame about the batteries, but it was expected.

When you talk about manual controls, is there any chance you give us more detail on that?

Oh, and the HD1/HD10U had nice packaging already...
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Old August 26th, 2005, 05:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Steyn
First Impressions on JVC HD-100U Camera

- No battery bar indicator in the viewfinder (surprisingly)www.dvshop.ca

My understanding from the manual is that you can enable a voltage indicator in the viewfinder. It would be interesting to know if one can set low battery warning and shut off points for various battery systems (i.e. IDX or AB). That would be in the engineering menu (if such thing is present in this camera).
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Old August 26th, 2005, 07:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Weaver
Thanks Terry. That's rad of you to write in such detail.

Now where's mine?
He's from Canada, Nate. Us US'ers still have to wait...
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Old August 26th, 2005, 07:46 PM   #7
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First Impressions

Jjust a comment on the "microphone" that comes bundled. Just throw it in the bin. It will be comfortable there - more comfortable than on the camera! It is more in the toy category and cant be put to any serious.

I didnt mind about this because they had to make savings somewhere. I will be trying out a Sanken CS -1 (or even much more cheaply one of the new Rode directional mics).

Rob Castiglione
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Old August 26th, 2005, 08:38 PM   #8
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Terry, are you experiencing any of the split screen, color shifting and other defects others have reported?
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Old August 26th, 2005, 08:51 PM   #9
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Low Light:
In my own test of a Z1 next to a HD101 the sensitivity of the CCD block appeared to me to be almost identical, but as I have detailed before, if you zoom in the lens, the JVC holds the exposure (the advantage of a Pro len) while the Sony drops about a full stop of light when on full zoom. Unless you plan to shoot wide all the time it is something to consider. You could easily be shooting in a situation when you need 0 or 6dB on the JVC but 18dB on the Z1.

Battery life is a problem with the little JVC batteries (I have been worried about this since the day I saw a picture of it). THe IDX plate doesn't sound like it will cost much and a 90WH VMount will last about 4 hours. It is a 17W camera after all. Lucky I already have a VMount system, just need a plate. The 428s are pretty cheap though, only $79 at B&H and there are some cheaper non genuine. There is also meant to be a 438 with another 1000mAH (3800mAH) but I havn't seen anywhere you can buy it yet. Still won't be enough though, this is an area JVC really need to find out how Sony are achieving the battery performance they are and at least try to emulate.

I believe there is a battery voltage reading, not a level. A voltage reading is a much better guide for remaining capacity, especially with V-mounts.

Guy
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Old August 26th, 2005, 08:59 PM   #10
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Guy, is there a XLR power IN?
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Old August 26th, 2005, 09:01 PM   #11
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No, but like most cameras there is a DC power in capability to power the camera.
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Old August 26th, 2005, 09:06 PM   #12
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The power input for mains power is not the best - bit of a cause for concern. Easily knocked during operation.

Rob Castiglione
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Old August 26th, 2005, 09:13 PM   #13
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Wouldn't be much different to any handycam design like a Z1 either would it? I guess one of those fake battery pads would be most secure but then you couldn't have a battery mounted at the same time.

My DV301 uses the same connector but in the battery compartment, and I've always found it difficult to get out as it is such a tight fit. How tight is the side connector?
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Old August 26th, 2005, 09:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Barwood
Wouldn't be much different to any handycam design like a Z1 either would it?
The Z1 doesn't have direct AC input like the FX1 or PD-170.... it uses one of those "fake batteries" which can plug into the independent charger provided with the camera. After reading reports of blown fuses during charging on the FX1 I've resolved never to plug my Z1 into the AC power, and only run it on the batteries. The external battery charger is very nice.
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Old August 26th, 2005, 11:44 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Barwood
Low Light:
In my own test of a Z1 next to a HD101 the sensitivity of the CCD block appeared to me to be almost identical, but as I have detailed before, if you zoom in the lens, the JVC holds the exposure (the advantage of a Pro len) while the Sony drops about a full stop of light when on full zoom. Unless you plan to shoot wide all the time it is something to consider. You could easily be shooting in a situation when you need 0 or 6dB on the JVC but 18dB on the Z1.

Guy
The ability to have nearly equal light transmission (T-stop) over the whole range is someting I find so many folks don't consider.

Even when they buy a still camera they look at the lowest--advertised value--and don't notice at full zoom they are down several stops.

By the way, folks might be surprised who JVC buys the CCDs from.
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Last edited by Steve Mullen; August 27th, 2005 at 02:37 PM.
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