The day before the JVC booth opened to the public I was granted a few hours of access to both a release version of the GY-HM100 and the GY-HM700 with the Canon KT14x4.4B KRS zoom lens. The Canon 14×4.4 zoom lens won’t ship until June and there were only a few made available for NAB 2009.
My wife and I had already decided to rent a car with GPS and try to get lost in the Mojave Desert before the madness of NAB started on Monday morning. Unbenownst to her I had decided to use our road trip to also test out both cameras. We started heading NorthEast past Nellis Air Force Base and about an hour later found The Valley of Fire State Park. The Valley of Fire is full of interesting red sandstone formations and 3000-year-old Native petroglyphs. Perfect for my test!
I pulled the HM100 out while my wife was driving and started shooting the drive towards the park. I was shooting in 1080p24 “HQ” mode (35mbps VBR XDCAM EX) and had set my exposure manually (1/48th shutter speed, F/5.6 iris, ND On, Cine Gamma) turned on the Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS) and Auto-Focus. I was very impressed with the OIS considering the road was extremely bumpy. The autofocus was slow to respond in 24p mode, but always eventually got there.
I wish I had had a polarizing filter for the camera to dial in that pristine blue Nevada sky and open the iris a little more, but all things considered the single neutral density filter did the job. With tiny CCDs it is important (especially with red images) not to stop down the iris more than necessary. Closing the iris too much can cause diffraction, but I didn’t witness any with the HM100 in the F/5.6~F/8 range I limited myself to.
When we arrived at the “Beehives” I removed the boom mic handle then handed the HM100 to my wife and just asked her to shoot short clips. I didn’t even tell her how to turn it on. My wife loves watching films but isn’t really interested in ever shooting anything more than home movies. I think it bodes well for the simplicity and build of the HM100 that all of her clips turned out in-focus and fairly stable.
While she was shooting with the HM100 I pulled out the GY-HM700, dialed in similar settings (1/48th, F/4½~F/5.6, ND2, Cine Gamma) and set up a tripod for some beauty shots. I wasn’t happy with the amount of breathing when front focusing the Canon lens at shorter focal lengths, but I was able to achieve close focus to infinity by using the macro ring.
The White Domes required I close the iris and extra half stop but I was still able to maintain the highlights without clipping. I was using a manually knee setting of 80% and toe set to “normal.” It was getting really hot around high noon with not a cloud in the sky. I pulled out my light meter, took a reading, and got F/32 @ 200ASA, (which makes sense if we take away the 4 stops for 1/16th ND, which gives us F/8.)
We had to go on some trails to find the petroglyphs so I ditched the tripod and went handheld with the HM700. I had an Anton-Bauer Dionic 90 on the back, which balanced the Canon lens out quite well. The HM700 was easy to handle on uneven ground and the re-design of the top handle made it very easy to just grab the camera and walk. It was difficult to find level ground but even so I was able to hold a “fairly” steady shot on the long end of the lens.
Overall the lens and both cameras performed as expected and I’m happy with the footage, but don’t take my word for it. I’ve uploaded a sequence of clips for review along with some raw source .MOV files.
Downloadable 1080p24 .MOV sample source clips:
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