The camcorder measured a color error of 1. JVC has shown us very accurate colors on most of its models this year, but the GZ-HM takes home first prize in this test. More on how we test color. In the Error Map shown above, you can see the GZ-HM produced nearly all the colors in our test chart with sublime accuracy. It was most accurate with greens and yellows, but it did very well across the board.

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The camcorder measured a color error of 1. JVC has shown us very accurate colors on most of its models this year, but the GZ-HM takes home first prize in this test. More on how we test color. In the Error Map shown above, you can see the GZ-HM produced nearly all the colors in our test chart with sublime accuracy. It was most accurate with greens and yellows, but it did very well across the board.

The HM has no color modes, so what you see in auto mode is what you get as far as color is concerned. Below is a sample image taken from our color testing. The HM, however, produced more vivid colors and had better color accuracy in our testing. Some people like lots of saturation, some people like bright colors, and some people like more faded tones.

This is a good showing for the camcorder and it is roughly the same amount of noise we measured on the GZ-HM More on how we test noise. The crops above really tell this story better than we can describe. The most impressive thing to note about the images above is the amount of detail captured by the Canon HF This does not mean the camcorder shoots at p it is still i ; there is simply a conversion process that allows the video to play as p on compatible televisions. More on how we test motion.

Still, we found the camcorder to capture very smooth motion in our testing. Unsurprisingly, it also had more artifacting and less detail than the higher-end consumer HD camcorders.

The camcorder has a larger sensor than most mid-range models and it makes good use of its enhanced specs. The camcorder had much less noticeable artifacting than the SD20 and HM and it also captured a sharper, more detailed image.

In addition, the HF20 offers both a 30p and 24p recording mode as well as regular 60i , making it one of the most versatile mid-range camcorders on the market when it comes to frame rates. The camcorder does have some low quality, high-speed frame rate options fps, fps, and fps , but the videos captured in these modes have strict time limitations and very low resolution.

More on how we test video sharpness. More on how we test low light sensitivity. The camcorder does offer an auto slow shutter feature engaged by setting the gain level to auto , which will boost low light performance.

Read the next two sections of this review for complete details. In low light, the HM showed us faded colors and it registered a saturation level of just This is a little below average for a camcorder of its class.

More on how we test low light color. The rest of the camcorders in this set had even worse color accuracies than the GZ-HM, with the closest competitor being the Canon HF20, which retained a fair amount of saturation and color depth. The camcorder averaged 1. More on how we test low light noise. Part of the reason the GZ-HM did so well with this test probably has to do with the fact that the camcorder captured such a blurred image in low light. Both the HM and SD20 had both blurry images and low noise in this test: blurring obscures desirable details as well as undesirable details like noise.

AVCHD is very common amongst consumer HD camcorders that record to memory cards, internal flash memory, or internal hard drives. AVCHD clips hold a lot of information, which means they can run sluggishly on any operating system and can take a while to transfer from the camcorder to a computer.

The GZ-HM has four quality options for recording HD video, but the camcorder has no standard definition recording option. Each quality setting uses a different bitrate, with the camcorder topping out at 24 Mbps—the maximum bitrate allowed for AVCHD.

The camcorder only records video to one card at a time, but you can arrange the HM to automatically switch over to the second card once the first one fills up—with no loss of data or stoppage of recording in between. Camcorders that only offer one memory card slot have a maximum capacity of just 32GB. The GZ-HM does not feature any internal flash memory, so you do need to make sure you have a couple of memory cards on hand if you want to start recording video right out of the box.

The software only works on Windows computers, but it allows you to do a variety of actions with your video footage. This is probably the most important function of the Everio Media Browser HD program and it handles the task quite well. We did run into some problems, however, with the software crashing on a number of occasions and failing to recognize our connected camcorder a few times. Also, even if you remember to press the Upload button before you shoot your video, you still need to connect the camcorder to a computer and open the Media Browser HD software.

You can still go into the main menu and make adjustments to things like zoom, stabilization, AGC, as well as display and media settings. The autofocus was generally good, but we noticed it taking a bit too long when we shot in dimmer lighting conditions in bright light it worked great. The auto exposure on the camcorder was also flawed. It sometimes took seconds to adjust to a change in environment—far too long if you plan to use auto mode a lot.

In manual mode, you can switch between Whole Screen and Spot evaluation to determine how the camcorder measures exposure levels Spot measures the light at the center of the frame and adjusts exposure accordingly.

If you find yourself shooting a subject with a strong light behind them, you can turn backlight compensation on to help the camcorder accommodate. Certain lights gave the image a warm, orange tint, while others gave the image a cool, blue tone. With the auto setting, the light will turn on whenever you film in relative darkness. We found the auto setting to work a bit slowly, especially when we stopped shooting in low light it took a while to turn off.

The light also has an extremely limited illumination range of about one foot. This will result in some funny looking motion when the slow shutter kicks in like motion trails, blur, and choppy footage.

The toggle is well-positioned, feels comfortable, and works reasonably well. The camcorder offers variable zoom speed control, which means the harder you push the toggle, the faster it will zoom. There is a fine line, however, between a very fast zoom and a very slow one—so you have to apply just the right amount of pressure to obtain your desired zoom speed.

By pressing the upper portion of the strip two zoom icons appear on the LCD. You can then press the corresponding portion of the strip in order to zoom. The Laser Touch zoom controls are also locked at a specific, medium-level zoom speed. There is also a numeric display that references what current zoom ratio you are set at i. This is quite a lengthy zoom for such a compact camcorder the average consumer HD camcorder has between a 10x - 15x zoom.

There are, however, a number of standard definition camcorders that carry optical zooms ranging from 35x - 50x. You can also use an 80x or x digital zoom on the GZ-HM, but doing so will result in degraded image quality. We recommend sticking with the 20x optical zoom most of the time.

If you have a strong affinity for manual focus, you may want to check out a camcorder that has a lens ring or adjustment dial like the JVC GZ-HM, or a high-end model from Canon, Panasonic, or Sony. On the other hand, the Laser Touch strip is easier to use and works better than using a touchscreen to focus your image.

The HM also has a focus assist tool that provides a peaking option for helping out with manual focus. Peaking gives the edges of your subject a grainy coloration that allows you to focus easier the more in-focus an image gets, the more specks of color appear.

You can set the peaking color to red, green, or blue, but you must do so by going through the Display Settings submenu. Aperture control is available on many camcorders, although a number of them only have the option in aperture-priority mode where you select the aperture, but the camcorder adjusts shutter speed accordingly.

Using these slow shutters will boost low light performance, but also produce blur and trailing whenever an object moves within the frame or if you move the camcorder while shooting. We found the manual white balance to work the best, but it is a bit tricky to use. You must select the manual option, point the camcorder at a white or neutral background, then hold down the OK button on the LCD panel until the white balance registers.

Most first-time users will probably think all you have to do is tap the OK button to engage the manual white balance. If you do this, however, the camcorder will not calibrate white balance correctly.

So, if you want to shoot video without any gain boost which will limit noise you can simply turn AGC off. With AGC off, however, the camcorder is extremely poor in low light—even moderately low light. Footage shot under normal indoor light will appear very dim and sometimes may not even be usable.

Still, it is far more than what the GZ-HM offers.



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