The arrival of the HDV format brings with it an enormous amount of promise and expectation. This promise and expectation extends across the quality and characteristics of the format itself and to the cameras and lenses that acquire it. With great expectation comes great scrutiny, but so far, virtually all the HDV cameras released to the market have held up remarkably well. Canon answered with the XLH1 and delivered a level of sophistication and control not often seen in cameras under 25k.
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The arrival of the HDV format brings with it an enormous amount of promise and expectation. This promise and expectation extends across the quality and characteristics of the format itself and to the cameras and lenses that acquire it.
With great expectation comes great scrutiny, but so far, virtually all the HDV cameras released to the market have held up remarkably well. Canon answered with the XLH1 and delivered a level of sophistication and control not often seen in cameras under 25k. But of all these, it might be said that JVC? Is this the camera to usurp the positions so strongly held by Canon and Sony models? Or do JVC still have some lessons to learn before they can steal some of the thunder?
Features I suspect JVC did their market research and in particular looked at the Canon XL1 and XL2 and asked themselves the simple question of what was it that made this camera so popular for small and indie production and even not so small and indie. The answer of course, above all others, was that the XL2 was the only camera in its class with interchangeable lenses and precise lens control.
In this vein, it certainly is the HDE? More than just interchangeable lenses the HDE offers the only servo driven lens system on a camera anywhere close to this price range.
This lens system uses a small motor to drive focus and zoom resulting in very smooth zooms and focus that match to precise lens barrel markings.
Additional to this, the HDE also offers fixed focus ring adjustment with exact focal length markings. Instead of the usual infinite focus rings of all other current HDV cameras, where the focus ring rotates infinitely and gaining focus is a matter of pure visual selection, a fixed focus ring allows the operator to more finely adjust focus control and set focus to specific focal distances. The lens quality itself is also outstanding, employing Fujinon glass that provides both excellent clarity and distortion-free images along with good depth of field control from aperture settings given in actual f-stops rather than the rather arbitrary?
The lens also has a macro extension ring for pulling focus at very short focal lengths that was also very effective and sharp. For audio, the twin XLR balanced audio inputs and independent manual level control dials give very good sound options.
The supplied shotgun microphone however is a little on the poor side and whilst functional enough, will probably be quickly replaced by experienced users with a Rode or Sennheiser shotgun mic. One of the features garnering most attention on the JVC is the inclusion of true 24p recording. Niether of the HDV cameras from Sony nor the XLH1 from Canon offer this and it is a feature much sort after by many video makers looking for the closest possible match with that elusive look and feel of celluloid film.
There is much to be debated here of the merits of 24p capture over 25 or 50i. From a purely technical and practical perspective, if the intent is to shoot on HDV but deliver on projected 35mm film for theatrical cinema release, then 24p is a perfect choice as no drop-frame matching techniques are required to conform the original digital footage to the 24fps of film projection.
Likewise, the Progressive manner of capturing and constructing an image is often lauded as much more? The reason for this is that the slightly more staccato image movement of progressive scanning, that is not as visually smooth as interlaced fields, gives a more film-like cadence or feel to the motion of the image. What this indicates is that, ironically, we as audiences actually associate a perception of quality with an image that is actually slightly diminished.
This prompts the real question of does 24p actually look better? Or is it simply learned behaviour on the part of audiences to associate quality with a particular? Some video-makers might ask? Why throw away a frame for a slower frame rate when you don? Certainly the number of productions being shot on HDV and printed back to 35mm film for theatrical release is very, very small.
And only a fool would believe that celluloid has any future in the cinema process for either shooting or projection. Going forward, the overwhelming majority of HDV productions will find their audience in the home-theatre where delivery will be in 25 or 50i. Even when projected digitally 25p or 50i is just as easy as 24p. Some supporters of 24p argue that footage shot at 24p can easily be delivered as 25p or 50i in the home and it retains the look of? The immediate truth is that JVC are smart to include this feature because they know, rightly or wrongly, it has a popular perception of desirability.
But there is an argument to be made that the perception of 24p desirability is actually based on a visual myth. Time will tell. The HD standard, developed quite some time ago, allows for two frame sizes? The original intention of having two formats was first that the smaller one would allow for a stepping stone transition on the way to the full size As a result most of the HDTV?
The second, was having a smaller frame HD size allowed for a progressive-scan format that wouldn? But this isn? All that said, JVC aren? JVC would argue this is the best of both worlds and you can have i if you want it. The truth is that, just as converting interlaced to progressive scan in editing is not really the same as shooting progressive in the camera, so too is making i out of p not quite the same result as i direct from the camera. Both will have a different feel and any transcoding from to , or vice versa, is a reprocessing of the image data that is not often desirable.
Certainly there is always a public perception arguably arrived at mostly in ignorance that? Also, i acquisition can, in post-production, be rather easily trans-coded into progressive-scan p. JVC would argue that the resulting image is not the same as capturing progressive in the first place from the camera and this is technically true.
There are however a multitude of extremely effective post-production options for creating the look of film and the cadence of progressive scan that many movie makers might opt for in an attempt to have the cake and eat it; and the look of film, without sacrificing frame size by going with Improvement That said, there?
Only time will really be able to answer, but on the face of it, it? This is especially since all the other major camera developers have opted for and are virtually ignoring except in some cases as an optional extra. What also must be remembered is the over-arching golden rule when dealing with raster images those made up of pixels you can always come down, but you can?
This means that if is the desirable delivery format as currently many TV stations do you can easily down-convert in editing i footage to p; you?
Design and layout No two ways about it, the HDE looks and feels like a professional, shoulder-mounted camera. That said it is remarkably lean in weight, the bulk of the unit coming from the lens system which forms more than half the length.
At first the HDE seemed very poorly balanced and nose-heavy but once a large battery pack is added on the rear of the camera and the shoulder pad slid back to match the user? The viewfinder is well positioned but does not offer a flip up option for the eyecup to allow the operator to view the viewfinder image from a distance without having to put their eye to it.
Whilst the HDE has a firm die-cast metal body, it is the fixtures, such as the eyepiece, that let it down. The means by which the eyecup affixes to the viewfinder seemed strangely flimsy and in use it fell off, becoming near impossible to reattach. Unfortunately this was an indicator of a number of elements of the HDE that just didn?
The alternative preview method comes from the substantial flip-out LCD screen. Aside from preview and viewfinder functionality, the LCD makes the navigation of internal menus much easier. That said, the position of the LCD at the very back of the camera body makes it virtually dysfunctional, or at the very least awkward, to use in shooting.
The top handle of the HDE offers a secondary record function for easy access when shooting underhand from lower angles but JVC have left off a secondary set of zoom controls which are standard addition on virtually all other higher-end SD and HDV cameras. The zoom ring and lever is however well placed on the lens for two-hand operation, so this omission probably wont bother many users.
All other major functions are operated from buttons and dials on the main body and there? Here JVC are to be praised for the rather good ergonomics of control placement, which in use generally, seemed to be just where a user would want them to be. Having previously reviewed the Canon XLH1 and being blown away by its quality but staggered by the rather, to me, obscene price tag, a large part of me really wanted JVC to flip the competition the bird by producing a comparable HDV camera with interchangeable lenses at a far cheaper price.
Has JVC been able to fulfil my dreams? Shooting with the HDE presented no real issues. Whilst balance and ergonomics weren? Capture however did not prove quite so straight forward. The HDE was connected in testing to three different editing systems?
The first was simply camera detection and connectivity which took more than a few camera restarts and plug reconnections. The second, and more worrying, was truncated and corrupted files that would deliver to the computer a complete clip in the length but from which only the first handful of frames had an image, the rest of the clip being blank. The third problem was a tendency for the camera to create timecode breaks and inconsistencies, seemingly when stopped and turned off between shots.
The first problem was solved with repeat attempts but you? The second issue was never completely solved.
Whilst I did manage to alleviate the problem I still repeatedly was left with corrupted tails on clips captured through basic scene-detection capture.
The third issue, that of timecode, was resolved by first striping the blank tapes to lay-down timecode before shooting.
Certainly tape-striping is common practice to avoid timecode breaks but it must be pointed out that it is, for the most part, done so that shots can be re-wound and reviewed in-camera on location? In truth if you? When even the cheapest consumer camera is capable of this it seems odd that a camera like the HDE could not in our tests.
I should point out here that the tape used was one supplied by JVC and was brand new out of the packet. Ergonomic placement of camera functions. Amazing price for a very complete professional camera. Poor image performance in low light.
JVC GY-HD101E Questions & Answers
JVC has produced a small compendium of accessories, both JVC and 3rd party, which is constantly updated. The lists include underwater housings, larger batteries, brackets to hold DR-HD, cinematographic equipment, lenses and lens adaptors, carrying cases and many more items. Please refer to Section E. The i output from the JVC camcorder is a proper line interlaced output. It is arguable that progressive pictures are subjectively better than interlaced images and all current flat panel displays are themselves inherently progressive.
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