Video Accessories Misc

JVC GZ-HM1 High Definition Video Camera

ARTICLE INDEX

The Design

The HM1 uses the same 0.435" CMOS sensor that is in the GZ-HM550 we reviewed in June, 2010. It is one of the largest sensors in consumer high definition video cameras, and has a mirror behind it to increase the light sensitivity. An earlier model, the GZ-HM400, is the same size as the HM1, but did not have the new sensor with the mirror behind it. The GZ-HM550 is much smaller than the HM1 and did not have an external microphone input. So, it appears that the HM400 and HM1 are the same, except for the sensor with the mirror.

The controls are mostly on the panel that is exposed when the LCD monitor is folded out. At the bottom left is an on/off button. The camera turns on by itself when you open the LCD screen, but in case you want to power it off without closing the screen, that button is there. At the bottom center is a USB 2.0 port for uploading the AVCHD video files to your computer. A slider for switching between video mode and snapshot mode is in the center, and above that is the slider for opening a slot that will hold another SD memory card. The camera has 64 GB of memory built in, but you never know when you might want extra storage. If you purchase an SD card, make sure it is rated for high speed video.

On the right is a Play/Record button that you use to choose whether the camera will be recording a scene or playing back a recorded scene. Underneath that are various functional buttons, such as turning the display (shows which features are active on the LCD screen) on or off.

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The rear panel has the battery, and two covered control panels. The one that is open shows the headphone jack, component video output jack, HDMI output jack, and the battery charger connector jack (you charge the battery while it is still in the camera, which is handy). At the top is a panel that has an AV output (composite video plus stereo analog audio) and an external stereo microphone jack. The record button can be seen at the far right, and there is an additional record button on the LCD panel.

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On the top of the camera, from left to right, are the stereo microphones, a panel that covers a connector for a shoe adapter should you want to mount a light on the camera. The zoom toggle (you can also use a slider on the LCD panel to zoom) and snapshot button are at the right. When in Manual mode, you can adjust the aperture (button A) and the shutter speed (button S). There is a Brightness/Focus slider on the front near the lens that is also accessible in Manual mode.

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The remote control is very small (the photo is about twice the size of the remote), with all the necessary basic functions.

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The menus are controlled on the LCD screen using a slider on the left side and buttons at the bottom. Here are some screenshots of the main display (top left) and main menu options. You scroll through them using a slider on the left side.

Note the A/M indicator at the bottom right on the first menu screen. The camera operates either entirely in Auto mode, where the camera sets everything, including focus, white balance, exposure, etc., or entirely Manual, where you have to set the aperture, shutter speed, focus, and white balance. If you want auto focus in the manual mode, you need to activate the Face recognition feature. But, you can't set the aperture and have the camera automatically adjust the shutter to compensate. You have to set both aperture and shutter manually. This is an odd omission of features. Usually, you have aperture priority, where you set the aperture and the camera sets the shutter, or shutter speed priority, where you set the shutter and the camera adjusts the aperture.

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When you want to transfer your video files to your computer, you connect the included USB cable to the camera and your computer, and you will see the following screen on the LCD monitor. Scroll to the UPLOAD selection, press SET, and the UPLOAD screen will be shown. At that point, you can look on your computer for hard drives and the camera will show up as a drive. Go to AVCHD/BDMV/STREAM and you will find the video files as *.mts. You can copy or move them to a directory on your computer for editing. If you move them, then also go into the PLAYLIST and CLIPINF directories and delete what is there. When you detach the camera, you will see a screen on the LCD monitor that says the Video Management File is Damaged, Recovery is Required to Record/Playback, Recover? Press the SET button, and a second screen will say Recovery Completed. Press the SET button again, and you are ready to record more videos.

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