Video Accessories Misc

JVC GZ-HM400U High Definition Video Camera


The Design

The JVC GZ-HM400U is a consumer-oriented camera, with a single 10.3 megapixel sensor. It weighs just over one pound, and fits into one's hand easily.

Simply opening the LCD screen (folding it outward) turns the camera on, and it will remain in standby when the screen is closed. If you want to turn the camera off, you need to press the power button on the inside panel (located under the Dolby license statement in the photo below).

Also located on that panel are a USB jack and various function buttons.

The battery is mounted on the rear of the camera, and the AC adapter (included) plugs into a small jack on the rear, so you don't have to remove the battery to recharge it.

I found that the battery lasted longer before needing recharging than I usually see in cameras when I am testing them. I don't know if this is just more conservative battery use by the camera's electronics or that batteries are continuing to improve on the amount of power they can store.

The AC adapter is also much smaller than conventional battery chargers. This one is a single piece design, whereas other chargers tend to be in two pieces that have to be connected together for use, mainly because you have to remove the battery from the camera and place it in the charger tray.


The top of the camera has the zoom control, which also serves as a volume control when reviewing what you have recorded. The recorded files (*.mts) are stored on a built-in 33 GB memory chip. You can also insert additional HC-SD memory cards, but even at the highest quality recording rate (24 Mbps), you can get nearly 3 hours of video on the built-in memory. The three buttons near the bottom of the photo are for use in Manual mode, such as adjusting the aperture or shutter speed.


At the front of the camera are manual focus and brightness adjustments, again, which can be used when in the Manual mode.


The remote control has all the basic functions.


Nearly all of the camera's features are accessed by touching controls on the LCD panel. In the photo below, the display button has been activated so that you can see that it is in Auto mode (the green A), recording in UXP, which is the highest quality, the face recognition feature is active, there are 2 hours and 46 minutes of recording time available on the built-in memory, and the battery is fully charged. To begin recording, you can either touch the button under the REC on the LCD screen, or press the record button on the rear of the camera. I found that it was easier to use the record button on the LCD panel (you can also zoom from the panel), than to reach behind the camera to begin or stop recording.

To the left is a touch-panel where you slide your finger up or down to select menu items. To turn on the menu, you touch the Menu button (it is actually an indentation rather than something that sticks outward).


The menu system is very simple and easy to use (as well as easy to read, with nice big letters).



When you want to upload your videos to your PC for editing, you connect the included USB cable to the USB jack on the inside panel and the other end to a USB jack on your PC.

The camera LCD screen will then show this menu (shown below).


Using a finger to slide on the touch panel, move the selection to "Export to Library", and press "Set", which then changes the screen to the one shown below.


At this point, your PC will recognize the camera as a drive, and you can go into the various directories, where you will find "Stream". This directory contains your videos, with the extension *.mts. Highlight them all with <Ctrl><a>, then move your mouse to a selected directory on your PC hard drive. You can then delete the files on the camera's memory card. There are lots of software programs for video editing out there, and the one I use most often is Pinnacle Studio (which is currently at version 14). It will recognize *.mts files and will also let you burn your edited video onto a standard DVD-R in AVHCD format, which will play on your Blu-ray player. A DVD will hold about 30 minutes of HD video in this form, compared to the 2 hours you could record onto a Blu-ray recordable disc, but a DVD-R costs 20 cents and recordable Blu-ray media are about $20 each. So, it is an easy choice to make, and 30 minutes is enough for most videos. I record them as part of my family video album, and if the video requires more than 30 minutes, I break it up into two parts, split evenly onto two DVDs so I don't end up with 30 minutes on the first disc and 3 minutes on the second.