Video Accessories Misc

JVC GZ-HM550 High Definition Video Camera


In Use

The JVC GZ-HM550 is extremely easy to use. Set it to "A" for Auto, and away you go. Opening the LCD display panel turns the camera on, and closing it turns the camera off. The menus are the same as with the HM400, and the LCD touch panel is also arranged in a similar manner.

When you open the LCD panel and the camera powers on, all you have to do is touch the "Rec" button (the buttons are recessed, i.e., concave), and the green pause indicator in the top right of the display will turn red, indicating that the camera is now recording. Touch the Rec button again, and it goes into pause mode. The camera will warn you it is about to turn off if there is no activity for about 5 minutes. This conserves battery power. And that brings up another difference between the 400 and the 550. The battery on the 550 is small, and thus, record time is limited. I would estimate about 30 to 45 minutes of recording time is available using a fully charged battery. So, if you purchase this camera, get an extra battery and keep it in a charger (optional). The battery charger (Product No. AA-VG1US) is available direct from JVC at $100.85, and what appears to be a more powerful battery (Product No. BN-VG121US) is also available on the JVC website at $83.09 (where do they come up with these strange prices - how about just $83.00?)

The HM550 takes beautiful videos. It is very obvious that the image noise level has been improved. Here is a shot of some yellow roses at dusk, by soft window lighting.


Another shot of some flowers arranged on my coffee table, at dusk. The light was very dim, and I can't see any image noise anywhere. Colors are clean and true. However, the white balance control does take some time to work, so when you open the LCD panel to turn the camera on, pan it around the area where you will be taking pictures. This gives the camera time to adjust the white balance.


The vegetable rack at the grocery store (my standard test with video cameras) suggests a bit of over-saturation. This is easily dealt with in any video editing software.


The stereo microphone worked very well. I even heard birds chattering in the background, sitting on a limb in a nearby tree.

The 550 has high speed recording capability (120, 300, and 600 fps) so that you can have slow motion playback. This would be useful for such things as recording and analyzing your golf swing. If you want to speed up a slow even, such as a flower bud opening, you can use the 550's time-lapse recording feature. When you activate this, the camera will shoot one frame at 1 to 80 second intervals.

The camera has Bluetooth connectivity for use with a headset that has a microphone so that you can add narration while you are shooting a scene. The Bluetooth connection can also be used to transfer snapshots from the 550 to your Bluetooth-enabled computer, wirelessly. The built-in GPS receiver will allow you to record the location of where you are when you shoot a scene. This is something new to video recorders, but it could be very handy if you are travelling throughout another country to remind you of where you were when you are editing the numerous clips.