JVC GZ-HD40U & Canon Vixia HF-10A by ProQuest


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                                                              JVC GZ-HD40U & Canon
                                                              Vixia HF-10A
                                                              Anthony Burokas

                                                              Figure 1. Two “high-end” consumer HD camcorders: JVC’s GZ-HD40U (left) and Canon’s Vixia
                                                              HF-10A (right)

                                                                 This is a test of usability and a feature comparison. The
                                                              little camcorders used for this shoot are indeed limiting.
                                                              They force the user to go through numerous tiny steps
                                                              and adjustments to make these camcorders perform to
                                                              anything like professional standards. But in the right hands,
                                                              when you know how to get the most out of them, today’s
                                                              consumer camcorders can produce startlingly good results.

                                                              THE GEAR
                                                                 For this field production excursion, I used a JVC
                                                              GZ-HD40U (Figure 1, left) and a Canon Vixia HF-10A
                                                              (Figure 1, right). Both of these camcorders are very consumer,
                                                              meaning that any “advanced” manual features, if available
                                                              at all, are several clicks away, buried in menus. The bodies
                                                              of these camcorders are about the size of a 12-ounce soda
                                                              can. While this dramatically limits the number of dedicated
                                                              buttons on the camcorder, both of the camcorders I
                                                              selected have microphone inputs as well as headphone
                                                              jacks. This was critical because I planned to use these

                                                              camcorders to record interviews and critical sounds with
        an single-chip camcorder models priced less than      a variety of external microphones.
        $1,000 and bearing the bold “Full HD” logo do the        The Canon features full 1920x1080 recording at p24, i30,
        job of prosumer and professional camcorders           and p30, the latter of which gives the viewer the ability to
costing many times that price? In this article I’ll take      take advantage of full 1080 resolution without interlace
two high-end consumer HD camcorders into the field—           artifacts, and without 24p judder. However, since the JVC
specifically, the wilds of the Alaskan bush—to see what I     records only 1920x1080i30 and I would be intercutting and
can do with these little devices.                             directly comparing the footage from the two camcorders, I
                                                              opted for the 1920x1080i30 format at the highest-quality
A TALE OF TWO CAMCORDERS                                      setting available with both camcorders.
   With the prevalence of HDTV today, consumer camcorders        Unlike Panasonic’s first “professional” AVCHD camcorder,
can now record full 1920x1080 HD, interlaced or               the AG-HSC1UP, both the GZ-HD40U and the Vixia
progressive, and do it in AVCHD format at data rates          HF-10A use external batteries, which makes it far easier
(24Mbps) higher than 720p, MPEG-2-based HDV. Those            to replace a battery quickly while the camcorder is on a
factors that differentiate “consumer” and “professional”      tripod and to use bigger batteries that offer longer run times.
are usability and the quality of the images they record.      Having several hours of internal recording time possible is
Low-light capability—another clear difference between         made more useful with batteries that last longer than a
professional camcorders with more, better, and larger         mere 60 minutes. However, both cameras ship with AC
imaging chips—is not a major factor in this article. I will   adapters that only charge the battery on the camcorder.
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