Menu is easy to use. Camcorder is very budget friendly.
Video quality is poor, especially in low light areas.
Consider upgrading to a Sony Handycam instead for improved video quality.
REVIEWED - Is the JVC GZ-HM300 Camcorder Worth the Hype?
Design-wise, there's not much to say about the JVC GZ-HM300 camcorder--it's designed to be structurally sound, but fails to be innovative aside from its ergonomically-designed handle. Measuring at 4.3 inches long and 2.4 inches wide, it's not a big camcorder by any means; its lightweight design also means it won't be a pain to use for hours on end. It contains very few extras--if you were looking to score on a free memory card or camera bag, don't expect it here.
Like most camcorders in this price range, the JVC GZ-HM300's best feature is its flippable LCD screen, which contains all of the controls needed to control the camcorder's operation. This LCD screen differs because it's not a touch screen, however; most budget cameras do have touch screen compatibility, so this actually may not be a good thing for the JVC GZ-HM300. Instead, you'll find the controls located on the sides and bottom of the LCD screen, which JVC says keeps the screen free of any fingerprints.
"Browsing through indexes and menu selection is easier than ever," says JVC. "Since you don't touch the LCD screen itself, you can keep the screen clean and fingerprint-free."
Overall, it's a simple camcorder, which lacks a few features seen in most budget buys.
JVC argues that the GZ-HM300 is the best budget camera because it provides far more than high definition video; it also provides additional goodies you won't see in other budget models, such as its image stabilization mode, the ability to shoot high definition in low light, and immediate exportation of videos from camcorder to Youtube.
Indeed, these features are invaluable--and easy to use, making it a good novice camcorder; however, it also falters in other areas, namely the ability to adjust the color and brightness levels of the video, something you'll find in other budget camcorder. When I tested this out, the JVC GZ-HM300 had none of these controls, and in fact, video degradation occurred when video wasn't shot in perfectly clear, bright light. If you test this out in a store, you won't see any video degradation, but take it out during a foggy day or shoot indoors and the degradation is apparent--a sort of blurred, grainy effect that makes the video look cheap and distorted.
This seems to be a commonality for budget cameras, however, simply because the camcorders are not built for indoor shooting; for better indoor video quality, you will have to upgrade to a better model, which undoubtedly will cost hundreds of dollars more.
Although image degradation is a huge problem with the JVC GZ-HM300, it fares well when it comes to usability--being both easy to use and master. In store, it only took me five minutes to understand how to browse through menus and select options; by the time I was left with it for one to two hours, I had completely mastered all of the controls.
Your most important controls are located on the bottom of the LCD screen--such as record and OK--while options for zooming in and out are on the side of this screen. JVC says these controls are touch sensitive, and it's correct--just the slightest of touches activates these controls, so no need to press or bash these buttons in.
On a down note, I was not happy with the location of the zooming function--you need to have the LCD screen open, and during recording, can be awkward to use. Personally, I feel that zoom controls fit better on the top of the camcorder, where it can easily be adjusted and touched with your index finger. It also allows for more control.
- Has an image stabilization mode
- Budget-friendly and easy to use
- Has an easy menu interface
- Not as high definition as it makes it out to be
- Performs poorly in low light
- Lack of brightness or color controls
Although the JVC GZ-HM300 certainly isn't a horrible product, it's not a good product either--and I feel they may be stretching the truth when it comes to its high definition capabilities. Overall, I'd advise upgrading to a Sony Handycam, which is in the same price range as the JVC.
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