A single-chip camcorder that is capable of recording a matrix of 1280 by 720 pixels in progressive mode (known as 720p HDTV, the process used by the ABC TV network in the United States) at a 30 frame per second rate on DV-Mini tape.
Priced at what a three-chip camcorder was selling for two years ago (a little over $3,000) this unit brings near HDTV quality to home and semi-professional users. You still get a full 60 minutes of recording time, just as you get with other DV-C (or DV-Mini) camcorders, with an effective horizontal resolution of close to 700 lines (standard DV-C camcorders typically deliver 520 to 530 lines in the 720 by 480 interlaced mode and up to 720 lines in DV-Pro cameras, which is the upper limit for this format ).
JVC claims their special color matrix delivers a very accurate color image and that going to the more expensive three-chip process is really not required. Most camcorders use either a honeycomb R-G-B or the Bayer matrix of six greens, three reds and one blue to create the full color image. This JVC camcorder uses the green primary color, but instead of the other two primaries (red and blue) it uses the complimentary colors yellow and cyan, plus one clear filter. Using math the total light can be obtained from the three color filters, as well as enough color information for the MPEG-2 standard (a JPEG off-shoot) recording process. This color combination will also reduce the red and blue tinge seen around white images in most single-chip camcorders.
Remember, in the MPEG-2 DV mode only 1 pixel is sampled for color in every 4 pixels used to measure the luminance or light. In a three-chip camera all three primary colors (R-G-B) are used to obtain a luminance, but only one out of four pixels is used to sample color. In a block of 4 R-G-B pixels (which means a total of 12 pixels spread over 3 different chip surfaces) the three colors provide white light information, but only 3 pixels (1 from each of the chips) are used to sample the color information in the 4:1:1 (or 4:2:0) standard. The three-chip cameras are actually a bit of overkill, but they do tend to provide a more stable color image with less fringe and better color accuracy.
The heart of this camera is a 1/3” 1.2 megapixel CCD that not only provides for a 16:9 wide screen capture but also provides for a 4:3 still picture capture (on a standard SD-MMC card) of about 1 megapixel, making for a rather decent quality still picture that can produce a nice 4 by 6 inch print of a quality equal to the best disposable cameras that use film, but still a far cry from a dedicated still camera like a Kodak 6490, Canon S-1 or Fuji 3800 which all have a CCD larger than 3 megapixels. Still, most home DV cameras priced under $1,000 only deliver a still picture of about 400,000 pixels, which makes for a VGA (640 by 480 pixel image) or S-VGA (800 by 600 pixel image) which is only good enough for a wallet size photo (2 x 3 inches in size). This one delivers just over 1 megapixel for a decent quality standard size (4x6) picture and fair small enlargements.
The camera captures the image in a progressive scan (one line after another), but it can send out the signal in both progressive and interlaced modes so you can view the images on any TV set or use any capture card. Oh, there is a video editing package available for this HDTV camcorder, some dealers provide it free of charge, other may charge $100 extra for the package. Editing requires a Pentium 4, 2 GHz machines with any version of Windows XP, a FireWire input and fast hard drive with enough space to hold your images. No Macintosh support is currently available.
The camcorder also doubles as a web cam, comes with USB support for both web cam work and uploading of still images to the computer.
No special effects, audio dubbing or in-line editing features are available on the HD mode (but they are available in the standard DV mode).
This camcorder has a 10 power optical zoom that is rated at better than F/2 from wide angle to telephoto. With the ability to switch in an optical image stabilizer (a lens shifter). You can lock the iris diaphragm or manually adjust it from f/1.8 to f/22. You can also adjust the shutter speed from 1/15th to 1/1000th. There are several shooting “modes” that allow for back light, fast action, snow or beach scenes, twilight and other shots with radical contrast or exposure requirements. The LCD screen is 3.5” and rotates, plus you can use the color viewfinder at the same time, which is a rare feature. This way you can turn the LCD screen so your subjects can see themselves while you view them through the color viewfinder, of course this does drain extra power from the camera battery (by about half the normal recording time, which varies with battery pack).
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