Video Accessories Misc

JVC GZ-HM400U High Definition Video Camera

ARTICLE INDEX

 

Introduction

I remember when the first consumer HD video camera hit the shelves. I saw one in a store connected to a monitor, and as I stood in front of the camera and saw myself in high definition, I knew the world of photography had reached a new milestone. Although it looked terrific to me at the time, now, after having tested so many video cameras over the past few years, I realize the camera I saw in the store that day probably did not have a really sharp image.

If you have followed our reviews of HD video cameras, you remember that the first ones were called HDV, and what that actually meant was that the resolution was 1440 x 1080 rather than 1920 x 1080. I think this actually had something to do with making it easier to record both standard def (SD) and HD using the same camera circuitry (1440 x 1080 is 4:3 just like SD). Some Pro-sumer (midway between professional and consumer) cameras stuck to 720p rather than trying to do 1080i.

Specifications

  • Design: Single-chip Full High Definition (1920 x 1080) Video Camera
  • Sensor: 0.43" CMOS, 10.29 Megapixels
  • Lens: f/6.7mm - 67mm, F 2.8 - 4.5
  • LCD Monitor: 2.8
  • Recording: 1080i60; AVCHD; 24, 17, 12, 5 Mbps
  • Records Short Segments at 200, 300, and 600 Frames per Second for Slow Motion Playback
  • Media: Built-in 32 GB Memory Card
  • Dimensions: 2.9" H x 2.7" W x 5.4" D
  • Weight: 1.1 Pounds with Battery
  • MSRP: $1,199 USA

Anyway, technology progressed, and for about two years, consumer HD cameras began to deliver native 1920 x 1080 video. However, as we have shown, it is not simply a matter of the sensor having enough pixels for 1920 x 1080. The lens is a huge factor, and as prices had to stay in the $1,200 range in order to sell, the lenses could not be significantly improved and keep the price down. So, we saw resolution (MTF-50 sharpness number defined as "resolution") in the 300 Line Widths per Picture Height (LW/PW) range, indicating that although the video was 1920 x 1080, the picture quality had a way to go before it would be considered truly "high definition".

Part of the problem also was that the sennsors had barely enough pixels for high definition, and that issue stayed with the industry for about a year.

This has changed recently with the introduction of HD video cameras that have sensors with much higher pixel count. This does two things. One is that it lets the user take high resolution snapshots with the video camera, similar in resolution to a dedicated digital snapshot camera. But, secondly, it provides a huge overhead in pixel count for getting a good 1920 x 1080 video image.