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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Camcorderinfo JVC Picsio review

I appreciate the efforts of anyone that offers up a review of a product I’m interested in. As long as they aren’t shills for the company, different points of view can nearly always add additional light on the subject (and let’s face it, everyone comes to things with their own biases, so there’s no independent, unbiased report on anything.)

So I really like that camcorderinfo.com does reviews of camcorders - they are one of the few sites that does a reasonable and regular job of it, and I even wish they did more.

That said, I am often puzzled by some of their results and comparisons. It’s not the big picture stuff, but little details that get me confused. And some of the explanation of how they test and compare cameras leaves me puzzled. I can’t help thinking that unless you’re a broadcast engineer, you’re probably confused too.

As one tiny example, their latest review of the JVC Picsio has a "Close-Up Color Comparisons" table. They do include the disclaimer:

We can tell you that the JVC GC-FM1 had the most accurate colors, but as far as the most pleasing colors—well, that's a matter of personal preference. […] We should also note that the JVC produced a slightly darker image than the rest of these camcorders, but that is a result of the camcorder's auto exposure system under-exposing the image a bit.


If you look at the part of the table I have reproduced below, it shows “Ideal” then the JVC and then the Flip color samples. Now they say that the JVC produced the most accurate color, but looking at these two examples, doesn’t the color for the FlipHD – particularly for Red, Green and Skin Tone 1 - seem the best? Both cameras appear to do a poor job with Blue and Skin Tone 2, but they are about equal.


They do say “the JVC produced a slightly darker image” but the difference shown here seems to be much worse than “slightly”. I guess I’m just confused about what I should be looking for in this chart given the huge visible differences. Interestingly, when you look at the relationship between all the colors, the MHS-PM1 seems to be closer to the originals, though a little washed out.

As an experiment, in Photoshop I copied part of the chart and boosted the brightness on the strip from the JVC (far right of my chart.) You can see that the colors are now much closer to the “Ideal” and the blue is a bit better than the Flip. I guess that’s what they were trying to show, but unless you have lots of experience with color, you'd come away with a different answer.

And even after the brightness adjustment, I'm still confused! Do I have to adjust all the video to get it right, or were the circumstances of the test such that I don't have to worry about that?

The rest of the article is much easier to understand. If nothing else, check out the Motion Sample videos. The JVC blows away the Flip UltraHD here; it looks more “Accurate.” At the moment they don’t have the Sony MHS-PM1 video hooked up, but you can find it (and others) on their YouTube page. It is noticeable that the JVC image is darker than the Sony, but it seems closer (though fractionally darker) than samples from more expensive video cameras

Really, the sample videos do a much better job of explaining the difference between the cameras than the charts and graphs. You can see that the JVC is darker than the others, but has higher detail and better - seemingly more accurate - color.


One other thing I noticed that they didn’t highlight in the conclusion: the battery life is one of the shortest (75 min) for the small compact camera. Now in reality, most people using this camera will probably be fine with that, but it is a consideration (other things to note are that you have to charge the camera by plugging it into a USB port, and the battery is not removeable.)


1 comment:

adison said...

r4i card

Nice size; macro mode; electronic image stabilization; takes SDHC cards.very impressive product i ever used before....