LET ME SUMMARIES
Instead of blowing up the video signal, the dynamic zoom crops into the sensor, taking advantage of spare pixels above the 2.06Mpixels required by Full HD. The specifications are somewhat unclear as to whether this is optical or digital, but from our experience of JVC camcorders, the Advanced Image Stabiliser is a feature that is either available on top of an optical system, or provided on its own. The problem with many rugged camcorders – the ADIXXION included – is that they sacrifice some important features, like an optical zoom, in the quest for robustness, leaving the focus firmly on action camera usage. But its ruggedness stretches in four different directions hence the Quad Proof name.
The main thing to consider, really, is whether you want a rugged camcorder for fixing to your helmet or clothing, in which case the bulk and requirement to have the screen open makes this model the wrong choice. There is even a very limited control over microphone sensitivity. You don’t get an array of fancy digital effects, although we would always recommend adding these during editing where you will have more control over them.The GZ-R10SE looks like a regular handycam-style camcorder.
There is one other area where the GZ-R10SE is unlike a regular camcorder – battery life.The HD Everio GZ-R10SE is the first of JVC’s mainstream “Quad Proof” camcorders. But right now there are few alternatives if you want a real camcorder in a rugged format. The image stabilisation is also not particularly effective at high zoom.
White balance options include presets for blue and green underwater conditions, as well as the usual artificial light, cloudy and sunny presets plus manual and auto modes. There’s no lens cover, just a toughened glass window over the lens.Switching to Manual mode reveals the usual range of extras, including focusing with onscreen buttons, backlight compensation with an advanced mode, and tele macro.The most significant difference between the GZ-R10SE and virtually all action cameras, however, is that it offers a proper optical zoom.
After the success of the ADIXXION, JVC is clearly seeing potential sales in rugged camcorders for less specialised users.The camcorder is also rated as dustproof to IEC Standard publication 529 IP5X and freeze proof to -10C, although the latter has no particular testing regime associated with it.5m. If, however, you just want something for ‘normal’ shooting but that can survive a kayaking trip, hike up a mountain and the like then it fits the bill.
Whilst there is an overall brightness control which can be adjusted between 2 and -2 in 0.5Mpixel back-illuminated CMOS, although it is a rather small 1/5. Video and images are stored on SD memory, with the slot protected by the locking flap mentioned earlier. We would have preferred a higher-end sensor, but JVC has intimated that more Quad Proof camcorders are to come, so more premium models could be on their way soon.
The quality of an optical zoom over a digital zoom cannot be overstressed, either. You can toggle Auto Gain Up and Auto Slow-Shutter, and whether still images are grabbed singly or in continuous mode. SDXC cards up to 128GB in capacity are supported, with a 32GB module enough for just shy of three hours of video at the top quality setting.Image quality in good lighting shows an adequate level of detail, although we found the autofocus could be jittery at high zoom factors.
The former conforms to IEC Standard publication 529 IPX8, and the latter to MIL-STD 810F Method 516.5-Shock, if you fancy checking up exactly how these ratings were derived.JVC also offers a dynamic zoom enhancement to the optical zoom, which boosts the factor by 50 per cent to 60x, although you can’t use this at the same time as the image stabilisation system. The current UK price of around 275 is also quite reasonable, although the HD Everio GZ-EZ515BEK is around 25 cheaper and has the same sensor, but with optical image stabilisation and Wi-Fi as well.
The zoom rocker and record button have a much more solid construction than regular camcorders, too. Everything else is operated by the three-inch, 230Kpixel LCD touch screen.Next, read our Garmin Virb Elite review. In Intelligent Auto mode, you can configure whether touching the screen will instigate face tracking, colour tracking or area tracking.
This is fortunate, because the battery also differs from most mainstream camcorders by being non-removable. The GZ-R10SE, in contrast, is a regular camcorder, but in a rugged body. So you can’t replace it with a secondary unit, and if it fails you will need to have the camcorder factory serviced. JVC claims the battery will last 4.
The GZ-R10SE is based around a 2. There is in fact just the record button and zoom rocker.8-inch version. So you’re paying a bit extra for the ruggedness.
However, the GZ-R10SE doesn’t have enough spare pixels, so the dynamic zoom will still reduce detail when used. All the ports sit behind a rubber-sealed door that slides into place and then locks firmly shut, although we found it a little finicky. The dynamic zoom doesn’t work in quite the same way as a digital zoom which the GZ-R10SE offers up to 100x. With a 40x factor, this is way above what even those with digital alternatives have available.
The camcorder is rated to be waterproof to a depth of 5m and to withstand a drop from 1. Here the image stabilisation is not optical, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in a rugged camcorder, as an optical system can potentially get damaged by extreme treatment.However, there are still quite a few setting options available. There isn’t even a power button, with opening and closing the screen used to power the camcorder off and on.
There is also a selection of Special Recording modes, including time lapse of 1, 5, 20 or 80 seconds, superimposing date and time over the recording, plus baby, grainy monochrome and food digital effects, which is a slightly strange combination for a rugged camcorder.Action cameras almost always lack manual controls, and the GZ-R10SE has about the least number of discrete buttons we have seen on a conventional-looking camcorder.SEE ALSO: Best Camcorders Round-upShould I buy the JVC HD Everio GZ-R10SEIf you want a few more features than an action camera has to offer, JVC’s HD Everio GZ-R10SE provides a unique combination of rugged build with full camcorder capabilities. VerdictThe JVC HD Everio GZ-R10SE is a bold and mostly successful attempt to bring action camera robustness to mainstream camcorders.
Performance in low light is decent, with a good level of brightness maintained and reasonably faithful colour, although there is a fair bit of grain evident. An optical system doesn’t lose resolution, whereas a digital system does.5 hours, which is about twice what most mainstream camcorders can manage, and most action cameras.SEE ALSO: Panasonic HX-WA3Speaking of image stabilisation, JVC has incorporated its Advanced Image Stabiliser.
So the picture is good, but it’s not outstanding.3 steps, there is no separate configuration of shutter and iris, and no scene modes, which is a surprise.SEE ALSO: GoPro Hero3 Black EditionBut unlike every rugged camcorder we have tested in the past, the specification is very much in line with current mainstream models.The GZ-R10SE records AVCHD at data rates up to 24Mbits per second, and can capture still images at up to 3,680 x 2,760 pixels, which clearly uses a fair amount of interpolation. I guess that is the end of the story.