thoughts and decisions for a creative edge

JVC GZ-HD7 Full HD camcorder

There is so many negative reviews on this cam. But yet I bought it despite the reviews I read. Why? Simple. Coz it sells so much cheaper in the US than in does in Europe and even after the import tax imposed!! Before jumping into the review about the camcorder alone, I’d like to touch about video formats in US and elsewhere in the world.


Few people have asked if I’m not worried about compatibility when shopping in US with its NTSC format while planning to use it in Europe or Asia when we’re clearly with the PAL format. Its not a big deal really. In fact its better to buy NTSC than PAL for compatibility.

I remember some 8 years ago, I purchased a miniDV camcorder while living in the US. I bought a Sony DSC-PC115 which was the PAL version of the DSC-PC120BT obviously due to my worry about playback formats. I was new to video, thus I followed the guideline on format requirements. I was so gutted months after my purchase – I’ll tell you why. Firstly PC115 did not come with the Bluetooth transfer option which was about the same price for the PC120BT. Due to fact that we lived in the US, our new TV a Sony Wega only played NTSC and not Multi Region switchable. Meaning, from root of the footages I shot it was set to be in PAL and even when I edit it using Pinnacle Studio set to PAL, it was no longer playable on my TV. Of course I only realized this after I burnt the PAL-DVD format.

So I can only play my edited videos on my computer and that sucks!!

BOTTOMLINE. Television is huge in the US but when it comes to playback compatibility, US is last in the queue. You actually have to pay additional when you seek to buy a Multi Region TV or DVD player there. And not to mention the Step Down Converters that you’d need to get if its a 230V appliance. I still have my 2000W converter with me today! It does come in handy sometimes.

SOLUTION: If you’re an Asian living in US and plan to get video capture devices, think twice before buying PAL formats there. You pay extra but end up getting limited usability for your own pleasure. I am not suggesting this, but based on experience, if you get yourself an NTSC format hardware, chances are the playback appliance that your sibling and friends have back home is most likely already multi-region enabled. TV in Singapore has always been multi-region enabled for as long as I know. But on the reverse, if your friend send you a PAL encoded video to the US, chances are that you might not be able to play it back. Coz your TV is not PAL enabled..


So now its a different war altogether being a pro-sumer. I’ve learnt my ways going about the video formats. But what about pricings when living Europe then??

With my camcorder purchase in the US, I saved about EU500 if compared to buying it here in Netherlands. With the package offered by 42nd Street Photo in New York, it was an obvious choice. At a price tag of about US$1500 inclusive of the Pro Shooter accessory kit with extra 4 Year Extended MACK International warranty, I took the leap. It comes down to about EU965 with the exchange rate when the camera alone would have costed EU950 easy in Holland. Just comparing those prices between Dutch and US electronic retail pricing, it was a no brainer to get it while in the US. Think about the currency exchange rates.


Technically the GZ-HD7 gives me much more custom handling as compared to the rest of the HD camcorders available on that same price range. Period.

Out of the box the camera feels solid in your hands. Definitely not a toy! Its really well built. Not plastic screwed together like the competitors make. There’s no rattling parts. You get the solid black metal gear you payed for. The main chassis enclosing the lens mechanism is made of solid brushed metal. The Hard Drive housing on the right where your hand would be at most times is made of rough-textured plastic for non-slip handling. The flip-open LCD on the left is also encased in plastic. This time in well-polished black encasing the 16:9 widescreen LCD inside. The Fujinon lens is complimented with the lens hood that helps cut out glare and ghosting when shooting in bright light. The Manual Zoom focus ring is smooth and absolutely a plus for creative shots when in Manual Mode.

The manual flip-up lens cover is great help especially when changing lenses and filters keeping the dust out. My only wish here is for improvement on the viewfinder, that it should have been flip-able upwards at an angle when shooting in bright light for better focus. Its an awkward position to have it upright perpendicular while shooting with the LCD closed.


Meanwhile you can see some of the videos I’ve made with the HD7 on Vimeo. You’ll notice too that most of the FullHD posts in Vimeo is prominently sent by HV20 users. Make your comparisons? And let me know what you think.

I’ll tell you more soon. Be right back!!


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