View Full Version : A Lengthy, Editorial Review of the JVC HM100

11-20-2009, 03:58 PM
God, I should post this somewhere else… I started out simply, and it turned into a verbose expanse on this camera that is totally excessive, but this should answer any and all questions you have… I hope.

I think, and many will agree, that the HM100 is a LOT sharper than the HVX. That's the thing about the HM100 that everyone notices. I have used the HVX200 (not the HVX200a, just fyi) for several projects (though I only own a DVX personally) and my film school utilizes about 20 of these JVC cameras for student rental. I'm about to shoot with the HM100 for my next project with my Brevis set-up. I have seen virtually no HM100 adapter footage, so we'll see how it goes...

Obviously, the HVX is a more professional camera, and the DVCPRO format... sometimes seems to be better than the HM100's codec... sometimes not. The main shit about the HM100 that I've noticed, and that most people seem to be impressed/concerned with are as follows:

Sometimes, the JVC yields TOO much detail, and it looks like... too sharp (believe me, I would never have thought this would be considered a problem, but it looks almost like... too enhanced. If you want any kind of chance at achieving the ever-illusive “filmic look”, don't even think about it without an adapter. There JVC has vertical, and over-all detail level controls featured in the menu settings. The detail level should generally be lowered on most cameras, but for the JVC, I would suggest pushing it waaay down, if not all the way.

The "scene file settings" are a more primitive, less extensive/effective attempt to mimic Panasonic's unrivaled Scene Files Settings, which allow for brilliant on-board camera adjustments. All of these complaints aside, if you consider that the JVC is a consumer level camera, the level of picture adjustment control that it offers is pretty impressive compared to those on other consumer cameras. It has some basic gamma settings, temp shift, matrix, knee, sharpness, and a couple other settings that aren't as vital, but nice to have. THE JVC IS NOT A PROFESSIONAL CAMERA, and so the "scene file settings" are not anything near the versatility of the real settings offered on the HVX and higher-end camera.

How does Panasonic’s DVCPRO HD compare to the HM100’s alleged utilization of the XDCAM EX codec? Well… I guess that JVC managed to get the rights to use Sony's XDCAM EX codec on the HM100, supposedly identical to that on the EX1/EX3... But I’m not so sure. The HM100 does not produce footage at the quality of the EX1 or EX3 footage, (again, this is not a pro camera) but the footage has a semi-similar feel to it, certainly as far as the sharpness, but does NOT get near the EX’s beautiful colors...)

I think it’s safe to say that the above mentioned inferiority of the HM100 to the EX1/EX3 can be mostly attributed to the JVC’s Ľ-inch CCDs inherent sub ordinance to the EX1/EX3’s edition of three HALF INCH (!) CCDs. There are many HD broadcast cameras that cost tens of thousands of dollars that only feature a single 2/3” (and yes, 2/3” is sizable enough that one will suffice, and the other features on these cameras are obviously better than the relatively inexpensive EX cameras… but that’s another rant entirely). Essentially, for the price of the EX cameras, and the price of the JVC, you are paying more for a reason, and like I said, this concept of “price reasoning” is done because the more expensive the camera, the more the camera will offer. There is a direct correlation to price, and quality compromises in this industry; you get what you pay for.

The JVC is NOT FULL HD LIKE ADVERTISED... technically. It's complicated really... The HM100 kind of ‘cheats’ the same way that the HDV codec does: It doesn't compress the video in the same way, for HDV’s bit rate is only 25mb/sec, verses the HM100's 35mb/sec, so there are numbers to back up its superiority to HDV/DV as far as the integrity of the footage, but there are similar compromises. Just like HDV, the JVC actually sub-samples the "full raster" HD (1080p) down to 1080i (1440x1080), which is stupid, and baffling. I am not sure how they get away with advertising it as full 1920x1080, because somewhere along the line, it does sub-sample the image resolution. I will admit that I have only heard about this nefarious sub-sampling through word of mouth, and I don’t fully understand why/how/when it does this in the recording process, but I would be surprised… So yeah, the gist of this rant is that if you want FULL, real HD footage... EX3 is the way to go, unless you can afford something better. And there’s always the unrivaled Canon 5d Mark II ☺

HOWEVER... In both cameras, the color sampling is 4:2:0, the recording format is MPEG2, the color depth is 8bit, the bit rate is 35mb/sec (although I thought EX cams did 50mb/sec, but I guess not. Apparently-- according to my online research findings --the HM100 can output a full raster HD signal at 4:2:2 if you hook it up to an external encoder/recorder like the AJA I/O HD, a Matrox, or similar I/O set-up using the full-size HDMI-out cable in the back of the HM100, then patch it up to a Firestore or something. This is another thing that I have only read about, and I’m not sure if this is actually possibly, much less what the results are like, for I have yet to see sample footage from this workflow… You can do this with the EX1/EX3 for the same result and it is certainly intriguing, and potentially deal-make/breaking if you REALLY want to set up some huge, cumbersome rig that costs more than the camera just to get the full quality footage. (If you are willing to do this, it will cost MORE than an EX3, which would be just like this ridiculous set-up, but WAY more practical, professional, diverse, reputable, manually adjustable... and cooler, of course. But really… get a 5d

However, the conveyance of shooting tapeless, cheap, solid state media with NO POST RENDERING OR PROCESSING DURING (as far as importing/basic cutting goes...) and this makes it the obvious choice HANDS DOWN over ANY HDV camera. I would choose the HM100 over any -any- HDV camera in a heart beat.

The JVC is a great progression in the budding technology going 1000 miles a minute these days, but it lacks some professional features that really make some of the basic aspects of shooting a little more of a pain in the ass than they should be. I am getting tired of talking, and I’m sure you are to. The issues I went into in-depth above are my main concerns, and the rest of the shit with this camera, I’ll just cover briefly.

After using it, I’ll say this: the focus/zoom ring in one is a genius idea, but could be limiting, and a little annoying at times. But for the price, an actual ring is impressive, and I can’t complain really. The gain functions are located as a switch on the side, like most pro cameras, but I HATE gain functions on all cameras (though the HM100 handles higher gain very well, I still don’t trust it, and I would sooner re-light, or reschedule a shoot if that was the last resort). The part I hate most about the camera (most people agree) is that the primary functions of shutter speed, and iris control are not dials, or easy-access buttons like most pro cameras, they that accessible through an annoying little button setup on the back of the camera behind the LCD, and I hate that I can’t quickly access these rudimentary adjustments. Also, the menu is all accessed and controlled with a flimsy little joystick on the outer left side of the LCD, and it usually gets kind of annoying to navigate. A lot of the features and adjustments are hard to find in the menu, and are not the most intuitive. The white balance function works ok, and working with the DVX/HVX, I am used to not being able to numerically adjust the Kelvin temperature (which is a nice feature of say, the EXs and the XH-A1, among others…) but I would have loved to see this feature on this camera. Again, there is auto, and manual WB, but an actual Kelvin numerical adjustment control would be amazing… Another reason to get a 5d ☺ The inclusion of XLR inputs was a very good idea. Get an external audio recorder if you can—the sound quality of the onboard mixer isn’t great, and I have actually had the HM100 fuck up the sound, and the mixer kind of… tweaked out and stopped working. I’ll have to see if this is a recurring issue with more use, but I hope it was just a fluke. The onboard mic sucks, but at least there’s no recording noise for it to pick up with the solid-state recording. But the on-board mic still sucks, so avoid it at all costs. The filter threads are a weird size (46mm I believe…) but I guess step-up rings negate this issue. The inclusion of 24p, 60p, and 30p is a wonderful edition that I wouldn’t even consider the camera without, but the progressive rates are solid, and the simplicity of purely Quicktime files with no transcoding make the workflow very, very easy, and generally appealing. I have heard it has a focus assist, which I didn’t know about when I was using it, but I am excited about this, especially considering that the LCD is kind of small.

OK, I’m so tired of typing, and you are tired of reading.

End advice: This is a great camera, but it’s a passing phase that will be outdated soon enough, and I think it’s too expensive, considering the competitive prices of similar cameras. Basically, I am hinting that while the DLSR video revolution is a very new technology, and it too will be outdated soon enough, but I am convinced that it will outlast this camera. The 5d does all that this camera does (including the same deal with the HDMI out 4:2:2, but at 10bit!) along with sooo many more settings to customize, and at about $1000 less than the HM100… I see no reason whatsoever to buy the HM100.

Go get a 5d Mark II!

11-20-2009, 06:10 PM
The HVX is not full-HD either. Its sensors are 960x540, and its frame size is 1280x1080 in 1080-line mode. Also, XDCAM EX SP ("HDV on disk") is indeed 1440x1080, but XDCAM EX HQ is full raster.

As to the Canon DSLRs and their "true full HD", read Barry's article on aliasing.

11-21-2009, 02:18 PM
The HVX is not full-HD either. Its sensors are 960x540, and its frame size is 1280x1080 in 1080-line mode. Also, XDCAM EX SP ("HDV on disk") is indeed 1440x1080, but XDCAM EX HQ is full raster.

As to the Canon DSLRs and their "true full HD", read Barry's article on aliasing.

The HVX is not full-HD either. Its sensors are 960x540, and its frame size is 1280x1080 in 1080-line mode. Also, XDCAM EX SP ("HDV on disk") is indeed 1440x1080, but XDCAM EX HQ is full raster.

As to the Canon DSLRs and their "true full HD", read Barry's article on aliasing.

The HVX200a is full raster... isn't it? And the EX1/EX3 is capable of full raster, that was my point. I never said that the EXs were the best option, and I know that the 5d has plenty of flaws (although with all the firmware updates seem to be sprucing it up quite nicely) but for what it does, at the PRICE that it's going for??? ... no contest. The JVC has some cool features, but it is not as professional as the EXs, and not as awesome, or manually adjustable as the 5d.

I'll look into the aliasing, thank you for pointing that out.

11-21-2009, 02:35 PM
The HVX200a is full raster... isn't it?
No, the HVX series don't have full-raster chips or recording formats.