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Review: JVC GY-HM600U ProHD Camera

JVC's new GY-HM600U ProHD camera incorporates very high-quality components, has a range of useful features, and in my tests captured very sharp video. If you're in the market for a sub $5,000 camcorder, the HM600U should be on your shortlist.

Real-World Testing

In real-world tests, I used the HM600U to shoot two showings of the Nutcracker Ballet performed by my wife's dance company. The first day, I drove the camera in fully manual mode; the second, a buddy drove the camera in fully automatic mode while I operated the Livestream HD500 mixer which you can read about here.

In my use, I found the HM600U instantly familiar, a breeze to use after shifting over from my usual Canon XH A1. In particular, I found the zoom rocker very easy to control, a nice change from the Canon, where the zoom rocker is very twitchy.

The ballet I shot is performed in a high school auditorium, so lighting is always an issue, and the JVC proved less susceptible to noise than the Canon that I've used in the past.

In fully automatic mode, the HM600U adjusted to changing light conditions very well, with minimal gain noise that has plagued other cameras that I've worked with in full auto mode.

Quality in both operating modes was quite good, with good color representation and very good detail retention (Figure 4, below).

Figure 4. In use, the HM600M produced striking video with good detail.

The one problem that I encountered relates to the SD cards that I purchased to record the performances. While the Class 10 cards worked well during MPEG-2 capture, the camcorder would not record to these cards in AVCHD mode. Interestingly, I ran into the same problem with my Panasonic HMC150 AVCHD camcorder, which similarly refused to record on these Class 10 cards. Strangely, the HM600U recorded without problem on a Class 4 card that also worked in the HMC150. Note that I did not buy the media recommended by JVC, choosing cheaper off-brand instead. If you plan to shoot AVCHD with the HM600U, you should obviously purchase the recommended media.

This issue aside, however, the JVC GY-HM600U has an impressive feature set, is easy to use, and produced very good quality in my lab and real-world tests.

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