JVC GR-DVP3E

JVC’s latest consumer MiniDV digital camcorder is touted as being the smallest on the market – and I’ve certainly not seen one more compact. Easily pocket-sized, the GR-DVP3E is smaller than many digital-still cameras. The camera comes with DV-in, essential if you want to transfer footage both to and from your Mac. What is disappointing is that JVC has done away with the DVL107, which at £750 (inc VAT) was the cheapest DV-In and -Out on the market. At least its successor has a feast of features to help justify this price leap – its portability not least among them. Crisp quality
The DVP3E has an 800,000-pixel high-resolution CCD, and its images are crisp and colour-accurate. Like many digital camcorders, the GR-DVP3E also offers a digital-still capability, which is always handy for posting images online or as email attachments. But with no built-in flash and a top resolution of 1,024-x-768 pixels, its still images aren’t of startling quality. JVC claims its Super High-Band processor ensures a horizontal resolution of 520 lines, but none of the stills I captured were any better than average quality – although I didn’t use it out of doors in better light. What is nice is the MPEG4 Video Clip function, that allows you to store 200K, 20-second soundless video-clips to the camera’s 8MB SD Memory Card. You can then use these as email attachments. The camera also comes with a multimedia hub, which JVC calls the Info-Shoe. This gives the camera a USB port, S-Video-out and microphone jacks. Another useful offering is JVC’s Digital NightScope, which combines digital slow-shutter speed and image-progressing technology to boost light sensitivity in low-light shots. Colours end up washed out, but at least it gives serviceable footage in otherwise unshootable conditions. Other features include a Colour LCD screen, remote-control unit, 10x optical/200x digital zoom with spline interpolation, image stabilzer and self-timer. If you’re an iMovie user, then many of the camera’s trumpeted features will be redundant. These include its 12 digital effects and 17 transitions, and its slow motion, sepia and black-&-white modes.

OUR VERDICT

The JVC GR-DVP3E is a small digital camcorder that’s big on features. Many things that are claimed to be pocket-sized are in fact anything but – unless you’re a kangaroo. But this digicam’s portability is a real boon, and makes it ideal for capturing holidays and weddings – the Big Ones in any videographer’s calendar. Apart from being £450 more than the DVL107, my only other reservation is that the MiniDV tape twice jammed in the mechanism, once almost fatally for both cassette and camera. One of JVC’s technical guys explained that I shouldn’t have left the tape in overnight, but there was nothing in the manual about this. Before you buy one, I suggest you clarify this with JVC. Also, the camera doesn’t come with a FireWire cable, which is irritating – especially when spending £1,200. Try your luck and bargain one into the bundle before buying.

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