JVC Hard Disc Camcorder (GZ-MG30EK) 

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Not long ago all Camcorders recorded to tape, then some were dual tape and memory card. Now it seems that hard disc is all the rage.

I tend to see lots more digital cameras than camcorders, however this may have an advantage in that it is easier to see the developments as I only see two or three units a year.


It is light at less than 400grams, the dimensions are 11x6.5x6cm, the width increases by 7cm with the TFT open. The 5x4cm screen is twistable through 270degrees meaning that you can still view when shooting at strange angles.


The model I looked at has a 30GB hard disc that can store 14hours of 'normal' footage and 7hours of 'ultra fine'. At the least good mode or perhaps I should say the most frugal mode it can store well over 30 hours of video.


This unit can also take rather good still images, almost all the adjustments are made once the TFT screen is swung open as the majority of the controls are on the left side and only exposed when the screen is open. It can take images onto SD card and this fits into the base of the unit.


Unless you are able to use your right hand the only way you can use this - and most other camcorders - is upside down. The hand strap is on the right side and the TFT opens on the left. I am left handed, but I have no problem using the controls with my right.


As readers of my articles on digital cameras will know I am no fan of digital zoom and the 800x this unit is capable of does not really impress me, however the 25x optical zoom does. Even a still image captured at the resolution the camcorder can hold (640x480) is great - providing you can avoid camera shake - and the definition is good.


Leads are provided for easy display of images and movies on a TV and for this purpose a remote control is supplied. However I expect most people will still use the PC to edit their 'epics' and reasonable software is supplied with the camcorder. Transfer is of course USB2.


Unlike the last camcorder I looked at this one has a single button to take both still and moving images ideally positioned for your right thumb.


As a confirmed digital camera fan the lack of flash is somewhat tempered by the powerful light on the front that can help in lower light conditions. Of course all good movies need sound and the quality of the built in microphone is excellent.


So no more worrying about a spare tape and as stills can be stored on the hard disc no worry about a spare SD card either. I found the 'normal' mode quite acceptable for all but the most discerning audiences and that is a day or of almost continuous shooting. Of course you need a spare battery or three to run for that length or time.


The likely price once you have had a sniff round the various internet sites is £400 inc p&p however I did find a couple at around £380-390. it seems the only way to get detailed specs is to compare it to another like unit such as the GZ-MG20.

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