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My Canon HV20 vs. JVC GZ-HD7 Impressions

post #1 of 94
Thread Starter 
Okay... so I had to do it! I purchased the HV20 yesterday at Best Buy and just had to go and purchase the HD7 today to do my own comparison. I can't just sit around all day and wait for you guys to do it!!

So my first test was tonight in my living room. 1 overhead ceiling light which consists of 2 75 watt bulbs. 2 floor shaded floor lamps. Both cameras tri-pod mounted. I wanted to start with a low-light test before I do my daytime tests tomorrow. I figure this is the most critical test for alot of you guys. I by no means am a professional tester or have any testing equipment to measure s/n ratio. The only test equipment I have are my eyes and my 1080p set.

Quick initial impression is that the Canon HV20 outperforms the HD7 in low light situations. I had thought because of the 3CCD array that it would actually perform better but that is most definitely not the case. My wife and I came to the unanimous conclusion that the Canon just has better image quality based on recorded video. The JVC's shadow delineation is not smooth at all and actually showed a huge hotspot on my wife's forehead cast from the overhead light that the Canon rendered much more smoothly with no hotspot. Also where the light was hitting her hair the Canon revealed detail that again was blown out on the HD7. I tried exposure compensation but that did not help. I can only think something in the recording algorithm is doing this possibly?? I don't know. Another area where the Canon was better was in CA/fringing. The HD7 revealed blue/purple CA around my wife's black jacket against our light sage green couch and red fringing around a white piece of paper that was on our coffee table. Again, the Canon handled this flawlessly. Noise levels to me looked almost the same with a slight nod to the Canon and actually a clearer picture too.

Build quality of the JVC is nicer however. It's a little bulkier in the hands which for me is not good since I have relatively small hands. The Canon for me works better here. The lens protector on the HD7 is manual and is open/closed by a switch on the front right side. The manual focus ring is a nice touch. Pulling up videos is faster on the JVC due to the hard drive. No big surprise there. BTW, the HD7 can be had at Circuit City for $1499 if interested. They have the in stock in store, though website says they don't. But, they do. Same for Best Buy. Best Buy prices matched CC for me. None the less, I will almost def. be keeping the Canon. I'm going to shoot some outdoor tomorrow to see if things improve but the clipping/hot spots/loss of detail & fringing have me concerned.

Sorry for such a short impression but I know you guys are eager to have a comparison between the two.

Oh and the HD7 does NOT have 24p. It has cinema effect like the Sony's which simulates 24p but is nowhere near as good as the Canon's true 24p.
post #2 of 94
Thanks much for the first impressions. I can't say I'm shocked. If your results hold up, the superiority of tape-based cams continues. One day this may change, but apparently not now.

Where did you get the HD7? I hope you can return it if you're not satisfied.
post #3 of 94
Thread Starter 
I got it at Best Buy. I can return it but there will be a restocking fee. But it beats the sleepless nights I would've had wondering about the quality of the HD7!! LOL!!!

Seriously, the quality is just not that good in low-light. I'm going to try and post some pics but they'll be pics taken off my TV with a digi-cam.

I just rewatched the 24p video I shot today with the HV20 and got warm fuzzies.
post #4 of 94
There's no doubt the HV20 is a superb cam. I guess the issue with the low light and the HD7 is the very small sensor together with the 1920X1080 pixel count. That's a bad combination for light gathering ability. I'm still curious to hear how it does in good light. The whole issue of 3-chips vs 1-chip is becoming more and more moot as technology marches on. I prefer the HD video from my HV20 to my 3-chip Sony FX7.

I also found what you said about the lens interesting....especially in light of the fact that I made a comment about not taking the Fujinon lens as the gospel for picture quality. I referenced the bad CA on the more expensive Canon HDV cams that the little HV10/HV20 is very much free of. It's really funny how sometimes these less expensive units seem to show better lens quality in certain respects than the more expensive units! It's often harder to make a big piece of glass with the same high quality as a smaller lens.

Let us know how it does in good light.....maybe we'll all split the restocking fee with you!
post #5 of 94
Thank you persiannight for first impression. Please do keep us posted for daytime shooting. You are my hero.
post #6 of 94
I'm so glad you are doing these tests, persiannight. I was going to go to Best Buy tomorrow to try to snag an HD7 and do the same thing you did. I'll be anxious to hear what the daytime tests look like but I think I know how they'll go, judging by the results so far.

Oh, and I would totally help with the restocking fee.
post #7 of 94
Thread Starter 
You guys would really help with restocking fee??? Wow.... I appreciate that but it's totally unnecessary. I did it to really just fulfill my curiosity and post my findings here. I don't want to give the impression that the HD7 is a crap cam. It's a gorgeous looking unit, though IMHO in low-light the Canon is the better performer. I'll be doing my daytime shots tomorrow and I'll post results. Unfortunately I have no way of uploading clips to my PC yet.

I tried doing off-screen digicam snapshots but it doesn't truly convey an accurate representation.

One other thing I didn't like was that the lens protector is in the open position out of the box. The inclusion of a lens hood is a plus though. The LCD screen on the HD7 is good quality too. There is a joystick mounted on the frame of the LCD screen too used to cycle through various manual settings.
post #8 of 94
thanks as well for your impressions persiannight. I was considering the HC3 or HC5 but their low light performance is not that good.

Historically canon camcorders have always had very good performance in normal light, it was low light where they usually disappointed, so I probably will be getting this one.
post #9 of 94
Thread Starter 
Alright so I got up this morning and shot with the GZ-HD7 outside, same areas I've shot with the HV20. Again, and I can't say I'm surprised, I find that the HV20 outperforms the HD7. Maybe it's the CMOS sensor, maybe it's the DIGIC II processing, but to me the HV20 video just has that "professional" look to it, especially with 24p, that both my Sony HC5 and now, the JVC HD7, lack. It's hard to describe. The outdoor performance of HD7 is by no means bad. but it does overexpose by default and for me the red channel is over saturated. I'm sure these can be corrected for, but for the average consumer who will just pull it out and use it in auto mode, the HV20 gives you better final output.

Again, I saw CA/fringing that is NOT there on HV20. The fringing is there around contrasting edges. Particulary on an American flag I've been recording blowing in the wind. Where the red meets white and the outline of the flag silouetted against the sky. I found alot more artifacting in the JVC HD7 video also. I don't know, maybe I need to test more, but I think I'll be keeping the HV20. It's video is obscenely clean in proper lighting and with 24p I don't think it can be beat. I just WISH it had the ergonomics of the HD7 or HC5 or the build quality of these 2. But in the end what really matters is what shows up on your display and that, IMHO, is where the HV20 can't be touched.
post #10 of 94
Well, it sounds like I made the right decision.

Thanks again, persiannight, for doing those tests. You must have gotten up early if you already tested both cams and posted before 8 AM.

Enjoy your HV20.
post #11 of 94
Thread Starter 
Yes. I was up at about 7:30, it's currently 9:10 in Connecticut. I was eager to see how the HD7 performed so I set my alarm so I could get some sunlight time. It may rain here today.

If ultimately you want the best video, go with the Canon. If you want flexibility to edit video within cam and want fast hard drive access go with the JVC unit.
post #12 of 94
Too bad... good cam in theory, but my gut has always looked at those ccd chippers as being a bit too small......... 1/5 inch is just not very big, even multiplied by 3
post #13 of 94
Thread Starter 
By all means, there may be reviewers who will completely disagree. We'll have to wait and see.
post #14 of 94
Thanks for this amazing thread! I'm debating between one of these or the Sony HC7, and this is the first useful commentary on the JVC I've seen anywhere in the universe (that I have access to)!
post #15 of 94
Thread Starter 
If the HC5 is any indication of how the HC7 would perform then I say go with the Canon. I used the Sony HC5 on my Honeymoon. Got home, watched the video and could only think, "eh, that looks okay I guess." I then returned it for the Canon, came home and shot with it, in 60i and 24p, and thought to myself, "now this is worth the price".

Build quality I have to give the nod to Sony and JVC though. But, as I keep saying, it's really the final output that counts. And Canon wins by far. IMHO of course.
post #16 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdgarQ View Post

Thanks for this amazing thread! I'm debating between one of these or the Sony HC7, and this is the first useful commentary on the JVC I've seen anywhere in the universe (that I have access to)!

Why aren't you considering the Canon HV20?? Are is that what you meant, you're considering The Sony or the Canon?
post #17 of 94
Oh I am, I was perhaps unclear. I am debating between all three (HV20, HC7, and HD7). While PQ is paramount for me, also important are NLE compatibility, handling, usable zoom/focus rockers/rings, and rugged build quality. It seems there's a compromise between these factors no matter which way I go in this affordable/prosumer cam category.
post #18 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdgarQ View Post

Oh I am, I was perhaps unclear. I am debating between all three (HV20, HC7, and HD7). While PQ is paramount for me, also important are NLE compatibility, handling, usable zoom/focus rockers/rings, and rugged build quality. It seems there's a compromise between these factors no matter which way I go in this affordable/prosumer cam category.


By no means is the HV20 built like garbage, it just is really small and made predominately of plastic. The JVC is bulkier but is also mostly plastic. The Canon is perfect in my hands because they're smaller. The JVC was a little too bulky for me. The Sony HC5 fit nicely in my hand also, but the pic quality was slightly worse then the JVC.
post #19 of 94
Wow, at the price point of the JVC I'm very disappointed to hear it has more artifacts than the Canon. JVC seemed to be pitching it as having higher resolution and better picture quality than the others, and now it sounds like that was just marketing hype. What a bummer.
post #20 of 94
I am upset also, since I order the JVC from B & H over a week ago just based on JVC's claims.
Also, I like a larger and more well built camera.
But, I would agree picture quality should be first.
post #21 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by speden View Post

Wow, at the price point of the JVC I'm very disappointed to hear it has more artifacts than the Canon. JVC seemed to be pitching it as having higher resolution and better picture quality than the others, and now it sounds like that was just marketing hype. What a bummer.


Well, I mean come on, what did you expect them to say. I don't want to bring anyone's hopes down. Like I prefaced my original post. I am by NO means a professional reviewer. I just wanted to give a consumer end-user point of view. You may get the JVC and love it. I think the more artifacts are contributed to hard drive recording more then anything. Canon has ALWAYS been top of their game when it comes to image quality. The CMOS sensors in their DSLR's are top-of-line and that's why they continually rate among the best.
post #22 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by slots1 View Post

I am upset also, since I order the JVC from B & H over a week ago just based on JVC's claims.
Also, I like a larger and more well built camera.
But, I would agree picture quality should be first.


You have to remember that an additional 480 pixels is not going to make an apparent visual difference. It's just not enough added resolution. The horizontal resolution of 1080 is still the same. I would do what I did. Evaluate both for yourself and come to a conclusion. I knew if I didn't do so myself I would've been kicking myself in the buttocks for months.
post #23 of 94
Hard drive should have nothing to do with the quality. Professionals use hard drives and you are transferring the tape or hard drive to your hard drive on your computer to edit it.
I see no relationship, given the same compression ratios.
I will trust your eyes, but no your logic.
post #24 of 94
Did you run your tests on the JVC in the full hd (1920x1080) mode? Do you notice much difference between the full hd mode and 1440x1080 modes in terms of artifacting?

I'm interested in how the cameras perform for shooting fast action sports. Do you have any impressions about which is better for that? (i.e. in terms of zooming, eliminating hand shake, speed/accuracy of the autofocus, adjusting exposure times to control blurring, etc.)
post #25 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by persiannight View Post

Again, I saw CA/fringing that is NOT there on HV20. The fringing is there around contrasting edges. Particulary on an American flag I've been recording blowing in the wind. Where the red meets white and the outline of the flag silouetted against the sky. I found alot more artifacting in the JVC HD7 video also.

Strange. I don't see any of those artifacts when playing my GZ-HD7 videos through a Gennum VXP scaler and then to my JVC HD-1 1080p projector (on a 8' wide screen).
post #26 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LEVESQUE View Post

Strange. I don't see any of those artifacts when playing my GZ-HD7 videos through a Gennum VXP scaler and then to my JVC HD-1 1080p projector (on a 8' wide screen).


I can only comment on what I saw. CA sometimes only shows up under certain conditions. It wasn't apparent on every single instance. But it did show up on particular objects which the Canon rendered perfectly. I believe CA is a result of the lens and has nothing to do with the sensors. The Sony HCR-HD5 I had had some CA issues also.
post #27 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by slots1 View Post

Hard drive should have nothing to do with the quality. Professionals use hard drives and you are transferring the tape or hard drive to your hard drive on your computer to edit it.
I see no relationship, given the same compression ratios.
I will trust your eyes, but no your logic.

I never said it definitely because of the hard drive compression just that it could possibly be part of the issue. Jeez, you make it sound like I'm some idiot.
post #28 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by speden View Post

Did you run your tests on the JVC in the full hd (1920x1080) mode? Do you notice much difference between the full hd mode and 1440x1080 modes in terms of artifacting?

I'm interested in how the cameras perform for shooting fast action sports. Do you have any impressions about which is better for that? (i.e. in terms of zooming, eliminating hand shake, speed/accuracy of the autofocus, adjusting exposure times to control blurring, etc.)


Yes. The 2 tests were done in full HD mode. Didn't bother trying JVC HDV mode. Autofocus seemed equal to me. OIS seemed comparable between the two. I 90% shoot with a tripod and turn off IS anyway. They both have zebra funtionality, 70% and 100%.
post #29 of 94
WOW. Thanks for the excellent review, persiannight.

I am really looking forward to getting an HV20.
post #30 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by persiannight View Post

Yes. The 2 tests were done in full HD mode. Didn't bother trying JVC HDV mode. Autofocus seemed equal to me. OIS seemed comparable between the two. I 90% shoot with a tripod and turn off IS anyway. They both have zebra funtionality, 70% and 100%.

Thanks for the information.

I don't know if you've uploaded any clips yet, but if you have, how long does it take to offload video from the JVC? Is it a lot faster than capturing tape playback? That is one of the attractions of a hard drive camcorder for me, saving time getting the data onto a PC.

I've seen some questions about how compatible the full hd JVC format is with existing NLE's. I assume the software that comes with the JVC is pretty low end crippled stuff. Have you tried editing the full hd format with Vegas or anything? Was the format recognized?
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