Hi TomTom,

I work for JVC and would like to help. Your post is a good one.

The GZ-HM550 does have good low light performance, and has an auto focus that is considered to be very good.

Having said that, you are describing situations that are tricky for virtually any camcorder. Night time, low light video with bright objects in the picture is difficult to record correctly. Particularly scenes with rapid changes in brightness, which can trick any focus or exposure system. Luckily, there is a pretty easy solution.

JVC customer care was correct in suggesting you try the manual modes. Specifically I would suggest turning off the auto focus, and setting/locking the focus on infinity (far away). I believe that will solve most of your concerns. The night mode is also worth trying to see if you get more consistent color and exposure, although the auto mode may work fine once the focus is locked.

Please try this, and let me know if it helps.

Chris