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JVC GR-DV3000 review: JVC GR-DV3000

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We found the viewfinder grainy-looking and indistinct, and we tended toward using the LCD because it offers significantly higher resolution. Less distinct objects that we could make out with the unaided eye--a distant group of buildings similar in color to the surrounding landscape, for example--weren't clear through the viewfinder yet showed up on the recorded tape.

Sound quality was good overall, and a menu setting lets you reduce wind noise blowing across the microphones. Audio settings are not under your control, however.

We were disappointed in the DV3000's video quality. Shooting simple images--a properly lit flower, for example--produced fine results. But when circumstances demanded more, image quality deteriorated.

We found the images contrasty and subject to a variety of distortions. The usual moirés appeared around points of high contrast--where the sunlight reflected from a moving car, for instance. But we also found that shooting incoming morning light through Venetian blinds produced patterns of darkness and light not evident to the unaided eye. A tree branch running diagonally through an image was reproduced with visible stair-stepping. Azalea bushes with a mixture of new, dark-green growth and last year's brown, dead leaves radiated a palette of color that inaccurately included violet in a tone that matched the real violets growing in the garden nearby. As we panned over dissimilarly lit terrain, the exposure control hunted briefly before finding the proper exposure. Finally, shots containing a surfeit of fine detail, such as bare bushes in winter, revealed bright highlights along edges.

Image stabilization is available digitally, not optically. Walking along a paved road, shooting through the flip-out LCD screen, we recorded images that seemed reasonably good. But closer examination of the resulting tape revealed that the image stabilizer was freezing the image momentarily in one of two orientations as we ambled, producing an unnatural sort of strobing effect between the two. The digital image stabilizer was a welcome help in reducing shake when we zoomed in. Help doesn't mean eliminate, though, so if you plan to do much zooming, count on using a tripod.

While the camera has a fast maximum aperture of f/1.2 to let you shoot in darker settings, it tends to overexpose a bit under bright conditions. There is no neutral density filter to offset this, but you can compensate in one of two ways. Provided you are in manual-shooting mode, you can delve into the menu to turn off the automatic gain-up or use the exposure shift button and control wheel. The latter approach offers six darker and six lighter increments to either side of the camera's automatic exposure setting. We opted for minus three (darker) on a sunny spring day shooting a clearing in the woods.

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