Had enough of camcorder, the GR-DA20.yet? Not us. We're excited about JVC's offering from the tech show in Berlin. Say 'guten tag' to a new MiniDV
It's quite a wide beast, the reason becoming apparent when you turn it around. The 61mm (2.4-inch) LCD screen doesn't flip out of the side, like on just about every other camcorder ever. Oh no. JVC has thrown out the rulebook and gone crazy with a wacky vertical-sliding screen.
The advantage of this unique arrangement is that you are looking straight at your subject, so it operates more like a viewfinder than the usual side-mounted screen. JVC reckons this gives you a greater range of viewing angles, and we think it may be right.
The GR-DA20 utilises a 1/6-inch 800k-pixel CCD sensor and records to MiniDV tapes, which seems a bit old-school for such a quirky bit of kit. There's a paucity of features, although some JVC goodies with fancy names have been included.
A super high-band processor boosts the camera's horizontal resolution, and noise reduction combats flicker and heightens colour reproduction. Digital colour nightscope, which has a certain Special Forces ring to it, drops shutter speeds for shooting in the dark. Other whistles and bells include picture effects, frames and, perhaps more usefully, scene transitions.
You also get a 34x optical zoom, with a possible digital hike to 800x. Functions are commanded with a four-way joystick controller beneath the LCD screen, next to one-touch buttons that toggle between manual and automatic mode, or check the battery juice. JVC claims the battery will keep tickin' for 115 minutes of continuous filming. Another button switches between standard (4:3) and widescreen (16:9) sizing, for viewing your dailies on larger televisions. There's also a DV output for easy transfer.
The JVC GR-DA20 is currently only available in Italy, of all places. UK pricing and availability are yet to be confirmed. -Rich Trenholm