JVC GZ-MG130 Camcorder Review
Video Performance* (2.75)*
At 3000 lux, the image is decent. The fine detail is lacking, to be sure. The resolution score (below) confirmed this – the pixel count is simply not there on the sensor. This is typically the case for camcorders in this price range, but exceptions can be found. The color performance, however, was not too bad. Unlike so many consumer camcorders, the GZ-MG130 did not super-saturate the colors. True, the reds are hot, and the greens tends to run together, but overall, they don’t sear the eyeballs quite as much as we anticipated. Don’t get us wrong, these are more saturated than broadcast standard – just a little better than the competition. Overall, the image has a soft, washed look, like an unsharp mask has been added.
Compared to this year’s Hitachi DZ-HS300A, a hybrid HDD/DVD camcorder, the image was much better. The Hitachi picture displayed inferior resolution and oversaturated colors. The Panasonic VDR-D200, a 2006 DVD camcorder in the same price range, had a much sharper image and more accurate colors but suffered from a lot of fine grain noise. The JVC GZ-MG130 sidestepped the noise issue by putting the whole image in a sort of soft focus. Finally, the Sony DCR-DVD205 (2006 DVD camcorder) also produced a sharper image with more vivid colors.
For a consumer looking for all-around best quality, Sony and Panasonic are typically going to offer better image quality in this HDD or DVD camcorder price range. We have yet to review Sony’s 2007 HDD line, but if they are in line with their DVD camcorders, they will exhibit sharp, vibrant video in an easy to use package (there’s a reason Sony dominates the entry-level market). The JVC GZ-M130 makes for good looking color, but it lacks the sharpness that we wanted.
**Video Resolution ***(3.41)*
The resolution of the JVC GZ-MG130’s video is tested by shooting a DSC Labs video resolution chart and reading the results from a HD monitor. The camcorder produced an approximate horizontal resolution of 325 line widths per picture height (lw/ph) and an approximate vertical resolution of 210 lw/ph. This was far from the best camcorder we’ve seen this year.
Low Light Performance* (1.8)*
The low light performance of the JVC GZ-MG130 was nothing to write home about. The thing that we liked best about the video performance in bright light, the absence of super-saturated colors, no longer pertained. Once the lux levels starting dropping off, it appears that the auto-saturation levels kick in. At 60 lux, the colors become incongruously stronger than the grey areas around them and start to bleed together. The MG130 did manage to stave off the noise, however. This is, of course, with the Auto Gain Control (AGC) on. With AGC off, the image is pretty much shot.
The Sony DCR-DVD205 still had a sharper image than the GZ-MG130, but the JVC produced the brighter image. The Sony also had the blue noise issues that the MG130 did not. The Panasonic VDR-D200 was very similar to Sony: darker and noisier but much, much sharper.
At 15 lux in auto, the image is unusable.
JVC provides a great option for shutter speed control, including the option to drop the shutter below 1/60th. At 1/30th, the performance did improve a little bit, but we didn’t see a lot of difference at 60 lux. When the light dropped to 15 lux, the shutter speed did come in handy. At 1/30th, we saw an improvement, though the noise was almost impenetrable. At 1/15th, the overall brightness looked good, but the noise, combined with motion blur, made the image unusable. In the end, it seems that 15 lux is too dark for the GZ-MG130 no matter what you do.
The camcorder produced 50 IRE at 28 lux – a very poor showing indeed. At 60 lux, Imatest imaging software found the image to produce a noise percentage of 0.967%, a color error of 12.6, and a saturation of 69.37 (meaning that it was -30.63% undersaturated).
We tested the MG130’s DIS system with our custom built camcorder shake emulator. The shake emulator varies in different motion settings and can be tailored to match real life movement.
Speed 1 measures the camcorder’s DIS effectiveness while standing still, and speed 2 is the equivalent to the shake of a moving vehicle. The shake distance is calculated by comparing the difference between footage shot with the DIS on and with the DID off. At speed 1, the camcorder displayed a 33% shake reduction, and at speed 2, it only produced a 13% improvement.
Wide Angle* (10.8)*
We measure the field of view of camcorders in 16:9 mode. The zoom is set to its widest angle, image stabilization is turned off, and we view the full video frame on an external monitor derive a field of view measurement. The GZ-MG130's maximum field of view was 54 degrees.
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