JVC Everio GZ-HM50US Video Features
The Everio GZ-HM50US uses a "lite" version of the AVCHD format for recording 1280 x 720p high definition video (the "full" version of the AVCHD format supports higher resolution 1920 x 1080p recording). The camcorder features a 1.5-megapixel 1/5.8-inch CMOS image sensor. Video can also be recorded in a widescreen, standard definition format (720 x 480) for viewing on older TVs and computers or for extending recording times.
The Everio GZ-HM50US can upconvert 720p video to 1080p when connected to an HDTV via an HDMI cable. It's not on par with video captured natively at 1080, but it does provide an option for higher quality presentation. The camcorder uses JVC's "Intelligent Auto" mode for automatically matching scene modes such as portrait, sunset, scenery, forest and macro mode, to shooting environments.
Audio is recorded through a 2-channel stereo microphone.
You'll find a 40x optical zoom Konica Minolta HD lens on the Everio GZ-HM50 - an excellent zoom range for the price. The optical zoom is joined by two digital zoom technologies: a dynamic zoom can boost magnification to 70x while a standard digital zoom increases magnification to 200x. The lens uses JVC's "Advanced Image Stabilizer" for keeping your footage relatively shake-free. According to the company, the image stabilization technology can compensate for camera shake at wide-angles.
The lens is protected by a manual lens cap which is opened and closed via a tiny switch next to the lens barrel (far more convenient than the caps you need to clip on, although remembering to open and close the switch can be a challenge). You do not have the option for manual focus on the GZ-HM50.
Memory and Display
The GZ-HM50 offers 8GB of internal flash memory for saving your footage. The camcorder also has a slot for SDXC video cards. You can store up to 14 hours and 20 minutes of the highest quality HD footage when using a 64GB SDXC card (not included) and the internal memory. However, there is no relay-recording on the HM50, so the model will not automatically switch memory formats when one is full. The camcorder is Eye-Fi ready, so it will automatically recognize when a wireless Eye-Fi memory card is in use.
You'll frame your recordings on a 2.7-inch LCD display with a 230,000 pixel resolution. There is no viewfinder.
Thanks to its use of flash memory, the GZ-HM50 is very light weight, weighing in at .48 pounds with battery. It and measures in at 2.1 x 2.3 x 4. inches. It's a traditional, barrel-style form factor with a zoom lever on the top of the camcorder and a record shutter located on the side, next to the camcorder's battery. Pop open the display and you'll find buttons video playback, scrolling and info, plus the camcorder's ports: component, HDMI, USB and AV.
The camcorder uses a two-way grip belt which lets you grip the camcorder or wear it around your wrist.
Aesthetically, the HM50 isn't much of a head-turner, however it does come in three body colors: black, blue and red.
The Everio GZ-HM50 is geared to casual video takers, so the feature set isn't all that robust. You will find face detection and a time-lapse recording function that lets you record one frame at a time for a selectable time interval (between one and 80 seconds). There's also an Auto Record function which, when set, starts recording automatically whenever an object moves into the frame. The camcorder will also automatically end recording if motion stops after five seconds, so the camcorder can double as a motion-activated video camera (but the battery won't last long enough for it to truly replace a security camera).
The Everio GZ-HM50 offers a built-in HDMI output for connecting the camera although the cable is not included. You can also connect to a PC via USB cable.
Outside of fewer color choices, the most significant difference between the HM50 and the lower-costEverio GZ-HM30 is the internal memory. The HM50 has some (8GB) and the HM30 does not. Is that worth $40 (ish)? Probably not. The prices on SDXC memory cards are falling rapidly and you can always add more memory cards to your collection if you find yourself running out of recording space. If you like the feature set on the HM50, the HM30 delivers the same at a better price.
Other than the memory gap, the GZ-HM50 has the same basic virtues as the HM30 - including a very long optical zoom lens. While the AVCHD video quality is below what some other entry-level competitors from Panasonic and Sony offer, they're not as inexpensive and don't have the kind of lens that the HM50 delivers. It's small design and light weight build ensure it can be carried anywhere without being a burden.