JVC continues to focus on products that go in your living room but they are also a company that is known for helping people bring content to their TVs through their fantastic camcorder products. JVC’s Everio camcorder series stays relevant despite some hits and misses and it is primarily because of how JVC prices their products. The JVC GZ-E505 is one of entry-level camcorders that is far from perfect but it does have some redeeming features that pretty much overshadows these flaws once you find out how much it costs.
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Plain and simple is the name of the game for the GZ-E505. It is a grey camcorder with no other color variations and the compact build is designed to greet those folks that are not so into using camcorders but want to get involved with video recording right away. The back of the camcorder features the battery pack and record button. The zoom lever can be found just on top of the camcorder like most other compact digital camcorders and it acts as a volume control during playback as well. Just below this lever is the snapshot button for capturing still imagery. The grip belt lacks the pad that is featured in the slightly higher-end GZ-EX555 and GX-EX515 models so you have to settle with the strap lock and less comfortable feel overall.
But that doesn’t take away the basic operation as you can get started by just opening the side panel to reveal a 3-inch LCD screen. The only buttons that you will find are the optical image stabilizer button and power button on the panel that is only revealed if you open the screen. This exposed area also features the mini HDMI, micro USB, mic and AV ports. This minimalism is attributed to the fact that the JVC GZ-E505 relies on a touch interface effectively reducing the amount of necessary physical controls. But because the panel is resistive, browsing the interface can be sluggish at times compared to even the cheapest smartphones.
The sub-$300 price tag has to be the main selling point of the GZ-E505. Not only is it cheap but it is also capable of 1080p and supports a 50p output. The 1/5.8” CMOS sensor isn’t particularly ground-breaking but it is back-illuminated and relies on Super LoLux allowing the JVC GZ-E505 to take better videos in low light than smartphones and budget point-and-shoot cameras. The 29.3mm wide angle lens also makes this camcorder a pretty decent travel companion when you want to record all those beautiful landscapes or wish to get more people in a scene. But one of the more impressive things about this basic camcorder’s spec sheet is the 38x optical zoom and 65x dynamic zoom. Cheaper models including the older JVC JZ-E200 model feature a better zoom range but you get better image quality overall with the GZ-E505 across all optical and dynamic zoom ranges. You can still zoom up to 200x if you need to go even closer and you are willing to sacrifice some detail. It is also recommended to use a tripod too when using higher zoom levels although the optical image stabilization function can help get you out of shaky situations. If you cannot take out your smartphone or camera fast enough, you may use the snapshot function to take quick 8.3-megapixel images at average quality.
Unlike the JVC GZ-EX555, which is priced over the $300 mark, the JVC GZ-E505 does not have its own flash memory so you must purchase an SD card separately before you start recording. A smart move would be to get a speedy SDXC card as it is compatible so you can have at least 64 GB of space and get good performance when recording Full HD video.
Many of JVC’s camcorder models have built-in Wi-Fi which enables all sorts of new features from remote monitoring to easier transferring of pictures and videos. However, the GZ-E505 is left out of the wireless equation so you will need the included USB cable to put videos on your PC or take out the SD card if you have an SD card reader. But if the main purpose is to do some basic editing, you may trim videos or combine multiple videos together.
The JVC GZ-E505 is a pretty fun camcorder to use as you can add cool effects while recording so you won’t have to worry about future edits. Effects can range from face decorations to decorative stamps. There are a number of manual recording modes too in case you want to manually adjust the focus or tinker with the white balance. Unfortunately, there are no physical buttons linked to these manual controls. Beginners should be happy with the way the Intelligent Auto setting works. Things like pet tracing and face tracking are a bit easier to use once you have gotten used to the touchscreen interface.
You’ll be missing out on a lot by skipping the Wi-Fi bits but the GZ-E505 is still a great entry-level camera for all those folks that won’t even bother with the Wi-Fi features. Like other features, using the Wi-Fi capabilities require some menu crawling, which is something that not everyone has the patience for. But stuff like zooming and getting good results for different scenes is something that the JVC GZ-E505 can achieve quite well. If JVC can improve the touchscreen responsiveness and simplify the menu structure, JVC could make a lot of budget buyers happy.