JVC may not be so into mobile products compared to other tech computers but they still continue to have that reputation in making all kinds of camcorders to suit various budgets. Their Everio series of digital camcorders continue to be one of the company’s most iconic brands because of the positive reviews these camcorders receive by critics. But like other major players in the digital camcorder industry, innovation is highly needed because consumers can simply opt for a powerful modern smartphone on contract for a price cheaper than any entry-level camcorder. Smartphones can already record decent 1080p and they have the app ecosystems to do even more neat things from taking photos and videos using various filters to conveniently sharing them online. JVC proves that their camcorders are still relevant by making even entry-level models like the JVC GZ-EX515 full of video recording and networking features.
JVC sticks to the generic compact camcorder design and as a result, it resembles its predecessor – the GZ-EX215. It understandably feels cheap with its glossy plastic body but is still more convenient to handle for longer periods of video recording than handling any smartphone or point-and-shoot camera. If you frequently want stable video recording without the use of a tripod, camcorders like the GZ-EX515 remain a good option. The hand strap is mighty comfortable and the entry-level build quality makes the camcorder feel light weighing less than 2 pounds. Entry-level camcorders are also very easy to use since they have the most basic features and the JVC GZ-EX515 really shows that with a record button on the back and the usual controls on top.
Opening up the display panel on the side of the camcorder is enough to power it revealing a 3-inch touchscreen LCD display. Like the previous JVC models, the screen relies on touch input and is normally a setback because the experience on such a small screen is nowhere near what you would get on a typical smartphone. However, JVC made the right move in redesigning the menu system as it is much easier to use and has a more familiar icon-driven interface.
One of the biggest improvements over last year’s model lies within the camcorder sensor. The 1/5.8-inch CMOS sensor retains its size but the resolution has been increased to 2.5 megapixels so videos and photos will have slightly more detail which is always welcome for entry-level camcorders. The sensor also remains back-illuminated making the camcorder perform better in low-light situations than smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras. JVC had to make a slight trade-off by reducing the maximum optical zoom from 40x to 38x. You can still use the Dynamic zoom to reach up to 65x but you can go up to 70x with the EX215. But as a whole, the difference isn’t that noticeable and very high zoom levels negatively affect the video quality anyway.
Fortunately, the sensor isn’t just the only improvement that the GZ-EX515 has up its sleeve. This camcorder is also capable of recording 1080p at 50 fps in addition to the usual 25 and 60 fps. If you want your videos in the iFrame format so you can easily edit the videos using Apple programs like iMovie and Final Cut Pro, you can record these videos at 720p and 960×540 resolution.
When it comes to memory storage, JVC isn’t making any reversals here. You will need to have a spare SD card if you want to record any kind of video. That shouldn’t be a problem nowadays because 64 GB SDXC cards are quite affordable and getting the Class 10 models are recommended if you want even better video recording performance at 1080p. Opting for a high-capacity memory card is rewarding since you can record at least 5 hours of 25 or 28 MBits/sec video for the best video quality possible.
Overall video quality is pretty good and the JVC GZ-EX515 even has optical image stabilization which is something the GZ-EX215 lacked so you can expect smoother outputs. You can adjust the color options if you like and use special features like the Pet tracking mode for special scenarios. For low light conditions, you can try using the built-in light, Auto Slow Shutter and Gain Up options. A manual mode is available as well if you need to make finer adjustments although you have to rely on the touchscreen. For instance, manual focus requires you to adjust a slider on the screen. While you are recording video, you can take 2-megapixel images in case you want to capture specific moments. If you are into creative shooting, you can add a number of stamp and handwriting effects or try out special modes like time lapse.
Built-in wireless connectivity isn’t exactly a new feature but it is still feature worth noting since it is one of the major reasons as to why people prefer recording videos with smartphones instead. Setting up the Wi-Fi is as simple as scanning a QR code. Once you connected the GZ-EX515 to the local network, it is possible to transfer all videos to a PC for backup purposes with the touch of a button. From the PC, you can then share the videos online. It is also capable of wirelessly connecting to network TVs. If you have an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet, you can download the Everio Sync 2 application, you can use the mobile device as a remote viewfinder. This lets you do things like mount the camcorder as a CCTV camcorder and use the smartphone or tablet as a live monitor. You may also issue remote commands to the JVC GZ-EX515 over Wi-Fi. Support for the Ustream service is also provided in case you want to do some live streaming using your Internet connection. Finally, it is possible to send videos through email without any special applications.
The GZ-EX515 costs $369 which is a very good deal if you consider its nice set of recording and networking features. The compact build is also friendly for new users to operate. If you are tired of the video quality of your smartphone, the JVC GZ-EX515 isn’t a risky bet by any stretch because you have the Wi-Fi features and exceptionally good video quality at a bargain price.