Camcorder review: JVC Everio GZ-MG21

JVC Everio GZ-MG21 Camcorder

Friends of ours bought the JVC Everio GZ-MG21 camcorder a little more than a month ago, and aren’t too happy. Granted, it’s a 1st generation hard-drive based camcorder, so it’s bound to have certain downsides. So, with that in mind, here they are:

  • Start-up time is long, which means bye-bye to catching those candid moments on tape um, hard-drive.
  • Video quality is ho-hum. It’s better than VHS tape, but definitely not as good as Hi-8 or miniDV tapes.
  • Still quality is horrible, and that’s to be expected, since the max and only res for stills is 640×480.
  • No image stabilization + small camcorder = shaky video. This means the 32x optical zoom, while normally a great thing, is useless without a tripod.
  • Every time you press the record button, a new video file is created. Which means that when you do scene-by-scene shots, you end up with a whole bunch of little video files that you have to stitch together in your video app if you want to view them on a computer. My friend thought it’d be better if video kept getting appended to a single file. I can understand the logic of why JVC has a file by file approach, but I have to agree with my friend that a simpler method needs to be found. Yes, creating different movie files for each scene is an easy way to differentiate between the different scenes, and also saves battery time and minimizes lag since you don’t have to seek an existing large video file to find the end point and append to it. But, it is annoying.
  • Battery time is less than advertised.

Now for the good points:

  • Very small, easy to carry.
  • Convenient.
  • No tapes to worry about.

JVC Everio GZ-MG21It’d be interesting to compare my friends’ Everio model to the newer ones that have come out since, like the GZ-MG505, which is supposed to have 3, yes three, 4.5-inch CCD sensors, and shoot 5 megapixel stills. It also has a larger filter, and a larger LCD monitor.

But, it also consumes 75% more power and weighs 25% more. However, the video quality has to be better, and the stills would probably look stunning compared to the MG21.

I still have to assume, unless I’m presented with evidence to the contrary, that multiple video files are created, and that’s an annoyance. Plus, battery time has to be less than the MG21. And, I’d expect a little more than 30GB in drive space, especially given how cheap hard drives are these days. I mean, c’mon, an iPod has more drive space!

Here is the Everio Specs PDF.