JVC Everio GZ-MG275
- Impressive video quality, user-friendly interface, SDHC/SD recording capabilities
- 10x optical zoom, a little pricey for a standard-definition camera
Despite being hampered by a weak optical zoom and questionable asking price, the GZ-MG275 is a solid HDD/SD camera that will satisfy all but the pickiest of users.
Price$ 1,199.00 (AUD)
JVC is something of a pioneer when it comes to hard disk-based camcorders, with nearly a two-year head start on the majority of its competitors. While other manufacturers were sitting idly on the fence, the Nippon veteran aggressively pushed forward with its HDD format; and has subsequently had extra time to iron out all the kinks. Sitting snugly in the middle of its Everio range, the GZ-MG275 offers a good set of features for a standard-def camera, including a 40GB hard drive, 2.18-megapixel sensor and SDHC/SD recording capabilities. However, with an RRP of $1200, some may find it a little overpriced. (Indeed, for a few hundred dollars more you could pick up a high-definition model with all the bells-and-whistles; including a beefier hard drive.)
Design-wise, the GZ-MG275 is almost identical to its cheaper HDD brethren; the GZ-MG145 and GZ-MG135. It is therefore equally cute and compact, with dimensions of just 66x71x110mm and weighing around 400g. While this is slightly heavier than the GZ-MG135, we actually prefer the extra weight as it helped to minimise shaky footage. Like the rest of the Everio range, the GZ-MG275 sports a silver-and-charcoal colour scheme which suits its traditional design. It should fit easily into most jacket pockets, making it a handy companion for the perpetual shooting addicts out there.
Overall, we were quite pleased with the control layout of this camera -- apart from one minor exception. In an unusual design quirk, the menu's directional stick has been built into the inner lid of the LCD display. While the stick responds reasonably well, its placement requires two-handed operation which feels a lot less natural than using your thumb. (Other camcorders, such as the DC230 can be operated effortlessly with just one hand.) On the plus side, the menu layout is very easy to explore and should not pose any problem for entry-level users.
Like the other cameras in the Everio range, the GZ-MG275 offers four varying modes of video quality, ranging from economy to ultra-fine. At its highest setting, the camera can store around nine hours and 40 minutes of footage to its hard drive. While this is only two more hours than the cheaper GZ-MG135 model, its image quality is also noticeably superior (as we will see further in the review). As with any HDD camcorder, freeing up space is a simple matter of transporting your video to a PC or burning it to DVD. This is made easy thanks to the handy Direct DVD and Direct Backup buttons located on the camera. The included docking station comes equipped with USB, FireWire, S-Video and AV ports, for all your transferral needs.
For those who own a collection of memory cards (or just have extra cash to burn), the GZ-MG275 can also record video in the SDHC/SD format. In addition to being a handy way to store your digital photos, it makes for a great 'last-resort' recording device when you unexpectedly run out of hard disk space (currently, SDHC/SD cards come in four, eight and 16GB flavours, with a 32GB version looming on the horizon).
For a standard-definition camera, the image quality offered by the GZ-MG275 is admirably impressive. Sporting a 2.18-megapixel CCD sensor, it proved to be a capable and solid little unit. Image noise was kept to a minimum in all but the dingiest environments while colours remained reassuringly vibrant; especially in sunny environments. Somewhat less impressive was the camera's zooming capabilities. With a 10x optical zoom, it falls behind many cheaper models, which can often be up to three times more powerful. Nevertheless, it remains a classy performer that will easily satisfy its intended audience.
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