JVC GZ-GX1 Camcorder Review
Ease of Use
When you first turn on the JVC GZ-GX1, the camcorder will likely start up in Intelligent Auto mode (the camcorder's dedicated auto mode). This mode is a fantastic feature for beginners, but we have a problem with the way JVC hides this function on the camcorder. There's no dedicated button with an "auto" or "easy mode" label, so it will probably take you a good reading of the manual before you will figure out how to switch between the auto and manual modes on the camcorder.
Here's how you switch between the two modes: there's a tiny little icon in the top right of the LCD when the camcorder is on and in recording mode. If you tap it with your finger, two large icons will appear on the screen, one of which puts the camcorder in auto mode and the other that puts it in manual mode. We don't like the miniscule size of this hard-to-find icon, and we'd much prefer if the GX1 had a dedicated auto mode button.
When you're in auto mode, you'll soon discover that JVC equipped the GZ-GX1 with some splendid automatic controls. The camcorder handled autofocus very well, with quick adjustments between different focus planes. Auto exposure was also smooth and reliable in auto mode. The camcorder also has four different kinds of auto exposure/focus tracking features: face, pet, color, and area. The area feature is actually more of a "spot" focus/exposure control that allows you to touch the portion of the screen you want to bring into focus and expose properly. It's a simple-to-use auto mode that gives the user a bit of manual control—and it works very well with the touchscreen interface (one of the camcorder's few controls that does).
The tracking modes are also effective, although they aren't perfect. You'll likely lose "track" of the subject your tracking if they move to quickly or if you move the camcorder too much. But the tracking feature can still be fun for the most part, just don't expect it to lock onto your target with 100% accuracy.
The menus on the GZ-GX1 have one thing going for them: they're easy to read. Alright, maybe we can give JVC props for including an info button as well. But besides those two things, the menus on the GX1 are terribly frustrating to navigate. The processor on the camcorder is agonizingly slow, which means the menus take far too long to sift through. We also noticed the touch interface worked poorly, as a good chunk of the time it would simply ignore our button pressings and inputs. Worst of all, the main menu is preceded by a useless quick menu that has the following options: WiFi, smile shutter, and digital effects. Are those really the three most important menu features? This unavoidable quick menu simply adds an extra step when you want to get to the camcorder's main menu, which is where you find important manual controls as well as a host of of other features and options.