JVC GZ-HM450 Camcorder Review
Even with camcorder prices dropping over the past few years, it can still be a challenge to find a good, durable HD camcorder for under $300. The JVC Everio GZ-HM450 comes close to fitting this bill—but we had some serious reservations about the camcorder's frustrating user interface and disappointing image quality in low light. Still, with a $299 price tag, the GZ-HM450 is one of the cheapest camcorders you'll find on the market (other than an ultracompact pocket cam), and its 40x optical zoom lens is the longest we've seen on an HD camcorder.
The GZ-HM450 is noticeably cheaper than the competition from Sony and Canon, but it is clear JVC had to make some sacrifices in design and quality to keep the cost of the camcorder down. For starters, the HM40 has an extremely slow processor. This resulted in sluggish performance at all times, particularly when we used the LCD touchscreen to adjust controls and navigate the menu system. If you're accustomed to lightning-fast computers or smartphones, the slow response time of the HM450 is likely to drive you crazy. But, if you're comfortable with working with slow-paced technology, or you're just a patient person in general, the interface on the GZ-HM450 may not bother you at all.
Outdoors, under bright light, the JVC HM450 was capable of capturing vivid and clear images. The camcorder's videos didn't come out quite as sharp as the competition, particularly compared to the Canon HF R21, but the HM450 produced some decent footage that the average person would surely find acceptable. In low light, the camcorder struggled to produce a clear image, instead capturing video that looked blurry and faded compared to the competition.
The GZ-HM450 is not an ultracompact camcorder that you can slip into your pocket, but it is a very light and portable device. It weighs a few ounces less than the Canon HF R21, and we're shocked to find a huge 40x zoom lens in a body that's just under five inches long. Just because the camcorder is small, however, doesn't mean it feels all that comfortable in your hand. The hand and wrist strap on the HM450 is flimsy, and the shape of the camcorder, while somewhat ergonomic, does not offer the best grip.
Along with its 40x optical zoom, the Everio GZ-HM450 has a few interesting features for an entry-level camcorder. There's a time-lapse record mode, which is great for capturing a sunset or sunrise over the course of an hour, and there's an auto record function that enables the camcorder to automatically start recording whenever someone (or something) enters the frame. Extensive manual controls, like shutter speed, aperture, or additional frame rate options, are features you won't find on the GZ-HM450, but the camcorder does have the ability to record both high definition and standard definition video. There's also 8GB of internal memory inside the camcorder, as well as a single memory card slot that works with all types of SD memory cards.
With the JVC GZ-HM450 you won't get the best entry-level HD camcorder on the market. Instead, you're getting an acceptable camcorder at an affordable price. The Canon HF R21 and the Sony HDR-CX160 are certainly flashier models with more features and better performance, but, of course, with higher price tags as well.