JVC Mini DV Camcorder Review: GR-DV2000

JVC’s GR-DV2000 is an efficiently designed, compact video camcorder aimed at intermediate video hobbyists shopping for a digital hybrid video/still camera, yet it will accommodate the novice who can afford to indulge. Operators will appreciate its ease of use, compact size and high image quality. Those shooting to edit will be pleased with its manual controls, external mike plug and headphone jack. The DV2000 includes both USB and FireWire digital ports, allowing for easy computer capture of high-resolution still images and video capture respectively. For digital stills and video, the DV2000 fits the bill.

All in One

The GR-DV2000 has a solid feel and fits in the hand comfortably. Monitoring shots and reviewing footage are trouble-free, as the camcorder is furnished with a large, 3.5-inch, flip-out, LCD color viewscreen and a small, built-in speaker. The DV2000 also has a .44-inch color viewfinder you can use to keep the LCD from hogging battery power (which all LCDs have a tendency to do). It has an electronic image stabilizer which, coupled with its easy grip, provides steady hand-held shots.

The DV2000 uses a progressive scan 680,000-pixel 1/4-inch CCD coupled with Progressive Color Scan and High Band Processor technologies to yield what JVC calls Progressive 1000 Super Resolution. The result, in terms of picture quality, is a beautiful Mini DV image. The DV2000 features a 10:1 optical zoom lens with variable-speed zoom control and includes a 300:1 digital zoom. As usual, we recommend sticking with the optical zoom setting and moving physically closer, if necessary, instead of relying on a high-powered digital zoom that becomes more pixelated when its upper limits are tested. In our tests we found that the DV2000’s digital zoom provided a usable image up to a setting of about 40:1.

The lens responded well in a variety of conditions, especially when we used manual focus. The comfortable, easy-to-grip focus ring made it easy to dial in a clear picture. The automatic focus system also worked well, lagging only momentarily when we panned and zoomed simultaneously. The zoom toggle is located on the top of the camcorder and when tested, the camcorder adequately zoomed in and out smoothly with variable speed control and a silent zoom motor.

For consumers interested in manual controls, the DV2000 has them. In addition to manual focus, white balance and exposure are also manually adjustable. The DV2000’s auto mode can help point-and-shooters find good results if light settings are not their forte. Besides its standard automatic mode, it also has several other AE modes. Snow allows shooting toward extremely bright backgrounds and Spotlight is ideal for shooting from a dark locale into a lit area, such as a stage. Other automatic exposure modes include Twilight, which enhances low-light evening scenes. Image effects include Sepia, Monotone, Strobe, Video Echo and Slow Shutter speeds for low-light conditions.

The DV2000 has 16 different in-camera transitions to satisfy users who want to edit on the fly. It has three different fades: to black, to white and to black and white, as well as a dissolve that crossfades from the last frame of the previous scene to the new scene. And if you’re into wipes, the remaining 12 transitions cover that base.

Digital Stills

To complement its video capabilities, the DV2000 features a progressive scan digital still camera using 1.92 Megapixel pixel-shift technology. JVC’s Accurate Image Shift (AIS) Lens double exposes the image on the CCD, resulting in output that can provide a high-resolution 1600×1200 UXGA still. The DV2000 records its still images to a 16MB multimedia memory card. Different capacity memory cards, purchased separately, are available. We used the conveniently located shooting mode switch to choose between three different still camera image resolutions: UXGA (1600×1200), XGA (1024×768) and VGA (640×480). We captured the images to disk and easily played them back one by one and as a slideshow.

The DV2000 comes with necessary cables and software to perform an easy image transfer to computer via USB port. And once the picture is on your computer, the imaging software allows you to touch up and crop stills before printing. You can also print directly from the camcorder, using the printer port. The GV-DT3 digital printer is the recommended device from JVC for this purpose.

Wait, There’s More!

In addition to its manual controls, the DV2000 has other features that will interest videographers of all levels. The unit includes a headphone jack, which enables users to closely monitor their audio and an external microphone plug, which lets users add an external mike. The DV2000 also has a hot shoe for snap-on accessories like a flash or shotgun microphone. The DV2000 also has a built-in video light that works well and can be set to turn on automatically when light levels get low.

JVC’s unique Night Alive mode provides full-color images in nearly total darkness. The only drawback to Night Alive is that it is achieved with an extremely slow shutter speed. Therefore, any motion in the frame will result in a blurred image. It is, however, useful for stationary still shots where there is no camera movement.

Standard A/V and FireWire connects are provided on the camera body, but S-video, USB and JLIP connectors are included on the accessory jack box that fits into the battery slot, where it also provides external DC power. JVC also includes a number of software applications on CD-ROM like JLIP Video Capture, JLIP Video Producer and Presto! Mr. Photo and Presto! PhotoAlbum to help capture images to your hard drive for manipulation.


The Bottom Line

The JVC GR-DV2000’s biggest attraction is its hybrid design. It combines a Mini DV video and digital still camera in a functional package, but stretches the pocketbook at $2,199. If digital stills are as important to you as digital video and you want the two-in-one convenience, the DV2000 is worth checking out.

TECH SPECS

Format: Mini DV
Lens: 10:1 optical zoom, 40:1 or 300:1 Digital, F1.8
Image Sensor: 1/4-inch CCD, 680,000 pixels
Viewfinder: 3.5-inch color LCD monitor, .44-inch color viewfinder
Focus: auto and manual
Maximum Manual Shutter Speed: 1/250
Exposure: auto, manual
White Balance: auto, manual
Image Stabilization: electronic
Digital Effects: mosaic, sepia, black & white, classic film, strobe, slow1, slow2, echo shutter1/60, shutter1/100, sports, snow, twilight, spotlight, 17 transitions
Inputs: USB, FireWire, microphone
Outputs: USB, FireWire, S-video, composite video, headphone, printer
Edit Interface: JLIP
Other Features: 16MB memory card, 3-mode digital still camera (VGA, XGA, UXGA), hot shoe
Dimensions: 2-15/16″(W) x 3-9/16″(H) x 7-1/16″(D)
Weight (sans tape and battery): 1.4 pounds

Performance Times

Pause to Record: 1.2 seconds
Power-up to Record: 3.5 seconds
Fast-forward/Rewind (30 min. tape): 3 minutes 5 seconds Approx.

Strengths

  • Digital stills
  • Ease to use
  • Manual controls
  • USB, FireWire and S-video I/O

Weaknesses

  • Low optical zoom ratio
  • Low shutter speed

SUMMARY

The JVC GR-DV2000 delivers great looking digital video and stills, but may be a little pricey for most hobbyists.

GR-DV2000 Mini DV Camcorder
($2,199)
JVC of America
1700 Valley Road
Wayne, NJ 07470
(800) 252-5722
www.jvc-america.com

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