PROS / Its features include an advanced image stabilizer, face detection and more.
CONS / This camcorder’s hard drive is smaller than similar units and the included battery doesn’t last long.
VERDICT / This is a quality hi-def hard drive camcorder packed with great features.
JVC’s GZ-HD520BUS hard drive camcorder shoots in vibrant, full 1080p high-definition video and packs a number of features into a small, light, easy-to-hold body. The battery doesn’t stay charged long, and unfortunately the drive itself is a little small. However, it earns our TopTenREVIEWS Silver Award thanks to its many features, including face detection, an advanced image stabilizer and more.
There are a host of features in the JVC GZ-HD520BUS hard drive camcorder, including a Konica Minolta lens engineered for 1920 x 1080p full HD recording. There's also an advanced image stabilizer so you can shoot smooth handheld video, and there is a 40x zoom lens, which is a little on the short side, plus a 200x digital zoom. It's easy to navigate the intuitive menus on the 2.7-inch full color LCD, and there's an HDMI port as well as a face-detection tool. This is a small, light hard drive camcorder, so you can shoot for a while without your hand or wrist hurting.
The battery can also shoot on a single battery charge for about 45 minutes, and it takes about 2.5 hours to recharge. This isn’t really great battery life, but if you manage what you’re shooting, you should be fine. Keeping the LCD screen open drains the battery, unfortunately.
The hard drive camcorder ships with a copy of Everio MediaBrowser 3 for Windows, which is an easy way to organize and view your video and digital stills. Plus, you can do some basic editing, add filters and titles, and easily share your videos and photos to YouTube and Facebook, two of the most popular media sharing websites.
It’s also simple to convert your HD video to WMV (Windows Media) to share with family or upload to another video sharing website. You can also burn an optical disc of your video, such as a DVD, AVCHD disc or Blu-ray, though you’ll need a compatible burner, which is sold seperately. If you have a Mac, you likely have Apple iMovie, which can support AVCHD, the format this hard drive camcorder records in.
The JVC GZ-HD520BUS hard drive camcorder supports full 1080p high-definition video recording, using the AVCHD recording format. This is a popular HD format, used by many of the consumer high definition camcorders on the market, both hard drive and flash-based. There are a few professional video cameras that use AVCHD, as well.
Another advantage to recording with the AVCHD format, is it’s compatible with many of the consumer and professional editing and video browsing software apps, including Everio MediaBrowser 3. Whichever editing program you decide to use, AVCHD is supported.
This hard drive camcorder has four image quality settings, UXP (best), XP (Good), SP (decent) and EP (fair). The higher the quality, the better the overall video looks. You can record in 24Mbps (Megabits per second) high bit rate, which means the video won’t be compressed as much, preserving the beautiful images and colors associated with high definition video. If you shoot in EP mode, the picture is still nice, but not as vibrant.
You can also capture digital photos with this hard drive camcorder, but the highest resolution is around 1.3 megapixels (MP), or 1920 x 1080. This is because the camcorder is built for video, so the image sensor can’t support higher resolution. But captured photos do look very good.
Hard Drive Capacity
The hard drive capacity on the camcorder is 120GB, which is fairly big but smaller than similar units, some of which are hitting 220GB. The advantage of having a hard disk drive versus flash memory is the capacity is greater and more affordable on the HDD.
When you record in the lowest quality mode (EP), this hard drive camcorder can store close to 52 hours of video. But keep in mind, the actual quality of the video won’t be as nice as recording in the best mode (UXP). If you decide to record in UXP, this unit can store up to 11 hours and 22 minutes of video.
The JVC GZ-HD520BUS supports an SD card that will store both HD video and digital stills, but you need to make sure you have the right one. To record video, you’ll need a class 4 or better micro SDHC card, at least 4GB. For stills, a microSD or microSDHC is fine.
Help & Support
There are plenty of help and support options available for the JVC GZ-HD520BUS hard drive camcorder, such as a couple of user guides, including a basic one and an easy start guide. Also on the JVC website are product tutorials, a FAQs page, a list of JVC service centers and details about the one-year limited warranty.
If you need to contact JVC directly for further help, or if you need technical support for your hard drive camcorder, you can reach them by telephone or email. If you decide to call, keep in mind they keep normal business hours.
If you’re looking for a quality high-definition hard drive camcorder, the JVC GZ-HD520BUS is a good option, despite the short battery life and smaller hard drive. The HD video looks great and the colors really pop, plus it’s very easy to use. There are also a number of great features to give you optimal video quality, including its advanced image stabilizer.