Hands On With JVC's 4K Video Camera: It Won't Break Your Back Or Your Budget

Illustration for article titled Hands On With JVC's 4K Video Camera: It Won't Break Your Back Or Your Budget

What with everyone having a 4K TV and/or projector at home these days, it makes sense that camera manufacturers would start rolling out new models capturing footage at a glorious resolution of 3840x2160...


But yeah, I'm not exactly sure why LG decided to release a prosumer 4K digital video camera, besides being able to declare "first!" at CES this year. At this point the only consumers who would be interested in being able to capture 4K would be amateur filmmakers lacking the budgets to buy a RED or other professional digital cinema camera. So JVC's 4K camera will be priced at just $5,000 when it goes on sale in March, which is actually incredibly cheap for what it's claimed to be capable of.

With supported framerates of 24P, 50P, and 60P (not sure why 30P was left out of the party) the excitedly named GY-HMQ10 was actually kind of hard to get excited over while I played with it. While digital cinema offerings from Sony and Panavision look like the big film cameras you see on the set of feature films, JVC's 4K option is designed to be handheld, so it basically looks like every other prosumer video camera. And save for the ability to dial in a specific crop factor for the live preview LCD, it pretty much functions like them too.

Illustration for article titled Hands On With JVC's 4K Video Camera: It Won't Break Your Back Or Your Budget

If you happen to be one of the lucky few with access to a 4K display, you'll be happy to hear the camera can output a live 4K preview in real-time. Making it useful for cinematographers or other professionals who need to see as much detail as they can. But sadly it seems like JVC wasn't one of those lucky few to have a 4K display set up at their in-booth studio, so I wasn't able to really see what kind of images the camera can produce. (Its flip out LCD display isn't 4K either.)

And while productions might not yet have the hardware to display a 4K image, thanks to MPEG-4 compression techniques the camera can actually squeeze about two hours of 4K footage onto an "economical SDHC or SDXC memory cards" as JVC puts it. So you probably don't need a monstrously powerful PC to edit and process the footage it records. But even that isn't going to help speed up the adoption of 4K which doesn't really seem to be in much demand here at the Consumer Electronics Show. [JVC]




There is a point to a 4k workflow at this price point; shoot in 4k and edit and deliver in 1080p, production houses do it all the time with the RED. (that way you can crop in digital for a variety of shots), also there is action videography where high speed (60p) footage can be shot in 4k and cropped around to create motion. What I'm actually impressed with is how far JVC went with the encoding, 144 mbps is 3.5 bits per pixel (bpp) at 4kp60 which is better than 1080p24 with AVCHD (at 2 bpp) although both are 4:2:0 color space (from what i can tell).

Point of my ramblings: I wanted to hate this on the face of it, but now i kind of want one, it wouldn't be a main camera, but it would make a fabulous second unit camera. And even though I don't work in 4k I can see the benefits. The only problem I see is the RED scarlet as competition wipes the floor with the JVC, but since JVC will actually build and sell it (within my lifetime) I call it a win.

EDIT: its interesting that it actually records 4 quadrants of 1080p onto separate SD cards and not a single 4k stream, they supply software that stitches the streams together, I wonder how the sensor scans and if you would get one instance of rolling shutter/flash band or 4?