JVC Everio GZ-MG37
- Easy to use, nice design, long zoom
- Poor video quality, poor still quality
A well designed camcorder that offers 32x optical zoom and an impressive 30GB of storage space, however it is let down by poor image quality.
Price$ 1,099.00 (AUD)
JVC seems to have a hard disk camcorder for every occasion, with five models now on offer in the Everio range. The GZ-MG37 is the second lowest priced of the group, which is apparent when comparing the quality of its video and stills to its more expensive siblings. However, the image quality is still decent enough and the diminutive device actually packs a few features that are absent from the pricier models.
It's always nice to get outside when using a camcorder, so on this occasion it was off to the Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney. Enlisting the help of some friendly co-testers we set out to put the GZ-MG37 through its paces. The first comments from the group were positive. Like the whole Everio range the small GZ-MG37 is very easy to use. With a compact, lightweight frame it was no problem at all to lug the camcorder out into the wilderness. The simple control mechanism is also a great advantage. After the sleek 2.7in widescreen LCD is flipped open, the user is presented with an intuitive five-way control panel, from which most picture settings can be adjusted.
The huge 32x optical zoom also proved an advantage when homing in on distant features. However, at is highest zoom level the image stabiliser struggled to keep the picture steady; in fact anything beyond 15x began to look a little jittery. 800x digital zoom is also offered, though we found it to be unnecessary. One of the other great features of this model is the large 30GB hard drive, which is good for seven hours of high quality video, though of course the battery won't last this long. We typically managed to get about an hour out of the camera before having to recharge. It's a good idea to carry a backup battery if you plan on going on lengthy excursions.
As was to be expected from the relatively low price tag, video quality wasn't all that great. We found pictures to be a little grainy and indistinct, especially when filming areas of high contrast with lots of detail. The camcorder struggled to pick out areas of varying saturation, overexposing patchy clouds hovering above Echo Point in the mountains even though it wasn't an especially bright day. Colour reproduction was also patchy, with brighter, vivid tones appearing insipid and dull. There weren't too many traces of compression artefacts however, which is nice to see from a camcorder of this type.
Moving on to low light footage we were also disappointed. The GZ-MG37 really struggled with the lighting at dusk, giving a poor performance compared to other cameras from JVC's range. Using the manual settings, which allow adjustment of aperture, shutter speed, white balance and focus, we were able to make a few improvements. The biggest improvement came from adjusting shutter speed, but although brightness was far better, video took on a distinctly grainy appearance. Unlike the more expensive models in the Everio range, JVC has thrown in a high powered LED to provide additional lighting on this model, though we found it to be underpowered.
Although the GZ-MG37 also offers still image capture, we wouldn't advise using this feature for anything but the most essential snapshots. The 640x480 images are the equivalent to the pictures from the most basic camera phones on the market, and are certainly not good enough for making even 4 x 6in prints. There isn't much in the way of other connections, with no microphone input, or Firewire. Video is output to television via composite or S-Video.
After the 30GB hard drive is full you'll want to transfer the videos to some alternate media. For this you'll need a PC or Mac with USB connection. Copying videos is simply a matter of using drag and drop in your file browser and as full instructions are provided, it's a very intuitive process. From here you can choose whether you wish to store the videos on your computer's hard drive or copy them to DVD.
Overall the MG37 is a well designed camcorder, in the same vein as all of JVC's Everio range. There's even a larger zoom and an LED light too. What this model lacks, however, is the video quality of the more expensive units, which for us is the most important feature of any camcorder.
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