Smallest 3-CCD camcorder, ever: Everio GZ-MC500

It's sexy and incredibly compact, it records to an internal hard drive, and it's the first with a 5Mp, 3-CCD (charge-coupled device) image sensor. Unfortunately, a few quirks mar the GZ-MC500's initially impressive list of features. Some are subjective, like the awkward manual focus ring and fiddly switchgear; others are tangible, like no external microphone/accessory support, no internal viewfinder and an internal battery compartment that limits you to the supplied 800mAh cell.

That said, the GZ-MC500 is one of the best examples of camera/camcorder convergence yet. The supplied 4GB Microdrive will store an hour of high-quality MPEG-2 video at 8.5Mbps (lower-quality space-saving modes are also available), or an obscene amount of 2560x1920pixel stills. Previous Everio low-light issues have been partly reduced and the 3-CCD sensor provides improved colour sensitivity.

It's a bit slow off the mark, the video quality isn't a match for a similarly-priced 3-CCD MiniDV camcorder, and the video file format is currently only compatible with the supplied editing software. But this is tempered by the ability to quickly access and delete clips or stills on the fly, and easy file transfers to PC.

Verdict Solvent, style-conscious early adopters will love the Everio GZ-MC500 and it showcases the flexibility of hard disk-based recording. But there's a lot to weigh up before buying - particularly capacity. Another 4GB Microdrive will set you back around $350, so you'd need to be selective with your shooting on a long trip.

PIC: A great example of what you can achieve with hard disk recording, but not quite the product that we were hoping for.

JVC everio GZ-MC500

Price: $2800 Vendor: JVC Australia Phone: (03) 9558 8266 URL: www.jvc.com.au Specifications: 5Mp, 3x1/4.5in CCD; 2560x1920 max resolution; 10x optical zoom (8x for stills); F1.8 aperture; 1.8in LCD; 1/2-1/4000s shutter speed (1/500s for stills); ISO 100-200; integrated flash; 800mAh Li-Ion battery; 4GB Microdrive; SD card support; DPOF/PictBridge support; USB 2.0; 400g inc. battery etc.; 80x55x118mm

FEATURES 7 VALUE 5 OVERALL 6

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