The JVC GY-HMQ10 is a very affordable 4K camcorder that I first saw at NAB and I’ve since had it it for a couple of days here in the UK so here is part one of my JVC GY-HMQ10 Review.
I’m curious about 4K – I don’t believe we’re all about to ditch HD and head towards 4K Nirvana but having viewed some 4K material both on the big screen at NAB and seen some 4K demonstrations I do think it offers a more immersive viewer experience than 3D I can also see some advantages when acquiring 4K and posting on a 1080P timeline.
In my last blog post I talked about 4k Acquisition and the range of 4K cameras that were being paraded at NAB this year.
The JVC GMY-HMQ10 4K camcorder will record 4K internally using MPEG-4/AVC/H.264 (.mp4) 4 stream separate recording at 144 mb/s (VBR) and in HD mode will record in AVC HD at 28mb’s (50/60P ) and 24mb/s at 1920×2080/60P/60i//50P/50i.
So where does the JVC HMQ10 sit?
The JVC GYHMQ10 is not trying to be a 4K cinema camera – It’s not a Red, F65 or C500/1Dc threat. Rather I see this as a perfect camcorder for events and weddings. It’s a fully functioning HD camcorder that shoots 1080P and 4K up to 60P. I see this as an acquisition tool that could be locked off on a ceremony and left to run. Then when in post you could set your timeline to 1080P and have scope to pan and scan within the image and even created digital camera moves.
My first shoot with the JVC HMQ10
I’ve since had a chance to use this camera for a weekend and so I wanted to share with you my experience on location and the workflow I used to backup, transfer and Verify the data.
I’m in Dublin for a couple of days working so I wanted to let you know my initial experiences – this blog will be a 2 part experience part 1 Shooting and data wrangling and part 2 will look at post and more closely look at the images recorded.
Shooting on Location with the JVC HMQ10
I took this camera to Edinburgh for the weekend and decided to travel really light so I only had the Camcorder and a JOBY Gorilla Pod. I wanted to test my theory on Pan and Scan in 4K so limited by my gorilla pod (no pan and tilt in camera) all of the shots would be locked off.
One thing to note is the camera does not have any built in ND filters – I’m told that due to the resolution of 4K in such a small form factor, putting the appropriate ND filters of the right quality is near impossible in a camera of that size. However the camera has a small sensor and so if you’ve been used to Super 35mm or DSLR then the camera will feel poor in low light compared to what you are used to with big sensors. So this means you are more likely to add gain when shooting and too much light will rarely be a problem.
Using Auto Gain…
When I spoke to JVC prior to receiving the camera their advice was to shoot with auto gain enabled. This is counter intuitive to me and not something I’d ordinarily do in HD as it increases visible noise and in my experience degrades the image. But I was assured that this camcorder handles the gain very well and that the increased noise is not ‘ugly’ so that’s what I did.
While I was shooting, the camera would auto set the gain level between 0db and +18db. This left me feeling somewhat at the mercy of the camera but I took the advice and we’ll see how the images look when I edit the piece, the pictures certainly looked noise free on the LCD but I’ll publish my scrutinised findings when I return from Dublin.
The Menu is driven entirely by the touch screen with some familiar hard switches on the lens chassis. The camera has a 10x optical zoom with a traditional zoom rocker that is variable speed controlled on the handle side of the camcorder.
To manually control shutter and Iris you have to press the corresponding button and then adjust using the ADJ wheel. To change from manual to auto focus there is a hard switch. Gain and WB are selected via traditional hard switches and there is an additional WB set button on the front of the camera.
Media and mini HDMI outage located under the LCD Screen. The camera takes 4 SDXC cards (class 10m or above are essential – any slower and the data will simply not write to the cards).
There are 4 mini HDMI outputs that will allow you to connect to a 4K monitor – but since most of us don’t have such a screen, you can take a down-converted 1080P signal out from HDMI A for monitoring – this also means you can use an HD monitor or and EVF with the camera when shooting to take advantage of a larger screen when focusing.
When you open the LCD Screen (put in size) you will see 3 user assignable buttons, a CAM/MEDIA select and an info button.
The Menus are touch screen driven and very intuitive. You will very easily navigate around these menus without having to resort to the manual.
The camera has 2 rec start/stop buttons which I found useful. Both are located n the side handle and I like the ability to start/stop recording from two positions.
The eyepiece pulls out to give angular movement which was useful in bright sunshine.The screen is small so focusing from it was a little tricky. For critical focus I’d be inclined to use my Zacuto EVF which could easily be mounted on the cold shoe on top of the camera and plugged into mini HDMI port A.
For the most part I used the camera in a stripped down configuration – the top handle can be removed if you do not need the XLR inputs and the external mic – the camera has a built in stereo mic. These mic’s are always gong to be vulnerable to wind noise and handling by their very nature but for reference audio it was fine. When shooting in 50/60P there is no audio recorded.
Focusing in 4K
When you are working at this resolution focusing is difficult – more so than even HD. There is a focus assist function. This turns the image black and white and uses colour to show you focus. This was pretty useful as when you are focusing with that much resolution it’s tricky.
Packing a 1.2/3 ” 8.4MP sensor with enough pixels to acquire 4K has a downside and it’s a loss in sensitivity – I’ve become very spoiled with my Super 35mm sensor on the Sony FS100 and my DSLRS so it was a bit of a shock going back to a small sensor – however the added resolution means you just have to adapt your way of working and when shooting in daylight I didn’t find it to be a problem.
First you have to copy each card and all the contents of the card onto a folder on your computer hard drive. I was using a GTech GRaid Mini and firewire 800 – certain an eSATA card would have meant faster transfer speeds but I found that I could copy 9.48GB in about 8 minutes. I suggest you create corresponding folders labels A, B, C & D on your drive and then copy each card sequentially.
The JVC file transfer software currently only works on a MAC running FCPX.
You start the software and select each virtual card in turn. N.B. You cannot import directly from the cards you must copy them first and then elect the virtual card from your drive.
You then grab each folder one by one to ingest each card, then the software joys up the 4 quadrants of the 4K image and creates one ProRes file that sits in FCP X. You can select ProRes Proxy, ProRes 422, ProResLT and ProRes HQ to convert your files with. I’ve been testing with ProRes 422.
This conversion process does take some time and will be dictated by the speed of your machine and the speed of the hard drives you are writing the files to. I recorded a day’s filming (around 80 minutes of B-Roll) and it took several hours to convert (I didn’t count exactly – but I went to bed and left it running).
The resulting files are huge and so you need to bear this in mind, the 80 minutes of rushes converted became 223GB once converted. Then again you are recording 4 x HD resolution so as I mentioned last week you do have to consider larger storage.
Once complete you just set up a new EVENT in FCP X and import the files. Then you just edit – it really is that simple.
Good old FCP X… I know there is still great deal of resistance to FCP X and I do sympathise with editors who have heavily invested in FCP 7 and the associated hardware. But as I’ve mentioned before, I took the decision too embrace FCP X in December and so far am not looking back. I did hear that Adobe CS.6 is also a very exciting NLE with a huge new feature set. But for now I’m enjoying FCP X and am going to keep going with it. I will write about my FCP X journey when I find the time…
You should use whatever NLE best suits your workflow and hardware system set up. Just don’t be afraid of change as some of the features of FCP X are just brilliant and it is very very fast. I still fundamentally edit the same way just some of the functions are different and for the most part I’m learning to love them.
Once I’ve had a chance to edit a piece I’ll post a follow up with some clips and an edit.
Full details of the camera can be found at JVC Professional