Video / Hands-on Review

3D Video with the JVC GY-HMZ1U


3D video is proving to be a lot more than just a passing fad. More and more movies are being released in 3D, and new 3D TVs are being announced all the time. Newer still are 3D camcorders, which can produce 3D video at the touch of a button. Such is the case with the JVC Professional Products GY-HMZ1U ProHD 3D camcorder.

Normally, if you want to create 3D video you have to invest in a stereoscopic 3D rig, two identical HD camcorders and maybe even a matched pair of lenses. Then you have to mount and align everything with great precision and perform a little bit of voodoo to create the final footage. Or you can simply purchase JVC’s new GY-HMZ1U ProHD 3D camcorder and start shooting 3D video right out of the box.


3D Camcorder can capture 3D video, 3D still images and 3D time-lapsed recordings, as well as 2D content. It features dual lenses, dual image sensors and a 3.5-inch, 920,000-dot LCD touch screen that can display 3D images without requiring you to wear 3D glasses. The dual f/1.2–2.28 lenses offer 5x optical zoom in 3D modes and 10x zoom in 2D modes. A 200x digital zoom is also featured. A big blue illuminated button on the back of the camera shines brightly to indicate that the camera is in 3D mode, and goes dim to indicate 2D mode.

3D images can be recorded as either AVCHD or MVC files. Each of the dual 3.3-megapixel image sensors can capture a 1920 x 1080 full HD signal, and the two signals can be recorded and encoded as a single MVC file. A variant of AVCHD MPEG-4 compression, MVC files contain both left- and right-eye information, or double the information of a 2D HD file. A 3D AVCHD file contains a side-by-side image of 960 x 1080 pixels. Note that 3D video can be recorded at 60i to capture smooth action shots, or at 24p for a film-like effect. The camera can also record 2D AVCHD video.

In addition to 3D video, the GY-HMZ1U can also record 3D audio using its built-in 3D stereo microphones. It can record biphonic 3D sound as dual-channel AAC, or two-channel Dolby Digital in 2D video modes. If you want to record even better-quality sound, the camera features dual XLR inputs for use with a shotgun mic or wireless audio receiver. The camera comes with a detachable handle that houses a shotgun mic holder, but you’ll have to purchase microphones separately.

Not just a gimmicky 3D camcorder, the GY-HMZ1U is also a full-featured 2D camcorder with all the bells and whistles you would find on any other high-end HD camcorder. It features an Advanced Image Stabilizer and can shoot in lighting conditions as low as 4 lux. You can simply turn on the camcorder and start shooting in a fully automatic mode or you can set things manually, such as shutter speed and white balance, just as you like them.

Outputs include mini HDMI for connecting to an HDTV set and USB 2.0 for transferring content to a computer. The camcorder features 64GB of internal memory so you can start shooting right out of the box without having to invest another penny. Or you can use SDHC/SDXC cards if you need more storage space or simply prefer using removable media.

You might think that the GY-HMZ1U would be somewhat cumbersome with its 3D feature set, but you’d be wrong. Small in size and well balanced, the camcorder is only 4 inches wide by 2.5 inches high by 7.3 inches long and weighs only 1.49 pounds without the handle attached and it is 5.3 inches wide by 6 inches high by 9.2 inches long and weighs 2.2 pounds with the handle attached.

Using the GY-HMZ1U camcorder is a lot of fun. In 3D mode, everything you aim at appears on the 3.5-inch LCD in sharp, glorious 3D. It’s really quite astonishing how much depth shows up in the image. Different viewing modes let you see the 3D image, just the left image, just the right image or a 2D image. You can also see how bringing the camcorder too close to a subject—say, less than a foot or so—causes a double image to appear. If you need to shoot extreme close-ups you’ll have to do it in 2D.

You can always view your recorded material right on the camcorder’s display. But you have a few options when it comes time to view the material outside the camera. To play back the full-HD 3D MVC files you can connect the camera to an active 3D display via HDMI and you’ll have to put on a pair of active-shutter glasses to see the 3D effect. Similarly you can also connect the camera to a passive 3D display and put on circular polarized glasses to view the 3D image. The camera lets you switch between independent (sequential) or side-by-side 3D outputs, depending on the display you’re using. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a glasses-free 3D TV, you can simply plug in and watch with your naked eyes.

Preparing the 3D content for general public viewing outside the camera is a simple matter. JVC will be bundling Media Browser 3D software with the camcorder. The software allows data management, editing and outputting of 3D side-by-side Blu-ray video, so that anyone with an appropriate player and monitor can enjoy your 3D production. 2D AVCHD video can be processed using any traditional HD-capable equipment and workflow.

If you’re an indy filmmaker or amateur 3D buff, then this is the camcorder for you. But even if you’re in the market for a 2D HD camcorder and 3D isn’t a priority, the GY-HMZ1U will meet all of your needs and then some—you’ll always be able to shoot in 3D should the need or desire arise.

Image Sensor 2x 1/4.1" Type, 3.32 Mp (back-illuminated) CMOS
Lens JVC 3D Twin HD GT (dual lenses)
Optical Zoom 3D: 5x
2D: 10x
Digital Zoom 200x (max)
F Number 3D: f/1.2-2.28
2D: f/1.2-2.8
Image Stabilization Advanced Image Stabilizer (A.I.S.)
Shutter Speed 1/2 to 1/4000 sec
Gain On/Off
Minimum Illumination 4 lux
LCD Display 3.5" (8.9 cm) wide, 920,000 pixels
Video Formats 3D Video
HQ (1920 x 1080 x2 24p, VBR, 34 Mb/s), THR (1920 x 1080 x2 60i, VBR, 34 Mb/s), TSR (1920 x 1080 x2 60i, VBR, 22 Mb/s)
TXP (960 x 1080 x2 60i, VBR, 17 Mb/s), TSP (960 x 1080 x2 60i, VBR, 12 Mb/s)

2D Video
UXP (1920 x 1080 60i, VBR, 24 Mb/s), XP (1920 x 1080 60i, VBR, 17 Mb/s), SP (1920 x 1080 60i, VBR, 12 Mb/s), EP (1920 x 1080 60i, VBR, 5 Mb/s)

Audio Format 3D (MVC/AVCHD): AAC 2-channel, biphonic 3D sound
2D (AVCHD): Digital Dolby 2-channel
Still Capture 3D: MPO
Recording Media Internal flash memory (64 GB), SDXC/SDHC/SD card
Outputs 1x HDMI (mini)
1x USB 2.0 (mini)
1x 3.5mm stereo mini jack (headphones)
Inputs 1x 3.5 stereo mini jack (microphone)
2x XLR (L/R, microphone)
Power Requirements 11V DC (using AC adapter)
7.2V DC (using battery)
Power Consumption 4.8W (3D mode)
3.8W (2D mode)
Operating Temperature 32 to 104°F (0 to 40°C)
Storage Temperature 18 to 140°F (-10 to 60°C)
Operating Humidity 30-80%
Dimensions (HxWxD) With handle: 6.0 x 5.3 x 9.2" (153 x 134 x 234mm)
Weight With handle and battery: 2.2 lb (1 kg)

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Discussion 4

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can you buy the detachable xlr adoptor. i.e the handle where the microphone mounts?

We do not carry it separately, sorry.

What is the Inter Axial distance on the camcorder and minimum focus distance?  I dont see this key bit of information spec'd in many 3D camcorders.

When is the expected release date for this camcorder!