We recently tested JVC’s TD1 3D camcorder, rating it as the best 3D shooter there is right now. But in case you don’t have £1600 to burn, JVC would like to tempt you with the HM960 for around half the money. The main reason it can slash so much cash off the price is that while the HM960 outputs 3D footage, it only records in 2D.
So while the Panasonic TM900 has a dual-lens splitter attachment, the JVC TD1 has two independent lenses, and Sony’s TD10E has two lenses plus a pair of sensors, the HM960’s 3D hardware is all contained in a chip that "up-dimensions" your footage in realtime, sending it out to a 3D display via an HDMI cable or to the glasses-free 3D LCD.
Does it work?
With just one lens, the camera doesn’t actually know what’s in front of what, so it has to guess. Sometimes it guesses quite well, placing large, well defined shapes (such as road signs or tree braches) in the foreground.
However, busy scenes with a lot of movement present a challenge, and it’s common to see certain objects or sections of the background snapping back and forth in the 3D field. It also has a curious tendency to roll out the lower third of the display towards the viewer. Yes, it adds depth, but whether it really brings anything to the viewing experience beyond a short-lived novelty is doubtful.
Back in 2D
Standard 2D footage is far more impressive. Partly thanks to an unusually large 0.5in, 10MP CMOS sensor, the Full HD footage the HM960 captures is sharp and detailed in both natural and artificial lighting conditions. Colour reproduction is particularly striking. Purists might think that the 960’s image processor is pushing its luck, boosting colours almost to the point of unreality, but if you like vibrant colours then this is a cam to consider.
Review continues after the break…
Like all recent Everios, the HM960 has a small body flanked by an outsized 3.5in touchscreen LCD panel that creates a strangely stylish ‘overbite’. It’s a good looking camcorder, comfortable in the hand and easy to use.
The HM960’s 3D capabilities can’t match those of the TD1, but it won’t hurt your bank balance as much either, and as a 2D camcorder it actually trumps all of its similarly priced 2D-only rivals, which makes it more of a triumph than a disappointment.
The First Hour
It looks far less daunting than a twin-lensed camcorder...
...and the touchscreen actually responds to touches
That 3D LCD seems a little uneven
Colours are cartoonishly powerful
The mic desperately needs a popshield
The usual 3D nausea has arrived