Until now, shooting home video in 3D has seemed an afterthought, achieved via optional lenses with limited functionality. JVC’s new flagship GS-TD1 changes is the most advanced 3D consumer camcorder we’ve seen to date.
3D on the GS-TD1 is not an optional extra. Twinned HD GT lenses are integrated into the camcorder’s body. Behind each is a 3.32MP 1CMOS sensor. These feed into the camera’s imaging engine, dubbed Falconbrid, which simultaneously processes the two streams. The result is a 1920 x 1080i 3D image recorded in essentially the same MP4 MVC (MultiView codec) format used for Blu-ray.
MVC is not the TD1’s default 3D recording format though, that’s Side-by-Side AVCHD. The reason being AVCHD recordings are far easier to edit and archive than Full HD MVC.
Naturally, you can also in shoot regular 2D AVCHD on the GS-TD1. When shooting flat only the left hand lens is actually used. Video is recorded to the camcorder’s internal 64GB flash drive, but capacity can be supplemented with SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.
You don’t need to wear 3D glasses to enjoy your 3D footage. The TD1’s 3.5inch touch-panel monitor is not only bright and sharp, it’s autostereocopic. This means you can view footage or compose your scene in 3D, without having to wear special glasses. A large circular 3D button on the back of the cam switches the display between dimensions.
The camcorder itself is well built, but the unusual shape takes some getting used to. The rectangular body has a slightly awkward balance. Familiarising yourself with the operating logic of the rear-placed buttons and onscreen menus also takes time. This is not an intuitive camcorder to use straight from the box.
JVC GS-TD1: 3D picture quality
Footage shot in AVCHD 3D has enormous depth. Frame correctly and subjects pop out of the screen. Unlike material captured by rival Panasonic 3D cams, the TD1 delivers a full-frame 3D image without black borders. Throw in the ability to use a x5 optical zoom and you end up with stereo footage that looks profoundly professional (cameraman not withstanding). We did notice some crosstalk double imaging, but JVC provides an adjustment tool via the touchscreen to help you minimise the effect.
You’ll need to think carefully before shooting in the Full HD MVC 3D format. There’s no doubt that it offers the best possible 3D image quality, but archiving could prove a challenge. To copy it to Blu-ray media you’ll need a compliant BD burner (JVC actually recommends the LG BE08LU20). Compatible editing software is supplied in the box.
Alternatively, you could copy your footage onto an external hard drive. AVCHD 3D is much easier to edit and distribute, but it has only half the resolution. The fact that this camcorder gives you the choice, though, is nothing short of astonishing. The ability to shoot digital still images in 3D is also a significant bonus.
JVC GS-TD1: 2D performance and verdict
As a 2D camcorder the TD1 can be considered rather good, although we feel a 3CMOS device would beat it for colour and shadow subtlety in a shootout. Clarity is excellent in all AVCHD 2D recording modes.
The JVC GS-TD1 takes 3D videography to a new level. It offers more options than any other 3D camcorder seen to date, with a performance that often borders on astonishing. As a 2D shooter it doesn’t disappoint, but it’s in 3D that the GS-TD1 really excels.
JVC GS-TD1 price: £1599.99, link JVC
JVC GS-TD1 launch date: Out now