Our Camera, our friend: the JVC GY-HD100

It’s sad to see the things that once were essential for survival laying casually in a corner collecting dust. One of our more work-horse type cameras, a JVC GY-HD100, is just such a story. Originally bought for the production of a television series, it set a standard for HD footage that was easily compatible with our software and computers. We’ve had many cameras since, but none have had the durability and easy operations as the JVC.

Our JVC GY-HD100

It’s fallen over, been filled with sand, rained on, shook up and beat down, but it always powered up, always stayed the day and always got the shot. Now it’s just sitting there. The reason for this is our lean towards the DSLRs of late. Clients are demanding them and like any industry, if you aren’t on top of what’s hot, your bank account goes cold. But the JVC has many good qualities as well, the main one being its light weight and how easily it’s carried. We’ve used the DSLRs on several occasions involving stairs and moving, all of which proved more difficult than with the JVC. It’s designed to go on your shoulder, and everything you need is easily found, from a quick white balance button to several record switches. The other advantage is the audio. DSLRs pretty much suck when it comes to audio recording, picking up more ambiance and surround than one focused point. Usually we record to a ZOOM and line it up in post. There are newer mics coming out, but that does us no good now. The JVC has ports for XLR cables, headphones and audio outs, as well as it’s own shotgun (or bayonet) mic attachement. It’s never given us trouble. The one down side to the JVC isn’t really that down. It’s the tape. DSLRs film to a Secure Digital (SD) card, and these on occasion go bad or get wiped or mixed up. They also get lost when trudging through multiple hands and locations. SD cards can also get expensive, especially when bought on the run, and can cost as much as fifty dollars for an 8 gig card. They are easy to find, though the quality of card differs greatly from a CVS drugstore to your camera shop. That quality makes a difference. The JVC records to a mini DV tape, also HD, and while bulky when compared to a SD card, once you have it on tape, you have it. It’s not easy to accidentally erase a 90 minute tape. They’re easily labeled and though storage space becomes an issue, it’s not an impassable one. The downsides are time and more time. Capturing tape can take longer than simply ‘dumping’ an SD card. With rewinding and eject/replace alone, you can lose valuable minutes of daylight when shooting outside. We’ve also noticed that some clients like having tape-stock to go back to. With everything being digital, there’s a chance of power failures and wipe-outs. With tape you just go back and recapture. With digital, you’re re-filming.
The price of our JVC is constant with the more current models, and that’s far pricier than some DSLRs (though with lenses and all the rigs needed to do anything effectively, you’re shelling out the same amount). Newer entrants into film making may never have to pay the thousands we did for a camera. But they will if they want a good one.

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