JVC GC-PX10A Hybrid Camera – First Look

Recently I watched an engrossing television series called “Invisible Worlds” from BBC, where slow-motion cameras captured events that are usually outside of the human eye’s ability to see. When JVC mentioned their new camera to me that could shoot video at 250 frames a second, I immediately thought of the possibilities of recreating some of those slow-motion shots.

JVC's Hybrid camera... the best of both worlds?

As you may be aware from previous posts, I’m a huge advocate for getting people involved in digital photography, particularly making the plunge from a “point and shoot” pocket camera into an entry level DSLR. I think it’s a very rewarding hobby, where you can take a scene right in front of you and compose your own creative image that will be unique to anyone else’s.

DLSRs are becoming more accessible through lowering price points, and the firmware on some cameras are quite comprehensive in their guides and tips to create that perfect shot. The fact that DSLRs also happen to make quite good video segments has not been lost on reviewers or customers, and I’m betting that DSLRs are being used more now for short video pieces, be it for holidays, events or other spur-of-the-moment occasions. We even use one for our product segment productions.

On the other hand, camcorders have been losing pace due to this and other changes in the industry. JVC, who have a strong camcorder offering from basic flash to 3D camcorders, just announced a new product they call the “hybrid camera”, and gave me a sneak preview of their upcoming model in this range called the GC-PX10. This model displays some real innovation, which provides JVC with a defining point of difference.

Konica Minotla HD Lens with 10x optical zoom, 19x with no image degradation. Bird watching anyone?

The best way to describe this model is as a camera that records such high quality video that you can extract any frame of the video and use that as a digital still image. The technology behind this is JVC’s “Falconbrid” engine.

This processor records video at 36Mbps, in full high definition 1920 x 1080p, at 50 frames a second. The still images are equivalent to 2 megapixels, more than enough for basic photo printing.

If you want to take actual photos, then the camera utilises the same engine to produce high quality images with long burst shots. In 2½ seconds you can have 130 shots at a decent size of 8 megapixels.

Top left button above shutter release button is for selecting high speed burst shots. Top right button is for changing video resolution.

If you wind down the resolution, you can film 250 frames a second for 2 hours. Such a high frame rate lets you create some creative slow motion effects, or perhaps study the motion of an athlete or movements of a fast animal.

To round out the specs, the camera also comes with a 10x optical zoom and ISO6400, for good low light performance, and a 3” touch screen LCD for easy access to functions.

This camera would appeal to sports enthusiasts and outdoor hobbyists who are always looking to capture that one “perfect” shot. With this camera, the user simply keeps shooting video without the need to react in any one instant. The image they are looking for can be selected at leisure after the fact.

Unfortunately the sample I was given to play with was preloaded with the Japanese language setting, but I did manage to try some rudimentary settings. One of the camera-like features is the mode dial, which gives more control than a standard camcorder. The aperture priority for example, produced some nice background blur.

Mode dial, inspired by dedicated digital still cameras, aims to give camera users a familiar platform to work from.

The design is an interesting amalgamation of a camcorder and digital still camera, with an extended panel for a more camera-like grip and shot-taking. In fact, there are two separate active buttons, one for video recording (thumb), and one for still shots (index finger). It is possible to use both in tandem, as you can take reference still shots at an 8 megapixel size while recording video.

Red record button and front shot button are both easily activated with one hand.

Having HDMI on board means an easy connection to most large size TVs, as mini-HDMI cables are very common these days, and you’ll retain the original quality straight from the source.

Connectivity includes Headphone output, mic input, USB, and HDMI.

I’m keen to take this for a decent whirl, and I’ve been told there will be a chance to play with a local version very soon. I’m very interested in the slo-mo feature as well as seeing what the quality of the still captures from the video content is like.

So, a question to you… what kind of scenes would you like to see in slow-motion? The most creative and interesting idea (within practical limits!) will be produced and posted as part of a future update for this article.

Would you consider this hybrid model in place of a DSLR or ultrazoom still camera? Feel free to leave your comments below.