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Ruslan Chernov
Ruslan Chernov

JVC MiniDV And Generic Camcorder USB Drivers And Software XP And Download _VERIFIED_

To use a camcorder (or other camera) as a webcam, the camcorder will need audio and video output ports such as HDMI or USB. Then install some webcam software, like Logitech Capture, and connect the camcorder to your computer via USB or HDMI cable.

JVC MiniDV And Generic Camcorder USB Drivers And Software XP And Download

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:While shopping for a MiniDV camera, I fairly quickly focused in on the entry level offerings from Canon and JVC. Canon's basic cameras (the ZR80 and ZR85) and JVC's GR-D33 were all candidates. My wife and I looked at the Canon cameras at a CompUSA one weekend and thought that the controls were straightforward and clear. The JVC is similar, and in fact my wife preferred the JVC's spring-loaded toggle zoom control to the paired wide angle and telephoto buttons on the Canon cameras. Both brands offered certain strengths and weaknesses. The Canon cameras came with good lenses and hand straps that were well-regarded in some online reviews, but they lacked s-video outputs and built-in lights and their low light operation was not particularly good. The JVC offered an s-video output, built-in LED light, and excellent low light performance, but it had a strap that at least one online reviewer considered cheap and it lacked a hot shoe for adding a separate light. Battery life was slightly better with the Canon cameras, but in both cases the stock battery was limited to little over one hour with the LCD display open. The JVC was also available online for a few dollars less than the ZR80 and about $35 less than the ZR85. In the end, we went with the JVC GR-D33 and ordered it from Abe's of Maine as part of a basic bundle.The GR-D33 is a fairly typical MiniDV camera, with a good core array of features. These features include:2.5" LCD High Resolution MonitorColor ViewfinderBuilt-in Auto light using twin LED lights for 1/10 the power consumption1/6-inch 680,000 Pixel CCD16X Optical ZoomDigital Image Stabilizer16:9 Squeeze ModePCM Digital Stereo AudioBlack FaderDigital Wipes and FadesHigh Density Image Recording, Mini DV NTSC (SD specifications)BN-V408U 800 mAh Lithium-ion, High Capacity, rechargeable battery packi.Link Digital Input/Output (IEEE 1394 compliant) DV in/outShoulder strap, AC Adapter, Image Mixer for Windows Software and AV output cablesS-Video OutputI've used a number of video cameras over the years, but most of my past experience has been with old shoulder-resting VHS-based units. MiniDV cameras are a lot smaller. Back when the VHS-C and Hi8 cameras first started the trend of palm-held cameras, the result was far too many home videos that included a constant nausea-inducing shakiness reminscent of Blair Witch Project's worst moments, so for many years I preferred the bulkier VHS- and SVHS-based units because of the greater stability afforded by the added mass. Today, consumer grade cameras are exclusively palm-held, but fortunately digital image stabilizing and the ubiquitous 2.5" flip-out LCD monitors make it a lot easier to shoot steady video with a modern camera. The palm-held cameras are also better suited for using with inexpensive tripods (such as those intended for use with still cameras), since they weigh significantly less than the big shoulder-held cameras – dad's S-VHS camcorder works just fine on his aluminum tripod, but it always feels like it is about to cause my plastic tripod to snap in half if I'm not careful. Even after having experimented a bit with cameras at a couple of stores, I found that the small size and light weight of the GR-D33 took a little getting used to after years of wrestling with shoulder-held camcorders.GR-D33 and accessoriesThe camera comes with a standard battery, AC adapter, A/V cable (with stereo audio and composite video connections), a core filter for use with an s-video cable, a shoulder strap, a lens cap, and a CD-ROM with some computer software. In addition to these goodies, the package we bought from Abe's of Maine included a carrying case, UV lens filter (for outdoor shooting), and three tapes. I also dug out a spare s-video cable so I could make use of the s-video output. The camera that Abe's of Maine sent me had been opened before (brown packing tape around the bubble-wrapped camera and bubble-wrapped accessories, lens cap already attached to the camera, etc.), as if it was a returned unit or a display model. I sent them an e-mail about this, which was returned inviting me to call their call center (which, like many others, has been outsourced to India). After about 15 minutes on hold, I spoke to a customer service representative; he informed me that they had instituted a holiday policy of opening all products and testing them to make sure they were working properly. This is actually a pretty smart move, as I'm sure it cuts down on their returns and is likely to reduce the number of customers who end up grumbling about products that arrive DOA, but I would have recommended a note to round out the testing process. Something along the lines of "Inspected by Abe's of Maine" could have saved some confusion. The camera itself feels pretty comfortable in the hand. It is more difficult to keep steady than a shoulder-held camera, but nothing a little practice and care can't overcome. The lens cap has a small clip that allows it to "park" on the front of the hand strap, which is a nice touch.return to top

SETUP:The GR-D33 weighs about the same as any comparable camcorder, tipping the scales at around 1.1 pounds without a battery or tape and 1.3 pounds with a tape and standard battery on board. The camera will charge attached batteries when plugged in to the included AC adapter, although charging only takes place when the camera is off. You can also buy a third party rapid battery charger (many of which will also work from a car's 12VDC power socket) and additional batteries if you want, and at the very least an extra battery is probably a good idea. I ordered a 2-hour battery straight from JVC to provide backup for the included 1-hour battery – surprisingly, the JVC Accessory Store had some of the best prices around, although the 2-hour battery (BN-V416U) was backordered a couple of weeks.Before getting too far with the camera, it is worthwhile to take a look at the settings available in the camera's menus. The GR-D33 offers separate menus for Automatic mode, Manual mode, and Playback mode. The modes are selected using the multi-position power switch on the right rear of the camera (options are Manual, Automatic, Off, and Play), and some menu items appear in more than one mode. To enter the menus, you push down on a scroll wheel at the top rear of the camera, to the right of the viewfinder. Navigating through the menus is done using that same scroll wheel. In Automatic mode, there are only a few options: record speed (SP or LP, for 60 minutes or 90 minutes of recording on a 60 minute tape), sound mode (12 bit or 16 bit, where 12 bit allows audio dubbing while 16 bit offers "CD quality" sound), zoom (no digital zoom allowed or one of two levels of available digital zoom), snap mode (for recording still pictures as video "snapshots"), and gain up (for control of brightness gain options). In Manual mode, many more control options are available, including disabling digital image stabilization, enabling tele macro (to allow the camera to focus on objects as close as two feet from the lens as compared to the standard three and a half foot minimum distance), wide mode (for standard 4:3 recording, widescreen letterboxing, or anamorphic squeezing), and wind cut (to help reduce wind noise in the audio recording). Other Manual menu settings apply to playback mode as well: system beep, whether or not remote control operation is allowed (the default is "on" but the manual recommends it be changed to "off" for the GR-D33), a demonstration mode, display priority between LCD monitor and viewfinder, and reset. Camera display options include brightness adjustment, the option to overlay the camcorder's display on just the LCD or on the LCD and the video output, date and time display, time code, and clock adjustments. Entering the menu while in Playback mode offers access to many of the same menus as in Manual mode, plus a few playback-specific controls for sound mode (stereo, left only, or right only) and narration (for dubbing audio over the original audio recording). Most of these options can be left on their default settings. I did set the sound mode to 16 bit since I don't plan to do any audio dubbing. I also left the "gain up" option in its default position initially, although I plan to experiment with it a bit. The menu interface (scroll wheel that doubles as button) is simple and fairly effective, although not as intuitive as menu navigation buttons since the scroll wheel looks more like a focus or volume control knob (both of which are also functions to which it is assigned in some cases). I've seen similar interfaces before (my Panasonic Super-VHS VCR uses a scroll wheel/button combination on the remote for menu navigation), and they always feel somewhat unsteady. For a limited-space application like a camcorder, the scroll wheel is a sensible solution, and it makes accidental menu changes unlikely, but it wasn't exactly my favorite feature on the camera.While perusing the menus, you will spend a good bit of time looking at the LCD monitor (unless you elect to plug the camcorder into a TV), as the viewfinder is far too small for this sort of work. This offers a good chance to get familiar with the monitor. Using the monitor does cut into battery life, but it also makes filming a good bit easier, so most people will rely heavily on it. Following the well-established pattern for palm-held camcorders, the GR-D33's LCD monitor flips out perpendicular to the camera on the left and can be rotated freely around a swivel point. The range of rotation is from 90 down (so the screen faces the floor) to 180 up (so the screen faces forward). When rotated 180 up, the image flips over, making it appear upright to someone standing in front of the camera. While in this position, the screen can also be folded flat against the side of the camera. When folded flat, the latch partially engages, which worried me a bit the first time since the release is on the back of the screen at that point, but it doesn't fully engage and readily swings back out. This range of movement is standard for any modern palm-held camcorder, and the GR-D33 fortunately does not deviate from the standard.JVC, like many manufacturers, often uses the same basic chassis for several different models, adding features to the core as you move up the product line. The GR-D33 is the most basic of three cameras to share this chassis, with the GR-D73 and GR-D93 adding features such as a USB interface, support for still photography to an SD or MMC card, a remote control, and a larger CCD chip for the GR-D93. The GR-D33 appears to retain the remote sensor shared with its bigger siblings, but does not include the remote itself. For most things, the remote is unnecessary as the camera is already in your hand, but there could be instances (mainly when playing back your recordings) where a remote control could be handy. I considered grabbing my universal remote and doing a little experimenting, but after skimming through the manual and doing a few searches at the Remote Central forums I was unable to turn up any likely codes to try. There are a number of VCR codes listed in my MX-500's manual, which I may try at some point. JVC's online store also sells replacement remotes for the GR-D73 and GR-D93 for a little over $16, so GR-D33 owners can pick up one if they want to.Tape loading mechanismMiniDV camcorders carry on the longstanding tradition (broken only recently by the handful of DVD-based camcorders that have appeared on the market) of recording to a cassette tape, making the camcorder perhaps the last major segment of the consumer electronics industry to make effective and widespread use of a tape format. The MiniDV tapes are much smaller than traditional video tape, being a little over two and a half inches wide, less than two inches deep, and only half an inch thick. As with basically all MiniDV cameras, the tape loads on the right side, under the handgrip. Whereas many brands load from the top of the camera, the GR-D33 loads from below. This arrangement could potentially interfere with changing tapes while the camera is mounted to a tripod, which is exactly what happens with my tripod. The tape mechanism extends below the camera before popping the tape upward (triggering all sorts of flashbacks to the top-loading VCR's of yesteryear), and that mechanism runs smack in to the tripod's platform before it fully extends. Some tripods may make allowances for this, but as my tripod is a fairly generic brand I suspect that most will exhibit the same problem mine does. Before using the GR-D33, I thought that the top-loading approach was more logical and user-friendly than the bottom-loading approach used by JVC. Having now used a bottom-loading camera, I still think the top-loading approach is more conducive to changing tapes on the fly while the camera is being hand held, not to mention being significantly more compatible with tripods.return to top


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