All Weather Performer: JVC Everio Quad-Proof Camcorder

JVC tries to serve up a light yet tough all-weather camera at an affordable price. Image © JVC

Remember when shooting home videos entailed plopping a VHS camcorder on your shoulder that looked more like a mini rocket launcher? I can feel the nostalgia seeping in already. These days, I use a Canon HV20 camcorder that comfortably fits in the palm of my hands. It’s a solid video camera that served me well through the years. When I went to Schlitterbahn water park in San Antonio, however, I ended up shooting video with my iPhone and Galaxy S3 phones instead. See, as much as I love my current camcorder, it isn’t waterproof. So I ended up using an iPhone with a Hitcase Pro and an S3 with a Seidio Obex waterproof case to film my wet and wild Texas adventure.

It’s just the kind of scenario that JVC likely had in mind with its Everio Quad-Proof camcorder. Marketed as a camcorder for outdoor enthusiasts, the Everio Quad-Proof can withstand a lot of abuse from both users and the elements. In fact, it gets its name from the fact that it can deal with, well, four things. For starters, the device is shock proof and can survive a drop from a distance of 1.5 meters or nearly 5 feet. It’s also dustproof and freezeproof, able to withstand temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit or minus 10 degrees Celsius. Lastly, the device is waterproof and can resist a depth of 5 meters or 16.4 feet. Its built-in mic even comes with a feature that helps cut wind noise. Sound quality on the mic, however, is not the great and you tend to get tinny, muffled audio.

In addition to its rugged features, the Everio Quad-Proof also boasts an eminently portable size. Thanks to fewer moving parts, the camera is smaller and lighter than my HV20, making it easy to carry around. Just note that it can be a bit too light so you'll really want to use a tripod to reduce camera shake unless you have the hand stability of a statue. Available memory varies depending on whether you get the $400 GZ-R10 or the $500 GZ-R70. The R70 comes with an auto illuminating light as well as 32GB worth of built-in storage capacity. The R10, on the other hand, requires you to buy a memory card to use with the device. Otherwise, the devices are quite similar.

Operation is quite simple. The camera does not come with a power button so you turn it on or off by either opening or closing the LCD screen. The Everio Quad-Proof does not come with a viewfinder, which helps keep it compact but also means you can’t prolong the 4.5-hour battery life by keeping the LCD screen closed as using it is mandatory. Meanwhile, you can zoom in or out using the zoom button — 40X optically or 60X through Dynamic Zoom, though I don’t recommend using the latter as video quality really suffers as a result. One downside is that the design of the zoom button makes it harder to get a smooth continuous zoom on the fly compared to the excellent toggle seen in the HV20. The camcorder also features facial detection to improve focus, which works well if you are taking video of a person but also gets annoying if you’re trying to focus on something else and there happens to be a random person in the background. Output is high-definition at 1920-by-1080 with a frame rate of 60p.

The camera also lets you use camera effects and time lapse as well as do limited editing in the form of trimming video. To transfer videos to your computer, you can directly connect the camcorder via USB or just copy it from the memory card if you’re using one.

One downside of its waterproof design is that accessing your ports and memory card slot can be a bit of a pain. You also can’t swap batteries, which can be an issue during extended shooting. The user interface for the LCD screen, meanwhile, is unwieldy and touchscreen performance isn’t as responsive as I’d like. Video quality, meanwhile, is not as good as my Canon camcorder in good lighting though it does perform better in low light, which the HV20 is notoriously bad at. Unlike the HV20, the Quad Proof does not come with a 24p shooting mode for folks who want to use a movie-style frame rate.

Ultimately, the Everio Quad Proof camera is not something you get if you put a premium on the best video quality possible from a camcorder. Instead, it’s a camera for folks who want a rugged camcorder at an affordable price. If your priorities lie more within the latter, then the JVC Everio Quad Proof becomes a more viable option.

Final rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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