Review: JVC Everio GZ-MS100

“It’s a YouTube camera … It’s a camcorder made for uploading YouTube clips … We think this cam will be great for sending videos to sites like YouTube.” Honestly, if I hear that phrase (or anything like it) one more time I’m going to punch the YouTube guys in the back of the head. Why? Because more than representing a simple distribution model, these days the moniker has come to represent just plain crappy video quality.

Now, thankfully, JVC’s Everio GZ-MS100 doesn’t suffer from YouTube bad-videoitis. In fact, this standard-definition lightweight shoots better video and has a much smarter feature set than most of its competitors. In fact, JVC knows that YouTubers can’t bear missing the latest police beating or Matthew McConaughey shirtless in the grocery store, so the MS100 is lightning-quick on startup. The 35x optical zoom allows you to capture the crushing blows and bothersome blemishes while keeping a safe distance. Plus, the nifty laser touch LCD makes you feel like a real cinematographer with speedy access to manual features.

While it’s nicely appointed, you’ve got to bridle at a couple things. First, there’s no optical image stabilization. Without it, you’ve got to have a steady hand or most of your footage is going look like a glitchy glob, particularly at the far end of the zoom range. Shaky image stabilization aside, the very nature of this camcorder calls into question its usefulness. While neither big nor expensive, there are other, better, ultra-simple run-and-gun camcorders out there. Most are smaller and cheaper too.

With this form factor at this price the MS100 is kind of stuck in the middle between the svelte flash-based AVCHD camcorders and the shirt pocket shooters from Flip, Kodak and Creative. If you’re going to go with this bigger, more traditional camcorder design you want high def and optical image stabilization which you can get for a couple hundred dollars more.

  • Digital Zoom: 800x
  • Optical Zoom: 35x
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