In the early 90’s came the first prototypes of LCD screens for video cameras. One of JVC’s pioneer offers, the JVC GR-SV3 Infocam Camcorder, was released during that time. Back those days of the Viewcam bandwagon, the market for cameras like the JVC GR-SV3 was quite comparable to the inkling for the latest consumer HD cameras of the 2000’s. But this doesn’t mean that the “in” gizmo then which is the “outdated” gadget now is of no good use anymore.
So, for those curious ones who want to start using old camera models again such as the SV3, there is still a very good chance to keep things up and running. This becomes especially helpful for those with the need to finally digitize and better archive their taped collections from decades back.
How to Use the JVC GR-SV3
Load the battery and check the power. Make sure the charged battery is properly attached to the camera. Find the power/mode selector knob on top of the JVC GR-SV3 Infocam. Turn the power on and check if the battery jumpstarts it. If everything is generally functional, time to test drive further.
Under a little flap, you can find the tape transport, various secondary controls, and a small LCD information panel. Make sure you have your compatible VHS-C tape loaded into the camera. Follow the signs in loading the tape accordingly.
The good thing about older video cameras is that their features and functions are very basic, mechanical, and considerably easier to explore and discover. So ideally, if you can scrutinize the functions of the latest computers, mobile phones, and HD cameras these days, you can definitely go over this camera and find your way through.
Familiarize yourself with the screen/monitor and the buttons. Check the screen in front of the camera. This screen displays the moving image and you can actually record yourself and readily see the footage on the screen. You can opt to switch off this feature.
At the back panel, there is a main start-stop button. It doesn’t have a safety latch, but it is recessed to avoid accidental pressing.
Behind the tape loading hatch at the back, you can find another set of buttons for selecting recording speed, setting the clock, among other features.
Do a test recording. Record within the best range of this JVC camcorder’s fixed auto-focus and auto-exposure capabilities.
On the front, just below the lens, there is a pair of buttons for the zoom. The camera has a simple 3x zoom lens, along with features like time/date recording, message recording, self-timer, auto indexing, and 5-second record mode. The mono linear soundtrack and the built-in mic record the best sound from subjects up to three or four meters away.
When done recording, press the same button again to end. The machine goes on standby mode.
View the recorded footage. The screen, which is mounted on a hinge allowing it to swing up, is visible from behind the machine. It acts both as a viewfinder (the SV3 has an optical viewfinder for normal use) and a playback screen. It can be used for playback in either position, as the image inverts accordingly for you to get the right perspective. It also has a small built-in speaker for captured sound.
SINce it uses the VHS-C format for recording, it is easy to take some footage with you and play the clips on a full-size VCR using the supplied cassette adapter. Maximum recording time is 90 minutes on a 45-minute tape, and 2 hours for a 60-minute tape — when using the LP recording mode.
The video resolution for this camera is just over 240 lines. The LCD screen struggles to resolve much more than a couple of hundred lines than when recordings are played on a TV monitor. The screen itself isn’t very bright and is easily washed out in daylight. Recording color fidelity is generally fine for its range. However, like most older camera models, indoor shooting with minimal lighting does not provide good enough recordings.
The 0.25-inch image sensor and the small lens offer low-light performance when shooting. As expected, noise and grain are more evident in low-light conditions. So, it is best to make sure that the area where you plan to shoot is well-lit. At its best, in good lighting conditions as with exterior day shots, noise levels are considerably low and the picture looks crisp and bright enough for its range.
Make sure the camera, along with its accessories, is cleaned with a camera cleaning cloth. The lens and LCD screen are extra-sensitive parts and should be cleaned with the right material, which are generally available in camera and gadget stores.
Be extra careful when using a tripod, especially the small and consumer-type ones. The tripod mount is located way over towards the camera’s side. This design is most likely to protect the internal deck mechanism. However, the downside of it is that it makes the camera quite unstable, especialy with smaller tripods.