The JVC GR-X5 responds quickly and precisely to inputs from its external controls. Unfortunately, its automatic focus and exposure are sluggish. These functions work accurately but more slowly than the automatic functions of some of the competition. We also found achieving a smooth zoom somewhat difficult, mainly because of the awkward placement of the zoom toggle. The digital image stabiliser performed well, however, without significantly degrading the image.
The flip-out LCD also performs well, though not exceptionally. Some of the competition's viewfinders are bigger and brighter, but this one was generally adequate, even in direct daylight. Keep in mind that the flip-out LCD is particularly critical, as there's no secondary viewfinder.
The built-in stereo microphone performed as well as such mics typically do. It's fine for picking up ambient sound, but it's not at all directional. Fortunately, unlike many compact camcorders, the GR-X5 offers an external microphone jack -- a critical feature for improving sound quality.
In good light, the JVC GR-X5 fulfills its promise as a video camera and produces decent stills. While it is not the best in either category, it generally produced sharp, vibrant and accurate images.
Because of the high pixel count of its three CCDs, the GR-X5's video is equally good in 4:3 and 16:9 wide-screen aspect ratios. This will be an increasingly significant asset as 16:9 televisions continue to proliferate. Unfortunately, to fit so many pixels on such small chips, the pixels must be very small. Small pixels don't handle low-light conditions very well, producing high noise levels that make images look grainy. While not bad, the GR-X5's low-light performance is far from state-of-the-art. Furthermore, this camera lacks an infrared night mode. All things considered, this would not be our camera of choice for night shooting.
Edited by Aimee Baldridge
Additional editing by Nick Hide