Great little point-and-shoot camera

Jun 2, 2012 (Updated Jun 2, 2012)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Compact, 40x optical zoom, simple to use, good battery life, removable SD card, stabilizer

Cons:1080i (not 1080p), no audio input, non-intuitive menus, poor low-light auto adjust, no supplied memory

The Bottom Line: Good camera to take on the family vacation; professionals should find another unit.


This is a nice little camera.  You get a good high resolution picture with autofocus and autointensity that capture the moment if it is an average moment.  You can set it to recognize up to six faces that it will use to optimize the input parameters.  Most people probably won't take the time since you have to sit in front of the camera and turn from side to side for each face registered.  It also has a smile capture mode that takes a picture when it recognizes a smile.  This is more a gee-whiz feature than something I would expect anyone to use regularly.  For the amateur taking home movies, it's perfect.  It has a silent mode that shuts off noises and particularly sound on playback.  You can get an optional long life battery, but it is pricey, about half the price of the camera itself.  If you have access to power, its wall adapter works fine while recording.
The lens cover is operated by a built in switch.  It reminds you to open it when you turn it on, but doesn't remind you to close it when you turn it off.  It's easy to start recording by pushing one button on the back of the camera.  The same button stops the recording.
Not a professional unit
I call it point-and-shoot, because it has no professional features.  If you want to capture professionally, this is probably not the unit you want.  It's biggest problem is lack of an audio input; you must use the built-in microphone.  The microphone does a pretty good job for an on-camera mic, but it's not a substitute for a good audio input.  You can’t add a wide angle lens, or any lens adapter, for that matter.  Its low light adjustment is poor for some indoor scenes and you'll get blooming when the scene is mostly dark.  It is possible to override this, but you can't change it once you've set it for a scene.  Although it will output 1080p video, it only captures 1080i.  Since all the features are operated by touch screen menus, it's awkward to change in a hurry.  Even the manual focus is touch screen, so you can't change it on the fly.
Buttons
It has five buttons for quick access features (besides zoom): record, still/video, silent, stabilizer mode, and record time (info).  Everything else is menu based. 
Zoom

As with most cameras, the zoom is controlled by a tiny switch.  You must be careful to not push it too hard since it will jiggle the camera.  It's tricky, but possible, to get a very slow zoom by pushing the switch partly instead of fully.  Pushing fully zooms from one extreme to the other in about five seconds.
File format
My 32Gb class-10 SD card works well.  It records at least 23 min/4Gb in UXP highest res mode.  If you go longer than 4Gb, it will skip a fraction of a second between files.  You can access the files directly by removing the SD card and placing it in a reader on your computer.  The files are MTS, which Windows Media Player will play.  You can also play them with the included software.Must purchase an SD card to use it.
Image stabilizer
The image stabilizer has three modes, off, low, and high.  It reduces viewing angle slightly when in use.
Software
It works with Windows Media Player and included software.  I tried using Adobe Premier and it was able to import and edit the files.  When I made another shot in a compressed mode, Premier was not able to work with the file and crashed consistently. 
Time lapse recording
You can set it for time lapse recording to capture from 1 sec to 80 sec/frame.
Menus not intuitive
Press “menu” and two big “buttons” pop up for “Smile” and “Effect Recording.”  If you look down at the bottom, you’ll see a small button labeled “menu.”  Of course, you just pressed menu, so that must be residual you might think.  No, no, no!!  That’s the real menu button that pops up all kinds of wonderful manual options, like focus, brightness, white balance, etc.  You have to push “menu” twice to get to the menu.  Then to get to the petty menu items, you have to press the gear on the right-hand side of the menu-menu screen.  That lets you adjust the time and date, language, etc., but also include “silent mode,” which you may want to keep it from making a lot of annoying noises.  I spent quite a while looking for a way to delete videos from the camera.  The menu-menu doesn’t get you there, nor does the gear.  There isn’t any file management.  There’s no option in the record screen to make more room by deleting.  To delete files, you must go to the main screen and press play.  At the bottom of the thumbnail screen that appears is a tiny trash can.  Press that.  Then you can select the individual videos you want to delete.

Full manual is available here:
http://manual3.jvckenwood.com/c2a/lyt2431-002en/index.html


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