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Sony 3D Handycam HDR-TD1 Review

The GS-TD1 is JVC’s first 3D camcorder and it features a similar twin lens and twins image sensor design as Sony’s recent 3D camcorder, the HDR-TD10, which was also unveiled here at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. What sets the GS-TD1 apart from other consumer 3D camcorders is its wide range of manual controls available in 3D mode, as well as extra features like 3D still image capability and 3D time-lapse recording.



Like the Sony HDR-TD10, the JVC GS-TD1 has a built-in dual lens and sensor system that produces the camcorder’s 3D effect. The dual lens is always part of the camcorder—unlike what you see on Panasonic’s 3D capable models—and that means you don’t have to calibrate or setup the lens in order to initiate 3D recording. In 3D record mode, the lens only allows for 5x optical zoom, but this is bumped up to 10x zoom when you shoot 2D with the TD1.


Media Compression


Because of its 3D record mode, the GS-TD1 has a number of compression options. You can shoot 3D video using regular AVCHD compression (called side-by-side 3D), or you can shoot double Full HD video using the camcorder’s MVC original compression format. This format is required because AVCHD cannot handle two Full HD images that are needed for JVC’s Double Full HD system. The chart below attempts to outline what we’re talking about better, but even if you already understand everything we’re saying the chart is still useful for looking at the various recording quality (bitrates) that are available on the TD1. The GS-TD1 contains 64GB of internal flash memory and a memory card slot. The slot takes SD, SDHC, and even new SDXC memory cards.


3D Lens


The GS-TD1 uses a dual lens system for 3D recording. This means you’re essentially lugging around two camcorders inside one body—even when you record 2D video. The double lens setup is very wide on the GS-TD1, which you can see by the photo below, but the rest of the camcorder’s body isn’t quite as thick. The lens also has a manual cover that you must activate via a switch on the side. It’s a bit strange that this lens cover isn’t automatic.


3D Playback


Obviously, you can watch 3D videos recorded with the TD1 on a 3D television by connecting the camcorder to a TV via HDMI. But, you can also watch 3D video right on the camcorder itself with JVC’s glasses-free 3D LCD. Honestly, the LCD looked very bad in our time with the camcorder, but we saw the same poor performance from Sony’s glasses-free 3D LCD on the HDR-TD10.



Like the Sony HDR-TD10, the GS-TD1 is a bulky camcorder that is roughly twice the size of your average consumer model. Because of its girth, we can’t imagine why anyone would buy the TD1 unless they were absolutely serious about shooting most of their video footage in 3D. Our prediction is the TD1 will be an excellent 2D camcorder, but its $1999 price tag and large frame make it a bad choice for consumers who simply want to record regular 2D footage.


What impressed us about the GS-TD1 was the camcorder’s extensive set of manual controls and features that were functional in both 2D and 3D record mode. This includes regular manual controls like shutter speed adjustment, as well as other features like 3D time-lapse recording and a 3D still image mode. These are things that set the TD1 apart from the other 3D camcorders currently available.


We’re expecting the GS-TD1 to produce 3D video on par or better than the Sony HDR-TD10 due to the similarities in their dual sensor and lens design. Whichever camcorder does better in our testing will likely turn out to be the best 3D camcorder of 2011. For now, though, we remain a bit more excited about the JVC GS-TD1, mainly because it is the more versatile model in terms of controls and features. In our testing, we may find more faults with the TD1, however, so take this opinion lightly for now.


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You can know more about solutions for dealing with AVCHD videos in the bottom of the Sony HD Camcorder Column. Go to Sony Tips


Note: Recommended products for Sony HD Camcorder Users


Windows: Aunsoft Final Mate

- Join/Split Without Re-encoding

- Convert Sony AVCHD videos for playback on TV, on the go or online

- Optimized for CUDA acceleration with process speed 5X faster


Mac: Aunsoft Video Converter for Mac

- Convert Sony mts/m2ts recordings to Apple ProRes for FCP

- Convert AVCHD to Intermediate Codec(AIC) for FEC/iMovie

- Merge/Trim and deinterlace videos

- Merge/Trim and deinterlace videos