The JVC LS300 – First Footage (evolving review)

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Ever since the first DSLR started shooting video there has been one dream, the functionality of a camcorder with the sensor and lens mount of a DSLR. All in an affordable package.
This might be just that.

 

If you want to buy one, here is a place that sells it.
JVC LS300

 

Intro

JVC has lended me the camera for a few weeks to try out. What Im mostly interested in is if:

  • Its as good as the specs makes it out to be.
  • If it can be both a true Run n Gun camera and something for cinema.
  • If it is the ultimate camera for vintage lens junkies.
Specs

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Here is what ought my eye.

  • MFT Mount
  • S35mm Sensor
  • 4K
  • 4:2:2 HD
  • Log
  • Prime Zoom
  • External Controls
  • Built In NDs
  • XLR
First Impressions

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It is light and small but doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy. I would say it feels just like theses DVX type camcorders always does. Not 5D rugged, but solid.

Setting it up was super easy and intuitive, I mean its a camcorder… its great.. its like riding a bike.
Getting all the features I want like zebra etc when fast, they where all exactly where you would suspect them to be.

The ND wheel feels nice, so does most of the controls and buttons. The audio wheels are clickless, thats a tiny complaint but no deal breaker.

The first lens I tested was a m4/3 12-42mm. Its the kit lens from my GFs GM1. It worked and surprisingly id didn’t vignette at the wide end in s35 mode. In other words its both a normal MFT zoom and a s35 wide angle.
It also turns out that there where sensor size stops between s35 and MFT!

Here are some pics.

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Files

Here are some files for download so you can play around with them.
One is a test of the Dynamic Range. It was shot in s35 with a m4/3 kit lens so there is severe barrel distortion, but no vignette.

The other is a portrait of Gunpowder with a vintage Yashikor 55mm

My advice for grading is to treat it as Rec709 and don’t push the shadows to much. The mids and highlights can take more of a beating.

DR test Ungraded

No highlights blown, sky is preserved for the sake of the test.

DRUngraded

Quick grade
DRGrade

Gunpowder ungraded
Krut_Ungraded

Grade 1
KrutGrade1

Grade 2
KrutGrade2

The files can be downloaded here: http://www.filedropper.com/jvc

Some shots!

Today we where heading out for a walk in the park and I grabbed the LS300 for a test run.
Unfortunately I underestimated the wind, which was quite strong, and brought a low weight tripod.
So prepare for some shaky footage.

I used a dumb adapter and two Canon EF-Lenses, the 35mm f2.0 and the 24-105mm f4.0.
This resulted in no aperture control and no stabilization… yeah, even more shakes.

The reason for this was simple. I tend to shoot vintage glass, soft filters and use heavy grading.
Lots of people like myself find it appealing. But some want a clean and digital sharp look.
And just to get that out of the way I used “L” glass and just a mild grade.
Next time we will go full “Instagram”.

The shooting experience was great. Its easy to use, everything works nicely.
Again, its like riding a bike.

I also added grain to one version which is uploaded to Vimeo.
(In my experience Youtube can’t handle grain.)

Here are some before and after shots.

Ungraded

Eskil_Ungraded

Grade 1 

Eskil_Gradefromvideo

Grade 2

Eskil_Clean

 

BTW

On the way home I tested the prime zoom which is amazing. Only negative effect Ive seen so far is some moire, but moire I can handle.
More of that to come.

Full HD at 105mm

PZ_HD

Full HD at 105mm with prime zoom

PZ_HD_Zoomed

 

Vintage Lenses

One of the biggest perks with the camera in my opinion is the MFT mount. With it the camera can use pretty much any lens.
This is some quick test frames from an old 55mm that I got at a flee market for 10 dollars.

Knoglig1

Knoglig2

Selfie

vintage

 

And here is something different.

To illustrate how it is working with a real camcorder with peaking, NDs, etc I uploaded an unedited clip with the lens.
I graded at a random point, so the grade doesn’t consider the exposure changes.

 

AF and IS is Good

Today I received the Metabones EF to MFT Smart Adapter. First thing I did was to make sure the stabilization in my EF lenses worked.

I also, even though I rarely use it, tested the auto focus. And I was quite surprised.
It was pretty decent on both lenses.
Better however on the 24-105, much more quite as well.

You can checkout the gear here,
Metabones Smart Adapter
Canon 24-105/4
Canon 35/2.0

Cine Gamma

I was packing up the loaner thats shipping back to JVC when I thought I would do one last thing. Some experimenting with the Cine Gamma.

The J-Log is really great. It has a nice roll of and I love using it specially on bright days with a high dynamic range.

 

But in dim light, specially low contrast, it doesn’t withstand grading very well.
The noise can turn very ugly and FPN if not careful. So far my fix for it has been to expose down. If its dark, let it be dark. This isn’t a night for day camera.

 

Today I tested something else. Anybody that uses Sony and S-Log knows that in many low contrast situations its better to switch to “Cine Gamma”. Specially to preserve skin tones. And it seems JVC is no different.

 

I shot some clips of myself in a mirror. There is no direct light hitting me, its pretty dim.

 

If you look at my arm you can see how the J-Log has a nicer roll of, while the Cine Gamma has a harsher clip.
But you can probably also see how much nicer the skin gets, specially on the shadow side. There where less banding as well. And the J-Log is just about to fall apart while there is more play left in the Cine Gamma.
J_Log_Ungraded

J-Log Ungraded

J_Log_Graded

J-Log Graded

CineGamma_0db_ungraded

Cine Gamma Ungraded

CinneGammaGraded2

Cine Gamma Graded

So now I can’t wait until my own LS300 gets here, because I need to give the Gamma settings and Picture Profiles a thorough run through.
There is a WDR mode as well as some custom settings that I will experiment with.

Thats it for now.
/M

  • Nick Hayman

    Did you ever manage to experiment with the custom settings? What were your results, I’m really interested to hear how to get the best out of camera look that needs minimal post processing

    • Mattias.B

      Yes I used the Cinestyle quite a bit. I would say that looks pretty decent straight from camera.

  • Syrian Black

    Will you be doing a revisit to the JVC GY-LS300? Do you have any very recent footage shot with it?

    • Mattias.B

      I intend to do another video about it but it always falls between other projects.

  • Kyungchan Min

    Hi Mattias. So I am gearing up for a 3 month documentary shoot this summer. I already own the gh4, but the ls300 intrigues me as a more refined documentary camera. Would you say that the ls300 produces better images than the gh4, or will the gh4 do a better job? I’m planning to purchase the Atomos Ninja Flame too as a monitor and recorder.

    • Mattias Burling

      The images will be similar. But you will have a tougher job and most likely capture less with the gh4.
      But for this time I would suggest still using the gh4. Since you know it already and can focus on the subject instead.

      • Kyungchan Min

        Got it, thank you for the quick response!

  • What is your camera settings in the camera, and do you change anything between Cine Gamma and J-Log?