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JVC waterproofed camcorders for action-camera durability minus the short battery

If an action camera and a camcorder had a baby, it would probably look a bit like the new JVC Everio R camcorders. Announced on Tuesday, June 5, the latest additions to the JVC Everio R series look every bit the part of a camcorder, including the classic body style, flip-out screen, and a zoom lens. But, the series weatherproofing specs reads like an action camera’s, with 16 feet worth of waterproofing, a 4.9-foot drop rating, and a 14 degrees F freeze rating. The waterproof camcorder series includes the high-end 4K JVC Everio GZ-RY980 along with the more budget-friendly GZ-R560 and GZ-R460. The series updates the previous GZ-R550 and GZR-440 while adding a 4K option to the line.

The Everio R series is a camcorder — it’s not meant to be mounted like an action camera — but the weather-sealing brings action-camera-like durability and mixes it with features that aren’t typically found on action cameras, like an autofocus rather than a fixed focus and a zoom lens. All three of the models are designed for getting wet, minus the deep diving, with the ability to go down to 16.4 feet for an hour or 3.3 feet for four hours. The series even has something GoPro doesn’t have built-in — if you accidentally let go and drop the camera into deep water, the camcorder will float for 30 minutes.

The JVC Everio GZ-RY980 is the most full-featured of the trio and the only one that shoots 4K video. The high-end model uses an 18.9-megapixel 1/2.3 inch backlit sensor and a 10x optical zoom lens. The tech specs don’t detail the frame rates, but 4K footage can be captured at 70 Mbps. The 4K recording also includes time-lapses and allows users to pull an 8-megapixel still photo from the videos. Stepping down to HD allows for a slow-motion mode. As the high-end model of the series, the GZ-RY980 also includes two SD card slots, Wi-Fi and a port for an external microphone.

Both the GZ-R560 and GZ-R460 use a smaller 1/5.8 inch 2.5-megapixel backlit sensor with a 40x optical zoom lens. The mid-level GZ-R560 includes 32 GB of built-in flash memory while the cheaper GZ-R460 includes only 4GB.

Adding waterproofing to a camcorder creates another option for beachgoers and others that don’t want to drown a smartphone to get the shot. The zoom and autofocus could be enough to convince some to try a waterproof camcorder instead of using an action camera as a handheld. The camcorders also list a 4.5 to 5.5-hour battery life — and short battery life is often a complaint for the much smaller action cameras.

The camcorders are available beginning today, June 5. That 4K, zoom, and longer battery life will cost more than a GoPro though — the GZ-RY980 retails for about $1,000. The GZ-R560 costs half that and the GZ-R460 is priced at $400.

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