JVC's are fine, they are used across the board with profeshional video production. However, harddrive cameras are usually a bad idea, hard drives fail, tapes don't. You're gona be really pissed when you lose all your footage. Sure you can back that shit up everynite to DVDROMs but that's just an unnecceasry hassle. Also I would hope your friend would at least be smart enough to search google for reviews of the camera he's gona drop $1500 on. All the reviews I read about this camera in 5 minutes of searching say it sucks.
So anything in this price range that is HD is going to be tough to find something good. Sure hv20 has a bigger chip size then the 3 1/5" ccd pixel shifting chips that in that jvx. But the hv20 only uses one chip. Looking at that it doesnt say the data rate that its running on the hdd jvc hd camera. It might be able to run faster data rates putting out better quality and being able to take in more light since it uses 3 chips instead of just one. Theres a lot of advantages and disadvantages. If i were you i would save up about twice as much money and try to get something better. I also dont know your experience with cameras. If its your first or second camera then sure this price range is fine, but you wont really be able to get familiar with a camera and how it works i would step it up to a camera you can customize a lot of settings and not shoot on auto settings camera. All depends what you want man.
canon gl2, sony vx2100, panasonic dvx100. gl2 if he likes the soft film look. vx2100 for more vibrant colors/picture, and still a film like look. dvx for full control over everything with the camera and great overall picture. no single one is better, most would say dvx or vx2100, but it all depends on who is using it and how you shoot. these are all SD cameras, but for 1500, its gonna be better footage than any HD camera in that price range. and for 1500 dont worry about HD, HD does not mean higher quality, it means a higher resolution, and on the cheaper HD camera's, an overly sharp picture. having high resolution doesnt mean its "better" 16mm doesnt have that great of resolution(though it depends alot on the type of film) and almost anyone would agree that its "higher quality" than hvx footage. having a super clear totally sharp picture isnt always good, its great for like discovery channel stuff and football games, but when you are filming as an art, resolution is just like any other factor that goes into the overall picture. hell id rather watch some good super8 footage than most HD or digital footage any day.
if your trying to compare super 8 footy to stuff that comes out of an HVX i call you crazy and loco. There was a tahoe film company that used super 8 footage last year only. It was the worst thing I have ever seen. I think your saying that you just like the look of film i think though.
16mm is great, but you obviously need the lighting for it and the price just keeps going up the more and more you film. A good 16mm camera is about 3 grand and then with development and stuff its about 750 dollars for 10 mins of film. Mac Dawg and Standard has turned away from 16mm to now use HVXs and probably EX1s this year. Mainly because of cost and an HVX looks just as good as 16mm and way better in low light. Then the EX1 is a small level above that. Well then the RED which is just absurd. If you want to the best camera for 1500 i agree with whoever i quoted. Go with the DVX. Its great for customization and it will look better then any hd camera in that price range for sure. You want the main reason? Its because HD cameras at that price are using small chips or just one chip. DVX is using 3ccd 1/3" chips.
would you happen to have a link to that video or atleast the name of it? anyway if you say the footage looked like crap its possible that they used crappy film or a bad telecine job. cause even the mediocre super 8 footage ive seen still looks pretty damn good, and the good super 8 footage looks amazing, watch the new mountan lab, it has tons of super 8 footage in it and it looks great. anyway i was just trying to say that having high resolution doesnt mean its better, resolution is just another aspect of filming, and having too much or too little resolution can be a bad thing. it all depends on your filming style and what your filming. no camera is really better than another, if you put a hi 8 camera in the right hands you could have a better film than someone with a 35mm camera. it just bugs me when people think "oh HD means its the best so i gotta get that cause its better" when its really not, it just works better (and worse) for some situations than other cameras.