VIDEO CAMERA 1993

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AUGUST NEWS

 

HAMA'S HANDFUL

Hama have just announced a number of new additions to their range of AV processors, plus a new low-cost genlock for the Amiga later in the year, but more about that in a moment.  In strictly numerical order first off is the Audio Video Processor 126, a fairly routine video processor/audio mixer. Video options include:

* 3 selectable inputs (S-Video and composite)

* variable colour saturation, contrast and definition

* video bypass

* screen splitter.

 

On the audio side there's a three-channel mixer, with selectable mic or auxiliary inputs. The only unusual feature is bass and treble controls, which could be of interest to those who take their soundtracks seriously. The 126 is on sale now for around 349.

 

Now we come to one of Hama's more unusual new arrivals, it's called the Audio Video Processor 132. At first glance it looks fairly ordinary, housed -- as are all of their new products --  in a distinctive sloping console. The main facilities are:

* variable colour saturation, contrast and definition

* combined audio and video fader

* bypass switch

* headphone monitor output.

 

So far so good, until you look at the specs for the video connections. The output is configured for both S-Video and composite, no problems there, but on the input side there is only provision for S-Video signals, no composite inputs at all! Hama say it fills a gap created by their highly successful 122 and 124 AV processors, which are composite video only. Hama have taken note of our comments and  we're hopeful that the powers that be will think about fitting a composite video input on future models, it's a potentially useful little device but as it stands it has rather limited appeal. The price, by the way, is going to be around 220, when it reaches the shops this month.

 

Next up is  the Special Effects Processor 152. This advanced wipe-pattern generator has a selection of no less than 60 basic patterns, that gives an almost infinite number of shape and colour permutations when used with the 152's variable colour output and poster-effect controls. The wipes can be controlled manually or automatically and there's the option of soft or hard edges, wipe angle and external control from either of Hama's Video Cut edit controllers. The 152 has S-Video and composite video inputs, and will be appearing at a video accessory dealer near you any time now, for just under 500.

 

Hama's fourth new arrival is the Special Effects Processor 156, and this one is different. The 156 generates a variable-size square, rectangle or circle shape which can be moved around the screen using a small joystick. The picture outside the shape can be faded or softened to make the mask stand out, or the effect can be reversed, so the shape becomes opaque. This effect is similar to the one used by broadcasters, to hide identity or obscure detail. The 156 can also be used to generate simple horizontal or vertical wipes, to or from black. Thus far this kind of effect has only been available on Panasonic's range of digital AV processors, the cheapest of which costs around 1,000. Admittedly the 156 has far fewer facilities but it only costs around 350. We'll be looking at this very unusual product in more detail next month.

 

The last two AV products are vaguely related; they're the Videoscript 250, and the Genlock 292. The 250 is a neat-looking title generator with a laptop-sized QWERTY-style keyboard, other features include:

* 24-characters per line

* 11-lines per page

* 10-page memory

* S-Video and composite video inputs and outputs

* 240 characters

* 8-colours for text and background

* 3 character resolutions

* 4 character sizes

* 26 user-definable graphics

* external control interface

* built-in demonstration program

 

It's due to go on sale any time now and it will cost just under 450

 

We come now to the Genlock 292, and in case you were wondering, the connection between this and the 250 is that at least one major video accessory dealer is planning to bundle a 292 in with an Amiga and titling software, for not much more than the cost of the 250, we know which one we'd rather have. The 292's most outstanding feature is the price, it will sell for around 299, which is significantly less than comparable Amiga genlocks. Feature worth noting are:

* S-Video and composite video operation

* RGB colour control for Amiga output

* output fader

* Amiga 3000 compatible

* video, key and mix options

* RGB cable supplied

 

A formidable piece of kit and one which we'll be reporting on more fully as we approach the launch date, which is expected to be late summer.

 

One last product from Hama which caught our eye, it's the 29240 palmcorder bag. From the outside it looks fairly ordinary -- it has all the usual zippered pockets and pouches -- but tucked away in a secret compartment in the base of the bag is one of the cutest little tripods you're likely to see. It has 8-section legs, reminiscent of the telescopic aerials fitted to transistor radios. To be honest it's not really suitable for anything larger than a palmcorder but full marks to Hama for putting this excellent package together, which for the record, will cost around 80. Look out for a more detailed appraisal in next month's Minitests.

 

EASIER EDITING

The fact is that majority of camcorder are hopeless as edit source decks. The few exceptions are those machines fitted with Control L and RMC edit terminals, and the handful of new models with their own in-built edit controllers. Vivanco have taken a long hard look at this problem and come up with the VCR 5022. It's a neat, one-shot edit controller that works with any machine (camcorder and VCR) that has infra-red remote control. For good measure Vivanco have also included a 3-channel audio mixer plus an audio/video fader with variable-delay.

 

The 5022 is housed in one of Vivanco's new angular consoles, so it will fit in with other post-production units from their current range. The IR remote control system 'learns' the commands from the host machine's own handset, giving it full control over both machine's transport systems. The 5022 connects between the  source and destination deck and TV using SCART AV cables, it comes with SCART to phono adaptors. The edit memory has been limited to one scene because the 5022 is unable to read time or counter data on the master recording. Even so, this is quite sufficient for short productions, or simply tidying up home video-movies which may only require a few scenes to be rearranged, or deleted.

 

The 5022 should be of particular interest to owners of 8mm camcorders, especially those made by Canon, Hitachi and Sanyo, most of which are sadly lacking in the editing department. It should be in the shops now, retailing for just under 250.

 

EDIT UPDATE

Following our review of the VCR 5055 edit controller last month Vivanco have now told us that they now have a lead and plug-in control module that will allow it to work with some JVC camcorders, in particular the ever-popular GR-707. The lead plugs into the machine's remote socket and enables the 5055 to operate its transport system; unfortunately it only works with VITC encoded recordings as it needs the data to identify cut-in and out points. The lead set is available now from Vivanco dealers, either as an optional accessory, costing around 10, or as a supplied item, when purchasing the 5055.

 

QUARTER MASTER

The move towards ever smaller imaging chips, and hence lighter and more compact camcorder lenses continues with Panasonic announcing the world's first camcorder to have a quarter-inch CCD. Hard on their heels are Canon, who are also understood to have a machine in the pipeline with a similar-sized chip. Sanyo are threatening to go one better with an image sensor measuring only one fifth of an inch. Even smaller chips have been developed for security and surveillance applications but for the moment Panasonic are ahead of the pack with the NV-R50, launched in the UK this month for a little under 900.

 

The NV-R50 is a slimline VHS-C machine with colour viewfinder, 10x optical zoom and digital effects. The R50's lens and CCD has a similar specification to machines with larger 1/3 and 1/2-inch chips, the pixel count is 320,000 and low-light sensitivity is around 1 lux, so in theory at least, picture quality should not be compromised. Needless to say we'll be putting one of these machine though its paces in a forthcoming issue. The rest of the R50's feature list looks something like this:

* 5-mode program AE system (sports, portrait, low-light, auto & manual)

* 5-pin RMC edit terminal

* digital zoom up to 45x

* 0.7-inch LCD colour viewfinder (104k pixels)

* simple one-touch controls

* large on-screen display

* digital wipe/mix

* strobe and snapshot effects

* gain-up facility

* digital image stabiliser

 

HIGH HOPES

Following the successful launch of the EX30, (see review this month) Sanyo are rumoured to be considering bringing in a Hi 8 version of this machine. It's certainly a logical step forward and it would provide a useful boost for the high-band format which has been treading water of late. The new, and as yet unnamed model would be unlikely to appear in the shops much before the end of the year, and it's still far too early to speculate about prices but if the EX30 is anything to go by, it should be very competitive

 

There's increasing speculation that another manufacturer is planning to introduce a PAL Hi8 camcorder. This time it concerns the Korean company Samsung who are already making a name for themselves with their latest 8mm compact and sub-compact machines which are now exceptional value for money, in the face of on-going price increases from the major Japanese manufacturers.

 

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R. Maybury 1993 1606

 

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