VIDEO CAMERA 1993

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NOVEMBER NEWS

 

VISIONARY PRODUCT

Yes, it's a Sony, though the new CCD-SC5 8mm camcorder has just a hint of Sharp and Fuji about it. This new upright machine, unveiled a few weeks ago in Berlin, echos the Sharp View Cam with its 3-inch LCD colour screen, mounted on the back panel, and the vertical layout of the Fuji FS1. The screen can be used for on-the-spot replay, and for monitoring recordings, though unlike the View Cam the SC5 also has an optical viewfinder, next to the lens. Facilities include a two-position zoom, with portrait or landscape setting, audio playback through a built-in louspeaker, fully automatic exposure and white balance controls, and it's powered by a lithium-ion rechargable battery. The SC5 is one of an inceasing number of new machines using the latest quarter-inch CCD image sensors, for the record this has 290k pixels (effective) and a low light sensitivity of around 5-lux. The colour screen  has a 75.8k pixel display which can be viewed in direct light though there's a a fold-out sun visor to prevent the picture being washed out by glare. The PAL version of the SC5 is due out next Spring and the price has yet to be decided though we wouldn't be at all surprised to see it selling for between 900 to 1,000.

 

'THE DECK WITH NO NAME'

That's one of the nicknames Sony have given their latest Hi8 VCR, shown to Video Camera recently in protytype form. The extraordinary specification has led to some insiders referring to it as  'The Dogs...', for reasons that we cannot go into in a family publication, suffice it to say they're very proud of their equipment... The outline specification does indeed look rather impressive, and in addition to all the usual stuff, Hi8 recording, stereo FM and PCM sound, noise-free trick frame, etc, it will also have full-spec RCTC read and write facilities, a timebase corrector and on-board assembly editing, controlling a LANC (Control L) equipped camcorder. No launch date and no price as yet but we're told it could be with us during the first quarter of 94, and we'd guess you wouldn't see much change out of fifteen hundred to two thousand pounds.

 

A TRIO OF TRAVELLERS

Three new TR-series camcorders are winging their way to the UK as we speak. The first to arrive, later this month in fact, will be the CCD-TR606, their first Video 8 machine to have a Steady Shot optical image stabiliser, first seen on the 805 Hi8 machine last year. Priced at around 1,100 it has a 10x zoom lens, stereo sound, 4-mode program AE system and low-light sensitivity of just 2-lux. Next month we're expecting the TR323 and TR202, which will sell for 850 and 700 respectively. The 323 is a mid-range stereo palmcorder with switchable wide-angle lens, 10x zoom and four-mode program AE. The 202 is a fuss-free snapshooter, this time with 3-mode program AE, 10x zoom and mono sound. Look out for full test reports in the coming months.

 

PANASONIC PALMIST

We're relieved to see Panasonic are getting back into their stride with their latest  S-VHS-C palmcorder, the NV-S85B. This well-specified top-ender will be selling for 1200 and should be of considerable interest to serious video movie-makers, though discerning newcomers should have no difficulty using it. The headline features are:

* 10x optical, 20x electronic zoom

* stereo hi-fi sound

* 3-mode program AE (sports, portrait, low-light)

* VITC read and write

* digital image stabiliser

* digital effects (mix, wipe, strobe, snapshot, gain-up)

* audio dub

* edit terminal

* auto power save

 

A couple of those features are quite new and deserve some explantation. The VITC read facility sounds interesting, though we haven't figured out a use for it yet. What this means is the machine can read back the time-code recorded on the tape, and display it in the viewfinder, or superimpose it on the video output, along with a few other items of invisibly recorded data, including time, date, zoom magnification, manual/auto iris, shutter speed, iris setting and white balance.

 

Auto power save is definitely worth having; this shuts down power-hungry systems, when the machine's not in use, saving around 1 watt of energy. It uses a tiny infra-red sensor mounted on the underside of the viewfinder, to detect when the machine is being held in the shooting position; when it senses the machine moving away from the users head, it switches off things like the autofocus motor and the viewfinder. 

 

Other new features on the S85 are 'Digital Crystal Clear' processing circuits in the camera section that improve colour accuracy by treating each colour component seperately, and a new RGB white balance sensor, which helps the machine to respond better to changes in the lighting conditions. The S85 hits the shops this month and we hope to have a review for you soon.

 

CANON BEAT THE JITTER

As we revealed last month Canon have finally got around to using the optical image stabiliser system they developed jointly with Sony. We can now report that it is being used on not one but two new machines, the UC5 Hi, which we mentioned last month, and the E700, a family-oriented compact machine that will sell for just under 1,000. These two models will be joined by a third new machine, the UC40 Hi, essentially a UC5 without an optical stabiliser, it's priced at 1200, compared with 1400 for the UC5.

 

The basic specification for the two UC machines is as follows:

 

* 12x optical, 24x electronic zoom

* stereo hi-fi sound

* zoom microphone

* 5-mode program AE system

* widescreen recording mode

* 3-lux minimum sensitivity

 

The E700 is an easy to use compact with a 12x zoom, pop-up video light, 3-mode program AE system (spotlight, sand and snow and backlight), plus, of course, Canon's famous flexigrip and sportsfinder features, it should be reaching the shops anytime now.

 

NEW HAMA PROCESSORS

German accessory manufacturer Hama have announced a raft of new post-production products this Autumn, some of which we've already previewed. One of the most interesting new arrivals is their Trilock genlock. It's interesting for two reasons; firstly because it's designed to work with PC, Amiga, Apple and Atari computers, a most impressive feat considering the diversity of those products, and secondly, because it costs only 350 or thereabouts, making it one of the cheapest PC genlocks around. Trilock combines the output from the computer with composite or S-Video signals, without the need for any additional software. There's four operating modes, conversion, where the computer's output is converted to PAL; genlock mode, where the PC output is mixed with incoming video; overlay, which superimposes the PC graphics over the video image, and mix mode, where the two signals can be cross-faded with one another. We'll be taking a closer look at Trilock soon.

 

Hama's other new products are the Video Cut 202 and 212 editing controllers, and Special Effects Processors 152. First the Video Cuts. The 202 is a combined one-shot controller, video fader and 3-channel audio mixer. It operates the transport controls of the source and destination decks via Control L, 5-pin RMC or infra-red commmands. Video Cut 212 is a more advanced version of the 202, with improved VCR control and editing facilities plus menu-assisted on-screen controls.

 

The 152 shares the same distinctive console design as the Video Cuts. It's an advanced wipe generator with an almost unlimited selection of patterns, mask and posterisation effects, in addition it can produce fades, soft or hard, to and from background colours. The 152 can also be remotely controlled by the Video Cut 204 or 220 and it has dual outputs, for making simultaneous copies.

 

VIEW CAM UPDATE

Last month we promised you more details of the two new View Cams, scheduled to join the VL-H400, launched this month. Both machines have standard 8mm recording systems, the  VL-E40 has a 4-inch screen, programmed AE system, 8x zoom and image stabiliser, it will be selling for around 1100. The EC30 is the smallest and cheapest (900) of the three with a 3-inch display screen; it has the same basic features as it's bigger brothers though it lacks the image stabiliser and digital still recording facility. 

 

TALKING OF PHILIPS...

Voice command has been the holy grail of consumer electronics for as long as we care to remember, the trouble is the human voice is as individual as fingerprints and it's asking a lot for a machine to be able to understand and interpret the almost limitless variations in speech patterns. However, clearly undaunted by this Philips are about to introduce a remote control handset that they claim can learn the sound of up to four different voices, in five different European languages. Once it has learned the voice it will respond to commands like 'play', 'stop', 'pause', 'rewind' etc., and it can even be used to make unattended recordings, using its own built in clock and timer. The RT-830 has a learning IR command system, so it can be taught the IR codes for a variety of makes and models. It arrives in the UK mid month and will be selling for just under 100, hopefully we'll have one to try out in the next few weeks, so we'll let you know.

 

---end---

R. Maybury 1993 1209

 

 

 

 

Voice command has been the holy grail of consumer electroncis for as long as we can remember, the trouble is the human voice, and the way we use it, has confounded 

 

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