VIDEO CAMERA 1993

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ASK RICK MAY 1993

 

QUALITY QUESTION

I've used a Sony M8E record-only 8mm camcorder for several years and play the tapes back via a Sony EV-A300 recorder.  I recently brought a new camcorder and discovered that my old tapes played a lot sharper using it as the source machine for re-recording.

This prompted me to consider buying one of the Sony recorders to use as an editing source but found they didn't equal the camera performance.  It seems to me that all machines will play each other's recorded material equally well, and various cameras will likewise play each other's tapes to a high standard.

I just wonder why manufacturers don't supply an edit replay machine that will match the camera's characteristics?

Don Taylor

High Wycombe, Bucks  

 

A1

The differences you've noticed might be a result of the on-going developments in camcorder design. Sony update their camcorder ranges at least once, sometimes twice a year, so they're at the leading edge of 8mm technology. On the other hand 8mm VCRs and decks tend to be replaced at a more leisurely pace -- on average one new model every two and a half years -- which means older decks might appear to lag behind camcorders when it comes to the latest advanced in video replay. However, in practice we haven't noticed any significant differences in replay quality on the most recent Sony 8mm VCRs and their mid-range camcorders, if anything the decks are better.

 

CONTROL CONFUSION

I recently purchased a Sony 800 camcorder together with an RME700 Edit Controller and JVC 5800 S-VHS video to start a video business.

To my amazement the RME-700 couldn't control the JVC for automatic assembly, despite the fact that it's possible when done manually.  Am I setting the controls incorrectly, or should I sell the controller and buy something else?

Samikapol

London E16

 

A2.

It sounds as if you're doing something wrong. The RME-700 has a learning IR remote control system and it should be able to store the commands needed to control your JVC video recorder. Sony tell us that they are not aware of any incompatibility problems with JVC equipment. Go back to the instructions and re-read the section on page 18 which deals with the learning procedure.

 

INSERT IRRITATION

We have two Sony V6000s linked together with a Panasonic mixer and Sony RME-700 Editor.  When we try insert editing there is a glitch at the end of each edit. Various controlled experiments have not solved this problem and at one point a glitch appeared at the beginning.

The fault occurs even if the tape is Video 8 and not High 8.  I've contacted the local Sony Centre and they advised me to

contact the Sony Help line - to date I've had no satisfactory answer.  Are we doing something wrong, or is this a common problem?

N. Bateman

Frome, Somerset

 

A3

We spoke to Sony about this one and they reckoned that insert edits on a set-up such as this -- i.e. V6000s as source and record decks -- should be clean, if not they think there might be a fault on the one used as the record deck, have you tried swapping them around?  The V6000 is certainly capable of making clean inserts using the counter-zero method; the V6000 has a flying erase head which leads us to suppose that edit-out points on externally controlled inserts should be glitch-free.

 

BATTERY BOTHER

I own a Panasonic MS70B camcorder which uses 6V Nicad batteries.  The running time of these is very short due to the motorised zoom control.  I noticed that the 'switching off' voltage was only 5.8 volts - not a lot of difference! 

On contacting Panasonic I was told this was to allow enough energy to unload a cassette on the semi-expiry of the 6V Nicad.  I understand this, but am not pleased at the suggestion that I should buy more batteries! They weren't too keen on my suggestion to upgrade the voltage to 7.2 volts as this could harm the camera.

 

A few months later DSM came along with their Ultimate Handex which had the same amount of power as I had mentioned to Panasonic ( 7.2 Volts) and they assured me that this was perfectly safe.  What are your thoughts on this?

A. Crush

Dover, Kent

 

A4

It's unlikely that the zoom motor is the cause of your reduced running times, zoom motors are surprisingly frugal and to have any significant impact you would have to be using it all the time. The biggest power drain is fast winding, and switching the deck on and off, rather than using the power-saving standby function. There may also be a problem with the battery, especially if you've been giving it repeated top-up charges, or leaving it in a charged condition for long periods, in which case it may have built up a 'memory' or suffer from cell imbalance. You might be able to return it near full capacity by using a discharger, available from your local video dealer for around 20.00. However, the most likely cause of your frustration are your own expectations. Running times quoted by manufacturers are often outrageously optimistic and based on a continuous recording. In normal intermittent operation you should halve those times, to be on the safe side.

7.2 volt batteries, like the one from DSM, are perfectly safe as all camcorders have voltage regulator circuits, and they will last a little while longer but the only way to get significantly longer running times is to buy a higher capacity battery.

 

TRICKY FLICKER

I have been endeavouring to transfer some cine film to video using my Eumig projector together with an IQ Video Sound Mixer,

Hitachi Video Camera and Mitsubishi VCR.

I've managed to eliminate the horizontal white line and have achieved an acceptable colour balance and sound input.  However, I cannot get rid of the annoying flicker that appears on the screen.

Is it necessary to use a camera with manual override in order to synchronise the speeds of the two films and obtain a smooth transfer?

D. MacQuarrie

Wick, Caithness

 

A5

It would have been helpful to know which Hitachi camcorder you're using. If it's a relatively recent model then the cause might be the machine's auto-exposure system which is selected by default from switch on. Most models have a fairly simple AE system which varies the shutter speed according to scene illumination, if so it's probably selecting a high shutter speed, which is causing a strobing or flickering effect you describe. The solution is to switch the AE off, in which case the shutter will revert to the standard 1/50th of a second.

 

CANON CONVERSION

I have recently acquired the excellent Canon EX1 Hi camera with a

x15 zoom lens (plus the x2 extender). I wish to record small moving creatures such as water fleas and some other aquatic life, using a vertically mounted camera attached to a microscope eyepiece.

I want to record some night life with my infra-red nightsight (with a similar sized microscope adjusting eyepiece) and wonder what the best way is to mate this unit to the camcorder.  Didn't Canon make a lens mount converter once?

P.D. Jenkins

Cardigan, Dyfed

 

A6

Unfortunately Canon do not market a microscope adaptor but we know of a specialist company who are prepared to make them to order, though be warned, it could be expensive. Have a chat with: Optical & Textile 22 Victoria Road, New Barnet, Herts EN4 9PF. Telephone  081-441 2199

 

TAKING A DIM VIEW

My five year old Sony CCD V30E Video 8 camcorder has developed an annoying fault.  When I start to film, the picture in the viewfinder gets distorted and jumps about, making filming impossible.

Sometimes if you switch it off and on again the fault clears, but these days it doesn't work as well.  This sometimes goes on for days and then gets better.

The machine was eventually sent to Sony and their report said that they could not find a fault, even though I sent them a tape showing the problem.

Is it possible that you can come up with an answer to this annoying fault, or should I give my machine a decent burial?

R.Samways

Salisbury, Wilts

 

A7

It sounds as if the problem is in or around the camera section, rather than the viewfinder. The fact that it is intermittent and sometimes disappears altogether suggests that it is an electrical, rather than a thermal or mechanical fault. Unfortunately they're often the most difficult to track down and as you've discovered, the most perverse, stubbornly refusing to appear as soon as they're on the repair bench. Unfortunately it's not going to go away, which means a toss-up between a repair bill with labour charges that could equal or exceed the value of your machine, or buying a new one. We'd opt for the latter.

 

FROM LITTLE ACORNS...

I've compiled a program of display titles on my Acorn A3000 computer incorporating various fades - it also enables me to determine background colour and any combination of text colours.

It was my intention to photograph the screens from my monitor using my Sony 8mm camera, but having tried all colour and contrast combinations I'm unable to obtain satisfactory results.

 

I have read every article I can (including those in Video Camera) to try to find out about the interface between computers and camcorders and I find that what I really need is a Genlock which will allow me to overlay my titles onto the camcorder output when editing to a VHS tape. 

As I cannot justify such an expense, is there another way of converting the RGB output of my computer to composite video or UHF so that I can insert my titles and fades onto a VHS tape in between sections of camcorder output; can someone supply something along those lines or am I barking up the wrong tree?

A.J. Borrill

South Humberside

 

A8

You may be in luck, we've not had an opportunity to try them yet but we suspect that Vivanco's new range of video processors and mixers may have just such a facility, they're certainly configured for RGB inputs and outputs. We hope to be testing the VCR-3024 audio mixer/video processor, VCR-5022 editor, VCR-3046 AV processor in the very near future, so stay tuned.

CUT AND SHUT

 

I have a camcorder like many others with shutter speeds in excess of 1/50th of a second.

Can you please explain how this is possible when a television picture is made up of two interleaving scans of 1/50th to give a new picture of 25 times a second?  How is this possible with speeds of up to 1/10,000 seconds?

S. Barnes

Broadstairs, Kent

 

A9

You're confusing exposure time, which is controlled by the electronic shutter within the camera section of your camcorder, with the configuration of the video output signal, which is not affected by the shutter speed. The high-speed shutter circuitry

is on and around the CCD image sensor; when you (or the machine's AE system) selects a higher shutter speed, the chip's photosensitive elements are 'addressed' at a faster rate, decreasing the time it takes for a single image or 'frame' to be captured. The resultant information is then stored temporarily in a buffer memory and 'read' out at the normal frame rate, it then goes on to be recorded on the tape in the usual way.

 

SUPER SWIZZ?

I recently purchased a JVC GR-S505 camera for better picture quality. I taped some footage on a high band tape and played it back through the television via an RF adaptor: the result was very good.

I went out and bought a television with an S-Video socket, changed the switch on the camera to Y/C (the camera had recorded in S-VHS mode) attached the S-lead from my camera to the TV - there was no picture improvement at all.

I have been back to the shop and have been told by their experts that there is a minuscule difference which neither I or my family can see.  Was there any point in upgrading my television: is it the camera at fault or could it just be me?

G. Ovsey

Manchester 

 

A10

It's a question of degrees. The differences between VHS or Hi 8 recordings played back through the aerial socket on a normal TV and Super VHS/C or Hi8 material shown on a TV, using an S-Video connection are clear to see, even to the uninitiated. The picture is sharper, there's more detail and less patterning or noise; under ideal conditions a high-band recording can look almost as clear as an off-air TV picture. The S-VHS recording you first saw, when using the RF connection will have been quite good to start with, even though the signal was degraded slightly though the adaptor, it will still have been better than a standard VHS recording, say. Even so even so there should have been a marked difference when you changed to your new TV. It could be the new set, or the camcorder, if possible try it with another TV, if there's still no discernible difference have the camcorder checked out.

 

COMPUTER CLASH

As a newcomer to the world of video, I've been trying out the various features on my Canon 230 together with the other equipment I have.

The one thing I cannot achieve is good video reproduction of my computer screen.  I have various graphic programmes for my PC, but the playback version of the things I've recorded from the computer is out of focus and the colour degenerated.

Is there a particular technique or filter I don't know about? I've tried different shutter speeds but this only makes things worse.

R. Cartwright

Luton, Beds

 

A11

Focusing shouldn't be a problem, if your camcorder's AF system cannot get a lock on the screen switch to manual. However, that won't help solve the fundamental incompatibility problems between

PCs and camcorders. On some set-ups a shutter speed of 1/60th second has been known to help but clearly not in your case. There's not a lot you can do about it, apart from buying a new computer or investing in a VGA to video converter, so you can

view the output from your computer on a normal TV, or record it on

a VCR. Check out the prices in one of the PC magazines.

 

EDITORS CHOICE

Having just purchased my first camcorder - Canon EX1 Hi - I'm now thinking about having a go at editing.

I've spoken to various dealers about which Editing machine would best suit my needs and have received conflicting advise in each case.  It seems to be a choice between the RME-700 and the GSE MPE-100S

- my budget is around 1,000. 

Any ideas?

H. Saban

Ware, Herts

 

A12

They're both very good. The RME-700 would be our first choice if

we were using a Sony VCR (with a Control L socket) as the record deck. The extra 300 for the GSE MPE-100S buys a load of fancy post production facilities, including audio mixing, effects and a smart titler, the RME-700 has an on-board title generator but it's fairly basic.

 

CANADA DRY

We own a Canon E60 camcorder and have, up to now, been very pleased with the results we've had from it.  That was until we came home from our holiday in Canada and the US.

Our main purpose there was to record the lovely red and gold leaves that appear in the Autumn there, but when we got home and played back the results the colours were green and brown!

The close-up shots we took are fine - reds and golds everywhere; it's the distant shots that are wrong. 

Can you please give an explanation as to why this has happened?

Mrs. P Harrison

Fulbourn, Cambs

 

A13

At a guess I'd say you didn't reset the WB control to the prevailing conditions.

 

SONY MOAN

Can you help me with my troublesome Sony CCD-V5000 camcorder?  The problem concerns repairs for wear and tear on a machine that, to my knowledge, has only done 25 hours running.  It's been playing up ever since I bought it with severe colour bleed and false viewfinder indications. To cap it all, in June last year, it suffered picture break-up rendering it useless as a playback machine!

I sent it away for repair and was charged 150 - when I complained the bill was reduced to 120!  It seems to me that either Sony ME tapes are highly abrasive, or the tape path on the 5000 is badly designed: of course, the machine may have not been

so new when I bought it.

The camcorder is now making grinding noises when running in fast forward - help!

D. Collender

Newcastle on Tyne

A14

 

Sorry, no instant cures. There's no way a machine with only 25 hours on the clock should behave in that way, either you've been misled and it's had a hard life, or it's a rogue, either way it's back to the repair bench.

 

GENERATION GAP

As an absolute beginner with a brand new Sony TR705 I came home with my newly-shot film confident that with a little editing I could remove the inevitable mistakes and extra footage I didn't require.

I'd previously been told that to save wear and tear on the camera I should transfer from Hi-8 to VHS and edit from there.

The first copy on to my JVC VCR was very pleasing and quite good; the edited version was not.  Was I wrongly advised or have I stumbled on a hidden problem?

Having then been reduced to editing between the original direct from the camcorder to the VHS machine I soon realised how much easier it would be if I could synchronise the two machines.

The only trouble with that seems to be that the LANC socket on the camcorder seems incompatible with the system fitted to both my JVC and Panasonic VCRs.

Is there a solution to this?

S. Marriott

London SE19

 

A15

The reason your final production looks so rough is that it's a copy of a copy, i.e. a third-generation recording. You really shouldn't go beyond a second generation, which means using your

camcorder as the source deck. Unless you're going into editing in a big way the extra workload on your camcorder shouldn't be a problem. The LANC or Control L socket on your machine is not compatible with anything you'll find on a JVC or Panasonic VCR but they can be made to communicate with each other via an editing controller. There's plenty to choose from, a good place to start looking it at Sony's own, or maybe one of the growing number of universal controllers that operate the record deck via an IR link.

MODE MUDDLE

My camera is a Sony CCD F355E and my VCR a Panasonic NV-J47B.  Both can be switched to Edit mode - when editing, should I switch both to Edit mode or only one?  If so, which will give the better result?

A. Baker

Wimbourne Minster, Dorset

 

A16

The edit switches on both your camcorder and VCR only affect the video output. They're intended to sharpen up the synchronisation pulses of the output signal, as you may know, copying a video recording from one machine to another degrades the signal. Make sure the edit switch on your camcorder is in the on position, the one on the VCR won't have any effect when using it to record from your camcorder.

 

BIRD BRAIN

Having recorded birds in flight at a shutter speed of 1/1000th second on my JVC GR-S707 to playback in slow motion, is it possible (using two JVC S-VHS recorders - using the VHS-C original in a cassette adaptor) to make a successful recording in SP to be able to watch the finished film without having to drop into manual slomo at specific scenes?

Would the Duet Edit work in this set-up, or does the tape time signal make the idea impossible?

D.F. Smith

Tadcaster, N. Yorks

 

A17

If you are asking if it's possible to make a recording of the slow-motion replay of the tape in the source VCR the answer is maybe. We've tried it several times in the past, with mixed results.

It depends on the combination of VCRs but generally the results are disappointing. The duet editing facility has nothing to do with this, it's designed to simplify control operation of two compatible VCRs.

 

THE NUMBERS GAME

I have a Sony F340 and my tapes are edited via a Hama Videoscript 50 and a Vivanco 3044 on to a Panasonic J35; playback is from a Sony EVC3.

Obviously the F340 ensures an excellent standard Video 8 initial image, but presumably I'm losing resolution at both the EVC3 and J35 stages to the extent that the J35 imposes a maximum of 250 lines - the quoted resolution for these machines is about 260 lines for the EVC3 and 250 for the J35.

My F340 camera resolves 270 lines, but when editing I'm using VCR decks with a resolution down to 250 lines plus a video processor and title generator with unknown effects.  Do the processors impose a further penalty reducing resolution below the 250 mark and, secondly, is there any benefit in the camera having a higher resolution capability than that of the final VCR which is usually the weakest link in the chain?

D. Hughes

New Barnet, Herts

 

A18

Wow, you're obsessed by numbers! No amount of juggling is going to alter the fact that you're ending up with a third generation copy of your original, and it's going to look ragged around the edges! The processors are the least of your problems, the simplest way to improve picture quality is skip a generation and edit directly to either VHS or 8mm.

 

HITCH IN TIME

I own a Hitachi VM-S83 which allows me to manually control the exposure.  However, because of movement such as zooming etc.,

within the same shot my camera tells me I am under/over exposing.  How much latitude (in terms of aperture) have I got and does it

depend on the tape used?

Secondly, since reading that batteries should be stored in a discharged state and unable to buy a discharger for my 9.6V battery, I've been using the car inspection lamp.  I have since heard that there should be a residual charge of 5V for a 6V battery.  Am I doing more harm than good to my batteries?

C. Brown

Leyton, London E15

 

A19

How long is a piece of string? The best way to get to bet to know the exposure system on your camcorder is to use it, and no, tape grade has no effect on exposure latitude, this is video...

Discharging your batteries on a car inspection lamp is asking for trouble. Drain them too far and they will go into a state known as reverse polarity and that's invariably fatal for nicads. There's plenty of dischargers available for your type of battery, see the battery care feature in the March issue of Video Camera.

 

NOISE ANNOYS

I was surprised to find that on my Panasonic M10 you cannot switch the microphone off.  The only way I know of doing so is to plug in an external mic with an on/off switch which can cut the sound off completely when in the off position.

A built in switch on the built in microphone would be a great help: is there a technical reason why this should not be so?

R. Summers

Bristol, Avon

 

A20

Why you should want to do such a thing escapes me but the simplest way to mute the on-board mike on your machine is to insert an unwired jack plug into the external mic socket.

 

FILM FUN

I have inherited an extensive 8mm cine film library and I wish to make a tape of edited highlights without cutting the original film.  I would, therefore, like your advice on a few matters before starting.

What is the best way to edit a large variety of scenes once these have been transferred onto video?  Will it be possible to compensate to any degree for the varying levels of brightness on the original film and, finally, what precautions are necessary in making copies from the final edited video?

M. Gillibrand

Bangor, Gwynedd

 

A21

Rather than copy the film to video to edit it, why not edit directly to video? The best way to do this is to use a transfer screen or box, there's plenty to choose from, your local dealer should be able to advise you which one will suit your particular set-up. Alternatively have a word with our backnumbers department to see if they can get hold of the April 92 issue for you, it featured a comprehensive guide to cine transfer units.

 

FILTER TIP

I have kept a 49mm UV filter and Polarising filter from my 35mm days. The handbook for my Mitsubishi HS-CX1 recommends I use an ND filter for sunny situations, though it does have a position SKI to cover these circumstances.

Will the polariser do the same job as an ND or will the SKI setting be okay?  Also, when in use on a 35mm camera it was easy to find the right position in the polariser's circular motion in the viewfinder. 

However, in the CX1's black and white viewfinder I find it impossible to tell when the polariser is doing its job.  Can you please advise with any tips?

M. Nicholson

Leighton Buzzard, Beds

 

A22

Polarising and ND filters have different effects, and they're not the same as the SKI position on Mitsubishi CX camcorders. This is designed to help when shooting high-contrast subjects against a bright background (i.e. snow), by adjusting the machine's exposure and white balance settings. On balance ND filters are better for shooting on sunny days, and they're extra protection for the lens. Your polarising filter

NO SO SUPER VHS?

I read in your December '92 issue that S-VHS recordings of off-air TV programmes don't look significantly better than standard VHS. Can you explain why this is so?

F. McConkey

Cockermouth, Cumbria

 

A23

The simple answer is noise. There's comparatively little difference in the resolution, or the amount of detail in an off-air TV picture, and a recording of an off-air picture made on Super VHS VCR, but the signal-to-noise ratio of pictures recorded on VHS and Super VHS VCRs are much higher. The eye and brain are far more sensitive to differences in noise levels than resolution, so subjectively off-tape pictures, look inferior.

---end---

(C) R.Maybury 1993 2402

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