VIDEO CAMERA 1993

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REVIEW

 

HEAD

REVISIONIST TENDENCY

 

INTRO

Sanyo have been back to the drawing board -- albeit briefly -- to give the RZ1 a quick facelift. The result is the RZ2 and we've been trying one out to see if the changes have been worth the effort

 

COPY

When Sanyo launched the RZ1 late last year we gave it a cautious welcome, noting that it wasn't a particularly exciting machine, but at the time it had few serious rivals at the budget end of the market. Now it has been replaced by the RZ2, which like its predecessor will be selling for around 570, making it even better value for money in the wake of numerous price increases, triggered by exchange rate fluctuations.

 

There have been a number of design changes since the RZ1, not quite enough to make it a new machine, but there are sufficient differences to warrant a second look. Most of the work has been in the right side of the machine, to improve handling comfort; the mouldings on the tape hatch are much more rounded, so they fit better into the palm of the hand. The angle and shape of the zoom rocker has also be altered, to make it more accessible, and it has been given a new all-black black livery.

 

Under the skin little seems to have been changed, though our tests revealed a couple of very minor variations in performance between this sample and our previous encounter with the RZ1. The basic specification remains the same; like the RZ1 the RZ2 is a fairly basic compact 8mm machine with an 8x zoom, two-speed recording, infra-red remote control and automated exposure controls. In addition to full auto there are five 'preset' shooting modes, as Sanyo call them, they fall some way short of being a programmed AE system but it does give the user some creative control. They are:

 

* sports (automatic shutter speed selection between 1/50th and 1/250h sec)

* auto high-speed shutter (speed set automatically between 1/25th and 1/10,000th sec)

* close-up, which adjusts the zoom setting and focusing range

*  low-light, this de-sensitises the AF system for indoor use, in poor light

* flickerless, which sets the shutter to 1/120th sec, to reduce flicker when shooting under 60Hz tube light.

 

Sanyo have retained all of the RZ1's good design points, which include the captive lens cap with it's clever retaining clip, which keeps it out of the way when shooting and makes it almost impossible to loose; accessory shoe; simple to use dual-mode controls (camera buttons double up as transport keys), and charger/adaptor with battery refresh circuit. Unfortunately the bad points remain as well and they are the awkward cover for the AV sockets, manual focus controls, odd pull-out viewfinder, and there's no fader or external microphone socket.

 

PERFORMANCE

The differences in performance we've identified, between the RZ1 and RZ2 are very minor, and all to the good, in particular the auto white balance system coped better with tube light and the slight colour caste we'd noticed on the RZ1 had all but disappeared. Similarly the tiny amount of colour bleed we had observed on recordings made on the RZ1 were nowhere to be seen on the RZ2.  Resolution on the RZ2 was little different to the RZ1 at around the 240-line mark, which we consider to be a fair average for a budget machine. Noise levels were unremarkable on both machines, tolerable is how we described the RZ1, the same applies to this machine. Focus and exposure are both average to good, the AF system can be a little indecisive and slow at times, but under most normal conditions it does a reasonably good job. The preset modes are sort of halfway-house program AE, and they do what they set out to do reasonably efficiently, but it fails to address the commonest exposure problems, such as strong backlighting.

 

Sound quality is fair, it's a mono machine but the 8mm system's FM soundtrack is still much crisper than the linear soundtrack on VHS-C machines. The microphone is reasonably directional; it will pick up motor whine and handling noises, though they're only heard on recordings made in very quiet surroundings.

 

VERDICT

The RZ1 is the latest in a growing number of revisions, where the biggest changes are often the model number and price. The RZ2 isn't sufficiently different to the RZ1 to make us change our mind about this machine. It's still a good choice for newcomers because it is so easy to use, and capable of quite reasonable results, however be warned that it has only limited scope for creativity and those who want to progress in their video movie-making will soon discover its limitations. Set against the background of rising prices the RZ2 is a good deal and this latest incarnation will remain on our list of best budget buys.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/model                   Sanyo VM-RX2P

Recording format            8mm

Guide price                     570

 

OPTICS

Lens                               f1.8, 6-48mm

Zoom                               8

Filter diameter               37mm  

Pick-up device                0.3in CCD (320k pixels)

Min. illum. (lux)              2

 

VIDEO DECK

Long Play (LP)                          yes

Max. rec. time                                          240mins (LP mode)

IR remote control ?                                    yes

Edit terminal?                                              no

             

MAIN FACILITIES               

Auto Focus?                              yes             Manual focus?               yes

Auto exposure?             yes             Manual iris?                              no

Programmed AE?                  no            Backlight compensation            no

Auto white balance                          yes             Manual white balance?            no

Power zoom                              yes            Manual zoom?              no

Character generator?            no            Digital Superimposer?            no

Image stabiliser?                     no            Insert edit?                             no

Battery refresh?                            yes            Accessory shoe?                      yes

Record review                yes            Fader?                          no

Digital effects                             no            Digital zoom?                          no

 

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

time/date recording, preset shooting modes (sports, auto high-speed shutter, close-up, low-light and flickerless)

 

VIEWFINDER

Viewfinder                       0.6in monochrome

Sportsfinder eyepiece?   no

Viewfinder info.               deck mode and status, low battery, tape count,  focus mode, tape end, time/date, preset mode

 

AUDIO

Stereo?                                       no

Audio dub?                                no

Wind noise filter?                no

Mic socket?                              no

Headphone socket?             yes

Microphone                                      omnidirectional electret

 

GENERAL

Sockets                                  video and audio out (phono), earphone (minijack), DC                                                        power in

Size (mm)                               116 x 120 x 264

Weight                                    0.9kg (inc. tape and battery)

 

STANDARD ACCESSORIES

Batteries, (nicad and lithium), straps, AC charger/power supply, strap, DC lead

 

video light?                    no            remote control? yes

cassette adaptor?            N/A            RF Converter?             yes

SCART adaptor?            no        

 

PERFORMANCE

Resolution                                           <240 -lines

Colour fidelity                         average

Picture stability                       average

Colour bleed                            none 

White balance                                     good 

Exposure                                 average

Autofocus                                average 

Audio performance                 fair 

Insert edit                                manual inserts clean 

Playback thru adaptor              N/A

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money          9

Ease of use                  9

Performance                8

Features                      7

 

---end---

(c) R Maybury 1993 0808

 

 

 

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