VIDEO CAMERA 1994

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ALL MIXED UP

Philips have widened their Cam Plus accessory range beyond batteries, bags, lights and tripods to include their first piece of post production equipment, the SBC 5370 three channel mixer. Itís a fairly cautious start, this particular model has been around a while under various guises, most recently as the Vanguard VM-301S, but thatís no bad thing, we rated it as well worth considering in the November Ď93 issue. Itís a simple enough design with two line inputs, one for the replay machine (camcorder), the other for a music source (CD, tape deck etc), plus a mono/stereo microphone input. Outputs are similarly straightforward, thereís a line output for connection to the record machine, a microphone output --  handy if your camcorder has audio dub -- and a headphone socket. It has a level slider for each input, and a master output level control. The mixer is powered by a 9 volt battery (supplied) or by an optional mains adaptor. Power consumption is very low and in normal use we suspect a battery will last six months or more. The mixer also comes with a set of connecting leads, but the microphone that accompanied the one from Vanguard  is nowhere to be seen.

 

In spite of the rather brief instructions operation is incredibly simple, and thereís virtually nothing to go wrong. The mixerís audio circuitry comfortably exceeds the audio capabilities of most camcorders, though  the high-frequency response tails off quite early and it might be straining to keep up with some top-end pro machines. The sliders on our sample didnít suffer from any noise problems but they were rather stiff and the unit had to be held down to stop it sliding around the desktop. Itís still a good little mixer and we see no reason to change our earlier opinion of it, but between changes of identity there has been a small price hike, and the microphone has disappeard so we might be tempted to still keep an eye out for the Vanguard version. 

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model       CAM PLUS SBC 5370

Guide Price         £45

Inputs                    2 x stereo line-audio, 1 x stereo microphone                              

Outputs               1 x stereo line audio, 1 x mono microphone, 1 x headphone

Leads                   2 x stereo phono, 1 x stereo minijack

Power supply       9 volt battery (supplied)

Dimensions          190 x 122 x 42mm               

Distributor PHILIPS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS, City House, 420-430 London Road, Croydon CR9 3QR. Telephone 081-689 4444

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   8

Simple but effective

 

 

BOOM ECONOMY

Itís surprising how many video movie-makers forget theyíre recording sound, as well as pictures. Itís not a big problem, providing thereís plenty of interesting incidental sounds to help keep the action moving,  but thereís nothing worse than a silent soundtrack. The solution is to add a commentary,  when things get quiet, or the picture doesnít tell the whole story. However, camcorder mikes tend to be fairly insensitive to sounds coming from behind the machine; that neednít be a problem on machines with an external microphone socket, provided of course youíve got a spare hand to hold the mike. You could use a lapel mike, or one of these, the Azden HS-7V headset and boom microphone. The headset/mike has the added advantage of being able to monitor sound, as itís being recorded, though be aware that comparatively few mid-market machines have headphone sockets these days.

 

The HS-7V isnít confined to shooting, though, it can be used equally well at the post-production stage, or for audio dubbing on camcorders and VCRs that have that facility. The headset is a reaosonably comfortable fit, though it has a tendency to creep, and after a few minutes can work itself loose. Now, it has to be said that price and performance usually go hand in hand, and the HS-V7 is no exception; £17 is very cheap for an accessory of this nature, most of the headset/boom mikes weíve tested in the past cost three or four times as much. Indeed most microphones on their own cost twice as much. Sound quality from dynamic microphone is fairly poor, just about okay for speech, but it sounds a bit a like youíre speaking down a telephone. The headphone is a little better but again donít expect too much, and you wonít be dissapointed.

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model       Azden HS-7V

Guide Price         £17

Features              headset with boom microphone

Mic type              dynamic

Impedance          250 ohms

Freq. range         200-4kHz

Headphone type dynamic

Impedance           32 ohms

Plugs                    2 x mono minijack               

Distributor          SAGE DISTRIBUTION Ltd., 21 Whitegates Lane, Earley, Reading, Berkshire RG6 1EE. Telephone (0734) 269073

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   7

Hands-free speech

 

 

JUST IN CASE

The simple fact is most camcorders are weedy wimps and donít like getting wet, or bashed around, which can be a problem for rough-tough camcorder owners who are into watersports or other similarly damp and dangerous pursuits.  The Seal-Tight case could be just what they need; itís similar in construction to the popular Pelican cases favoured by professional photographers. Itís made from a co-polymer material that is extremely rugged and able to withstand just about anything, short of being run over by a steam roller. The case is completely watertight;  the contents are protected by a replaceable O-ring seal that fits inside the rim of the base compartment. The two sections of the case are held shut by four powerful latches. Inside thereís four layers of foam padding; the two middle layers are diced, so sections can be easily removed, for a snug custom fit for whatever is inside. On the underside thereís a pressure relief valve (a screw), so air can be let in (or out), depending on the outside pressure.The case doesnít have any locks but there are padlock holes around the rim.

 

This case is one tough customer, we jumped on it, dropped it and then gave it to a couple of  five year old kids for some real abuse. It firmly resisted all of their attentions and emerged with barely a scratch Eighty pounds might seem a lot to pay for a case but itís a fraction of the cost of a camcorder, so if youíre going to be taking your machine into the wild and wet outdoors this could be the kind of heavy-duty protection it deserves!

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model       SEAL-TIGHT

Guide Price         £80

Features              O-ring waterproof seal, 4-latch closure, pressure release valve, customisable cubed-foam interior

Dimensions         492 x 362 x 203mm (435 x 305 x 184mm internal)

Weight                3.6kg

Distributor          SAGE DISTRIBUTION Ltd., 21 Whitegates Lane, Earley, Reading, Berkshire RG6 1EE. Telephone (0734) 269073

      

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   8

Watertight case for protection

 

SPECIFICATION

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VIDEO CAMERA RATING   X

 

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VIDEO CAMERA RATING   X

 

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VIDEO CAMERA RATING   X

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model      

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VIDEO CAMERA RATING   X

 

SPECIFICATION

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Sockets               

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Weight               

Distributor          

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   X

 

 

 

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(c) R.Maybury 1993 1203

 


 

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