VIDEO CAMERA 1994

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MARCH NEWS

 

NICAD MEMORY FORGOTTEN?

In a clever piece of lateral thinking DSM Video have come up with a potential solution to the memory and cell imbalance problems associated with nickel cadmium batteries. As you doubtless know by now, especially, if you've owned a camcorder for more than a few months, the capacity of nickel cadmium batteries fall sharply if they're given repeated top-up charges, or never allowed to fully discharge. The new DSM battery, which is due to go into production shortly, gets around this by having its own built-in discharger circuit, that always ensures any residual charge is safely drained away, before the next charge. The battery will also incorporate a warning indicator that alerts the user if the battery is being over-discharged. This can happen if, for example, the battery is used to power a video light, most of which do not have safety cut-offs. If the cells in a nicad are discharged below one volt per cell they can get into a damaging condition known as polarity reversal, and that usually means the end of the battery. We're hoping to have our hands on some samples by the time you read this, so look out for them in a forthcoming Minitest.

 

 

IT'S IN THE BAG!

Quick as a flash Vivanco, bespoke tailors to the camcorder market, have come up with a new, specially designed bag for the latest Panasonic 'slimcorders'. The Touring 820B has been made to fit the NV-CS1 and R50 models, and presumably the new R10, which you can read about elsewhere in this month's news. The bag is made to their usual high standard from woven water-resistant fibres; it has storage space for a spare tape and battery and affords a good deal of protection against accidental knocks and bumps, as well as the element. They will be in the shops anytime now, costing just 16.95.

 

More new products from Vivanco, this time a pair of tough-looking tripods, called the VS160 and 170. Features include Titan-finished tubular telescopic legs, fluid-effect pan/tilt heads and a built-in spirit level. Prices start at just under 60 for the 160 model, and 70, all but five pence, for the VS-160.

 

A CUT ABOVE?

Hama are at it again! Calling their new Video Cut 520 a video editor stretches credulity just a little, nevertheless it is still a very handy post-production tool. The 520 is a direct descendant of the Video Cut 202, it's basically an AV processor, with a IR control system that operates the record-pause function on a VCR, for making flying edits. In other words it has no memory, or means of controlling the source deck, so the edit in and out points have to be controlled manually, as the recording is being played back by the camcorder. The IR command is 'learnt' from the VCRs remote handset, and an IR emitter on the back of the unit transmits the code. Cuts can be either hard, i.e. instant scene transitions, or soft, with the cut gradually faded in or out.

 

In addition to the three-channel mixer the 520 has an enhancer circuit, to reduce quality losses during copying, an AV fader (to black or white); it is also S-Video compatible, with a video bandwidth in excess of 400-lines. The 520 goes on sale shortly for just under 150, which is reasonable when you consider it's more than just another AV processor. It sounds like just the job for light editing and post-production work, look out for a more detailed appraisal next month.

 

SLIM CHANCE?

Panasonic's very agreeable 'slim' palmcorder, the NV-R50, which was launched last Autumn, has been back to the design studio and re-emerged as the leaner, fitter and cheaper NV-R10. Our verdict on the R50 concluded that it was a very good machine, but rather expensive at 900, and we'd prefer to pay 100 less for one with a monochrome viewfinder. Well, Panasonic have done us proud, the R10 will sell for just under 700, so what else have they chopped?  As far as we can see the only other omissions -- apart from the colour viewfinder -- have been the digital effects system, and the fader, otherwise the two machines have a very similar basic specification, which includes:

* 10x variable-speed zoom

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

* low-light sensitivity of 1 lux

* single-switch start

* large on-screen display

 

The R10 is more than just a stripped-down R50, though, it has a couple of new features of its own. The most interesting one is an auto power-save circuit, which shuts down power-hungry systems like autofocus, zoom and viewfinder when the machine is put into the record-standby mode. Unlike the Panasonic S85, which uses an infra-red sensor, to determine when the machine is in the shooting position, the R10 adopts a much simpler approach, with a position sensor, that detects when the machine is pointing at the ground. After a couple of seconds, providing none of the controls are touched, or the machine is brought back up again, the power saver circuit trips in. As soon as the machine is raised back up it reverts back to full readiness. Similar logic is used on the R10's Anti Ground Shooting system. The R10 avoids unintentional shots of the ground and the users feet by sensing when the machine is left recording whilst pointing downwards, and being shook about, which would occur when the user starts walking. After a couple of seconds of this the machine automatically goes into record-pause, and thenceforth into the power save mode. Of course both options can be disabled, just in case you actually want to shoot the ground, or do a slow downwards tilt, that might fool the machine into thinking it's been left running. 

 

We're testing an R10 as we speak, so look out for a full test report, hopefully in the April issue.

 

AND ABOUT TIME TOO...

Before anyone asks, this not a cute little homedeck VCR, to start with it has no tuner or timer, and you won't find many movies on 8mm cassettes down the local hire shop... No the, the eagerly-awaited Sony EV-C500 Hi8 deck has a much more serious purpose and it has finally reached the UK this month, a little late in our opinion as it went on sale in some other European countries before last Christmas, however, it has been worth the wait.

 

The C500 is the high-band version of the EV-C45 8mm deck, that you may recall we looked at about this time last year. The feature list and layout  of the new machine is broadly the same as its predecessor;  it's a well-specified edit deck, with stereo sound, good tape navigation facilities and the all-important Control L edit terminal. The price, in case you're wondering, is a whisker less than 650, which is about right, all things considered. 

 

It has been designed primarily as an edit source deck, so the controls and operation have been made as simple as possible, frills and gadgets are almost non existent. The Hi8 video system is complimented by stereo AFM sound; it has a dual-mode shuttle ring for variable-speed playback, in either direction, and there's a voice-boost function, which helps improve speech quality on the soundtracks, when there's a lot of background noise. It comes with a remote control handset and a set of audio leads. There a full set of AV connectors on the back panel, including S-Video sockets and a SCART, plus minijacks for the Control L interface, and Sony's propietry Control S  system, which allows this machine's control system  to be integrated with other Sony AV products. If the performance of this deck is anything like as good as the EC45 then its bound to be popular with serious and semi-pro video movie-makers, but you'll have to wait until next month to find out, when we'll be carrying a full test report.

 

IMAGE STABILISER IMPROVED?

More details of a new electronic image stabilisation system, first revealed to Video Camera last year, are now beginning to emerge. We've been told that the system, which has been developed by Panasonic, will entail almost no loss of picture quality, unlike the present generation of electronic stabilisers. Existing electronic stabilisers work by scanning a selected portion of the CCD image chip, which changes in response to information from motion sensing circuitry, counteracting any movement.  The reduced image area has to be electronically enlarged, to fill the screen, and this results in a noticeable loss of detail.

 

The new system is based around a new high-density CCD chip, with over half a million picture elements, or pixels. That compares with the 300,000 to 420,000 pixels on the CCDs used on most of today's camcorders. The basic idea remains the same, the scanned area will still change in response to movement, but the increased number of pixels means the will be no quality loss.  This new design casts a shadow over optical image stabilisation systems developed by Sony and Canon, there's no loss of picture quality but they are both bulky, and expensive, and not as responsive as most electronic systems. For the moment Panasonic are not saying when we can expect to see the new system on a PAL camcorder, though there is speculation that a derivative of the S85, possibly the S95, could be with us later in the year. Panasonic traditionally launch new models to the trade in late Spring, if we get any more information we'll let you know.

 

---end---

R.Maybury 1994 1401

 

 

 

 


 

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