VIDEO CAMERA 1994

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SEPTEMBER NEWS

 

SONY ON THE MOVE

Sony UK have just finished moving to bright shiny new premises in Weybridge, Surrey, which will come as a great relief to anyone who has ever tried to find a parking space near their old South Street offices in the middle of Staines. Their new address is: Sony United Kingdom Limited, The Heights, Brooklands, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 0XW. They’ve got new telephone numbers too, they are: (0932) 81600; should you need to send them a fax dial (0932) 817000.

 

CAM FRIENDLY HITCH

It’s been a while since a Hitachi VCR caught our attention but the recently-launched VT-F350 is the sort of machine that should appeal to camcorder owners, and at just under £430 it seems like quite a good deal. The first thing you notice is the size, it’s small, only 380mm wide, but they’ve still managed to pack in a whole bunch of useful features, including:

 

* stereo hi-fi recording system

* NICAM decoder

* Video Plus+ timer programming

* front-mounted AV terminal and syncro start socket

* multi-brand remote with TV controls

* shuttle dial on handset

* twin SCART connectors

* variable slomo

* endless play

 

We have one in for evaluation right now, and the results look very encouraging, so keep an eye out for a test report in forthcoming issues.

 

ROARING NINETY

Panasonic’s almost single-handed mission to revive the fortunes of the VHS-C format continues apace with the announcement of the NV-S90. It’s a Super VHS-C palmcorder, an upgrade of the popular S85, with a number of enhancements that should guarantee it gets noticed by serious and semi-pro movie-makers.

 

The most interesting new feature is a no-loss electronic image stabiliser, in fact it’s the first one to have a claimed resolution of more than 400-lines. But first the basics. Like the S85 it has stereo hi-fi sound, ‘crystal clear’ digital processing system, for improved colour accuracy and reduced picture noise; a three-mode program AE system (sports, portrait and low-light), plus auto power-save and anti ground-shooting systems, now a a standard fitment on machines powered from compact 4.8 volt battery packs.

 

Moving on to the creative facilities there’s the same assortment of digital effects as the S85 with  20x electronic zoom, gain-up, wipe, mix, strobe and snapshot, plus rather more useful things like audio dub manual iris and shutter. The new electronic stabiliser is based around a one third-inch CCD imaging chip made up of 680k pixels; the 400-line res figure is maintained by addressing 390k of those pixels, the same number of picture elements on CCDs used on conventional (unstabilised) high-band machine.

 

There’s one wholly new feature, a timebase corrector (TBC) which regnerates or reshapes weak or corrupted synchronisation pulses from off-tape recordings. Synch pulses are one of the first parts of the video signal to suffer during copying and the natural ageing process of tape, resulting in a jittery or unstable picture. Old or wonky second generation recordings played back on this machine should appear rock-solid.

 

Editing is always high on Panasonic’s agenda and in addition to a 5/11-pin edit terminal the S90 has a VITC generator with full read/write capabilities. As well as invisibly tagging each frame of recording with a unique address code it also records camera settings (zoom, shutter speed, exposure etc), and time/date information in a separate data code that can be shown on the viewfinder display.

 

A potent-sounding machine but it’s going to be horribly expensive, right? No, the S90 will cost £1200, the same as the S85 when it was launched late last year. The S85 is scheduled to continue for a while, but the price drops down to £1000, making it even better value for money than before. If all goes well we should have a full test report prepared in time for the next issue, watch this space!

 

LANCS FOR THE MEMORY

We’ve been caught before by claims made by VCR manufacturers, that later turn out to be complete nonsense, so we’re treating this one with caution. However, we’re now reasonably convinced that the edit controller built into the Panasonic NV-HS100 Super VHS VCR -- due for launch later this year -- will be LANC compatible, able to control Sony camcorders, or indeed any 8mm camcorder fitted with a Control L edit terminal. If that turns out to be the case this promises to be one helluva machine.

 

It’s the S-VHS version of the HD700, with knobs on! We raved about that machine a few months back; the star feature was the on-board edit controller which takes command of the source deck’s tape transport, instructing it to replay designated scenes in a specified order, which the VCR then records. We mourned the fact that the HD700 could only work with camcorders fitted with Panasonic’s own 5/11 pin edit terminal, and urged them to do something about it. If our information is correct they have, and the HS1000 takes the process to its logical conclusion by controlling 8mm and Hi8 machines as well. This fills a big gap in the market for a Control L equipped S-VHS VCR, something serious video movie-makers have been asking for for years but to date Sony have refused to market a domestic S-VHS video recorder in the UK.

 

The controller on the HS1000 has a 10-scene memory  but according to the preliminary specifications we’ve seen, it can be extended to 50 scenes with an optional add-on VITC generator read/write board costing around £150. Details are still sketchy but we understand will be a dealer retrofit. Another important edit-oriented facility is a timebase corrector (TBC), which improves the stability of second-rate or noisy recordings played on the HS1000 by regenerating the synchronisation pulses.

 

The rest of the features list is reasonably familiar territory but for those who may have missed the HD700 review it includes:

* stereo hi-fi sound and NICAM

* multi-lingual on-screen display

* Video Plus+ timer programming and PDC

* NTSC replay

* audio dub

* sound on sound

 

We’ve saved the price for the end. You’re right, that little lot isn’t going to come cheap, the HS1000 will set you back £1200, making it the dearest Super-VHS video recorded on the market, apart from the Panasonic W1 digital standards-conversion machine. We’re not going to comment one way or another, apart from saying if it turns out to be as good as the specs suggest it should be worth every penny.

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1994 0807

 


 

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