VIDEO CAMERA 1994

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REVIEW

 

HEAD

SMOOTHER SANYO

 

INTRO

It’s spot the difference time again as Sanyo replace the EX30 with the EX33...

 

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Sanyo launched the VM-EX30 almost exactly a year ago, we liked that machine so much we gave it our ‘Innovation of the Year’ award for 1993, so it’s successor has a lot to live up to. However, if you’re expecting some sort of radical re-design forget it! Sanyo don’t work like that, they tend to play it safe with their model revisions with just a few tweaks here and there.

 

Even the price stays the same, the EX33 also costs £800, which is fair enough, but Sanyo should be keeping an eye on what else is now available in that price bracket. If you missed last year’s review, here’s a potted outline. The most important feature is the multi-purpose LCD monitor. Not only does it let you see and hear what you’ve just shot on a 2.2-inch colour screen, it also acts as a wired or IR remote control, and it incorporates an 8-scene edit controller. That, by the way is one of the differences, the EX30’s controller only had a 5-scene memory. The handset controls the replay from the camcorder, and at the same time operates record VCR, using IR commands. The handset contains control codes for almost 30 different brands of VCR.

 

The EX33, like its predecessor has a Control L (or LANC) edit terminal, making it compatible with a wide range of edit controllers; a very welcome feature, and still quite unusual on 8mm machines costing less than £800.

 

Up front there’s a 12x zoom lens -- the EX30 had a 10x zoom -- this new lens has a servo control ring for manual focus, replacing the nasty focus thumbwheel on the EX30, one of our biggest complaints with that machine. One thing that doesn’t seem to have changed are the six preset shooting modes, they are:

* flickerless recording under 60Hz tube light

* sports mode with shutter speed automatically set between 1/50th to 1/250th sec

* twilight mode, with white balance optimised to capture the reds of sunrise and sunset

* low-light or gain up, for shooting in poor light

* auto high-speed shutter, with speeds between 1/25-1/10000th sec, for capturing fast action

* close-up mode, essentially a macro option

 

Apart from a fader that’s about it as far as the camera controls are concerned, it’s a highly automated design that fortunately manages to cope quite well with most lighting situations.

 

The edit controller is very simple to set up and use, though if you’re thinking of buying one of these machines check first that your VCR is covered by the controllers command library, there are gaps. To use it just play the tape, pressing the ‘memo’ button on the monitor module to mark edit in and out points. Press ‘run’ and each scene is replayed, in the specified order; at the same time the controller operates the record-pause function on the VCR. It’s reasonably accurate -- we managed to get consistently to within a second or so --  though there’s no means of changing the edit points, or compensating for differences in VCR timings.

 

PERFORMANCE

When we tested the EX33 last year resolution was just over 230 lines; this time around we’ve noticed a small improvement, to just over 240-lines. It could just be a result of variations between samples, but whatever the reason it helps when editing. Second generation copies from the EX30 looked a bit ragged around the edges, edits made using this machine are far more satisfactory, still not great, but a lot more presentable. There’s no significant changes in colour accuracy or noise levels, but they were fairly good to begin with, so no problems there.

 

The mono soundtrack  remains much the same, thanks to the new manual focus control there’s less chance of fingers coming into contact with the microphone.

 

VERDICT

The changes, such as they are, are very welcome, and the small improvement in video performance makes a difference to this machine’s potential as an edit source deck. The LCD monitor concept was a considerable innovation last year but since then it has been overshadowed by Sharp’s View Cam and the Sony Vision machines, nevertheless we still prefer this implementation. You’re not forced to use the monitor, it can be used for other things, including remote recording and playback, and controlling an optional motorised pan/tilt head. Although the basic design is now getting on a bit it’s still a good machine for newcomers, and in particular those who are far-sighted enough to realise that they may want to progress beyond video snapshooting one day.

 

THE RIVALS

Since the EX30 appeared JVC got in on the editing act with the AX55 and 75, which have similar capabilities, though without the LCD monitor. The AX75, at £850 is a good machine with more advanced exposure controls, and, it has to be said, slightly better picture quality. If you like the idea of the LCD screen then take a look at the Sharp View Cam and Sony SC5, but be prepared to shell out another £100, but they are both quite basic point and shoot machines. £800 also buys the Panasonic NV-S70, a very appealing S-VHS-C palmcorder with stereo sound and an edit terminal, and that is still our value for money and performance choice in that price bracket.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/model                             SANYO VM-EX33                  

Recording format                          8mm

Guide price                              £800

 

OPTICS

Lens                             f/1.8, 5.5-66mm

Zoom                           x12

Filter diameter            37mm  

Pick-up device            0.3in CCD

Min illum                     2 lux (low light mode) 

 

VIDEO DECK

Long play (LP)                 no                   

Max rec time                   120mins (SP mode only)

IR remote control                   yes

Edit terminal                            yes (Control L)

 

MAIN FACILITIES               

Auto focus                                yes                  

Manual focus               yes      

Auto exposure             yes                              

Programmed AE                    no (see text)    

Fader                                       yes                  

Manual white balance            no       

Auto white balance                       yes                                          

Manual zoom                           no       

Power zoom                            yes                                                                              

Insert edit                                no       

Audio dub                                no

Character generator                     no                   

Digital superimposer               no       

Image stabiliser                      no                   

Video light                               no       

Battery refresh                         yes                               

Accessory shoe                 yes      

 

 

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

time/date recording,  record review,  tally lamp, LCD colour monitor, built-in edit controller

 

VIEWFINDER

Viewfinder                       0.6in monochrome/ 2.2in colour LCD

Viewfinder info               deck mode and status, low battery, tape count, fader, focus mode, tape end, time/date, edit mode and status, IR code, dew

 

AUDIO

Stereo                             no       

Wind noise filter         no               

Mic socket                        yes              

Headphone socket         no

Mic                                   unidirectional electret

 

GENERAL

Sockets                           video and audio out (phono), edit control (8-pin mini DIN),       

                                         external mic, Control L (minijack), DC in

Size                                  119 x 111 x 208 (mm)                      

Weight                             1.1kg (inc tape and battery)

 

STANDARD ACCESSORIES

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

AV lead                        yes      

video light                   no                   

remote control            yes      

cassette adaptor            n/a                  

RF Converter             yes      

SCART adaptor            no                   

 

PERFORMANCE

Resolution                     240-lines

Colour fidelity               good

Picture stability             good

Colour bleed                  none

White balance                average

Exposure                       average

Auto focus                      average

Audio performance       average

Insert edit                      manual inserts clean

Playback thru adaptor  n/a

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money          8

Ease of use                  8

Performance                8

Features                      9

 

---end---

R Maybury 1994 2207

 

 

 


 

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