HomeSoftwareArchiveTop TipsGlossaryOther Stuff




I have been doing still photography for more years than I care to remember, but I thought it was about time I tried my hand at video. After several months extensive homework, I decided to purchase a JVC VHS-C GR-M7 Pro camcorder. It has all the features I require, but when recording something as simple as people walking in the street the result on the television screen are disappointing.  In sunshine the subjects have a white band on one side and a black shadow on the other.  In overcast conditions similar results have a black shadow all around the subjects.


In an attempt to correct this problem I have tried adjusting the white balance, exposure control and shutter speeds, along with various other things.


Am I doing something wrong, or am I asking too much in comparing the results with a still photograph?


R. Brown

Loughton, Essex



If you try and compare the quality of a video recording with a photograph you certainly will be disappointed, but the shadows youíre seeing sound somewhat excessive. Itís difficult to diagnose from a distance, it could be any one of a number of effects, including ringing, smearing or vignetting, some of which are inevitable on video recordings, but are usually so slight they go unnoticed. What you need to do is establish is whether this effect is a fault, or simply you being overly critical, and the best person to do that is an engineer who can give the machine a thorough health check. Alternatively, send us a recording and weíll have let you know what we think.




I own a Panasonic NV-G1B camcorder, NV-L20B VCR, Camlink VMX2000 and a Video Tech VTG 228 titler.  Iím considering updating my camera and I quite favour either the JVC GR-AX55 or the GR-AX75. 


Could you please advise me if either of these is compatible with my current equipment?


Mrs. A. Swadling

Cheltenham, Glos



You wonít have any problems connecting either of the two JVC camcorders to your post-production equipment and video recorder. JVC, in common with all other VCR, camcorder and accessory manufacturers maintain compatibility by using internationally agreed video and audio signal configurations. Such differences as there are, are mostly concerned with the types of plugs and sockets used to connect the equipment together. JVC favour combining audio and video signals on one miniature DIN connector, almost everyone else uses phono type connector, however, itís not a problem as these days you can get ready-made leads with just about every possible permutation of plug and socket.




I have a Sony CCD F350E camcorder.  By removing the unit from an inexpensive toy radio controlled car, which operates a relay/switch, I can plug this into the remote socket and operate the camera from afar.


My questions are: is this the wrong use of this socket and what are remotes for, anyway?


S. Watson

Sturminster Newton, Dorset



The remote socket youíre referring to is the famous Control L or LANC socket, which can be used to connect the machine to an edit controller. Technically speaking Control L is an open-collector, bi-directional serial bus carrying, amongst other things, control signals for the tape deck and tape counter information. In the arrangement you describe youíre short-circuiting the bus to ground, and thatís not a very good idea, donít do it!




My question concerns editing, in particular how to get accurate edit points.  I have a Canon E6 which I appreciate is not the best starting point but although I have done some basic copying/editing onto VHS it has been very hit and miss.


Page 31 of your September issue says that RCTC can be added to tapes after they have been recorded.  How and what equipment do I need?


R. Atfield

Billericay, Essex



Currently only a handful of top-end Sony camcorders and one VCR have the capacity to add RC time codes to previously recorded tapes, and you will still need an suitable edit controller to read the codes, so by the time youíve got all the equipment together you wouldnít see much change out of £2000, even  for a basic system! Unless youíre going into video movie-making on a professional basis I doubt very much that you need timecode equipment. However, you do have a problem with your current machine which is incapable of working with an edit controller, so youíre stuck with manual editing. Donít get me wrong, manual editing is fine, and with practice thereís no reason why you shouldnít be able to achieve quite a high degree of accuracy, but if you want to progress then youíre going to have to think about getting another camcorder. Several have their own built-in edit controllers, notably JVCís AX range, or the Sony EM series, or you could get one fitted with an edit terminal -- most Panasonic and virtually all Sony machines have them nowadays, and these can be used with suitable edit controllers for automated assemble edits.




A year or so ago I purchased a Camlink VMX5000 Video Edit System which Iíve found satisfactory with one exception.  The system boasts a Split-Screen function but how ever much I try, Iím unable to split the picture on the screen.


I wrote to Camlink, explaining the problem and asked if they would explain, in writing, just what I should do to obtain the split-screen effect and, if, with their instructions, I was unable to split the picture I could then assume that there may be a fault within the system.  There was no reply.


Perhaps you might have the answer...


R. Flanagan,

Stockport, Cheshire



Oh dear, I think I see whatís gone wrong here. The split screen facility on this device is probably not what youíre expecting. We normally think of a split-screen as a picture divided into two, with a different image each side of the dividing line. However, in this context it means a single image, with a moveable divisor that shows the before and after effects of any video processing.



I currently own a Ferguson FC23 camera and a Philips VCR.  I wish to improve my editing abilities and want to get down to frame accuracy.  I realise that to do this I have to write time code signals to my tapes.  Iíve been told that the camera is unable to do this as the required circuitry is not in my camera - although some outlets are willing to sell me a Philips time code generator and assure me that it will work with my camera.


I would eventually like to have a system whereby I could generate an edit decision list and then use this to control titling, effects, etc., all with frame and time accuracy. I own a Dell 286 IBM  PC and am considering upgrading to an IBM Blue Lightning.


Your help is requested in pointing out the way forward.  I donít wish to change my camera and have no particular budget in mind, but Iíd wish to buy hardware/software as and when funds allow.


C. Morecroft

Ramsey, I.O.M.



The first thing to do is forget any notions of frame accuracy using domestic video equipment, itís simply not possible. Even with timecoded recordings and a suitable source machine you would still be unable to control the record deck with the necessary accuracy to guarantee frame-accurate edits. Your biggest problem however, is the Ferguson camcorder, unfortunately it doesnít have an edit terminal, that would allow it to communicate with an edit controller, so itís not much use as a source machine in an automated assembly edit system. Incidentally your Dell PC is not really up to the job either, most editing software will only run successfully on a machine with a 386, 486 or Pentium processor; the Blue Lightning PC will be ideal. Iím afraid that if you want to progress any further with this kind of editing youíre going to need a new camcorder, or a VCR that has an edit terminal.




As a newcomer to the gentle art of video production I have purchased a Panasonic NVS85 camcorder and HD-FS200 VCR to use with my existing  Panasonic NV-F65 VCR.


I now wish to purchase an Edit Controller but have found the choice baffling.  The Videonics ĎThumbs-Upí has been favourite because of its VITC feature.  However, two questions still bother me: the Video Camera buyers guide says the ĎThumbs-Upí has no S-Video  compatibility, yet Bandridge say this is an error on your part - who is correct?


Secondly, what is the benefit of having the camcorder with its VITC feature individually numbering every frame when it does not also feature single frame advance to enable you to find an individual frame in the first place?   If edit points have to be selected  Ďon the flyí do I really need a VITC controller anyway?


B. Oakley

Theydon Bois, Essex



Theyíre right, weíre wrong about the S-Video sockets, sorry, wonít do it again, promise...  Itís true Thumbs Up doesnít support frame advance, but you can modify edit points once the scene has been logged, so it is possible to specify the cuts to within a single frame. However, variations in the timing of the operation of the record VCR mean single frame accuracy is not possible in practice. Whether or not you need a VITC controller only you can decide, edit accuracy will definitely be better than on a non timecode system, and a lot more consistent, especially if youíre assembling widely-spaced scenes, or segments from more than one tape. I say, if youíve got it, use it...




On a recent trip to the UK I went shopping for a Panasonic NV-S85 to replace my old MS50.  To cut a long story short I ended up buying an ex-display model of the old Panasonic NV-S7 which, the salesperson told me, had a similar level of performance to the NV-S85. 


On video, the NV-S7 has a poorer contrast ratio than the MS-50.  With scenes of only average contrast, highlights appear burned out on the NV-S7.  Could the automatic iris be at fault?  The effect seems worse on the normal VHS setting, but is also evident on S-VHS recordings.  It can even be seen in the viewfinder.  Maybe the smaller size of CCD reduces the contrast ratio?


Are my findings typical for the performance of the NV-S7, or have I bought a rogue sample?  Also, is its overall level of performance truly similar to the NV-S85ís, as the salesperson said?


R. James

Taipei, Taiwan



Looking back at reviews of the two machines wouldnít have said there was a tremendous difference between them as far as record and replay quality are concerned. On that basis I feel that there may be something wrong with your sample. That said, however, there will be differences between pictures recorded on the MS50 and S7, though not perhaps, as dramatic as the oneís you mention.




I wonder if you can throw any light on a problem I experience when using a Sony TR8 camcorder.


This has the much-heralded new battery technology; the suggested recording time is quoted as 50 minutes per charge.  In fact, I find it difficult to get half of this after charging the battery fully as per the manufacturerís instructions.  I realise 50 minutes is a guide line under near perfect conditions. 


Thinking my original battery may have been faulty, I purchased another - this performs exactly the same way and at £50 a time itís not cheap.


I spoke to Sony who said they were not aware of any problem in this respect.  Are we users doing something incredibly stupid, or is there a problem of which Sony should be aware? Incidentally, after a full charge the battery indicator in the viewfinder shows an almost immediate drop down the scale.


I Carter

Bangor, Gwynedd       



I would have expected a little more than 25 minutes from the battery under normal conditions, though not much. Of course, there could be something wrong with the charger, or maybe even the camcorder itself. Assuming itís still under guarantee I recommend that you take it back to the dealer to have it checked out, at the very least they should be willing to swap the charger with another one, and see if that makes a difference.




Recently the Video Head Clogging warning came up on my Panasonic NV-S7B camcorder.  Following unspooling/respooling, it cleared so I assume it was either an intermittent fault of there was something on the head which was subsequently dislodged.


Looking at the manual I noted that Panasonic make no reference to head cleaners.  They state that the heads can get contaminated over long use and if the Heads Clogging Detection is activated then the unit should be returned to qualified service personnel.


Does this imply that Panasonic donít approve of head cleaners, either because they believe they are ineffective, or they can possibly cause damage?


I accept that a head cleaner canít clean the heads as thoroughly as a service engineer, but surely its use is beneficial?


B. Wilson

Cults, Aberdeen



We spoke to Panasonic about this. A spokesperson told us that whilst they donít necessarily object to head cleaners, they are concerned that users may not follow the instructions to the letter, which could lead to more serious problems.




Could you please explain the full meaning of the ratings for performance and value for money on your technical reports and on your brief summaries on all current models at the end of the magazine?


We have just purchased a Sony CCD TR8E for £709; I presume that this would vastly improve your value for money rating of 7, but donít know how you arrive at performance ratings.


Are these related only to other cameras within the price band - in this case up to £1,500?  If so, in view of the price we paid, would your performance rating also be uprated if it were compared to other cameras in the up to £750 group?


We have recently requested a copy of your original Jan 93 review, but what we really need is a book more fully explaining our cameraís non-basic features.  Can you suggest anything, as Stuart Dollinís Home Video Handbook (whilst  helpful in general terms) didnít really cover Hi8 and S-VHS-C?


B. Culcheth

Ampthill, Beds



The value for money rating is based on the manufacturers recommended selling price. Whilst we acknowledge the Ďstreet priceí may be lower, it would be impossible for us to take into account the myriad of discounts and promotions that occur during the life of a camcorder. Everyone is in the same boat, so itís as fair as we can make it.


As far as the performance rating is concerned, this is taken from the actual review of the machine. Itís a general appraisal, encompassing all aspects of the machines operation and is weighted according to comparisons with machines in the same broad price band, with a similar specification. At the risk of being accused of nepotism the book you seek is The Camcorder, written by our own dear Editor, Chris George and published by XXXX, all yours for the princely sum of £8.99.



Having recently purchased a Sony FX700E camcorder and a Bilora Favourite 830 tripod which has a fluid head, I thought Iíd achieve smooth pans and tilts.  With my combination, however, this is not the case, especially when tilts are involved.


The problem is that the tripod thread on the camera is forward of the centre of gravity thus causing the camera to tilt back unless the tripod tilt screw is almost fully tightened.  The problem occurs with all batteries, but is more acute with the heavier, long life types.


I think this could be solved by the use of a sliding adapter plate so the position of the camera could be adjusted according to the weight of the battery, but my local Tecno store said that this is a problem I would have to live with.


Is there a solution to this basic problem?


P. Symonds

Swavesey, Cambs



I canít see anything wrong with your idea, a sliding adapter plate would seem to be the obvious solution. Providing everything is safely secured you should be able to cancel out the imbalance by varying the position of the camcorder along the plate.




Following a past review in Video Camera on Cine-Video transfer units, I decided to purchase the Bandridge unit to use in conjunction with my Sony CCD FX500E camcorder.


In practice, photo/picture transfer works well, but the cine transfer is completely useless.  As soon as the projected picture reaches a bright sequence the recorded picture oscillates from bright to dark.  As there is no manual control of the aperture on the FX500 Iíve been unable to resolve this problem.  I have spoken twice to Sony about this and they have been most unhelpful.  Can you offer any suggestions? I have tried various filters without much success.


D. Johnson

Beckenham, Kent



Unfortunately thereís nothing you can do to override the FX500ís lively auto exposure system, which will inevitably respond to changes in brightness. The Ďoscillatingí effect suggests to me that the autoexposure system is being overloaded, and is straining to cope with the amount of light going through the lens. Try reducing the brightness of the projector bulb, a thin coat of Tippex typewriter correction fluid on the bulb might do the trick.




I have a Ferguson FC23 camcorder and a Panasonic NV-F70 VCR which has a pause syncro control socket at the rear of the machine.  The FC23 also has a pause syncro control which is functional through the 8 pin mini socket.


The manual of the VCR shows that the input from a camcorder is through the BNC and phono connections at the rear of the VCR when switched to line in.  I am assuming the pause syncro will not work when using the SCART connection. 


Question: Are both machines syncro compatible?  If yes, Iíll obviously need a different cable - where can I get one?


G. Cousins

Basingstoke, Hants



The syncro systems used on JVC and Panasonic equipment are different, and were designed to work with camcorders and VCRs of the same make and vintage. Thereís a possibility that they may work together -- Iím fairly sure they both use a simple open-circuit switching system -- but I canít recall having tried this particular combination, so donít blame me if one or other of the two machines goes up in a puff of smoke...  Even if it does work youíre likely to encounter a timing discrepancy between the two systems, and the cut points you specify using the camcorderís tape memory function may be a long way off on the copied recording. Weíve trawled through the lead catalogues and canít find a suitable lead, though one could be made up. You should be able to use the AV lead supplied with your machine though, I seem to remember that they had syncro edit plugs attached, though you will probably need an armful of adaptors to get the right plug and socket combinations. If you have any luck let us know.



Exactly ten years ago this month I reviewed the very first VHS-C camcorder to reach the UK.  It was the Ferguson C3V41, a clone of the JVC GR-C1, which  didnít arrive until a few weeks later.  Back then Ferguson had a habit of pre-empting JVC launches, much to their annoyance. For the record the 3V41 cost a whopping £1000 (remember, this was late 1984...), it used a Saticon picture tube with a low-light sensitivty of 15 lux, it weighed almost 2 kilogrammes and I recall grumbling about the rechargable battery, which lasted for only 20 minutes, when the instruction book said it was good for 30. Nothing changes....



R. Maybury 1994 1011





[Home][Software][Archive][Top Tips][Glossary][Other Stuff]

Copyright (c) 2005 Rick Maybury Ltd.