VIDEO CAMERA 1995

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ASK RICK -- SEPTEMBER

 

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MORE BATTERY BLUES

Three years ago my sister and I bought a Canovision E60 and the enjoyment of owning it has been spoilt by problems with the batteries.  The one that came with the camera would only ever play for 10 minutes.  This was probably our fault as we didnít realise these batteries had a memory.  There was no large print warning about this.

 

After a year we bought another battery which gave us about 20 minutes.  When I recently used the camera I fully charged all the batteries before going away and the charger flashed for the usual time (40 minutes for battery number 1 and about 1 hour for number 2) but as soon as I put them in the camera, number 1 flashed ĎBattí and played for three minutes, number 2 only lasted for two minutes.

 

I am really sick of this problem - it has spoilt owning a camcorder.  Is there a solution to this problem?  We cannot afford to keep buying batteries.  I took the camera back to the shop where we bought it and all the assistant did was put it on a discharger; it made no difference at all.  I know itís possible to buy a discharger, but these may be similar in design to the one in the shop. 

 

Would it be possible for you to solve this problem?  I canít afford to spend too much money.

 

Elaine Goldsbrough

Shipley, W.Yorks

 

A1.

Just a thought. Do you leave the camcorderís video light switched on? If so then the battery running times will be very short. If not then three possible causes spring to mind. In order of probability they are that youíve got two duff batteries; thereís something wrong with the charger, or thereís a fault with the camcorderís power management circuitry. The only way to find out which one it is, is by a process of elimination.

 

Start with the battery. Hopefully the shop where you brought your camcorder will be able to help. Ask them to let you try a new, fully charged battery, on your machine, most reputable dealers will be only too happy to oblige, especially if they sold you the replacement battery. A standard capacity battery, in good condition, should last for at least 15 to 20 minutes with normal stop/start shooting. If you get these longer running times (with the light off..) then the camcorder is okay. Next check the charger, and again ask the shop to help by letting you charge their known-good battery on your charger, then check the running time again. If the battery takes a full charge then your batteries are almost certainly the problem. If there is a problem with cell-imbalance then a few charger/discharge cycles, using a discharger may restore some capacity, otherwise youíll have to buy a new one. It might be a good idea to buy a battery discharger in any case, used properly it could prolong the useful life of any new batteries you might get.

 

EVENTFUL EDITS

I want to carry out live editing of events at my school, editing the material from up to 4 cameras as the event is happening to save editing it all afterwards. We want to use a mixture of Panasonic S-VHS and Sony/Canon Hi8 cameras.  In another area we would have monitors to view what the cameras are filming and a continually recording S-VHS machine.

 

We would then switch between the camera which is inputting to the S-VHS machine.  Is there a switching device which would do this?  We would also want to be able to record a live commentary on the S-VHS machine while the event is happening?

 

A. Dakers

Brentford, Middx

 

A2

All this is possible, but I have to ask the question why? Itís a recipe for disaster, unless youíre a moonlighting Ďon-lineí video editor, and can somehow choreograph the whole event, to ensure you know precisely when and where all the important action will be taking place. Youíre making four recordings anyway, so not edit all the best bits together later on, and there no reason why you canít mix in a Ďliveí commentary, made separately on a tape recorder, or recorded on one of the camcorder soundtracks. Doing it this way requires no special equipment, though an edit controller would make life a lot easier. If you want to edit Ďliveí, using four domestic camcorders, then youíre going to need a digital vision mixer, so you can switch cleanly between the four unsynchronised video inputs, the only one that can do that is the Videonics MX1.     

 

CASE IN POINT

I have a Canon 8mm camera and now have a small selection of cassettes.  The problem I have is that 4 of these we bought with the thin plastic covers, the rest have proper plastic flip covers.  Can anyone tell me where I can get hold of empty 8mm flip cassette cases?  I have tried various outlets to no avail.

 

P. Vinicombe

Northallerton, Yorks

 

A3.

Sorry. Iíve asked several tape manufacturers and accessory dealers but no luck. Iím sure someone out there sells them, and would be only too happy to supply you. Hopefully theyíll read this and let us know, if so weíll pass  it on.

 

POETIC JUSTICE

Please listen to my plaintive wail,

I bought a Panasonic at a sale.

One hundred pounds off the M.R.P.

The NV-S7B looked good to me.

All set to transfer my films of long ago

To my brand new Panasonic FS 88 video.

Highly commended - best buy it said

But alas all the whites have turned out red.

The lovely Pacific rollers not so white

And Grannyís hair - a terrible sight.

So is it back to my Super 8 Eumig flicks

Being eighty one Iím too old for tricks.

If all is lost break it gently

But your advice would help aplenty.

 

A. Barclay

Kirkcaldy

 

A4

Itís customary to reply in rhyme

fortunately Iíve got the time.

Your Panny camís a good machine

so itís odd your colours look unclean.

The colour balance needs a fiddle

itís easy to do, no knobs to twiddle.

Aim your camera at the screen

project a light, so only white is seen

Fit the lens cap, it has a filter thatís white

press the WB button then itíll be all right.

Itís not a trick, you can do it with ease

Just read the instruction book next time, please!

  

 

SANYO SUPPORT

I am in need of some advice on what editing machine to purchase from the variety of options available.  I am new to the field of camcorders and have purchased a Sanyo VM EX25P which Iím reasonably happy with. 

 

I have had the use of a friendís Camlink Processor/Mixer which is adequate for the time being.  Looking long term I would like a quality editor now, then I would save for a quality Processor/Mixer and then buy a better camcorder.  My editor would have to be able to be used with any new updated equipment I may buy.

 

I have about £600 to spend and have read in your magazine about the Hama 220, Sony RME 500 and the Vivanco 5055VRT.  I may be able to stretch to the GSE MPE 200SX.  To confuse the issue I am unsure about getting a good VCR with an editor built in.  My current VCR is a Hitachi VTF 770E which is getting a thrashing from my daughterís Disney tapes!  What do you suggest?

 

P. Smith

North Weald, Essex

 

A5

I donít think you need to spend anything like £600 on an edit controller, the Videonics Thumbís Up (rrp £250) will do everything you want, now and in the future. How about the IQ Studio Edit Controller (see review this issue)? Itís a very capable design, and it only costs £170. I think you can forget VCRs with built-in controllers, thereís only one on the market (Panasonic NV-HS1000), that can operate your Sanyo camcorder, and it costs around £1000

 

 

POWER STRUGGLE

As Iím new to the world of video cameras I am having a few problems with battery packs.  I have a Samsung VP-U10 which none of my local dealers cater for.  I would be very grateful for any information on replacement battery packs.

 

K. Millward

Telford, Salop

 

A6.

This shouldnít be a problem. All Samsung 8mm camcorders to date have used standard 6-volt ĎNPí style batteries, the same type that fit the majority of Sony machines. Some accessory battery packs can be a tight fit on Samsung machines, and there have been problems with their chargers not working with other makes of battery; if in doubt take your camcorder and charger along to the shop, so you can make sure.

 

FACE THE FACTS

Having recently purchased the award wining Hitachi HV70 weatherproof camcorder I have discovered that footage often has a bluish tint to it especially peopleís faces and light coloured objects.  This is particularly noticeable in daylight recordings. 

 

On the recommendation of someone I tried a Skylight B and UV filter but this has had no effect on the picture.  Can you suggest a solution to my problem?

 

R. Khanna

Alwoodley, Leeds

 

A7.

It sounds as though the automatic white balance system on this machine may need adjustment, it should be optimised for daylight recording, and whites should look white. As youíve only had it a while, and itís presumably still under guarantee, have it seen too.

 

SUPER SELECTION

Could I ask you what video recorder you suggest I purchase as I have just bought a Panasonic S90 camcorder.  I have a Philips Matchline TV and have had to change my recorder from my present Panasonic J35 to get the advantage of S-VHS.  I am at a loss to know which one to go for - your advice would be most helpful.

 

J. Green

Whatstandwell, Derby

 

A8.

Are you sure you really want a Super VHS VCR? If youíre going to be doing a lot of editing, and make VHS copies from your edited recordings then they make sense, but off-air recordings wonít look any better, and there are no pre-recorded S-VHS movies available. However, if you still want one, then look no further than the Panasonic NV-HS100, apart from being an excellent all-rounder, it has a built-in edit controller that will work with your camcorder.

 

MIXING MAYHEM

Last year I was given a JVC GRAX55 camcorder.  I am now experiencing difficulty with adding sound.  I have taken advice from your magazine and purchased a sound mixer.  This worked but the picture quality was totally unacceptable - very grainy as soon as the mixer is activated.  I have even tried some with sound only to avoid any involvement with the picture.  Apparently this isnít possible with JVC but a friend with a Sony Handycam and a Tandy Disco Mixer appears to get acceptable results. 

 

I have tried using a Camlink 2000 Hama (sound only) and currently have an Archer audio visual mixer enhancer.  The sound is fine but the grainy picture appears when any mixer is switched on.  A JVC dealer suggested I may not be able to separate the video from the audio from the signal on the JVC - perhaps this is due to the DIN plug to 2 phonos on the JVC.

 

Can you advise me on what Iím doing wrong?

 

D. Weir

Kings Lynn, Norfolk

 

A9

This is a bit of a tangle. I assume that what youíre trying to do is mix in a new soundtrack on your recordings, when copying or editing to a VCR. If thatís so then there will be a reduction in picture quality, how much depends on several factors, including the quality of the original recording, the tape youíre using and the performance of the VCR. Under ideal conditions the drop in quality can be barely noticeable, on a bad day it can be almost unwatchable. If, on the other hand, youíre not attempting to make a copy, but merely wish to replace the soundtrack on your original recording with something else, then you can use the audio dub facility on the AX55, though you will need the optional remote controller. Alternatively you can audio dub VHS-C tapes on any suitably equipped VCR, using a cassette adaptor. This works on the tapeís mono linear soundtrack and will not affect the video part of the recording.

 

Iím a little confused about the interaction problem with the mixer, the AV output on the AX55 (and pretty well every other camcorder as well) consists of separate video and audio signals (hence the two phono plugs, or three on stereo machines). At no time do the signals come into contact with each other, unless you use an RF adaptor, so unless the mixer is fault thereís no way it can affect the picture.

 

 

COLOURFUL CANON

I borrowed a Canon UC100 with a 12x zoom lens.  I found the colourful playback quite acceptable but was disappointed by the lack of magnification.

 

I know very little about video cameras and thought a 12x zoom would be the same as binoculars - clearly not so.  I want a camera with a more powerful zoom and really prefer a better quality of picture.  So do I save my money and buy a Hitachi Hi 8  with its 20x zoom and almost broadcast quality?  What about video heads in such an expensive camera?  It is said that the life of video recorders is approx. 2000 hours.  Is this likely to apply to cameras?

 

P. George

Welshpool, Powys

 

A10

You canít really compare a camcorder with a pair of binoculars; camcorder lenses operates across a much broader range, from wide-angle to telephoto. Some camcorders, including the Hitachi model you mention, have electronic zooms, that use digital processing to enlarge the image, unfortunately this degrades the picture, and beyond about 15 to 20x enlargement the picture looses detail and starts to look Ďblockyí. The alternative is an adaptor lens. These are available in a range of magnifications, from 2x up to 5x and beyond, so a 12x zoom effectively becomes a 24x zoom and so on. Thereís much less reduction in picture quality, using an optical adaptor, but they can be quite expensive, and thereís the problem of stability. Once you get over 15x magnification it becomes increasingly difficult to hold the machine steady. You will need to mount it on a tripod, and a good one at that, as any slight movement is magnified as well. Camcorders with image stabilisers help, which brings us to the Canon UC8Hi. This is the first camcorder to have 20x optical zoom, and a no-loss optical image stabiliser, soundís like itís the one for you!

 

Manufacturers never quote head lives, thereís too many factors involved, including the make and brand of tape used, how often the machine is serviced, or the head are cleaned and the atmosphere in which the machine is used or stored. We know of machines that have clocked up a lot more than 2000 hours, and theyíre still going strong, in short itís mostly up to you. Why worry? Even a 1000 hours is a long time, thatís equivalent to two hours use a week (a lot for most family users) for a period of ten years!

 

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R. Maybury 1995 1406

 


 

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