VIDEO CAMERA 1995

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REVIEW

 

HEAD

PANASONIC IN CONTROL

 

INTRO

Is this the one weíve been waiting for? The Panasonic HS1000 could be the most important video recorder launched this year, possibly in the past ten years...

 

COPY

The Panasonic NV-HS1000 is the Super VHS upgrade of the HD700, and undoubtedly the most eagerly awaited VCR of the year. Like its predecessor it has an built-in 10-scene assemble-edit controller, that directs the source machine -- normally a camcorder -- to replay the designated scenes, whilst it records them on tape. Naturally enough the HD700 worked with Panasonic camcorders (and clones) fitted with 5-pin edit terminals, but there were rumours that it also worked with Sony camcorders and others that had Control L/LANC editing terminals. It turned out that one or two functions were operable from the HD700, but they were of little use for automated assembly editing. Then last Spring came news that the HS1000  would be LANC compatible, and the edit controller could be used with Sony machines. A few months earlier weíd heard a similar story from Philips, only to be bitterly disappointed, so weíve adopted a wait and see strategy with the Panasonic announcement

 

Now weíve had the opportunity to test an HS1000 and the big question is, is it Control L compatible? The answer is.... Sorry, youíre going to have to wait, while we run through the rest of the specification, starting as usual, with the price. Good news, when we first heard about the HS1000 Panasonic suggested it would cost around £1200, in fact when it goes on sale this month it will sell for £1000; weíre off to a promising start. As youíve doubtless guessed by now itís a Super VHS VCR, with all the bells and whistles, and a lot more besides. Itís a long list, so deep breath, it also has:

* stereo hi-fi sound

* multi-speed replay via a jog/shuttle dial

* index mark and erase

* PDC (Programme delivery control)

* Video Plus+ timer programming

* 16:9 widescreen compatibility

* NTSC replay

* on-screen displays

* multi-brand remote control that can operate the basic functions of TVs made by Grundig, Philips and Sony, as well as Panasonicís own.

 

Most of that little lot should be familiar by now, but in case youíve not been paying attention over the past year or two, Video Plus+  is the near fool-proof timer system that works by numbers. All the user has to do is tap in the short sequence of digits shown next to programmes listed in newspapers and TV magazines, rather than complicated start and stop times, date and channel. PDC is supposed to correct errors in time-shifted recordings, so, if a programme overruns, or thereís a late schedule change, the VCRís timer will make the appropriate changes. At the moment only C4 transmit the necessary codes, the BBC and other ITV companies are still dithering.

 

That covers basic VCR operations, but this is first and foremost an edit deck. Here the features list starts to look really interesting. The edit controller weíve already mentioned, it also has a timebase corrector, for stabilising replay of old or wonky recordings. Thereís  AV insert edit, audio dub, sound on search (the sound isnít muted during picture search, but only in editing modes) and -- this is another first -- an optional VITC facility. This takes the form of a retrofittable module on the underside of the machine, (it has to be installed by the dealer) costing around £100. The VITC board does a number of things. It reads and displays timecodes on previously recorded material, and it will write a timecode on recordings made on the machine. As an added bonus it also increases the edit controllers memory from 10 to 50 scenes. 

 

Operationally the HS1000 is almost identical to the HD700, and apart from a few extra switches, and the S-VHS logos, they look pretty much the same. Thereís no need to cover old ground, suffice it to say that itís as easy to use and well-behaved as itís stablemate, as far as day-to-day functions are concerned. The Superdrive mechanisms is fast and responsive, and although itís primarily an edit deck it would certainly give a very good account of itself either as a timeshifter or cinema component, though itís vastly over-qualified for such mundane tasks.. 

 

EDIT CONTROLLER

Now the part youíve all been waiting for; weíre very pleased to say the HS1000 is Control L/LANC compatible but thereís a few  things you need to know before you can use it with an 8mm camcorder. For reasons weíll come to later you wonít find any mention of this facility in the instruction book. Panasonic studiously avoid any reference to it, and this caused us considerable problems when we tried it for the first time. After some consultation with Panasonic in the UK and Japan we finally sorted it out. As they wonít tell you how it works, we had better do it for them.

 

But first things first, we should get the 5-pin system and VITC editing out of the way before we talk about Control L. Interconnections are perfectly straightforward; the camcorderís AV outputs hook up to the HS1000ís front-mounted AV terminal, and the 5-pin lead (supplied) connects the camcorder to the VCR. Itís a shame Panasonic havenít got around to implementing their Ďnew-edití system on the HS1000, which uses an 11-pin plug and socket, compatible with the standard 5-pin connector system;  itís been fitted to a fair few camcorders. A single cable carries both edit control data and AV signals, simplifying connections between the VCR and camcorder considerably.

 

The editing function has to be accessed from the on-screen display, like the HD700 this is a bit long-winded and it takes several button presses to get to the assemble edit mode. Once there the display shows which deck youíre controlling, scene number, and the edit in and out points. These are shown as hours minutes and seconds on regular VHS/S-VHS recordings, and hours minutes seconds and frames if the VITC mode is used. The first step is to select the player deck and press the pause button, then, using the picture search and jog/shuttle (if the replay deck supports this feature) locate the edit in point, and press the Ďmark iní button, the display then shows the counter/timecode  for the selected point, it can be re-selected if necessary. Using the transport controls locate the edit out point, and press the Ďmark outí button and select the next scene number. Repeat the process for every scene. When itís finished load a blank in the HS1000, select review or perform, as appropriate and the selected scenes will be seamlessely copied over.

 

Itís a fairly basic system, edit points cannot be made on the fly (i.e. whilst the tape moving)  nor can edit points be altered, except by re-doing them. The order cannot be changed and thereís no facility to make timing adjustments. Nevertheless, itís exceptionally easy to use, and quite fast -- once you get the hang of it -- itís also reasonably accurate; very accurate in the case of time-coded material.

 

Editing with 8mm equipment is basically the same, but donít look for any help from the instructions. The first problem is the Control L or LANC socket on the HS1000 isnít labelled as such. Panasonic simply call it Ďsync edití, though itís the same type of 2.5mm minijack used on 8mm machines, but youíll have to find your own lead, itís not included in the accessory pack. After setting the system up the HS1000 has no problems controlling LANC-equipped camcorders (we tried several Sony and Canon machines), however, the HS1000 was apparently unable to read the camcorderís linear time counter. The display shows a row of zeros every time the edit in or out buttons are pressed. It took a while to figure it out but the culprit turned out to be the anti-erasure protection slider on the 8mm source cassette. If this is in the red Ďprotectí position the HS1000 cannot read the counter code. Flip the slider and everything works perfectly. Editing using a Panasonic VCR to control a Sony camcorder is a slightly eerie experience, but one we suspect movie-makers will quickly get used to.

 

By the way, the HS1000 cannot read RC time-code, as has been reported elsewhere in the video press, but if the VITC module is installed and the timecode mode selected, the scene memory is increased to 50, even when editing from an 8mm camcorder.

 

PERFORMANCE

Weíve had two samples of this machine, and despite one being a well used demonstration model, both gave excellent results. Resolution on the factory production model was well over 250-lines on VHS material, and a little over 400-lines on Super-VHS recordings. Colour reproduction is superb, bright and vibrant with very little noise, in both standard and high-band modes. Noise levels in general are very low, and trick frame performance is very good. All that adds up to excellent edit copy quality, second generation recording show a little extra noise, precisely how much depends on the capabilities of the source deck, but under ideal conditions, using S-VHS-C or Hi material, edited down to standard VHS, recordings can look better than standard VHS-C or 8mm originals.

 

The only slight glitch we experienced was during normal replay, we found that if an 8mm camcorder was left connected to the machine, via the Control L lead, the transport system did strange things, like cycling through play and still modes, until the lead was removed, otherwise they behave impeccably.

 

The timebase corrector only works during replay, which is a shame as it would have been useful to stabilise wobbly source material. As it is the benefits are only really seen when this deck is being used as a replay machine, either in an editing set up, or when watching old recordings.

 

We havenít said much about the sound on this machine, so you can take it as read that the stereo audio system works well and background hiss is minimal. Thereís a very slight click on audio inserts but itís usually masked by the soundtrack. The HS100ís audio system is made all the more useful by the impressive line up of facilities which include manual recording level control, headphone and microphone sockets and sound on search.

 

Finally edit accuracy. We conducted an extensive range of checks, using a variety of source machines. On uncoded VHS-C recordings cut accuracy was consistently to within half a second or around 20 frames of the designated points, there was some slippage if the scenes were widely spaced but providing the tape was wound through on the camcorders it never amounted to more than a second or so on a 30 minute tape. On VITC material accuracy improved dramatically, to better than a four or frames either way, and this never varied. There was some slight variation on 8mm edits, the best we got was just over half a second either way, the worst was just under a second, though these were fairly consistent and it was a fairly simple matter to compensate for the errors.

 

VERDICT

Panasonic have done it! The HS1000 is the first Control L/LANC compatible S-VHS edit deck, and it works really well. True, thereís a couple of  rough edges weíd like to see ironed out, and the control system could be tidied up, but they do not detract in any way from this outstanding piece of engineering. The only concern we have is that the Control L/LANC facility is not documented, and we suspect that like us, some users may run into difficulties. Itís not an oversight, weíre sure Panasonic would dearly like to include some extra instructions but it would be politically difficult, as they have clearly not licensed the system from Sony.

 

The HS1000 opens up a whole new range of possibilities for serious video movie-makers, especially those with high-band camcorders, this machines fulfils a long felt need in the market and we congratulate Panasonic for being the first, more than making up for our earlier disappointment with the Philips. Highly recommended!

 

VCR SPECS

Make/model                         Panasonic NV-HS1000                                   

Tape format          S-VHS/VHS

Guide price                      1000

 

TAPE DECK

Max playing time            8 hours (E-240 tape LP mode)

Timer                               8-events, 31-days

Remote control                full function

 

VIDEO

System                             PAL SP/LP, HQ

Replay speeds                  still, x1/25, x1/10, x1/2, x 2, x7, x15 (both directions)

 

Main facilities

Slow motion          yes  

Multi-speed           yes   

Insert edit:          yes             

Jog/shuttle          yes

On-screen display          yes   

Videoplus          yes

Index search          yes   

Intro Scan          no

Instant timer          no     

LCD remote          yes   

PDC timer          yes   

Repeat play          no

Record search          yes   

NTSC replay          yes

Quasi S-VHS replay          n/a    

Auto play          yes

Auto head cleaner          yes   

 

Additional facilities

10-scene edit controller (see text), timebase corrector, sleep timer, sound on search

 

AUDIO      

Stereo Hi-Fi                 yes   

Audio dub          yes   

Man level control          yes   

Level display          yes

NICAM sound          yes   

Line output          yes   

H/phone level control          yes   

     

 

GENERAL

Sockets

Front AV terminal                    yes   

Edit terminal           yes, 5-pin

Microphone          yes   

Headphones          yes

SCART          twin  

Syncro edit          yes (see text)

 

Dimensions (mm)     430 x 120 x 398

Weight (kg)              7.4

 

PERFORMANCE

Resolution         >400-lines (S-VHS), >250-lines (VHS)

Colour fidelity         excellent

Trick play stability         excellent

Colour bleed         none

Audio performance         very good

Edit functions         excellent

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money                 9

Ease of use                      8

Performance                     9

Features                        9

         ---end---

R.Maybury 1994  2110

 


 

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