VIDEO CAMERA 1996

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ASK RICK -- MARCH

 

THE MISSING LINK

As a complete novice to the camcorder world, I would like your advice on the following:  in my set-up I have the choice of either a Matsui 1476 CTV or a Matsui 14B1B teletext CTV - both with remote control. These[R1]  are supplemented with a Matsui VX2700 VCR with a Canon E600 camcorder.

 

Picture quality isnít poor, but I feel it could improve.  Having read a recent article in your magazine I am wondering if I need to change my VCR for something like Panasonic NV HS800, or can you suggest a VCR and maybe even a TV that would give me the best results from my E600? I did make some enquiries on both the Canon UC8 Hi and the Panasonic NV HS800 as a package deal - when the price came in at £1450 I changed my mind.

 

I can afford to buy one but not the other.  Having said that, am I getting the right or wrong picture quality with my set up?

 

R. Eyers

Chippenham, Wilts

 

A1

The Matsui VCR is definitely the weak link in your system, and although this machine is adequate for routine TV time-shifting, itís not really up to a demanding job like editing. The Panasonic HS800 is a fine machine, though being an S-VHS model itís a tad over-qualified for your present Canon camcorder. If you do plan to buy a Hi8 or S-VHS machine in the near future then itís worth considering, along with the JVC S7000 (which is cheaper), but otherwise take a look at some mid-range and top-end NICAM machines in the £400 to £500 price bracket from well-known manufacturers such as Ferguson, Hitachi, JVC, Mitsubishi, Panasonic Philips, Sony and Toshiba etc.

 

 

BREAKING THE CODE

Can you please tell my why so many computer based edit controllers have the Panasonic 5 pin connectors, but do not utilise VITC timecode?

 

I have an Amiga 1200 computer, Panasonic NV-S7 camcorder and a Panasonic NV-FS200 VCR.  I currently edit using a synchro edit cable between my camcorder and VCR; now I would like to add an edit controller which fully utilises all of my current equipment.

 

A. Knowles

London E6

 

A2

VITC stands for vertical interval time-code, which in a nutshell means the time-code data is contained within the picture signal. In order to extract it the edit controller has to be able to process video signals. Most PC based system do not have this facility.  The Panasonic 5-pin edit terminal connection carries only control signals and tape counter data. Many edit controllers can read RCTC (rewritable consumer time-code), utilised by some top-end Hi8 camcorders. The data appears on the Control L or LANC connection, that the computer uses to control the deck.

 

A few high-end (i.e. expensive...)  PC editing systems have the facility to read VITC, though none, as far as we know are available for the Amiga, so it looks as though youíll have to go for a stand-alone controller. Itís difficult to recommended a specific model as you havenít told us how much you want to spend, but prices start at around £200 for something like the very capable Thumbs Up.

 

STANDARD ISSUE

On a recent holiday to the Virgin Islands I bought a Sony camcorder Video 8 CCD SC6. Our local Sony centre said I should not have been sold this model.  They also said that I might have trouble if requiring a repair at any time. 

 

I obtained this machine for my wife as this is easier to use than our previous palmcorder.  Your advice on this matter would be most welcome: for example, how can I fit it to the television?

 

E. Tomlinson

Stoke on Trernt, Staffs

 

A3

Whoops! Weíre constantly giving warnings about not buying video equipment or pre-recorded tapes abroad. Your machine is almost certainly an NTSC model, which is incompatible with the PAL colour TV system used in this country. You can use it, the battery charger works anywhere, and PAL tapes are okay (though running times will be different), but playback on you TV will be a problem. You might be lucky and have a television that can display NTSC formatted signals, when the camcorder is connected by the AV input (usually a SCART socket on the back), though this tends to be a fairly rare feature, and usually only found on top-end models. You could have your recordings transcoded to PAL by a specialist video company, but this could work out quite expensive in the long run, and there will be a reduction in quality. Realistically the only solution is to try and sell your machine, and put the money towards a new UK spec model. There is a small demand for NTSC machine in this country, why not put an ad in our classified section but be prepared to take a hefty loss.

 

BITTEN BY THE BUG

In December 94 I lashed out my savings on a discounted Canon Hi8 UC5 and have since been bitten by the video bug.  I copy to a Panasonic HD100B VHS recorder using a VE4 image processor and Sigma Screenwriter titler. 

 

I recently bought the splendid Video Director 1.0 to use on my PC.  I invariably need to make more than one copy and although the Director makes editing easier I still have to fiddle with the titler and then audio dub the copy.

 

Iím considering the purchase of an S-VHS machine to make a single master for copying down to VHS.  Should the quality be as good as copying direct to VHS from Hi8?  Iím looking at discounted S-VHS machines such as the JVC HR-S5900 or the Mitsubishi HS-M1000.  Do I need a timebase corrector as on the Panasonic NV-HS1000?  What does it do and why would you think I might need one?

 

Instead of an S-VHS machine should I consider an affordable system such as Gold Diskís Video Director Studio which would edit and add titles to VHS copies then I could manually do an audio dub.

 

Sometimes, especially when recording on the HD100 over the same piece of tape a few times I fail to get a clean insert.  The tape counter stops and flashes for a few seconds then continues.  When playing back that short portion it just contains Ďsnow.í

 

Please help as on occasion the HD100 has been in danger of flying out of the window.

 

D. Pye

Rock Ferry, Wirral

 

A4

Wow, nothing like getting value for money is there? From the top, you could edit to S-VHS and use that as a master but you still want to end up with VHS copies, so although the quality would be okay, it would make sense to cut out the third generation and edit directly to VHS, using your present VCR. No, you shouldnít need a timebase corrector. Itís job is to rebuild lost or weak synchronisation pulses on original recordings, itís really only useful if youíre starting out with noisy or flakey material, that would loose stability when  copied.

 

A PC based editing package would solve your problem of combining editing and post production, but you will need a VGA to PAL video card and or genlock connected to your PC in order to carry out video processing and titling. You will also need a sound card, if you want to do any mixing, dubbing or add special effects. This is probably the most cost-effective route, in view of the fact that you already have most of the hardware.

 

The iffy insert on the HD100 could be due to confused control track signals caused by the previous recordings on the tape, avoid where possible doing repeated inserts on the same piece of tape, and it probably wouldnít hurt to give your machine a run-through with a good quality head cleaner, preferably one that cleans the whole tape path, rather than just the video heads.

 

 

OFF-WHITE WEDDING

I have a full-size Panasonic M40 VHS camcorder.  I recently recorded a wedding in church but the problem is white balance, due to the lighting in the church.

 

The lights give off an orange glow and on playback the picture has a greenish tint.  Is there any way to counter this problem?  The white balance is set for both sets of lighting conditions.

 

N. Jones

Hengoed, Mid Glamorgan

 

A5

Thereís nothing you can do about white balance errors on the original recording but you could try running it through a video processor with colour correction facilities, when you come to copy or edit the tape. Of course, it depends how bad it is, but something like the Video Tech VCC 3010 should be able to help get rid of the worst of it.

 

EDIT QUICKIE

Can you advise me on an edit controller unit to use with my JVC GR-S707 and HR-S4700 EK for around £200?

 

J. Anson

Aylesbury, Bucks

 

A6

The S707, fine machine that it is, doesnít have any edit control facilities to speak of. It canít be used with a normal edit controller, which requires the source machine -- your camcorder -- to have an edit terminal. Sorry, but youíre going to have to re-think your system, or stick with manual editing.

 

CASSETTE CONFUSION

I purchased a Panasonic NV-S90 S-VHS-C camcorder from Dixons. The cassette given with the camera was of JVC origin.  Pictures taken, I proceeded with great expectations to put the camcorder cassette into the adaptor cassette and thence into our Mitsubishi B27 VHS player deck.  Sighs and disappointments when picture came on screen with nothing but lines on several of the images.  Did I do something wrong?  Not according to the books.

 

I returned the whole and the camera was replaced with a similar model - same result of course when played back.  Dixons offered no explanation and returned my money.  An acquaintance of mine said I would need an S-VHS video to reproduce a reasonable picture.  I didnít use the SCART on our video as it is a 20 pin whereas the one needed for replay of the NVS90ís film is a 21 pin.

 

Your comments, please.

 

B. Davies

Pencader, Dyfed

 

A7

My guess is the JVC tape youíve been using is an S-VHS-C type. Your camcorder senses this and automatically switches to S-VHS recording mode.  Your B27 VCR is a 1990 vintage machine, it cannot replay S-VHS recordings,  hence the messy picture. The simple solution is to use ordinary VHS-C cassettes in your camcorder, this will ensure you only make VHS-standard recordings, that can be replayed on your VCR. If you want to continue to make S-VHS recordings then the only way you can replay them will be on the camcorder, and youíll have to connected it to the TV via the SCART socket, or an aerial adaptor.

 

Physically all SCARTs are the same, though there are a number of different wiring protocols, you will need a 9-pin phono-to-SCART AV copying lead -- you should have got one with your machine. Yes, there are only 20 pins on the underside of a fully-wired SCART plug, the 21st ípiní is the metallic outer shield.

 

MOTION SICKNESS

Is there a VHS-C camcorder on the market which I could buy which will allow me to make stop-motion (1 or 2 frames at a time) animation, or is this not possible owing to the way the tape travels through the video camera?

 

When it first came on the market I bought a JVC GR-C7E and have had many years of satisfaction from this camera. 

 

J. Robertson

Liberton, Edinburgh

 

A8

No is the simple answer. Mitsubishi used to make an excellent camcorder, the C35 if memory serves, which had quite a good animation facility, it recorded around 4 or five frames at a time, but it has long since disappeared. Thereís no technical reason why camcorders cannot record single frames, many professional video machines do it, itís simply a question of economics. The new Sony digital camcorders have a passable stop-motion capabilities, this could become a feature on cheaper machines, so donít give up hope.

 

UP THE CREAK

Whilst I am happy with the picture quality from my Sony CCD-TR805E the sound  is ruined by creaking noises from the casing.  Everything is impossible to touch as the slightest finger tip pressure produces this noise which is picked up by the microphone.  It appears that the only way to solve this problem is by the use of both an external microphone and operation with the remote control which would be most inconvenient.  With a camcorder originally priced around £1000 I feel I am not expecting too much surely?  I would appreciate your comments.

 

B. Quantrill

Ipswich, Suffolk

 

A9

No, of course youíre not expecting too much, it certainly shouldnít Ďcreakí, though inevitably the built-in microphone will pick up some handling and motor noises. The creaking sound might be caused by ill-fitting panels, check around the doors and hatches; the casing could be mis-aligned, or the screws could be over or under-tightened, has it been serviced lately? If itís still in guarantee take it back to the dealer to have it checked.

 

ON THE WRONG TRACK

Can you tell me why a tape copied on my NV-HS1000B from a NV-S7B camcorder and audio dubbed afterwards on the HS1000 only plays back the new sound when played on a Ferguson Videostar 3V31, all the original background sounds have gone, although the 3V31 is supposed to be able to play stereo tapes.  I would be pleased if you could suggest anything to get around this problem.

 

E. Allan

Tonbridge, Kent

 

A10

The Ďstereoí system used on the 3V31 is quite different to the system used on current hi-fi machines, in fact all youíre hearing is the dubbed mono linear soundtrack, this machine is incapable of reproducing the stereo hi-fi tracks that are mixed in with the video signals, which contain your original sound recording. The stereo system on the 3V31 is the now obsolete Ďlo-fií split mono-track, literally the regular mono track divided into two. Youíre either going to have to play the tape on a Hi-Fi machine, or copy recording, including the mixed soundtrack, to another tape.  

 

BEST OF THE REST

Iím thinking of buying a full-size camcorder, either a Panasonic NV-M40 or a NV-MS4, but I donít know which is the best one.

 

I was hoping you could tell me the best one for filming indoors and outdoors.  Also my Panasonic NV-L20 HQ VCR doesnít have a SCART socket but does have Audio Video in/out sockets for editing.

 

Can you recommend an edit controller to link the camcorder and VCR for good quality editing?

 

R. Pearson

Musselburgh, E. Lothian

 

A11

It depends what you mean by Ďbestí theyíre both good machines, but the MS4 has superior video performance as it uses the Super VHS recording system. Why do you need a full-size VHS machine? The only possible justification in your case would the facility to make uninterrupted recordings lasting up to 4-hours. As youíre planning to edit your recordings you could shoot your original footage on any video format. If 4-hour recording time isnít critical -- two hour 8mm and Hi8 cassettes are widely available -- I would strongly suggest you consider the alternatives (S/VHS-C and 8mm/Hi8) which have comparable, if not better AV performance, theyíre a lot more convenient, generally cheaper, and more flexible when it comes to editing (in the case of 8mm/Hi8 equipment).

 

VOLTAGE VARIATION

I recently changed my video camera to a Panasonic S90.  I had several Sony batteries left from my Sony TR805 which would not, of course, fit my new Panasonic.  I then heard that Keene Electronics supplied an adaptor plate to enable the Sony type batteries to be used with the new Panasonic.  I have purchased one and it appears to work very well. 

 

However, I am concerned that the Panasonic is meant to work on 4.8 volts, whereas the Sony batteries are 6 volts.  Could I damage my new camcorder by using the 6 volt batteries?

 

A. Owen

Hale, Liverpool

 

A12

Panasonic would probably have something to say on the matter, and it almost certainly invalidates your guarantee but weíre only talking about a relatively small difference of 1.2 volts. Thatís within the safe operating range of the regulator circuits on your camcorder, which in the normal course of events has to cope with much wider voltage variations. A freshly-charged battery will be slightly higher than the nominal 4.8 volts, and the output from mains adaptors may also drift slightly.

 

A HITCH IN TIME

About five years ago my late father purchased a Hitachi VMC 52E camera.  The instructions stated that the batteries should be charged whenever possible; sadly this has generated a memory which is shortening the life of these batteries.

 

We have contacted Hitachi about a discharger and were told they do not make one.  The battery is the same as the Panasonic grip type, the only difference is the distance between the terminals and the width.

 

My mother would now like to use the camcorder, but getting new batteries seems to be impossible.  Can you help?

 

M. Smith

Stevenage, Herts

 

A13

Itís a common problem. Hitachi -- and quite a few others -- deliberately gave their otherwise quite ordinary battery packs unusual fittings or contacts so that users would be forced to buy their spares from them. Accessory manufacturers simply wouldnít bother to re-tool for every style that came along, unless the machine in question sold in significant numbers. Sadly the old 52 and the handful of other Hitachi machines that used the same battery came and went quite quickly, so youíre stuck.  The only thing I can suggest is to phone around a few dealers and see if any of them still have some replacement batteries left. You never know you might strike lucky and find one willing to unload their stock at a reasonable price, that would see your machine through to its inevitable retirement in a couple of years.

 

---end---

R.Maybury 1996 1601


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