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 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?
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
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
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
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.
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?
Stoke on Trernt, Staffs
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.
Rock Ferry, Wirral
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
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.
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
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.
Hengoed, Mid Glamorgan
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.
Can you advise me on an edit controller unit
to use with my JVC GR-S707 and HR-S4700 EK for around £200?
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Musselburgh, E. Lothian
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).
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?
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
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?
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.
” R.Maybury 1996 1601