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Having recently purchased a Canon UC8Hi camera could you please help me decide the best routes for editing? Should I go for a Hi8 deck or an S-VHS edit deck?  I also recently purchased a Gold Disk Video Director Home, which seems to work the camera hard, if scenes are edited out of the original sequence.  I would like to maintain the Hi8 quality as far as possible, but not at any price.

J. Hamer

Rishworth, Sowerby Bridge


Generally speaking a Super VHS video recorder is the more flexible option as it can double up as a home deck, recording off-air TV programmes and used for watching pre-recorded movies. A Hi8 deck would only make sense if you were putting together a dedicated timecode editing system, using a high-end controller.


The replay deck is bound to have to work quite when shuttling back and forth, editing scenes that are out of sequence. If you’re asking does this increase wear and tear or reduce the life-expectancy of a camcorder, the simple answer is not to any significant extent. Clearly a domestic camcorder would be inappropriate for arduous semi-pro and studio applications, but good quality machines from manufacturers like Canon won’t be harmed by editing a few hours worth of material each year.



I currently own a four-year old Canon E60 and it is starting to cost me money.  I would like to transfer cine onto video, therefore I’m looking for a better machine.  What I require is a more robust unit, something more stable on a tripod, capable of better quality recordings, with a better zoom, etc. My budget for a new camera is limited to around £1500. I have my eye on the Panasonic NVMS4B and appreciate I shall require an S-VHS player/recorder unit too.  What advice can you offer?

D. Trotman

Churchdown, Glos


Don’t be misled into thinking that bigger is necessarily better. The MS4 is a fine machine, but not much fun to cart around if you want to take it on holiday with you. I am not convinced that you need to spend anything like £1500 on a camcorder for cine transfer, unless you want to make the jump to digital, in which case I suggest you look at the JVC GR-DVJ1 or Sony DCR PC7, which both fit comfortably inside your budget. There are several good Hi8 and S-VHS camcorders selling for less than £1000, check the Buyer’s Guide for the latest details. You only need an S-VHS VCR if you want to edit your cine transfers, and then make multiple third-generation copies. If you have to edit, then do it to the original cine material, or edit ‘in-camera’ by pausing the camcorder during the transfer. If you’re using a tripod then image stability is down to the tripod, rather than the camcorder, so you may well want to consider buying something a little more substantial, if it has got the wobbles. You don’t say what transfer method you’re using, this can also have a big impact on image quality, and you might want to think about using a dedicated transfer box or screen, if you’re not already using one.  



I am going to buy my first camcorder. The one that seems to stand out is the Panasonic NV-S88.  Would I, as a novice, be better off buying the NV-S90, although older it can be bought at a better discount.  My video recorder is a Mitsubishi B41, would there be any difficulties transferring recorded tape onto this machine?

B. Thomas

Branton, Doncaster


Without knowing how much you have to spend or what sort of deal you’ve been offered it’s difficult to comment but they’re both good machines. Your lack of experience isn’t a problem, they’re both very easy to use in the full-auto mode, with an excellent range of creative facilities that will stand you in good stead as you progress. All camcorders, irrespective of format, have standard composite video outputs, that are compatible with all VHS video  recorders, so there’s no problem whatsoever in copying or editing camcorder footage to your Mitsubishi VCR.



My family are planning to buy a camcorder for £800 to £1000. We have a problem though and need your help.  We decided that we really want to be able to dub the sound and it must have an LCD screen.  Also an image stabiliser would be useful. We are not bothered about anything else, have you any suggestions?

S. Tinkler

Petersfield, Hants


No problems with the LCD screen and image stabilisation but we’re a bit stumped by the need for audio dubbing. The only machines to have all three features are digital models, which are outside of your price range. Unless it is vitally important to be able to audio dub using the camcorder, why not do it at the copying or editing stage instead? If you go for a VHS-C machine you can audio-dub the original tape on any suitable VCR.



Like many others I shoot a lot of material indoors using existing light. Up until now I have been using the Sharp VL-C690 VHS-C camcorder. I would now like to up-date to a modern palmcorder but the ones I have tested so far  - a second-hand Panasonic M70 Super VHS-C and the Canon UC 8Hi - have been disappointing despite having lower lux ratings than my Sharp. Can you suggest how I can be sure of getting the best low light camera available?

J. Greene

Dalmuir, Clydebank


The low light figures quoted by manufacturers can be misleading. Some of them use sensitivity in the gain-up mode, where the video signal is boosted electronically, or the image is ‘shuttered’, in which case movement will look jerky. Nevertheless, recordings made in poor light always look grainy, with muted colours, irrespective of low-light performance. You may be better off considering  a camcorder with a built-in video light, or the facility to fit one.



Ó R. Maybury 1997 2407





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