RICK COPY -- DECEMBER
suspect we all suffer with motor noise when recording. Does this vary with different
camcorders? Would it be possible to
grade the level of interference and include this result in the Buyersí Guide? Have you any advice on overcoming this
camcorders emit some motor whine. On most machines, most of the time itís not a
big problem but when ambient noise levels fall, indoors, in very quiet
surroundings, the camcorderís automatic
recording level control circuitry (AGC or auto gain control), winds right up to
maximum sensitivity, so the microphone picks up the whine and it is recorded on
the soundtrack. Whilst it is true to say that some models are noisier than
others, generally the differences are relatively small, though budget models
tend to be the worst offenders. When we come across a machine with what we
consider to be excessive motor noise we always mention it in the review, so if
youíre interested in a particular model itís worth checking. If you are going
to be doing a lot of recording indoors then itís a good idea to shortlist
machines that will allow you to use an external microphone.
have a Panasonic M5 video camera which has developed a fault, in as much as I
get a flickering in the viewfinder which is also in the recording Iíve made. In
view of its age is it worth while getting an estimate or would it be better to
invest in a new one?
the flickering can be seen in the viewfinder and during playback, the fault
almost certainly lies within the image sensor and camera sections of the
machine. If the image sensor is on the blink then the repair bill could be
quite high. On the other hand, if the flickering coincides or gets worse when
you lightly tap the case, it could be something quite innocuous, like an
intermittent connection, in which case it will be worth having it fixed.
have recently bought a Canon UC9Hi. As
it is effectively an end of stock item I obtained it at a good price. Initial
results indicate good picture quality; however, the sound quality is marred by
wind noise in even the slightest breeze.
Is this to be expected and is there anything that can be done to reduce
or eliminate it?
position and design of the microphone grille on a camcorder can have an influence,
but the bottom line is that no camcorder is immune to wind noise. Some models
have filters that can reduce the effect; on others the only solution is to fit
a gag or muff, or use an external mike, that can be shielded from the breeze.
Try shooting out of the wind, the UC9Hi has a headphone socket, so you can
monitor the sound before it is committed to tape. Although the UC9Hi is an awkward shape, hairy wind gags are
available that will fit, but just out of interest try making one up for
yourself, to see if it makes any difference. Fluffed-up cotton wool works quite
well, and it can be easily taped over the microphone grille.
WITH A VIEW
a potential camcorder buyer with a price range of £700 - £1,000, I have a query
regarding lens specifications. Some state of the art compact camcorders now
have 22X optical, and 44X digital zooms. The semi-pro Sony Digital VX1000 and
VX9000 (price £3,500 and £4,000 respectively) only have 10X optical and 20X
digital zooms. My question is, if the semi-pro cameras donít need powerful optical
and electronic zooms why do hand-held camcorders have them?
professional camera operators just get closer to their subject... Digital zooms
are not meant to be a substitute for an optical zoom. They always degrade the
picture to some extent, and the higher the magnification, the worse it gets,
and the shakier the picture becomes. The sensible attitude is to regard digital
zooming simply as an interesting picture effect. If you have a genuine need for
higher magnification, and donít wish to sacrifice picture quality, then buy a
teleconverter, and a good tripod.
present I have an 8mm Sanyo camcorder and am considering upgrading to a high
band model (preferably Hi8) with an external microphone socket and manual
exposure and white balance controls, features which my present camcorder
came to the conclusion that if I bought a model with AV inputs I would, because
I edit entirely on computer using the non-linear method, be able to use it as
both the playback and record deck when editing. I would thus be able to retain high band quality in all edited
copies without having to purchase an S-VHS VCR in addition to the high band
only know of two camcorders with AV inputs - the Canon EX2Hi and Sony
V6000E. Could you advise me of any
other models with AV inputs? I have a
budget of £1,000 and would be prepared to purchase a second-hand model .
are the only two machines in recent years to have a line input recording
facility. Itís all down to EC tariffs and import quotas. When a camcorder is
fitted with audio and video input socketry it is automatically classified as a
VCR and subject to a higher import tax. It also has an impact on the number of
machines a manufacturer is allowed to import into the EC. PAL machines sold in
some other countries outside the EC do have this facility, though tracking one
down, importing it and paying all the duties could easily wipe out your budget.
As a matter of interest this subject is coming to a head once again over the
habit of manufacturers of digital camcorders to disable the input facilities on
machines fitted with a FireWire digital interface. On some models it can be
re-enabled, if you have access to the right test equipment, and engineering
software codes. Around ten years ago Canon sold a camcorder in this country
with all the recording input circuitry in place, all that was needed were a
couple of extra sockets. However, none of this helps you. My best advice is
keep a look out for good second-hand examples of the two machines mentioned, or
bite the bullet and get a S-VHS video recorder. You can always justify the
extra cost if your regular homedeck VCR is getting on a bit and close to
am considering buying a new video camera around the £1,000 price range. My immediate thought is the Canon UCX45Hi as
it has a colour viewfinder. I am used
to 35mm still cameras, from past experience I dislike mono viewfinders and I
know Canon produce a good product. However, Sony are also in this price range
and I wondered if you could give me any pointers, or is it down to personal
preference once one has compared the feel of the video camera in hand?
is most unusual to put a colour
viewfinder so high up a wish-list. Most people rate things like performance and
recording features far more highly. Each to their own I suppose. The UCX45Hi is
a very agreeable machine, and you get more bangs for your bucks, than with
comparable Sony models, but I urge you give mono viewfinders another try.
Theyíre far better for manual focusing, especially in poor light. The wider
contrast range makes manual exposure setting easier and they produce a
brighter, sharper image in low light situations. Colour viewfinders are not
accurate enough for white balance adjustment, they consume as much, sometimes
more power than mono viewfinder, and they add upwards of £100 to the price. Ask
yourself why professional videographers prefer mono viewfinders? The only real
advantage we can see for them is when itís important to be able to discriminate
the colour of a subject. Horses or cars in a race, or for wildlife videography,
when it can be difficult to see the subject against its background.
camcorder has to record, playback, rewind, fast forward, power zoom plus
theyíre used in editing. Thatís a lot of work and they are not cheap to buy.
What would you consider normal usage and life expectancy before wear and tear
takes its toll?
own an 8mm Sony camcorder. Do I really
need two VCRs, etc., to edit film correctly from camcorder on to VHS tape? Would the camcorder be under too much
pressure used in conjunction with one VCR to edit film? I have many hours of 8mm film to edit.
vast majority of camcorders spend most of their lives doing absolutely nothing.
Letís assume a well-used machine clocks up 100 hours a year actual use, though
for most camcorders it will be significantly less. (How many blank tapes did
you buy and edit last year?). The components with the shortest life expectancy
are the tape heads, deck mechanisms are surprisingly hardy, and designed for
the kind of punishment metered out by editing. Manufacturers are loath to give
figures but if pushed they will sometimes talk about a 1000 hours or so, before
head wear starts to show. So from that you can say our notional, very well-used
machine, could expect to last for around ten years, say, before thereís any significant
reduction in performance. We suspect many home video movie-makers replace their
equipment much sooner, and long before anything gets a chance to wear out.
few years ago I lashed out on a JVC GR-S505; it got good reviews and seemed to
have some very useful features for its price.
did I see mention of the crude control available on JVC equipment for accurate
video editing. I now have quite a bit
of S-VHS footage which I want to edit.
I have bought a JVC S-VHS VCR in the hope that it will at least be
compatible. Is there a mechanism whereby I can control the JVC kit by PC
sufficiently well for the bulk of my editing, possibly using non-linear systems
for inter scene manipulations? Is it
worth getting a VITC generator for future use to simplify things until I get a
have only recently got around to fitting JLIP edit control systems to their
machines, and itís still well behind industry-standard protocols, like Control
L/LANC and Panasonic 5-pin, in terms of flexibility and third-party support.
Back in 1991, when the S505 was launched, it was considered quite advanced, and
there was talk of an edit controller but as far as weíre aware it never
happened. The transport systems of some JVC machines -- and weíre not sure if
the S505 was one of them -- can be controlled by PC, for set-up and diagnostic
purposes, but the facility was never publicised as it would allow users to mess
around with critical settings. So sadly the answer is no, you canít control
this machine from a PC, at least not without specialised software, thatís
unavailable to consumers. Without an edit control system thereís not much point
in getting a VITC generator for the S505, assuming you could get hold of one in
the first place.
have a Sony TR760E Hi8 camcorder and edit by a direct connection to an Akai VS
G735 VCR. I also have a Panasonic J35 VCR which has the facility of audio
dubbing. I did a voice-over on the tape
recorded on the Akai using a microphone plugged in to the J35.
worked fine until I played back the tape on the Akai VCR. The voice-over didnít play back, just the
original soundtrack. If I record a tape on the J35 and play it back on the
Akai, or vice versa, all is well. Can you please explain why the sound
recorded on the J35 using audio dub is not played back on the Akai VCR? I now have a Camlink MX800 stereo audio
mixer which makes things much easier for audio mixing from camcorder to VCR.
understand what is happening itís important to know how the VHS audio systems
work. There are two of them. Thereís the format-standard mono linear edge
track, and stereo DFM (depth frequency multiplex), used on hi-fi and NICAM
machines. The linear edge track is recorded along the top edge of the tape, by
a static tape head. DFM signals are recorded deep in the tapeís magnetic layer
by an extra set of heads on the spinning tape head drum, and are inextricably
mixed in with the video signals. Only the mono audio track can be dubbed,
without affecting the vision signal.
Akai G735 is a stereo hi-fi VCR, so when you make a recording you end up with all
three soundtracks on the tape (right & left stereo plus standard mono). The
Panasonic J35 is a mono VCR, so thatís all you can hear, and thatís what is
changed when you carry out an audio dub. However, when a tape is replayed on
the Akai VCR, it automatically defaults
to the higher quality stereo soundtracks, if they are present. In order to hear
the dubbed mono soundtrack you will have to select it manually, using the audio
have just purchased a Sony TRV61E Hi8 camcorder. I have some Sony QG112M computer grade 5.0GB 8mm tapes and
wondered if these could be used with my camera and if they are of equivalent
quality to normal Hi8 tapes?
turns out 8mm data storage tapes are made to a higher specification than regular
Hi8 video tapes, and Sony tell us that in theory it will work in an 8mm
machine. However, the ident holes, that tell the machine what type of tape is
being used, are configured differently. A Sony spokesperson also said thereís
some differences in the shell design, and it strongly recommends that you do
not try it. If anything goes wrong it will almost certainly invalidate your
SANDS OF TIME
years ago my family trekked overland to South Africa. Certain TV companies are now showing an interest in our journey.
I may well be asked to go along to recreate this journey. I would like to take along suitable personal
camcorder equipment, but am sure that the dust will get into the equipment.
do I best avoid this happening?
weatherproof housing, designed to keep out moisture, will also keep out sand
and dust. A simple transparent plastic bag type cover should do the trick,
theyíre available to fit most machines, you should also store tapes and spare
batteries out of harmís way, and avoid changing tapes or batteries in a
sand-storm. If you havenít yet chosen a camcorder may I suggest getting a
digital machine as this will give you the kind of near-broadcast picture and
sound quality, that a TV company would be most interested in.
Panasonic NV-S88B is superb and has only one niggling fault which I can live
with. The date and time indicators do not remain correct for more than a day or
two after which time they return to the initial indication of 1.1.1990. Thinking
the cameraís battery was faulty I took it to a service dealer to have it
replaced. Here lies the quandary. The
service engineer tells me there is no lithium battery to replace. Even he was perplexed and canít get any
sense out of Panasonic. I would be interested to know your thoughts on this
annoying if minor fault.
time and date generator microchip on this machine is powered by a re-chargeable
lithium battery. It draws power from the main battery, and under normal
circumstances, should keep the clock ticking for around three months between
charges. It sounds as though yours can no longer hold a charge. Itís not a
user-replaceable item, which is something your local service engineer should
have known or found out, weíre surprised Panasonic didnít make this clear when
they were contacted. Next time take it to an approved Panasonic service centre,
you can find the address of your nearest one by calling (0990) 357357.
” R. Maybury 1997 1211