VIDEO CAMERA 1997

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ASK RICK COPY -- OCTOBER

 

RANDOM SAMPLE

I am interested in low-cost editing using a Panasonic NV-SD200B recorder and my JVC GR-AX 200 camcorder. The camera has an insert edit feature -- can you confirm that I can use this only with a recorder with this facility?  If so, is any recorder compatible?

 

I would also like to know if the JVC JX-ED11 controller would run the Panasonic VCR.  JVC also do a wireless remote - RM-V704U - would this drive the Panasonic?  Are Assembly editing and Random Assembly editing different?

 

Would I also benefit from other add-ons, i.e. a processor, audio mixer etc., and is it cost effective to  buy cheaper units which I often see on special offer?

 

B. Stuck

Bexley, Kent

 

 

Your camcorder is compatible with  JVCís ĎEasy Edití system. It works using the optional RM-V704 remote controller, available from JVC dealers for £60. This plugs into the edit socket on the AX200 and controls the record VCR using an in-built library of IR commands, and yes it can be used with your Panasonic machine. The controller stores the start and stop points for up to 8 scenes, theyíre presented as a list on the camcorderís viewfinder. Once theyíve been stored, the controller instructs the camcorder to replay the scenes in the required order, at the same time operating the record-pause mode on the VCR. Random Assemble Editing is a JVC term, itís the same as assembly editing, which simply means recording a sequence of scenes in any chosen order. You would be better off using the RM-V704 -- as opposed to the JX-ED11 -- which doesnít have a scene memory, and itís dearer. An audio mixer is definitely worth having, thereís no need to spend a great deal of money, thereís plenty of good ones on the market selling for less than £30.

 

SENSITIVE QUESTION

What makes a video camera most sensitive in low light?  Is it the size of the CCD or the lens and are there theoretical minimum and maximum sizes, plus why do pro cameras perform better in this area?

J. Greene

Dalmuir, Clydebank

 

Low light sensitivity is governed by a number of factors, including those you mention, and several others including the structure and design of the sensor chip. However, itís important to distinguish between actual sensitivity, and various electronic techniques, that artificially enhance a camcorderís ability to Ďseeí in poor light. Models with a Ďgain-upí mode amplify the video signal, unfortunately this also amplifies the unwanted parts of the signal as well, leading to increased noise and grain in the image. Low-speed shutters also improve a camcorderís low-light capabilities, though because the image is refreshed more slowly, any  movement in the picture looks jerky. Generally speaking pro broadcast video cameras are not especially sensitive, if a scene is too dark camera operators will normally lay on extra lighting.

 

LEND SOME SUPPORT

I have a Panasonic MS4 camera, a fairly steady tripod, but I would like the camera to be more mobile occasionally. I have seen adverts for the Steadycam and Handyman, which are suitable for cameras of any weight.  I appreciate that this is a domestic version of the real thing, but how effective is it?  It looks difficult to use with a full size camera.  With my engineering background, could I possibly make something?

J. Gough

Londonderry, N.I.

 

Neither of these contraptions can match the stability of a tripod. Itís possible you could get a full-sized machine to fit but I share your concern that they would make the machine awkward to use.

 

HIGH BUY

I would like to start making professional videos.  The tutor on the Film and Video course I am currently undertaking is selling his Sony Hi8 pro V5000 for £700.  Could you please tell me if this is a good buy?  I understand that this is an old camera; I canít seem to find any information on this model.  Would this be an ideal camera to start with?

C. Sinclair

Cyncoed, Cardiff

 

The V5000 dates back to July 1990. It cost a whopping £1900 new but it was the most sophisticated Hi8 camcorder on the market, and remained so for several years. It was a superb machine and many are still  in everyday use but I have to say that without knowing a lot more about the model in question itís impossible to say if £700 is a good price or not. For that sort of money I would expect it to be in almost mint condition, with not too many miles on the clock, and come with some sort of guarantee. Repairs can be very expensive indeed. If youíre serious about making professional videos you might be better off saving up a bit longer, for a digital camcorder. The picture quality of even the cheapest models is far better than the V5000 is capable of.  

 

INFO REQUIRED

I have a Sony CCD TR610E Handycam and was shocked to find that after the bag containing batteries, etc. was stolen, the replacement cost of these batteries would cost over £300. 

 

There was a rumour that Infolithium batteries are going to be made by Energiser.  Is there any truth in this?  If so, do you know of any time scale for their release and will this bring the prices of these very expensive batteries down?

A. Bardall

Feltham, Middx

 

The list price for a standard NPS530 pack is £70, so yes, they are expensive and definitely worth including in travel or household insurance, along with the camcorder. Stories of other manufacturers producing Infolithium batteries have been circulating for a while. Sony control the manufacture of Lithium-ion cells and the management microchips; companies weíve spoken too say they cannot obtain them at a low enough cost for them to be able to compete with Sony on price. The design and construction of the battery packs are also controlled by large number of Sony patents, so itís very unlikely weíll see a repeat performance of the 6-volt nicad camcorder battery market, with the world and his wife making replacement packs.   

 

A GLITCH IN TIME

I have a Sony V800 camcorder, for editing I use an IQ editor and until recently used a Sony VCR to edit onto. I now have a Panasonic NVHS900, S-VHS machine.  When the Panasonic VCR goes into record-pause mode for a split second it records before pausing and on playback I have a glitch between scenes.  I have never had this problem before.  Is it the editor or the VCR; have I done something wrong in setting up the system?

R. Kilgallon

Bath

 

That shouldnít be happening. Nothing the edit controller does, or the ways in which it can be set-up and connected, can account for the effect you describe. It sounds as though there could be something wrong with the VCRís backspace edit function, have it checked by a service agent.

 

AUTUMN COLOURS

My Panasonic NVS70 camcorder seems to have an aversion to orange.  When filming Autumn leaves the colour fades to khaki and cedarwood fades to grey.  This occurs on S-VHS as well as standard VHS.  Panasonic suggest I use only manual white balance.

 

I am a raw recruit as far as the camcorder is concerned but friends suggest it could be peculiar to Panasonic as they have not experienced this on their Sony and JVC camcorders.

 

Your advice would be most welcome.

 

W. Hewitt

Bletchingley, Surrey

 

The auto white balance systems on Panasonic camcorders have no particular vices, and as far as Iím aware, any dislike of the colour orange.  AWB systems on most machines operate on a series of compromises and it is unrealistic to expect perfection under all types of lighting conditions. Autumn light tends to have a red-bias and it is possible your machine is simply trying to compensate. Setting the white balance manually should do the trick. You could also try fooling it, set the WB using a piece of card with a light blue tint, this should give red colours the slight boost you want.

 

ON A ROLL

I wonder if you can help me with an unusual fault that has occurred on my Sony CCD-F340E video camera which has baffled local dealers?

 

When I put the power switch to Camera for recording and slide the standby switch up, on checking the viewfinder screen, the display ĎSTBYí rotates vertically.  When you press the start button on the display ĎRECí does the same and will not stop.  If any other viewfinder displays are displayed they too revolve.  The picture in the viewfinder is as it should be. 

 

I have found that if I run the camera forward or rewind for some time and then record again the wording eventually seems to stop rotating and I can record as normal for a short time.

 

None of the dealers I have talked to have ever come across this in a video camera before and they say it should be almost impossible for this rotating wording to be recorded on the tape as the two things are on separate circuits.  I find it very time consuming trying to get this lock in before I can record anything.

 

D. Todd

Burntisland, Fife

 

Iím surprised your local dealers havenít offered to fix it for you. This sounds like a fairly basic fault, caused by poor synchronisation on the camcorderís on-screen graphics generator. The fact that it stops after the machine has been operating for a while suggests itís thermal in nature, and as such should be fairly easy to track down, once it has been opened up on the work bench.

 

BUYING DECISION

I have decided to buy myself a camcorder.  Not knowing anything about them or seeing what the finished results are I only have your magazine to make my selection.  Being a pensioner with little money I have decided on the popular 8mm format. Then thereís the Hi8 with better colour results, but costing a little more.

 

Being a first time buyer do I buy the cheaper one like the Samsung K85 or Canon UC3000 and be disappointed with the result or go straight into Hi8 like the Samsung VP-A50/55? 

 

Even though I only intend to use the camcorder for holidays, being on a basic pension I only want to buy once with as little cost. It is a difficult decision, spending so much money without seeing the finished result.

L. Robertson

Portslade, Brighton

 

From the models you list I assume you have a budget of around  £600 to spend on a camcorder. Iím sure an 8mm model will suit your needs, though donít completely dismiss VHS-C as there are some really good machines around at the moment.  Hi8 camcorders only make sense if you plan to do serious editing, when the reduction in picture quality on second and third generation copies isnít so noticeable, moreover, you will need a fairly recent television, with an S-Video input, to get the most from it. With that in mind I think the Canon UC200 would be a sensible choice, the extra £50 for the UC300 buys a colour viewfinder screen, which you probably wonít miss, unless youíre planning to record a lot of wildlife, or shoot things like horse races, where a colour viewfinder can come in handy. Unlike the Samsung models these machines have a Control L socket, which will come in handy if you want to try your hand at editing. You might also like to consider the Canon UC500, which in the same price bracket, and has its own built-in edit controller. On the VHS-C front have a look at the Panasonic NV-RX9 and the JVC AX-270, both of which are comfortably within your price bracket.

 

ALL MIXED UP

A while ago I purchased a JVC GR-SX1 camcorder because I wanted a high band machine with an animation capability and audio dub.  Iíd previously purchased a JVC television and VCR.  With this combination I can replay high band recordings through one of the TVís (AV-29SX1EK) S-VHS inputs and output a standard VHS signal to the VCR from the TVís EXT-2 SCART socket.  I can also connect an audio source, other than the camcorder, to EXT-1 replacing the camcorderís stereo soundtrack with other audio material.

 

What I donít believe I can do without buying some other piece of kit is mix the camcorder stereo track with some other audio source onto the target tape.

 

I am reluctant to purchase a full blooded editing console if I can achieve the audio mixing with some other gizmo.  Can you suggest a suitable device, or am I better off waiting until I can afford a full Edit Controller?

 

N. Cane-Honeysett

Telford, Shropshire

 

All you need is a simple 2-channel stereo audio mixer, thereís plenty of them to choose from, prices start at under £20, from video accessory dealers and companies like Maplin Electronics. Your set-up is a little unconventional, but you can connect the mixer in the audio line, between the output from the TV to the input on the VCR, with your second audio source fed into the mixerís other input. You may need some extra cables, a pair of SCART to phono AV leads should do the job, though make sure theyíre switchable types, or one is configured for input, and the other for output signals.

 

LEANER LECTURES

I video lectures and slides and to edit them I put the original lecture tape into a Sony EV-C500E player connected through a Panasonic AV mixer WJ-AVE5 to a Panasonic NV-HS1000 where I record onto S-VHS tape.  I control these with a Sony RM E33F by LANC to the C500 and infra-red to the HS1000. The slide video is played through my Sony CCD-VX1E and the titles are done on my P166 computer. When the master copy is finally on S-VHS I can audio dub music and then make copies onto VHS tape with a Panasonic FS200.

 

I know this is a long-winded way of editing and I had thought of going to non linear editing but I donít think this is going to be of benefit unless I get a digital camera as well.  These have only one hour tapes and the lectures are between one hour and one hour and twenty minutes.  Is there another computer mixer that will do the same job as the AVE5 with better quality?

 

K.Day

Thames Ditton, Surrey

 

In fact tape running times on digital camcorders neednít be a problem, most DVC machines have LP recording modes, that give up to 2 hours uninterrupted recording. Changing to a digital camcorder would yield a significant improvement in picture quality -- even at LP speed -- using your present set-up. However you will have to spend some really big bucks on a faster PC and cards to get into non-linear editing, if you want to do the job properly. Itís early days yet and prices are coming down quickly, maybe in a year or so it will be worth looking at PC systems editing again. 

 

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R. Maybury 1997 2109

 


 

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