VIDEO CAMERA 1997

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ASK RICK COPY -- NOVEMBER

 

TRICKY FLICKER

I consider that my Sony CCD-TR3000 gives superb picture and sound quality -- just as I expected after choosing it, after reading Video Camera ĎBest Buysí. However, I have a couple of  problems.

 

If the recording is interrupted by pressing the stop/start button only, then the transition is perfect. If the recording is interrupted by any other means, for example, by pressing stop/start, followed by closing the standby cover and then putting the power switch to off, then there is frequently a flash of colour on playback at the transition point, though this needs to be see on a large TV for it to be obvious. Clearly this effect is very annoying and spoils the enjoyment.

 

The second problem is a flickering in the viewfinder every 5 seconds, whatever mode the camcorder is in. Although the effect is not transferred to the tape, it is distracting. The machine has been checked by Sony who inform me that the Ďcamcorder is within specification and not faultyí. They Ďappreciate my frustrationí and Ďregret any disappointment the reply will causeí. I can only conclude from this that the two effects are inherent in the design. Shouldnít Video Camera have picked up these effects in your tests, or am I just being too fussy?

K.A.Johnson, Wrightington, Lancs.

 

We do specifically assess the integrity of assemble edits, nothing less than a 100% clean transition is acceptable and we would have certainly noticed any flashes in the viewfinder. Whoever told you that the machine is within specification is plainly wrong and you should insist that both faults are corrected!

 

SHINING EXAMPLES

Could you please give me some information on video projectors in laymanís terms. How do they operate? What other equipment will I need? How efficient are they? And finally, can you recommended any models.

J. Buchanan, Brewood, Staffs

 

Short question, long answer, Iím afraid... On the domestic market there are essentially two types of projection system, based around three distinct technologies. The two main types are front-projection, where the projector throws an image on to a reflective screen, like a slide or cine projector. The other types are rear projectors, where the light source is behind a translucent screen. Normally the screen and projector are encased in a large box, looking a bit like an overgrown TV. Front projectors can create the biggest images -- between 100 to 200 inches across is not unusual --  so theyíre better for larger rooms;  they work best in dark or semi-dark conditions. Rear projectors will operate under normal living room lighting conditions, but screen sizes are limited to around 50-inches or so, unless you have the money (and space) for commercial display systems, that go up to 100-inches, and beyond.

 

The three main technologies are high-intensity CRT, LCD and, any day now, Digital Micromirror Devices or DMDs. High-intensity CRTs are basically high-output picture tubes, a bit like the picture tube in a TV, though thereís normally three of them, one for each primary colour. CRT projectors work very well indeed, however, the tubes have a finite life, they cost an arm and leg to replace, and some CRT projectors need fairly regular adjustment.

 

LCD projectors work like slide projectors, with a LCD video display sandwiched between a lens and light source. Early LCD models produced quite a coarse image, but theyíve got a lot better now. However, itís best to go for three-element projectors (one for each colour again) as they produce the sharpest pictures. DMD back projection TVs are still in the pipeline, but for the record, the active element is a small microchip covered in a matrix of microscopic mirrors. Each one can be individually flipped, reflecting a beam of light onto a screen. They produce a very bright, clean picture, that has a film-like quality.

 

Front video projectors are normally just that, they rarely have a tuner or any audio facilities, so you will need to take that into account, if you want to watch off-air TV programmes.  Most rear projectors have their own tuner and sound systems, up to and including Dolby Pro-Logic surround sound.   

 

Video projectors are not as efficient as CRT screens, so you may have to make some alterations to your room lighting, and or curtain arrangements. Finally, Iíd be pleased to suggest a few models, but without knowing how much you have to spend and the size and shape of your room, Itís a bit difficult.

 

HIGH AND LOW

Could you please explain what low and high frequency video information is? 

My second question relates to a Canon UC8Hi camcorder which I bought last December and took back to the shop in January.  Its replacement went back in February and the second replacement went back in March.  I am now on my fourth camcorder.  They all had the same intermittent fault - the sound disappeared for a half second or so; sometimes the picture started to collapse from the top left hand corner as well. 

 

Currys have been very understanding and have exchanged the machines without a quibble, but will they continue to do so after December 97?  I contacted Canonís helpline but they were unable to suggest anything, other than sending the camera to them for investigation and/or repair, which would negate my statutory rights.  Is this a batch fault with the camera (the first three serial numbers were quite close) or is it something Iím doing wrong?

F. Lockyer, Longlevens, Glos

 

Very broadly speaking the low-frequency components in a video signal are concerned with parts of the picture that change very little. If you were to look at the signal of a picture of a black ball on a white background on an oscilloscope, there would be very little activity. On the other hand, a picture containing lots of fine detail and movement would appear very Ďbusyí with lots of high frequency information. The bandwidth of a PAL video signal extends from 0Hz to 5.5MHz, it is essential that a video system (TV, VCR etc.) can process as much of this information as possible. Any deficit in the high-frequency department will result in a loss of fine detail. Poor low-frequency response shows up as streaking and fuzzy or smeared edges.

 

You have been incredibly unlucky to have four machines with the same unusual fault, a batch problem is the only possible explanation. Returning your machine to Canon for investigation will not affect your statutory in any way shape or form. You are covered by the Sales of Good Act, and to a lesser extent by the Trades Descriptions Act, both of which boil down to the fact that any product must be fit for the purpose for which it is designed, and described. Your machine clearly does not meet that criteria, and you should take up Canonís offer to get to the bottom of it.

 

ON THE SLIDE

A couple of years ago I sent a VideoTech VT128 titler for repair as the fade slider had become noisy.  Around the same time I bought a VideoTech VEC1070 processor which has 5 slider controls.  The CH 2 ĎMusicí and CH3 ĎMic/Auxí have developed an audible crackle/rumble when I fade either slider up or down on the 1070ís audio mixing panel.  If I move a slider slowly enough the result isnít too crackly. However, fairly fast to emergency fades are almost ruled out.

 

Iíve sometimes inserted an air puffer into slider slots so as to disperse dust that might have found its way in.  To combat the entry of floating particles Iíve always covered both units plus a titler, immediately after every post-production session, as the Video Tech manuals urge. Can you suggest a user remedy for my slider controls crackling and an on-going protective routine to reduce a tendency for these sliders becoming so audibly noisy?

A. Scupham, Edinburgh

 

Your dry air spray could be contributing to the noisy slider problem. The resistive tracks on slider controls are given a very thin coating of lubricant during manufacture, which the air spray could have depleted. Try using a contact cleaning or  lubricant spray, like Servisol or Electrolube. Theyíre  obtainable from good electronic component stockists, and by mail-order, from companies like Maplin. 

 

KIWI CONNECTIONS

New Zealand is a great place to live but consumer electronics problems can be difficult to solve, especially if theyíre not run of the mill. I have a Mitsubishi camcorder with which Iím quite impressed, but it lacks a Control L or 5 pin edit terminal.  The Mitsi syncro edit should work with my VCR which is a Mitsubishi HS-M60V,  but it doesnít.  I canít get the VCR to stop or start the camcorder in playback mode. 

 

I want an edit controller that will allow programming of several scenes in any order and a preview before committing to master tape.  The JVC Ed II would do one scene,  I can use the camera tape in an adaptor in my Samsung 333 VCR.  The Thumbs Up needs a Control L if it is to do programmed edits.

Is there any other editor on the market in the UK that would do the job? 

W. Maher, Wellington, N.Z.

 

Mitsubishi havenít sold camcorders in the UK  for at least four years, you donít mention a model number, so Iím guessing itís of the CX range of VHS-C machines. If so, the camcorder controls the VCR, not the other way around. If memory serves the idea is that you mark the end or edit-out point of the scene by zeroing the counter end engaging the memory function, then wind to the start of the scene you want to copy and put the camcorder into play pause mode. The VCR -- connected by AV cable and syncro-start lead to the camcorder -- is set to record-pause. As soon as you disengage pause on the camcorder the VCR does likewise, and starts to record, until the camcorder reaches counter zero, when the camcorder and VCR return to pause mode.  

 

Unfortunately no edit controller will work with your present kit, at least not in a way, thatís any better than manual assembly editing. If you want to use a controller then youíre going to have to start thinking about getting a camcorder with either a Control L or 5-pin edit terminal.  Donít despair, a controller is simply a way of automating the process, it is possible to achieve excellent results with just a camcorder, VCR and well-trained button prodding finger...

 

BACK IN CHARGE

I am sure you have answered this question before, I have even seen various test reports, but I cannot remember the answers, unfortunately.  I have four or five camcorder batteries that now retain very little charge. I did buy a very simple battery discharger which seemed to contain little more than a small bulb.  It worked by placing the battery on top of a set of contacts, to complete the circuit.  I suspect that at times I have left them on too long or whatever, but now I am finding a problem.

 

I know have come across various chargers and dischargers which do supposedly miraculous things. A company called Keene Electronics are offering an all-singing, all-dancing pulse charger, and an even better 3 in 1 charger.  You will probably realise by now that I want you to recommend one, I fully realise that my current lot of batteries might be beyond salvage as some are 4 or 5 years old.

G. Whyte, Dalbeattie

 

Theyíre in nicad heaven by now, and your cheapo discharger almost certainly killed them off. A discharger should never take the cells in a nicad battery below one volt; if that happens  they can de-polarise, which is almost always fatal. Your discharger --  if it was just a light bulb -- would have taken them well past the critical voltage. They might just have survived if they had been disconnected when fully discharged, but if you left them on the charger overnight, say, then the damage will have been done. No charger/discharger, even the excellent ones made by Keene, can perform miracles. The only small crumb of comfort I can offer is to say that four or five years is a good age for any well-used nicad, so even if you hadnít hastened their demise, they would almost certainly have been on their last legs.

 

You donít need a lot of fancy equipment to look after nicad batteries, but if the charger that came with your camcorder doesnít have a refresh mode then a separate discharger is worth having. Stick to the ones marketed by the well known accessory companies; the oneís weíve tried all seem to work quite well. As youíre such a Keene fan, take a look at their own mains/car charger/discharger (code CD130) which costs just under £25

 

EDIT-ABLE?

I have recently purchased a Panasonic NV-S88 camera and I believe I am reasonably skilled in using it.  I am considering the benefits of editing the film and would like advice about the suitability of the Vivanco video centre you tested in a recent issue. Would I require any more equipment other than my Panasonic TV and recorder, model NV-HD90?

 

This may be a complicated piece of equipment for an amateur and a more basic set-up might suffice. Please advise me on this issue as the other more basic equipment doesnít perform as many functions and normally cost almost as much; however, I would like something that will work with the equipment I already have.

P. Henry, Londonderry 

 

I think you must be referring to the Vivanco VCR 5055 which we featured earlier in the year as a competition prize. It is a very well-specified design, that will do everything you want, and a lot more besides. The 5055 will work happily with your camcorder and VCR, and you wonít need any additional equipment, other than a simple audio mixer, budget models cost less than £30. The Vivanco edit controller might seem a bit over-qualified for your present needs, but once you get the editing bug you may well want the kind of sophistication this device has to offer. If you want keep it simple then itís worth having a look at the Videonics Thumbs Up and Hama Easy Cut.

 

STRANGE RANGE

I am having problems using an IQ Edit Controller with my Ferguson 3V53 VCR.  I go through the process of learning mode with the controller and VCR remote and found that I have to place the remote wand directly over, and touching the VCR sensor window.  This done, I can use the controller to operate the VCR.  When I start to edit, either manually or automatically, it sometimes refuses to go IN and the same with the OUT mode, when it has gone IN. 

 

I thought the signal  from the edit controller was too weak and cleaned the remote and the VCR sensor window, to no avail.  The VCR remote will operate the machine from the other end of my lounge so I canít see this to be at fault.

B. Harrison, Seaham, Co Durham

 

Err, I think I understand all those ins and outs. By a process of elimination it must be the edit controllerís IR emitter or driver circuitry. Controllers of this type usually have a useful range of a metre or so, though itís a good idea to have the wand quite close to the VCR, though not touching. Assuming the controller is still in guarantee you should return it to the retailer and ask them for a replacement.

 

BLUE GRASS BLUES

I currently own a Panasonic NV-G3 camcorder, which I purchased in 1992. I edit from a JVC HR-825 to a JVC HR-D980 using the remote control. I have never been entirely satisfied with the camcorder, especially its inability to cope with backlight and now it tends to produce blue, instead of green, when exposed to a large area of grass.

 

My intention is to purchase a new camcorder  but I am unable to choose between the JVC GR-HF700 and the Panasonic NV-RX5. I am inclined towards the Panasonic machine because of the backlight compensation and image stabiliser, or is there a better alternative? I do not edit direct from my camcorder.

 

The documentation for the J825 suggests that I can hard-wire the two recorders for easier and more accurate editing but no-one, not even JVC, are able to advise what connection I need between the two machines. I also have a Pentium 75 PC, with 16Mb RAM, 1 gigabyte hard disc, CD ROM and good quality sound card. I wonder if you could suggest a suitable low-cost system to enable me to use the PC for editing, and possibly title production

Mike Winn, Barlborough, Derbyshire

 

Since you appear to have a budget of around £700 why not have a look at the Canon UC-X10Hi? Yes, I know itís not VHS-C, and that you donít like using your camcorder for editing, but if youíre worried about additional wear and tear itís really not a concern these days. It would be a big step up, in terms of picture and sound quality, and there are other advantages. This machine also has a built-in edit controller, as well as an edit terminal, if you want to use an external controller or PC. If youíre determined to stay with VHS-C then I think the NV-RX70 is your best bet, itís currently selling for just under £600.

 

Most JVC VCRs and camcorders can be linked together for simple syncro editing. You will need a lead with 3.5mm jack plugs at each end. This will couple the pause modes on both machines, enabling you to transfer one scene at a time, with reasonable accuracy.

 

Video Director, now available from Miro Video is still one of the PC editing packages around. You will have to think in terms of spending a few hundred pounds more on a video input/output card or genlock and software, if you want to use the PC to create titles and effects.

 

---end---

R. Maybury 1997 1609

 


 

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