ASK RICK APRIL
I read with interest your reply to C. Martin
in the February issue (High Standard), in which you advocated the use of the
Sony GV-D300 DV Walkman as an ideal platform for creating a viewing or edit
With the portability of the GV-D300, is it
feasible that I could link my Sony TR3200 direct to a GV-D300, via the S-Video
connection for live footage? Would this offer an advantage in terms of quality?
What would be the format of the master created on the GV-D300, analogue or
Terry Jenner, Solihull, West Midlands
It's an excellent idea way of upgrading to
digital video, without going to the expense of buying a DV camcorder; we
actually suggested trying it in the D300 review. By the way, don't forget you
will need to connect the audio output from the camcorder to the DV deck as
well. The camcorder will 'time out' after a few minutes when left in the record
mode but there are ways around that. You could try leaving the cassette hatch open
or pop in a tape and set it to record. The 'live' video output from the
camcorder contains significantly more detail than the analogue system can record
onto tape but it will be recorded on the DV machine, so you will see a
significant increase in quality. The picture will look much sharper and there
will be a lot less noise. Since the recording is being made on a digital deck,
it will be in the digital format.
I have just brought a new Sony CCD-TR3200
camcorder. I was wondering which Hi8 tape to use in it, Hi8 MP or Hi8 ME? I
read somewhere that one of them wears out the recording head much faster than
the other, but I couldn't remember which one. Also, why are there two types of
tape for Hi8 and only one sort for 8mm?
C.Brooks, Warminster, Wiltshire.
The magnetic coating on ME or Metal
Evaporated tape is more efficient and hence less 'noisy', compared with MP
(Metal Particle) Hi8 tapes so in theory it should give the best results. There
were problems with ME tape in the early days -- the manufacturing process is a
lot more complicated -- and it gained a bit of reputation, accelerated head
wear was one of the problems cited. We've been using it since day one and so
far (touch wood) haven't experienced any problems, even on older and very well
used machines. However, we have found that the quality of some MP tapes has
improved to the point where it's almost impossible to tell the difference
between the two types on a lot of mid-range camcorders, and since MP tapes are
usually a lot cheaper that means lower running costs. My advice is try an ME
tape in your camcorder and compare it with good quality MP grades, and see if
you can spot any difference.
I am a relative newcomer to video and own a
Canon UC5000 8mm camcorder. I have been exploring some ideas whilst making
family movies, one of them was to shoot some scenes in black and white, for
dramatisation. After reading the camera manual from cover to cover and testing
a few things I am none the wiser. Am I asking too much of my camcorder, do I
need some sort of lens filter or is it only possible at the editing stage? Any
advice or tips would be most helpful.
Richard Dobbie, Baillieston, Glasgow
The UC500 doesn't have a monochrome or black
and white recording mode and it's not the sort of thing you can do with filters
so you will have to use a video processor to strip out the colour when editing
or copying from your camcorder to a VCR. Most AV processors and effects units
have a colour saturation control, that will allow you to vary the colour level
from zero (black and white) to far too much, and usually much else besides. The
Keene Electronics 'Tweaker' is worth considering if you only want basic
facilities and it sells for less than £70.
Seven or eight years ago I remember reading
an article in Video Camera which said that if you owned one of the first
camcorders keep it safe, and in a few years it could be quite valuable. I have
a Sony CCDM8E and a CCD TR55, both in working order with their respective
accessories. I wonder what you think now about the above models with the advent
of the digital era?
Selwyn Carter, Eccleston, St Helens,
Blimey, give it a chance! The two machines
you have are both classic 8mm models dating back to 1986 and 1991 and they are
well worth hanging on to but it will be a few years yet before they achieve
'antique' status. In any case they're mere striplings, home video movie making
goes way back. The first 'portable' battery-powered VHS decks and camera combos
appeared in the late 1970s, and the very first domestic camcorder -- the Sony
Betamovie -- dates from 1982. I wouldn't mind betting working Betamovies are
now scarce and could well be climbing in value. Certainly the arrival of
digital recording will speed things up but you are going to have to be patient
if you're hoping to make a few bob from your investment -- ask again in another
seven or eight years.
OUT OF LINE
I write with reference to a letter that
appeared in Video Camera a while back, concerning using the headphone output
from a CD or cassette player as an audio source, and the possibility of damage.
Shock-horror! I have been using this method for the past 18 months with pretty
good results. Please tell me if I can carry on, and if not what sort of damage
can I expect? My sound link is through a VEC 1070 to a JVC DD845 VCR.
Bob Horn, Rochester, Kent
We said that it was not recommended as the
output level from the headphone sockets on some personal stereo equipment can
be quite high and there would almost certainly be an impedance mis-match with
the input stage of the device it was connected to. Providing the output level
is kept low it is very unlikely any damage will result, but there is still a
chance that an excessively high output could blow the input stage on the next device
in the chain. Where possible you should use the source components fixed
line-level outputs. If you are worried or not sure route the headphone output
via a simple (cheap) audio mixer, which will act as a buffer to protect
equipment downstream, just in case the level goes too high.
With the ability of new digital video cameras
such as the Sony TRV890 to produce high-quality printable stills, could you
advise me as to the best way of obtaining different sized prints? The Sony
FVP-1 digital video printer will work directly from my TRV890, or the floppy
discs it produces, but it seems very limited in its output and can only produce
small prints. The Epson Stylus Photo 700 can produce top rate prints in
different sizes but it needs to be hooked up to a computer. This is a road that
I don't want to go down. One of my requirements is to produce prints of
different sizes from my TRV890 or its floppy disc, to use as presentation
sleeves on VHS cassettes.
R. Martin, Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Unfortunately domestic video printers are restricted
by the size of the paper and film cassettes they use. Professional video
printers operate over a much wider range of sizes but you really don't want to
know how much they cost! The image files your camcorder records on floppy disc
are readable on a PC and there are a number of high street photo/video shops
that offer a video print processing service, it's worth asking around locally,
though I'm fairly sure it will work out quite expensive. In the end I suspect
you will have to succumb to PC ownership, as this is the cheapest and most
flexible way of processing and printing video stills. Don't forget they can do
a lot more besides, see our sister magazine Computer Video for some inspiration
and up to date prices.
As August approaches there are many video
enthusiasts, who will, no doubt, be keen to capture the solar eclipse. Here in
Bristol, we are told that it will be around 95% of totality, but even so to
capture the event safely and accurately will need some planning, just for two
minutes of action. Are there any hints and tips you can give as regards
protecting the camera, the use of filters and exposure settings etc.?
Michael Satherley, Emersons Green Village,
The obvious advice is to protect your
camcorder's image sensor using a suitable 'solar filter', obtainable from
camera and video dealers. However, rather than prattle on, listing all of the do's,
don'ts and tricks I strongly recommend that you get on-line, (try your local
library, internet café, or ask a friend or colleague). You should visit the web
sites of people who have actually done it. To start you off there's an
excellent article at: http://www.adjudicator.co.uk/eclipse/
Whilst it is a little dated in places -- it
was originally written in 1991 -- most of the technical stuff is as relevant
today as it was then. There are also links to other eclipse-related sites where
you will find a wealth of information about this once in a lifetime event.
ã R. Maybury 1999 2402