VIDEO CAMERA 1999

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ASK RICK APRIL

 

DIGITAL DODGE

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 master.

 

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 digital?

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.

 

ROUGH METAL?

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.   

 

MONOMOAN

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.     

 

ANTIQUE YET?

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, Merseyside

 

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.

 

BIGGER STILL

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.

 

ECLIPSE PRECAUTIONS

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, Bristol

 

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.

 

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ã R. Maybury 1999 2402

 


 

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