ASK RICK – DECEMBER
I wonder if you could help me with some
rather simplistic information on the Sony TRV110E Digital 8 camcorder. This
machine appears to be fairly similar to the TRV510 that was reviewed in a recent
edition of Video Camera. In the article it was stated that a serial connecting
lead and image processing and archiving software is supplied on CD-ROM. The
TRV110 of course does not have this as standard, but can it be purchased
separately and used with this machine? The manual is not very clear on this
My second question is that the manual
mentions an iLink cable for dubbing a tape, but this has to be purchased as an
optional extra. Does this improve the quality significantly? Does the VCR need
a special input or is it standard on most VCRs. What other DV products would
one use such a cable with?
P.K. Nandi, Bathampton, Bath.
Unfortunately the TRV110 doesn't have an
on-board flash memory for storing still images. Consequently it has no RS-232 serial
port for outputting data to a PC, so the answer to your first question is no,
the PC kit supplied with the TRV110 will not work with the TRV510. In any case
it's not available separately.
ILink, which is also known as FireWire, or
more formally as IEEE-1394 is a high-speed serial data link and in the context
of digital camcorders it carries the raw datastream from the camcorder to other
compatible devices. They include digital VCRs, digital camcorders with enabled
digital inputs, suitably equipped PCs and specialist digital editing devices
and systems. Ordinary analogue VCRs, and by that I mean VHS and S-VHS video
recorders, cannot handle digital signals and are not fitted with iLink
connectors. In theory when an iLink cable is used to copy or transfer a
recording to a compatible digital device there should be no reduction in
picture or sound quality since the cable is carrying digital data, basically a
stream of numbers. In other words the copy will be an exact clone of the original.
I am writing to you in the hope that you can
explain why a problem has developed with the fader facility on my Hama 128 AV
processor. It is approximately four years old, has had only light use and is
still in first class condition. Although I can get some fading to black –
approximately 50% -- this does not commence until some half way into the
operation of the slider. This is most disappointing since I have been extremely
pleased with it and the fader facility worked well until now. I have tried all
of the checks I can think of but to no avail. Every other function on the
processor is working perfectly. I have written to Hama in Germany but as yet
have had no reply. Do you have any suggestions, have I overlooked something or
has the processor developed a fault? If so how can I get it repaired?
B.K. Fuller, Holland On Sea, Essex
I can't think of any operational reason why
the fader should behave in this way so it's probably fair to assume that a
fault has developed. My first suspicion would be the slider itself since these
can become intermittent or noisy, however the symptoms are usually erratic
operation. Nevertheless, if might be worth investing in one of those 'blower'
aerosols of compressed gas, and give the slider slot a quick blast. However,
if, as I suspect there's a more deep-seated problem you should send the unit
for repair to Hama's UK division. It might be a good idea to give them a call
first, to get an idea of the likely cost etc., Hama PVAC Ltd. can be contacted
at: Unit 4 Cherrywood, Chineham Business Park,
Basingstoke, Hants, RG24 8WF, telephone (01256) 374700
In the October issue of Video Camera there is
a letter from a Mr A. Maynard of Kent regarding copying Super and Standard
8mm-movie film on to video tape. He refers to a gadget, which he brought from
Argos, but no such product is included in its latest catalogue. I wonder if it
is still possible to purchase such a device and if so, what sources of supply
are still available?
L. S. Wrigg, Haxey, North Lincs
I'm fairly sure the gadget Mr Maynard was
talking about is a slide/cine to video copier or transfer unti, sometimes known
as a telecine converter. Basically it's a small box with a mirror inside,
there's a small translucent screen at one end – onto which the image is
projected and a lens at the other, that couples up to the camcorder lens. They
are not as popular as they used to be – presumably why Argos dropped it from
its range – but they are still available. I spotted a couple of them in the
current Keene Electronics catalogue costing £40 and £50. Keene can be contacted
on (01332) 830550 or visit its web site at: www.keene.co.uk
I have a disability resulting in limited use
of my right hand. I would be most grateful if you could advise me of any
manufacturer who produces a camcorder which, with minimum adaptation, be
operated by the left hand?
John Bowman, Sale, Cheshire
I've been asked similar questions several
times in the past and as far as I'm aware only one company – Panasonic -- ever
made a camcorder than could be used equally well in both right and left hands.
That was about ten years ago and it was never launched in the UK. Sony used to
make a neat pistol grip, with a plug-in trigger that connects to the machine's
Control L/LANC socket but alas that went out of production several years ago. I
have a little bit of good news, though. I've tried a few experiments with some
of the latest 'upright' sub-compact camcorders from Sony, Panasonic and JVC
(DCR-PC3, NV-EX3, GR-DVX7) and found to my surprise that they can be held
reasonably comfortably in the left hand, and the thumb can get to the
stop/start button. The only major control that's inaccessible is the zoom
lever/slider, however – depending how much use you have in your right hand -- you
may be able to adjust zoom directly, or control it from the supplied remote
control handsets. In any case it's worth a try and you should pop down to your
local video store and ask to try them out.
With reference to that wonderful device, the
Sony GV-D300 I can see how it is possible to make 'loss-free' copies via the
FireWire connection (DX100 to GV-D300). However, I am a little puzzled as to
how I could use my Vivanco 5034 (multi-speed fader, audio mixer etc.) when the
only possible connection is via an S-Video lead?
Yet another puzzle. I understand how you can
connect a high band analogue camcorder to the GV-D300 to get DV recording
quality but an I correct in assuming that there will be little or no
improvement in copying pre-recorded analogue tapes to this machine?
P.W. Deeley, Ambleside, Cumbria
The answer to your first question is that you
can't use your Vivanco processor, or any analogue video processor come to that,
whilst the video signal is in digital form. The only time you can use it will
be when copying or editing from a digital source to an analogue VCR. You have
highlighted one of the few shortcomings of digital video, in that there are no
'domestic' stand-alone digital video processors, nor do I expect to see one
anytime soon. In fact the only way to manipulate digital images – without
converting back to analogue -- is on a PC editing system, or a device like
Casablanca. There should be less need for video processing – as far as things
like noise reduction and image enhancement is concerned – and most digital
camcorders have lots of effects. However, the bottom line is if you want to do
fades and mixes and other fancy tricks you'll either have to invest in some
digital editing kit, or save them until you edit or copy to analogue tape.
Your second query concerns copying analogue
footage on a digital VCR. There can be no 'improvement' or increase in picture
quality – that's impossible on any video recording system -- but the point is
there should be no reduction in quality, as normally happens when making
analogue to analogue copies.
WHAT A MIX UP
In the September issue of Video Camera Steve
Parker's interesting article (In The Frame) talks about adding a commentary
during editing, which requires a VCR with audio dub facility. I edit using my
Sony SLV-815 and E90 stereo VCRs and can only add commentary to the mono linear
soundtrack of the VHS copy tape. This means that I can only play back both mono
and stereo tracks using the VCR's audio mix facility. This is not very
satisfactory and useless if I want to send copies to friends and family who do
not have this facility on their VCRs. My question is, do more modern VHS VCRs
have an audio dub facility for post-production editing, with audio mix?
D.M.Barclay, Verwood, Dorset
The short and simple answer is no, I am not
aware of any current VHS VCRs with a mixing facility on the audio input.
However, there is no reason why you cannot add the commentary to your movie,
after the final editing stage, by audio dubbing the mono linear soundtrack. You
can then run off as many copies as you want from this master tape on the second
VCR, for your friends and relatives. Just remember to set the audio output on
the source machine set to mix mode. The mono and stereo soundtracks on the
copies will all carry the mixed output and can be played on any VCR mono or
I have been reading Video Camera for the past
year, I have never owned a camcorder but I know my way around a stills camera.
I have had a keen interest in computers since the early 1980s. I'm after some
advice. I want a digital camcorder that can also take good quality stills for
publishing on the Internet and printing on an inkjet printer. I would like to
be able to edit DV footage, what are the options and what sort of PC will I
need? Could the resulting recording be put onto a CD or DVD for distribution to
family, If so what kind of setup would I need to do this?
Normal Wall, Highham, Derbyshire
Look for features like progressive scan and a
serial/RS232 output port, they are a good sign that a DV cam is going to have
better than average still photo performance. You should also check up on the
pixel count on the camcorder's CCD image sensor, the more the merrier. However,
whilst stills shot on digial camcorders are fine for PC-based applications it
has to be said that no digital camcorder can match the resolving power of the
better 'megapixel' digital still cameras, which are fast approaching the
quality of 35mm cameras. If you want good quality photographic prints on paper
you are better off with film, or a high-end digital still camera. The PC spec
is simple; you need the fastest Pentium II/Athlon machine you can lay your
hands on, with bucket-loads of memory and a monster hard disc drive. The Buyers
Guides in our sister magazine Computer Video will fill in the details.
Downloading video to CD (Video CD) is possible and DVD Video recorders should
be with us early next year but it's a rather elaborate, not to say expensive
way of distributing home movies to members of your family, and that's assuming
they all have suitable disc players. It would be a whole lot easier (and
cheaper) to make copies on VHS tape, and there's a better than average chance
they'll all have VCRs.
ã R. Maybury 1999 1410