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Bigger And Better?

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Maurice Ali

Joined: 14 Nov 2003
Posts: 6354
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2005 3:34 pm    Post subject: Bigger And Better? Reply with quote

Bigger And Better?

By Maurice Ali, Journalist

Your typical ENG (electronic news gathering) camcorder!

You see them on the news, cameramen and videographers posing with their huge camcorders. You see this so often that we forget the advance of technology to miniaturize the equipment. One reason is the size of the old tapes and the mechanisms to drive them. But with digital technology, tape size could drop to sizes that made broadcast quality in a small package possible.

Another larger camcorder!


This change was evident in the choice we made in camcorders. Faced with used large vs small and new, we went with small and new with the promise that the new Sony DSR-PD170 would deliver "broadcast quality" in a light package.

Sony DSR-PD170

That camera did deliver with stunning video! Even the tech guys at Global TV noted "first off the bat" that the video was good! Honestly, I could not see how we could improve on picture quality with that camera. A larger camera would just be purchased for the occasional 2 camera shoot and looks - as a large camera impresses the public - but the critical shots would be with our trusty Sony. We used the best tapes in the world and never mixed, and the camera never lost a pixtel or failed to work in any way - we were fortunate in our purchase.

A better analogy is in radio. Look at the woman above reporting for Canada's largest news radio station. We see a large microphone with the station call letters and such, but look at the capture device. I think the thing is so small that I could put it in my pocket and just have this cord and microphone presented to the public, but that would not look "right". So we have this farce of the lady holding a tiny capture device in the other hand.

Here we see a true TV camcorder on the left with a pro-summer Panasonic on the right (she actually has the flip out screen and CRT in use at the same time!). Both camcorders would impress the public but would that Panasonic meet broadcast standard like our little Sony could, I think not. We also shot in DVCAM which is a proprietary mode that prevents dropouts. The tape passes the heads one and a half times as fast to capture more information and prevent dropouts. Even though our little camera has a few lines less than your typical half inch chip camera (ours are one third), the new chips are more sensitive almost equaling light sensitivity to the big cameras and has a cleaner image than say - a JVC - to boot! Our Sony was one of the last camera's to be updated before the switch to high-definition.

Our camera in action with another beautiful newswoman!

The BBC was one of the largest to embrace the PD-150 (our camera's predecessor) and you could see the camera in use during the London bombings a few month ago. The same camera was the camcorder of choice for imbedded troops in Iraq, working under the most incredible conditions, bringing the war into your homes - A truly legendary camera. Still the lure of that big camera haunts me. A good thing finances are forcing me to abandon the idea of another purchase soon, because our camera can do it all and finish all our projects. All connections including the XLR audio and shotgun microphone are professional equipment with phantom power for the condenser microphone - just in a small package...

Anyway, too much talk about equipment. Every now and then it pays to check out the simpler things in life, like that gal from CFRB or that other news woman from CP24 - There is more to life than camera equipment!
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