With new predictions that local television advertising will drop nearly 16 percent this year, broadcast equipment manufacturers are stepping up to the plate with lower cost studio equipment.
One critical cost area is HD studio cameras, traditionally one of the most costly investments a station can make. With broadcasters under competitive pressure to offer HD programming amidst a weak economy, some manufacturers are offering lower-cost, fully-equipped studio cameras. The following are a few of the low-cost options available.
Panasonic’s AG-HPX300 is a 10-bit, 4:2:2 HD camcorder with 17X interchangeable lens, three 1/3in 2.2-megapixel CMOS imagers and full 1920 x 1080 AVC-Intra recording. It records on P2 cards.
This fall, the company will release a new camera remote system that works with the HPX300, turning it into a full studio camera. The AJ-RC10G Remote Control unit comes with a 10-pin multicable that can connect the camera’s downconversion video out terminal for monitoring at the RCU. The remote provides camera control and recording functions.
Sony is also offering its PMW-EX3 HD camcorder in a studio configuration. The EX3 records to either Sony’s SxS memory cards or a hard drive. The camera uses three 1/2in Exmor CMOS sensors, each with an effective pixel count of 1920 x 1080, delivering HD images in 1080p, 720p or 1080i. The unit also has “Slow & Quick Motion,” selectable gamma curves, slow-shutter and interval recording.
Adding the Sony NIPROS/1 optical fiber adapter, the EX3 is converted into a production camera with all the inputs, outputs and interfaces needed for studio integration. The NIPROS/1 package includes a PS570 base station unit, a PS270 camera interface unit, an LVM-35W 3.5 color LCD wide-screen return video monitor, two intercom headsets and interface cables.
JVC’s HD250U has a 14-bit A/D converter, a newly-developed pixel converter and wideband front end processing. The company contends these features provide improved image quality for HD production and newsgathering. The camera has native 1280 x 720 progressive CCDs, HDV 24, 25, 30, 50 and 60p recording and a 60p live output (analog, 4:2:2).
The camcorder can easily be converted for studio use with the optional KA-HD250, a studio adapter incorporating a 26-pin multicore connection. Other features include genlock capability, component and HD-SDI output, a wide selection of HD lenses, enhanced cinema gamma, external time code synchronization, and professional connectors on a diecast chassis.
Newport Television (formerly Clear Channel Television) and Raycom Media previously announced they would be deploying the JVC HD250 studio cameras for HD news. Newport said it would also use the camera in the field for ENG. The New Vision Group, an Atlanta-based station group, has already taken delivery of 14 of the Sony EX3/NIPRO/1 packages for studio use.
While far higher priced and higher quality studio cameras continue to be marketed by companies, the economy has forced companies to offer a low-end option. In the current environment, stations have to finds ways to save on equipment costs.