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Nã Leo TV Tackles Live Sports With Hitachi HD Cameras

NLTV has been using Hitachi’s SK-HD1800 cameras for production on the “Big Island” of Hawaii since 2019. (Image credit: NLTV)

HILO, Hawaii—Nã Leo TV (NLTV) is the public access television station run by Nã Leo o Hawaii (NLOH), the nonprofit leader for media services on the “Big Island” of Hawaii. We provide public, education and government programming for the entire island across three cable channels, website and mobile app.

In the spring of 2019, we started looking at new cameras in order to produce more live events such as high school sports, but our existing prosumer-level HD camcorders weren’t up to the task. Our president wanted a higher quality standard, and to meet the demands of live sports, we needed cameras that would respond well in low light and could zoom all the way down a football field.

Our previous cameras also required tons of cabling—including separate video, communications and power—that was cumbersome for field use. I wanted the simplicity of a single SMPTE fiber cable for each camera, the higher quality of 2/3-inch sensors and the ability to use longer, B4-mount lenses.

A STEP UP IN QUALITY

Oahu-based Da Crew Production and Engineering Group arranged a side-by-side comparison between three major camera brands, and I liked what I saw with the SK-HD1800 model from Hitachi Kokusai. Watching on broadcast monitors and multiviewers, some people couldn’t see the difference between it and more expensive competitors, and the rest of us pointed to the Hitachi camera as having the best quality.

We purchased four SK-HD1800s in June 2019 and started using them in our studio and field productions last summer. We transport the cameras around the island in our 24-foot production trailer, which is parked next to our 18-foot high, 50x25-foot main studio. This lets us use the trailer as the control room when shooting in the studio.

We usually use three of the cameras on Cartoni or Sachtler tripods, with one operated handheld. We have three Fujinon ZA22x7.6BE lenses, one Fujinon HA14x4.5BERD-S super-wide lens and one Fujinon XA99x8.4BESM box lens that we use for sports.

We have been very pleased with the quality produced by the Hitachi cameras, and their low-light handling has been awesome. A lot of our high school stadiums aren’t very well lit, but we’re able to run the cameras at 6dB gain or less and get very good-looking results.

THE LITTLE DETAILS

I really value the setup simplicity and ease of use of these cameras. As a public access station, we have a lot of volunteers—including high school and college students—who may not understand all the technology, but I can get someone with little or no experience up to speed and comfortable with the SK-HD1800 in just minutes. I also like how the structure and language of the menus are essentially common sense, avoiding the need to dive into too many different buttons and submenus to get at the features I’m looking for.

The ability to control everything remotely from the truck over SMPTE fiber is fantastic, as is using the Ross Dashboard software on a Surface Pro tablet to adjust video settings. The cameras are also much lighter than others I have used, which is great for field use.

While social distancing cut short our spring sports season and temporarily reduced the number of productions in our studio, we’re enjoying the improvements the SK-HD1800 cameras have delivered. They have enabled us to take on more types of production projects and have enhanced the quality of our programs. Everything looks much better with these cameras, and people have noticed the difference in our broadcasts.

Matt Cordero is production manager at Nã Leo TV. He can be reached at mcordero@naleo.tv.

For additional information, visit www.hitachikokusai.us.