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WCAX Takes News Hi-Def With Panasonic

We recently installed four Panasonic AK-HC3500 high-definition studio cameras, the company's most advanced studio model.

Our station, a CBS affiliate that serves virtually the entire state of Vermont, transitioned to HD newscasts shortly after we went live with our permanent digital channel on Feb. 17 this year. Prior to that we'd been running the cameras in standard-definition mode. Three of the cameras are installed in our news studio. The fourth is mounted on a rolling tripod in our newsroom, where we utilize it for shooting live stand-ups.

We made our purchase decision based on several factors. First, the Panasonic HC3500 has a small footprint thanks to its ergonomic design (which suits the size of our studio). It also allowed us to re-use our Vinten Radamec robotic support systems, our prompters and the Fujinon HD lenses we'd been using on our previous generation of SD studio cameras. The HC3500 is a native 1080i camera, and that was in line with the CBS network's "house" format. Without a doubt, the camera delivers the cleanest picture within our budget parameters. Also, the Panasonic HC3500 will output HD and SD signals simultaneously, and this served us well when we were providing both analog and digital transmissions.


The HC3500 camera delivers the purest native image in its class. It features three 2/3-inch 2.2-megapixal IT-CCDs with an advanced single-channel transfer system, 14-bit A to D converter, an advanced 38-bit digital signal processor LSI and spatial offset processing for exceptional sensitivity, resolution (1100 horizontal lines), as well as reduced aliasing. Its digital signal processor also features a dynamic range function that assures detailed, high quality images even when shooting scenes in a high contrast environment.

Between our main and secondary channels, we produce three and a half hours of local news daily, as well as video cut-ins for our Web site. We are also using the HC3500s to record two station-originated programs, "Across the Fence," a half-hour home and garden magazine that airs five times a week, and "You Can Quote Me," a 30-minute political issues forum broadcast once a week.

Panasonic tech support personnel came to the station to provide training and worked with us to establish basic settings for our camera operators. Since then, the HC3500s have essentially been "set and forget." There have been no problems since day one. Moreove—and what's really paramount—as the station gets a head start on the digital transition, the HD pictures look great.

Tim Thayer is chief engineer at WCAX-TV. He has been with the station since 1984. He may be contacted

For more information, contact Panasonic Broadcast at 201-392-4127 or