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Cameras

This year, NAB again brought new technologies and products to the marketplace, as well as showed some more mature products from technology first introduced
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This year, NAB again brought new technologies and products to the marketplace, as well as showed some more mature products from technology first introduced last year. New flavors of HD products were certainly a hit and caused much stir amongst attendees.

In the area of HD, HDV recording technology is causing a considerable amount of interest. JVC and Sony displayed new cameras and decks, with several editing manufacturers showing native HDV editing to help the finishing process. HDV now offers cost-effective HD production solutions. Although highly compressed to a 19.4Mbs MPEG-2 stream, the pictures are quite impressive, especially when one considers how inexpensive many of these new HD tools are.

The Miranda HD-Bridge DEC received a Broadcast Engineering Pick Hit award. The device provides high-quality HDV to HD-SDI 1080i/720p conversion with embedded audio and time code along with digital and analog audio and video outputs. Dual HD-SDI outputs are provided, one clean feed and one with time code and graticlue markers.

A similar converter, the ASI-Bridge, is a camera-mounted HDV-to-ASI converter. It accepts HDV via an ILink connection and converts it to standard MPEG-2/ASI. This makes it ideal for HDV news applications.

JVC introduced the first HDV products last year, and this year it introduced the GY-HD100U. Based on three newly-developed 1/3in CCDs, the camera operates in 1280×720 progressive at 24fps and 30fps and 480 24p and 60i SD image formats. The GY-HD100U is the only HDV camera to currently support interchangeable lenses. It comes standard with a Fujinon 16x ProHD lens, but a 13x wide-angle lens also is available. The camera offers two XLR inputs and a small footprint while still offering a shoulder-style mount. The camera records to standard DV tapes using the MPEG-2 HDV codec developed by JVC and Sony. It also has an optional DR-HD100 hard disc-based recorder. Deliveries are scheduled for July.

JVC also displayed the GY-DV5100U SD professional DV camcorder. An upgraded version of the existing GY-DV5000U, the camera has improved 12-bit A/D with 24-bit digital signal processing. The camera is based on three 1/2in 410,000 pixel 4:3 native CCDs. It offers 16:9 images via anamorphic squeeze or letterbox.

Sony displayed the HVR-Z1U HDV camcorder. The camera is based on three newly developed 1/3in 16:9 Super HAD CCD imagers operating at 1080i in 50i/60i/30F/25F/24F and can also record in SD. Recording is achieved with the onboard recorder using DVCam or DV tape. The camcorder comes equipped with a Carl Zeiss 12x lens with auto or manual control of focus and iris, a 3.5in LCD display, balanced XLR audio input and a variety of analog outputs, as well as iLink. The camera has been available for delivery for a few months now and has received good reviews from users.

Sony also displayed the HDC-X310 camera. An upgraded model of the HDC-X300, the camera offers an optional fiber-optic interface that enables cable runs of up to 3300ft. Based on three 1/2in 1.5 megapixel CCDs, it offers 59.94i, 50i, 29.97psf, 25psf and 23.976 frame rates at 1080. Low-cost interface boards include a fiber-optic interface, VGA interfaces, CCU and RCU units.

The HDC-1000, 1500 and 1550 camera line offer 1080@60p images, answering the requirements for trucks to support both 1080 and 720 customers. All three cameras have 14-bit A-D and can connect to the HDCU-1000 CCU system through existing infrastructures.

In the area of SD, Sony introduced the MSW-970 MPEG IMX and DVW-970 Digital Betacam camcorders offering 24p images. Both cameras share 2/3in Power HAD EX CCDs and 14-bit A/D. In DVCam, the DSR-400 4:3-only and DSR-450WS 4:3/16:9 switchable cameras were introduced. Based on 2/3in Power HAD EX CCDs, both units offer 24PsF/25PsF (PAL model)/30PsF and 60i images.

Panasonic made a big splash with a small product — the AG-HVX200. The camera offers 1080/60i, 1080/24p, 1080/30p, 720/60p, 720/24p, 720/30p, 480/60i, 480/24p and 480/30p HD and SD images. The unit comes standard with a Mini-DV tape recorder and allocations for two P2 cards. SD images are recorded on Mini-DV tape or P2, and HD images using the DVCProHD100 codec are recorded on P2 cards. The camera is based on three 1/3in 16:9 progressive native CCDs and a wide-angle Leica Dicomar HD lens, with two XLR audio inputs. The unit has an IEEE 1394 digital interface as well as analog I/O. Two 8-Gig P2 cards provide 40 minutes of 720/24p recording and 16 minutes of 1080/24p recording.

The AJ-HDX400 is based on DVCPRO HD-LP (1080/59.94i), with three 2/3in CCDs with 12-bit A/D processing. The camera offers cine-like gamma curves and standard HD-SDI output and built-in SD (NTSC) composite outputs.

SD cameras included the AW-E860 box camera with native 16:9 three 2/3in CCDs. It is switchable 4:3/16:9, has 12-bit A/D, with 510,000 pixels. The AJ-SPC700 DVCPRO P2 camcorder offers P2 recording cards at either DVCPro/DV 25 or DVCPro50 data rates. The camera is based on three 2/3in IT CCDs offering 520,000 pixels.

Hitachi introduced a low-cost HD camera in both 1080i and 720p versions, the SK3010P. Featuring new 2/3in IT CCDs with 2,200,000 pixels, the cameras offer a digital fiber transmission system with 3000m capacity. Separate HD and SD setup controls for numerous functions facilitate higher quality output of both formats.

In SD cameras, Hitachi showed the SK-900 with 14-bit A/D, and three 2/3in mega-pixel CCDs. Switchable between 4:3 or 16:9, the camera also features DSP that allows up to 38-bit accuracy. The Z-3500 is a 4:3 only camera with 410,000 pixel IT CCDs. The camera offers triax or multicore CCUs and offers a cost-effective ENG/EFP studio configured version.

Grass Valley added the LDK400 SD camera to its line, an upgrade of the LDK-300 with 14-bit A-D and a choice of DPM, FT, IT or ITW sensors. The optional LDK 5430 digital triax adapter also was shown. In HD cameras, the LDK-4000 was added to the line. It is essentially a lower-cost LDK-6000 that is either 1080i 50/60 or 720p 50/60 but not switchable.

Also added to the line was the Venom Flash pack solid-state recorder. Connecting to the Viper camera, it offers 10 minutes of 4:4:4 recording. ARRI also announced that the Venom would be interfaced to its D-20 camera.

Ikegami introduced Editcam HD capabilities using the Avid DN×HD codec at 140Mb/s 1080/60i, 1080/24p and 720/60p recording with a new FieldPak2 hard disc or solid-state recording pack. Numerous enhancements and maturity of technology introduced at last year's NAB were shown in its camera line. This included the HDK-75EX ENG/EFP, HDK-790E full studio and the compact HD box-style HDL-40 cameras.

Iconix showed a micro three-CCD HD camera offering three 1/3in progressive CCDs with 720p/1080i/1080p capabilities. The camera head measures 1.32in × 1.5in × 1.92in. The controller unit offers tri-level genlock input with analog and digital outputs, including dual-link in 4:4:4 and 4:2:2, as well as DVI-D.

Canon brought the XL-2 this year, an upgrade of the familiar XL-1 footprint. The camera offers 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratio shooting formats, variable frame rates and customizable cine look functions from three 1/3in 680,000 progressive scan CCDs.

Autoscript released its Go-Prompt 12 teleprompter. It provides a high brightness display but also incorporates a wireless control that allows the user to select the files to be displayed and control the scrolling speed within the prompter. Go-Prompt 12 accepts Word, RTF and text files. Multiple languages are supported through Unicode, and it runs either on 12VDC or 110-240VAC. The prompter provides a video output for a second prompter and has the option of adding the Autoscript 3in preview screen.

This year's show did highlight some maturity in existing and new SD and HD cameras and technology. The highlight for a lot of attendees was HDV and its implementation of low-cost HD production. While the tools are capable of unprecedented quality for the investment, it still takes the broadcast professional to harness the capabilities for success.

Dan Stark is president of Stark Raving Solutions.