Sony DV camcorder captures Saddam in Iraq

The startling images of a tired and beaten Saddam Hussein transmitted around the world were captured with a Sony DSR-PD150 DVCAM camcorder. A U.S. Army combat crew that, while trained for battle, caught every detail of the deposed dictator as he was inspected and processed used the camera.

Due to its light weight and ease of use, the Sony DSR-PD150 camcorder has become an essential tool in the coverage of the war in Iraq and other conflicts around the world.

The video was released by the Pentagon last Sunday, the day after it was shot.

“It's not Betacam of course,” Staff Sgt. Wesley Wooten, a combat cameraman, told the New York Times in a telephone interview from Baghdad. “But it's the next best thing in my opinion.”

The PD150 DVCAM camcorder has become commonplace among overseas military personnel and journalists, who use it in tandem with Apple’s Final Cut Pro editing software on a laptop. This enables them to shoot and edit finished video segments in the field, then transmit them back to America via low-bandwidth videophone or high-speed fiber line.

The camera is lightweight and captures most images in low-light situations, which are common when covering a war.

The DSR-PD150 provides high quality acquisition in the DVCAM component digital format, as well as in DV, allowing up to 40 minutes recording on one Mini DVCAM tape or over a full hour in the DV mode. It features three newly developed 1/3 inch CCDs that allow two scanning modes: 480 progressive (for still) or interlaced (for video). The DSR-PD150 also features two built-in XLR inputs for professional audio functions.

The camera also includes a 4 MB Memory Stick that allows up to 60 JPEG images to be stored and is 16:9/4:3 aspect ratio switchable (although it shoots natively in 4:3).

Giovanni Lorente, a coalition forces spokesperson, told the Times that the military made arrangements with its dedicated video units to be there when the capture of Hussein went down.

“Basically what we're trained for is that the camera is our first weapon," Sgt. Wooten told the Times. “Our attack weapon is secondary to the camera. But there comes a point where you have to make a choice. Me personally, I try to do both. We're lucky enough to carry pistols. It gives you some more protection. You can shoot and shoot at the same time."

Wooten did not identify the actual soldier who operated the camera.

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