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Old March 25th, 2008, 06:16 AM   #1
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Small Camera Connectivity (LANC external mic lens etc.)

I am looking to upgrade my "baby" cam to an HD model. One thing I can't see discussed here in detail, is the connectivity of these smaller cams. And I mean it's easy to see which ones have a mini jack for an external mic if you hunt for it (I can then use a beachtek to connect a pro mic) but not so easy to find on the specs which ones take screw in lenses and which ones have hot shoes or will accept a lanc controller.

I've a total budget on this of 1000- but thats got to include a lanc controller as I'm looking to try the cam with a fig rig. Actually it's a cheap knock off fig rig by MILES but it'll do the job and at 30 (about $60) I'm not complaining.

I've been looking at the cams discussed in this section and can see so much good stuff it's hard enough to make a decision. I could do with some thoughts in regard to connectivity from people as this will swing in favour of which camera I buy. This camera will be used for serious film making and although small should have good manual controls.

thanks

Carter

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Last edited by David Carter; March 25th, 2008 at 11:38 AM. Reason: typo
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Old March 25th, 2008, 12:16 PM   #2
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Unfortunately none of the current Canon consumer AVCHD camcorders have a LANC jack. Perhaps someone else can speak as to the Sony models (I have a hard enough time staying up to date on just one manufacturer).
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Old March 25th, 2008, 12:49 PM   #3
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AFAIK all current Sony consumer models have a LANC interface that can be accessed via the A/V port (HC9 still has the traditional 2.5mm jack) - Sony has an update of their RM-VD1 (which had the 2.5mm plug) that has the correct plug, and is designed for these cams. The Sport Packs have used this interface for quite some time, but it requies a couple tricks.

I've got a hack which will allow almost all LANC controllers to work via the A/V jack. The DIY plans are done, just haven't had time to get a web page up to make them available. Had another situation that has required my attention, but I'll hopefully get this hack out there, and still hoping to offer an adapter too.

No LANC on Canon or Panasonic unfortunately.
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Old March 26th, 2008, 08:58 AM   #4
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Called the RM-AV2. At $50 a bit too expensive to go hacking up.

It would be great if you could find a chinese manufacture of that exact cable. It would have the wires already hooked to the correct pins and would make for easy modification to allow a 2.5mm jack to be added.
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Old March 26th, 2008, 07:39 PM   #5
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Thanks for your thoughts guys. I've really checked out the Sony's now as a result of the lanc compatability you flagged up here. Still not found the perfect cam... but its been a help... Hard decisions to be made. I should be able to get a camcorders own remote (rather than a lanc) rigged ie taped - to the fig rig for some control at least. SR12? but no manual focus ring... The JVC GZ-HD7 has its appeal too... food for thought
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Old March 27th, 2008, 12:29 PM   #6
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The sony SR12 looks like it doesn't actually take a lanc afterall. Indeed the guys in the sony shop couldn't find a cam on their shelves that did. One of them didn't even know what a LANC was so perhaps that doesnt bode well.

I'm veering toward the JVC because of this but the canon and sony cams are still an option. I want it all, but at the end of the day all these cameras have shortcomings due to the price bracket.

I've seen good and bad reviews of the JVC gz-hd7 so nothing settled yet. It can take lenses and filters and external mic and has a manual focus ring but is critisized for a poor optical image stabiliser, which may not be an issue with me. Comments on cnet regarding juddery footage concern me more. With only a good score on review and an average customer review score making matters worse. The sony's sr11 appeals to me as well, has great reviews, its identical to the sr12 but 60gb so costs less... takes external mic and has manual focus not from a ring but from a roller... both cams come with remotes of course so I'll be taping whatever remote to the fig rig. Just hope I can get an angle on the cam that will allow its use.

Will let you know what I end up with but feel free to talk me out of buying one of these and to try elsewhere. There are nice canon options but at this price range... and end use as a flim making camera whats best is the question.
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Old March 27th, 2008, 12:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Carter View Post
The sony SR12 looks like it doesn't actually take a lanc afterall. Indeed the guys in the sony shop couldn't find a cam on their shelves that did. One of them didn't even know what a LANC was so perhaps that doesnt bode well.

I'm veering toward the JVC because of this but the canon and sony cams are still an option. I want it all, but at the end of the day all these cameras have shortcomings due to the price bracket.

I've seen good and bad reviews of the JVC gz-hd7 so nothing settled yet. It can take lenses and filters and external mic and has a manual focus ring but is critisized for a poor optical image stabiliser, which may not be an issue with me. Comments on cnet regarding juddery footage concern me more. With only a good score on review and an average customer review score making matters worse. The sony's sr11 appeals to me as well, has great reviews, its identical to the sr12 but 60gb so costs less... takes external mic and has manual focus not from a ring but from a roller... both cams come with remotes of course so I'll be taping whatever remote to the fig rig. Just hope I can get an angle on the cam that will allow its use.

Will let you know what I end up with but feel free to talk me out of buying one of these and to try elsewhere. There are nice canon options but at this price range... and end use as a flim making camera whats best is the question.
I've seen other hacks where they take a fiber optic cable (using a cheap toslink optical cable) and find some way to position it in front of the camera's i/r pickup lamp, and the other end in front of the remote's i/r led, providing reliable use of the remote from behind the camera. Another hack is to tape a piece of paper/cardboard to the side of the camcorder at an angle in front of the camera i/r so you can "bounce" the signal from the remote from behind/side of the camera.

A lot amateur film-makers seem to favor the Canon's because of better manual control than the Sony's, and the 24p and now 30p options, which some compare to the 24f of film .... there is a new canon (hf100) coming out soon, that will be cheaper than than Sony SR11 ...

oops - just saw your are in Scotland - I don't know how the 50i/25p affects the Canon or Sony models there ... so you may disregard what I just said :)

(I have the SR11 and love it)
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Old March 27th, 2008, 03:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Carter View Post
The sony SR12 looks like it doesn't actually take a lanc afterall. Indeed the guys in the sony shop couldn't find a cam on their shelves that did. One of them didn't even know what a LANC was so perhaps that doesnt bode well.

...

There are nice canon options but at this price range... and end use as a flim making camera whats best is the question.
Hi David -

Well, the "guys in the shop" probably don't know a lot of things, even the first line Sony phone reps probably don't know half the things about these cameras that guys here do...

That out of the way, there is a LANC type interface in the A/V jack - it is called out in the SR11/12 specs and in the manual. It's been there since the HC3, and is called out (as "LANC") in the service manuals. The RM-AV2 mentioned above specifically goes to this jack, and I'm presuming is identical to the VD1, which has on/off, 2 speed zoom, rec start stop and still, all the same functions as the sports packs have, which also use this interface. For $50 if that remote has the functions you want, get one of those, you're done...

IF for some reason you want or need other functions, or have a LANC controller already, it can be adapted - if you have decent soldering skills, it's not difficult once you know the trick to either swap the 2.5mm plug for the 10 pin or build an adapter. It isn't hard, but there IS a trick required!

I'll have the SR11 in a few days to confirm that all works as expected. I am 99.9% sure it will, as I've got the hack working fine with the A/V jack on the CX7. I'm about 95% to releasing detailed instructions, but I ran across one remote that's had some odd behavior, and haven't had the time to double check what is happening - everything works fine with all the other LANC remotes I've tested, just got one odd duck...


For the Canon, it's a pretty simple matter to make a small reflector (you could even use a aluminum foil type gum wrapper if you're the McGuyver type) to bounce the IR signal from the wireless remote into the IR sensor on the front of the cam. Some guys have gone so fancy as to use a digital optical (toslink) cable as a "IR conduit", but hey the gum wrapper would work... you could even use the gum as a "mount"! I use a Hershey bar wrapper (as a parabolic antenna booster) to boost my 802.11G network strength substantially!! It's not exactly rocket science <wink>.

Same goes for the FigRig - not familiar with the "Miles" one you reference (UK thing? Got a link?), but I use a pair of folding flash brackets and a flat one to bridge them to make something like a mini FigRig - but adjustable as needed for balance. I can set the left bracket so I can access all the touch screen functions with my thumb, and actually use that more than the LANC, but I have both options.

I'm in the Sony camp myself, just because I've got all the accessories, but the new Canons look promising and maybe a bit better built - the HV20 just didn't inspire me (and I DID own one for a brief while) - great PQ, lousy chassis and sound issues, but the HF series look nice - have to see "in person" to know for sure.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 10:51 AM   #9
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Thanks for this, I was somewhat baffled that the "guys in the shop" weren't quite up to speed on their own products. The Sony specs they showed me online don't refer to it as having a LANC capability.

On checks of the RM-AV2 online however I've seen that it will fit the SR11 and at the moment the SR11 is winning the battle. The JVC GZ-HD7 is still on my mind as its cheaper than the SR11 and delivers a good manual controls punch... That said reviews are mixed. As for the Canon's I can't seem to get excited about them even though I've had several in the past.

I've broadened the field a little now looking at HDV camcorders released a year or so ago which offer possibilities I had not considered.

Back to the initial subject of connectivity, do any of the lanc or remote controllers offer a focus control?
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Old March 28th, 2008, 02:38 PM   #10
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"product specialist"/pizza delivery guy - you choose. No surprises that sales and first line support people don't know too much about the product other than how to turn it on.

Once in a great while you'll find one that is an Ubergeek and actually plays with everything and learns it well enough to impress.

The SR11 specs call out a lanc on the A/V port - I've seen it (or hallucinated it, but I'm quite certain it's there!). That the AV2 is shown as compatible is confirmation.
I can't speak to the latest Canons as they aren't even in the wild yet, but they might be pretty good, my main question will be build quality - PQ isn't in question - you're really looking at Sony and Canon in the lead.

General feeling is that the latest cameras, particularly AVCHD are big improvements over earlier cams (I'm waiting to see if the SR11 blows away the CX7 - I'm doubtful, but we will see). That said, the "grandaddy" HC1 is STILL a pretty fine camera.

I've tested a now discontinued Giottos LANC that has a button to turn focus from manual to auto, and focus buttons. It works, including with the A/V port hack/adapter - I don't know that I'd want to rely on it too much for manual focus, but it's good to throw focus out, then hit the auto button and let the cam fade into correct focus... There are other LANC controllers with focus functions out there and they SHOULD be able to work through the A/V port.

There is some controversy as to whether it even is a "LANC" port per se, but since that's what the service manuals call out, and it appears the communication protocol is equivalent to the LANC protocol, that's probably the safest term to use in my book. The interesting thing is if you research the LANC protocol, there are often quite a few functions which can be accessed beyond the "normal" ones.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 04:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
General feeling is that the latest cameras, particularly AVCHD are big improvements over earlier cams (I'm waiting to see if the SR11 blows away the CX7 - I'm doubtful, but we will see).
Dave, I think you will be surprised at the improvement. Although I never had a CX7 home, I did bring a memory card to a couple of Best Buys to test it. I wasn't blown away to be honest and thought that, at least in-store, it looked a bit soft. No such issues with the SR series.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 05:10 PM   #12
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There is a new range of tripods as well as the clip-on unit. The tripods are a much better bet as the controls are better than on the clip on unit. Just buy one of the cheap Sony tripods like this http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/...2&tab=Features
take the handle off and put it on a decent tripod.

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