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Old January 12th, 2008, 08:48 PM   #1
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Specialty Camera?

I'll try to be brief, but as Ricky Ricardo used to say, I've got some 'splainin to do.
I own an audio production company that is expanding into video. (My 'real' job is with a local event video company). My company does event production as well as system design and installations. We have installed around 100 audio systems in churches, schools, etc. and are now installing video systems. Here is my problem. Many of my church clients are requesting a camera that can be remotely controlled to be installed in the front of the church for a reverse angle or two cameras that are mounted in the back of the sanctuary. The idea here is to provide a "semi-pro" look (ie: not a static security camera look) without having to have an operator at every camera. This way, one person in the booth can set up shots, dissolve or cut using a live switcher, do some zooms, and have a decent video to record strait to DVD, dupe, and send home to shut-ins (I hope that term is still P.C.?). I have had good luck using the Libec ZC-3DV zoom controller and the Bescor PT unit (it's a cheap unit so don't expect smooth pans when the camera is live but it works well to set up shots in Preview). As you've probably figured, most of these clients are on tighter budgets as they only want DVDs to hand out, not broadcast uplinks. My problem is in the cameras. I hate to see clients spend the money for a Sony PD-170 that has the quality, low light capability, and LANC port (all of which are needed) and mount it, thus wasting a perfectly good DV recorder onboard. I have tried to research a decent camera without the "corder", but I seem to be on the fence between broadcast quality ($15,000+) or security camera (poor quality). Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

Best,

Kevin Fox
F.M. Industries
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Old January 13th, 2008, 03:21 PM   #2
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Hi Kevin.............

Reckon the way to go with this is to check out previous generation gear that can supply the neccesary in's & outs and the video quality you need.

Buy 'em second hand (there's truck loads on the market) at bargain basement prices and Voila!

Depending on the quality required, Canon XL1/ s, GL1 (?) etc etc. Not up with the Sony gear but should be the same there.

Can't really see an alternative cost effective solution.


CS
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Old January 13th, 2008, 06:12 PM   #3
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Hi Kevin -
Let me throw a wild card in here - Take a look at the Sony CX7 (yeah, I know, HD cameras have poor low light, blah blah...). The lux rating is shown as 2 lux, and it "shows" substantially better than my other HD cameras - I'm actually pleasantly surprised with the low light capability, it sucks an acceptable picture out of pretty low light conditions. Don't know why it performs better than the other Sonys HDV cams with similar guts, but somehow it does. Don't have a PD to put it up against, but I'm pretty sure it'd be close. Won't quite shoot a black cat in a dark room, but then again, what will?

Small size, very discreet, and retailing right around the 1K price point, so a bit less painful than a bigger cam. And you could use it for later upsell from SD to HD since it has both outputs. No viewfinder or tape carriage, just a Memory stick recorder, which you wouldn't need to use.

I've got a LANC adapter designed through the A/V port, but I don't know whether that would affect your video feed - shouldn't, but would have to test a custom cable. I'm presuming your audio would come from elsewhere? Later you should be able to feed from the mini HDMI for HD quality too, when that becomes more affordable.

Just a wild idea for you to consider. Let me know if this stirs up any questions or ideas for you!
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Old January 16th, 2008, 02:50 PM   #4
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Thanx

Thanx guys for the thoughts. Chris, the warranty (or lack thereof) may be the only problem I see with going used. Since clients expect some type of warranty I would have to work around this issue. Dave, I'm interested in the custom cable for LANC compatability. How does this connect? Does it share a jack with the video/audio? (You were correct, audio will come from the church's sound board). I like the idea of having both formats for future "proofing". Now if I can just find may cat.....?

Best,

Kevin
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Old January 20th, 2008, 12:17 PM   #5
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Hi Kevin -
The LANC connection is in the D shaped A/V jack, so yes the composite output (or SVHS) is on the same connector.

I'll be testing the video out capability with the LANC shortly - getting requests for either audio or video capability from the same connection, so I'm testing that as I'm slowly documenting what all that A/V jack can do. 99% certain that taking a video feed is just a matter of adding the extra connections/connectors.

I was going to release detailed instructions for the LANC, but I'm taking a few extra days to document the additional capabilities for the DIY interface, since most of the requests seem to be, like myself, interested in doing things not originally contemplated by Sony, at least not publicly! The CX7 lends itself to some applications where a larger cam is impractical, so the LANC interface is a logical "need".

Sony did at least announce the next generation of cameras have the LANC on the A/V plug, something I'm not sure they had previously been open about - it's just a matter of interfacing.

I'll post once I've confirmed what video capability is there when sharing the jack with a LANC. If you're reasonably handy with a soldering iron (connections are pretty small, need a small tip), you'd be able to make the interface cables with no trouble at all from my instructions, and you'd be all set.

Dave

Last edited by Dave Blackhurst; January 20th, 2008 at 02:42 PM.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 10:29 PM   #6
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OK, done all the testing, and yes there is a composite video signal available from the A/V jack (and apparently audio, but still trying to figure out as this also serves as an external mic input...), even with the LANC control adapter.

Finalizing the instructions/diagrams/drawings so most anyone with a moderate soldering skill should be able to build an adapter to suit their needs.
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