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Old October 11th, 2010, 01:28 AM   #1
Inner Circle
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tucson AZ
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What equipment was I using...?

I was just thinking back to the first "portable" videocam that I used - can't remember the exact date but it would have been late 60's/early 70's. The thing was B&W only and consisted of a handheld camera tethered to a briefcase sized recording unit that you carried with a shoulder strap. Can't clearly even remember the tape size - could have been 1/4 or 1/2 inch wide. Tape was reel to reel

It belonged to a local art school but I was able to borrow it to play around with for a few days then had to give it back. Can't remember the tape reel diameters, but they weren't all that big - as my faulty memory tells me anyhow.

Camera head could (barely) be carried in one hand but it was fairly large - maybe not as heavy as my JVC 110 with AB battery but probably in the same ballpark size-wise - maybe somewhat shorter and taller, but in the ballpark. Lens stuck out the front a few inches.

Anybody remember what it might have been?

I was mostly into large format photography in that era - I'm still using the Linhof 5 X 7 that I got in 1970. Come to think of it, I think I didn't have the Linhof when I was trying the video cam - must have been more like late 60"s.

I didn't fool around with video again until the late 80's when I was working in Tokyo and got a Sony 8mm camcorder - not Hi-8 but the one before that.
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Old October 11th, 2010, 08:19 AM   #2
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Sounds like the Sony Portapak, which was a black and white handheld camera with accompanying 1/2" reel to reel deck that you could sling over your shoulder. That was the first video camera I used also.
Charles Papert
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Old October 11th, 2010, 09:29 AM   #3
Obstreperous Rex
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Ed Sharpe has some info on this page, you'll have to scroll down to find the PortaPak:

Sony CV Series Video

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Old October 11th, 2010, 09:43 AM   #4
Inner Circle
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I too fooled around, um, was an assistant instructor, in an art-school program in Idyllwild, Southern Cal in the early 70s. Yes, we were using the Sony Portapack with 1/2" B&W reel-to-reel. Never did get crash-editing to work, though we tried. Otherwise, the program was based on 16mm.

Some short time later, there was an early 1/4" r-r color system from another manufacturer, of similar configuration, but the picture quality was pretty awful by comparison to Sony's B&W format.
30 years of pro media production. Vegas user since 1.0. Webcaster since 1997. Freelancer since 2000. College instructor since 2001.
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Old October 11th, 2010, 11:09 AM   #5
Inner Circle
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Thanks guys!

Followed the link that Chris provided and sure enough, it was the PortaPak. I liked the comment in the ad - recorder weighs a mere 11 pounds! Yeah, and the camera head was about 6 pounds more. Remembering the relative size of the thing I'd guess the attractive young lady in the add had to be about six feet tall to make the camera and recorder look to be a reasonable size!

No joke - I remember one of the computer makers in the sixties that brought out a new system and had photos of a young lady standing next to it to give a sense of scale. When I saw one of the machines at a trade show I realized it was a good foot taller than any other system box and one of the marketing guys I talked to told me that the girl in the add had been a college basketball player and was well over six feet tall.

Anyhow, it was kind of fun lugging the thing around - at least for the first 20 minutes! I don't remember the picture being all that bad, come to think of it - it certainly didn't look much worse than the over the air TV of the period. Hard to think that we'd already put a guy on the moon with the technology.of the period.
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