Sony CCD-TRV30 8mm Camcorder Elite Video BVP-4 Broadcast Video Processor Mitsubishi HS-U770 S-VHS VCR
Broadening Your Vision
CCD-TRV30 8mm Camcorder
1 Sony Drive
Park Ridge, NJ 07656
Here's a new TR-series camcorder from Sony that offers the same point-and-shoot simplicity of earlier Sony TR models. The main feature of the TRV30, however, is its three-inch color LCD (liquid crystal display) screen which will turn to almost any angle, and which you can use during shooting or playback. The Sony TRV30 is reminiscent of the earlier Sony FX730, with its swing-out LCD screen that fit snugly on the side of the camcorder body when not in use. But unlike that earlier camcorder, the TRV30 has a number of additional features that should boost its appeal.
The TRV30 has about the same size and appearance of other TR models, though it is a bit wider and heavier due to the built-in LCD design. Most of the controls are the push-button type which offer a kind of snap when pushed.
I'm Seeing Through You
You can view images coming through the TRV30's f/1.8, 12:1 zoom lens (5.4~64.8mm) either through the black and white viewfinder on the top of the unit, or by pulling out the color LCD.
The black and white viewfinder uses a half-inch CRT (cathode ray tube) and has a removable eyepiece for cleaning. The color LCD display, which is held in place against the body with a lock button, has a rotational range of about 320 degrees, making it possible to view your subject while holding the camcorder at almost any angle or position. You can even position the LCD to view it while you're shooting yourself. A brightness control resides on the edge of the LCD, while settings in the camcorder's built-in mode menu will adjust the color and hue levels.
The mode menu also offers adjustments for the included remote unit, autodate and the record tally lamp. You'll find the controls for the menu underneath the LCD.
Other controls found in this area include a display button that will remove all information displayed on the LCD, an end button for the edit search mode and date, time and counter reset buttons. Also found under the LCD is a 1 1/2-inch diameter speaker that will provide audio when the LCD panel is in use for playback. On the rear panel is a volume control for the speaker.
You'll find several other controls on the rear panel. Below the volume control are the backlight, program and picture effect buttons. The backlight button will open the iris by about one stop to allow better exposure of subjects with dominant backlighting. The program button lets you choose one of the five settings of the AE (automatic exposure) circuits.
The picture effect button is the most interesting of the three. It offers six different settings, starting with normal video. A push of the button puts you into mosaic mode; a second push changes the effect to solarize. A black and white setting is next, followed by a nice sepia tone, which you can use to get the look of old-time movies. Next comes a negative effect which is useful for shooting photographic negatives, or just as an effect by itself.
On top of the unit you'll find the edit search buttons, the power switch and a fade button that allows fade in or out while you're shooting. A dark strip along the top suddenly lights up with tape transport controls when you switch the TRV30 into VCR mode. The controls are of the membrane type.
The zoom rocker and a secondary start/stop button (the main stop/start is at the right rear of the unit) round out the topside controls. A secondary zoom rocker is at the front of the unit.
Standard RCA-type audio and video connectors reside under a plastic door on the unit's right side. Just above them is the external microphone input. This will accept "plug-in power" type mikes. At the rear is a headset output.
You can hook the TRV30 into your editing setup with its control-L connection, but that's one of the only ways you'll be able to control this unit. Everything on this deck, with the exception of the AE settings, is automatic with no manual overrides, including focus.
Making It Go
The TRV30 makes nice pictures. Color is quite accurate and playback resolution matches 8mm expectations. The built-in three-inch color LCD is quite useful up to a certain distance, after which it becomes difficult to see. And unless you look at it directly from head-on, the picture distorts and is hard to make out. So as a playback monitor, the LCD is single-user only. Still, its value while shooting is clear because of the many positions you can shoot in and still see the image. The built-in speaker that operates during LCD playback gives surprisingly good sound reproduction for its size.
The zoom control works very smoothly, and while it's obvious when the two zoom speeds change, it's not disturbing. As mentioned, there are two separate zoom control levers. This may help to accomodate videomakers who have different hand-holding styles.
The fade in/out button works nicely too, but tends to take quite a while to stop or start the fade, causing long periods of dark tape. But it does fade to a true video black, unlike other similar units.
Controlled automatically are exposure, white balance and focus. You have control only over AE settings. This is fine for the point-and-shoot crowd, but probably won't do for the videomaker who is becoming serious about the craft--especially the lack of a manual focus control. While the autofocus gives nice, sharp images, it takes a while to adjust to new elements entering the frame.
One the other hand, completely automatic controls make the unit quite easy to use, which will appeal to the average consumer. Also, a simple push of a button initiates the unit's effects.
The black and white and the sepia effect give you everything you need for a classic movie look. The negative effect works by itself, or you can use it to reverse color negatives as graphics in your videos. Mosaic and solarization effects are also available.
Kudos to Sony for putting both an external mike input and a headset output on the TRV30. Regardless of the intended market, every camcorder can benefit from these jacks.
For the videomaker who wants an easy-to-use camcorder that doesn't sacrifice some of the effects and features of upper-level units, here it is. Everything from the color LCD to the control-L protocol is here for you. So take the time to consider the Sony CCD-TRV30 while you're shopping for your next camcorder.
Technical Specifications - Sony CCD-TRV30 8mm Camcorder
- Lens -
- Two-speed 12:1 optical zoom, f/1.8, 5.4-64.8mm focal length
- Image sensor
- - 270,000 pixel CCD
- Focus -
- Auto only
- Maximum shutter speed -
- 1/4000 of a second
- Exposure -
- Program AE with switchable backlight
- White balance -
- Auto, no override
- Digital effects -
- Mosaic, solarize, sepia tone, negative
- Audio -
- Single-channel mono
- Inputs -
- Composite video, mono audio, external microphone
- Outputs -
- Composite video, mono audio, headset output
- Edit interface -
- Other features -
- Diopter control, viewfinder indicators, camera mode edit search, three- inch color LCD, remote, built-in speaker.
- Record & Playback
- Horizontal resolution (camera)
- 320 lines
- Horizontal resolution (playback)
- 245 lines
- Performance Times
- Pause to record
- 0.5 second
- Power up to record
- 3 seconds
- Fast forward/rewind (30 min. tape)
- 1 minute, 40 seconds
- Dimensions -
- 4 7/8 (width) by 4 3/8 (height) by 8 3/8 (depth) inches
- Weight (sans tape and battery) -
- 2 pounds, 4 ounces
Hey Good Lookin'
BVP-4 Broadcast Video Processor
321 Ouachita Avenue
Hot Springs, AZ 71901
Anyone involved in making videos, especially prosumers and those who make video for a living, need control over the video signal when editing. After all, you won't sell many wedding tapes if the bride's face is purple, or the scenes are too dark to see. Video signal processing amplifiers, called proc amps for short, are what you use to correct these problems. While it's true that some consumer equipment is available with proc amps built in, the limited range of this equipment may be unacceptable for those who pay the rent with the quality of their work.
New from Elite Video is the BVP-4 Video Processor, a full-range, broadcast-quality proc amp. Useful to people who are serious about their video signal, the unit offers a wide range of signal control. Housed in a trim, black and white steel cabinet, it's about the size of a big yellow page phone book, though slightly longer. All of the controls are front mounted (except for an input select switch on the back), and are either rotary knobs or toggle switches. Access to controls is a breeze.
Primary controls include tint adjustment, luminance adjustment, resolution contour and black restore. There are additional controls for flesh tone, color level and split screen. Let's consider each of these controls one at a time.
A series of two toggle switches and two knobs come next to control color tint. The first toggle is simply an on/off for switching the tint controls in and out of the signal. Once you've switched in the color tint circuits, the second toggle switch and the knobs provide a full range of color tint control. The tint control knobs effect all colors equally throughout their range.
Two more knobs control the Luminance adjustment. The first of these is the PTP knob. PTP stands for point to point luminance which, put simply, uses internal computers to place the greatest luminance detail within the range you can adjust. In doing this you gain the best possible adjustment of black, white and grey tones.
The next adjustment is the Resolution Contour. It uses an Enhancement Processing circuit that boosts the high frequency bandwidth without causing ghosting, clipping, added artifacts or noise. The result gives the appearance of adding up to 70 lines of visible resolution.
You can switch on/off a Black Restore section. When on, a Depth knob works to search out the darkest portions of the signal and restore them to full black. This fixes areas of the picture which should be black but have washed out to grey shades.
A Flesh Tone knob follows which you use to restore flesh tones to a natural look. This is especially useful with multi-generation tapes in which flesh tones tend to go reddish or purple. The manufacturers claim that this is the first proc amp to offer this control.
A Color Level knob is next which will adjust the chroma level from black and white to over-saturation. If your videos don't have the color level you wish, you can boost the color with this control or bring down colors if they are too strong. Or you can kill the color for B/W effects.
Next follows a Split Screen knob which wipes between the original signal and your processed signal. You can set the wipe to any part of your screen to make the comparison.
The second knob adjusts the IRE setting. This is your basic brightness setting as viewed on a video monitor or waveform monitor.
After the on/off power switch (with red LED to indicate power on) we come to an on/off switch for the HBF (Herring Bone Filter). Herring bone is an undesirable effect on video images caused by nearby electrical interference. Turning on the HBF switch will reduce or possibly eliminate this effect.
You make hookups at the rear of the unit, which offers switchable inputs and outputs for either composite or S-video. A 12V DC power connection also resides here. The BVP-4 will operate with the included A/C adapter, or (with the right cable) any battery source with the above output.
The included manual covers every function, but its four pages of instructions (plus Q& A and specs pages) could stand considerable enhancement.
The BVP-4 fulfills all its claims quite nicely and can be downright fun to play with. The herringbone filter (HBF) seemed to improve on more than just herringbone noise. The flesh tone adjuster (which only works when you bypass the tint control) works well on fleshtones in small increments, but will effect the tint of the whole scene when swept through its complete range.
With the tint controls switched in, the range of color adjustment is considerably expanded (the flesh tone control does not work with tint on). A true full range of tint is available.
The luminance adjustments and black restore control work well with the PTP control, affecting contrast as promised. The manual notes that if you set the luminance and black restore controls too low (way below accepted NTSC standards), the black portion of the video signal may drop into the sync area, making your images unstable. This turns out to be true and, when I adjusted these controls haphazardly, I also induced a grainy noise into the picture. Used properly, these controls combine to increase detail and proper shading in your video.
With the above controls properly adjusted, the apparent increase in resolution afforded by the resolution contour knob was quite evident. This is, of course, a circuit which enhances the detail already present in the image and does not actually increase resolution. The results are quite visible and gave the impression that standard VHS tapes I tested it on were producing over 300 lines of resolution. The effect is very nice.
I tested this unit with both composite and S-video signals. S-video signals gave a slight improvement in obtainable results.
To put it bluntly, the BVP-4 Broadcast Video Processor is a good unit at a good price. If you're shopping for a good proc amp, give it a look.
Technical Specifications - Elite Video BVP-4 Broadcast Video Processor
- Format -
- Composite NTSC, S-video
- Video inputs -
- Composite, S-video
- Video outputs -
- Composite, S-video
- Resolution -
- Up to 800 lines (with resolution contour improvement)
- Signal to noise -
- Features -
- Split screen, color level, flesh tone adjust, herringbone filter, 360 degree tint adjustment, full IRE scale luminance adjustment, black restore, resolution contour
- Dimensions -
- 3 1/8 (height) x 15 (width) x 7 3/4 (depth) inches
- Weight -
- 6 pounds
HS-U770 S-VHS VCR
Mitsubishi Electronics America, Inc.
6100 Atlantic Blvd.
Norcross, GA 30071
Mitsubishi's HS-U770 is the next generation in their line of HS-U series of VCRs. Carried over from previous models are the synchro edit functions, hi-fi stereo audio, audio/video inserts and a high quality tape transport. For those wishing to put together a simple editing setup with the resolution of S-VHS, the HS-U770 will be a good choice either as a source or record deck.
The HS-U770 is visually similar to earlier HS-U units we've probed. A fluorescent display dominates the front of the unit's flat black case. The case is very smooth in appearance with a minimum of transport controls placed around the unit's jog/shuttle knob. These controls provide good tactile response and are easy to use. Overall, the HS-U770 has an attractive, uncluttered look.
What you get
Dominating the tape transport controls is the jog/shuttle knob. As with most jog/shuttle knobs, this one offers four different speeds in either direction if used while a tape is playing. However, if you pause the tape before using the knob, an additional slow-motion speed becomes available. The slow-motion effect is a bit jerky, but is valuable in searching for specific points while editing. An adjust dial in the center allows for frame-by-frame searches.
Near the jog/shuttle is the PerfecTape button. When you press this button, the unit plays and evaluates a small portion of your inserted tape. It then displays a rating of the tape quality and adjusts its record electronics for best performance.
A doorway on the left of the front panel opens on a set of audio/video inputs for use with other VCRs, and the controls for setting audio levels and making audio/video inserts. Also found here, and new for the HS-U series, is a headphone jack with volume control.
You will also find a button here that activates the on-screen display. This will indicate elapsed and remaining tape times, TV channel viewed, signal source, time and the status of the Child Lock function. Child lock is a feature that stops children from messing up your VCR adjustments, or from watching the wrong tapes.
The front panel display offers all the information you will ever need to know, including indicators for A/V inserts, tape speed and selected audio functions. A pair of LED meters located here display your level settings while recording. The display also indicates TV channel and transport status.
At the rear of the HS-U770 are the antenna connections and connectors for composite and S-video in, audio in, two sets of audio out and composite or S-video out. Also found here are the Mitsubishi Active A/V Network connectors. The Active A/V Network connectors allow Mitsubishi products to "talk" to one another through remote control commands.
On the rear of the unit you will also find the Edit connection. Mitsubishi does not claim that this connection will control the pause on other deck brands. Past tests seem to have proven otherwise. You will have to make up your own cable if you wish to try synchro editing with another brand of deck. Most synchro edit jacks use the 1/8-inch mini phone plug, rather than Mistubishi's RCA connector.
The Mitsubishi comes with a full-featured remote control. Every VCR function except A/V inserts is controllable from the remote. The remote's jog/shuttle knob performs every function of the deck's knob and doubles as a fine tracking adjuster. The remote's jog/shuttle knob is easier to use than the slightly recessed deck's knob.
A feature found only on the remote is Function Audio/Video. It allows for monitoring and mixing of any of the audio tracks, turning on or off the audio meters, checking record speed and toggling a dubbing setting that electronically improves your dubs and edits.
Editing performance was my first interest and when hooked up with Mitsubishi's earlier HS-U650 VHS deck, edits came to within about ten frames of accuracy. This is consistent with earlier tests of Mitsubishi decks with this feature and is not bad at all for synchro editing.
Video inserts are very clean thanks to the HS-U770's dual flying erase heads, but for best accuracy, use the manual's out-point/in-point method of inserting. As in previous models, if you use the HS-U770 as a source deck while synchro editing, it will pre-roll before the edit takes place, providing a more stable edit.
The tape transport is very stable and provides at least a somewhat recognizable picture at all shuttle speeds. This makes it very easy to locate scenes for editing.
Overall, the HS-U770 is a good VCR with solid features and high quality sound and picture. If Mitsubishi added an editing protocol (as Sony did by adding control-L to an S-VHS model), this unit would sell like hotcakes. For straight-cuts synchro editing, it will be hard to beat.
Technical Specifications - Mitsubishi HS-U770 S-VHS VCR
- Format -
- Video inputs
- - Composite (x2), S-video
- Video outputs -
- Composite (x2), S-video
- Audio inputs -
- Stereo (x2)
- Audio outputs -
- Stereo (x2)
- Remote control -
- Setup menu, index marks, tracking, A/V functions, volume, TV channel, all deck transport controls
- Control protocol -
- Mitsubishi edit jack
- Other features -
- Front panel LED audio meters and level control, dual flying erase heads, audio/video insert, high speed rewind, auto head cleaning, headphone jack, cable box control
- Dimensions -
- 3 3/4 (height) x 16 5/8 (width) x 12 3/4 (depth) inches
- Weight -
- 14 1/2 pounds