Your Mileage May Vary
In your July 2003 issue on page 30 you give a glowing report of how wonderful the VariZoom StealthZoom camera controller is. You tell how slowly and steadily it will control the zoom. I wonder what kind of camera you were testing it on to find it to be better than the camera zoom control. I have a Panasonic AG-DVX100 that has the typical Panasonic Mini-DV zoom control that kicks it at about 1/2 speed and goes from there. My AG-DV15 does the same. After reading your glowing report I ordered one of these wonderful devices for my AG-DVX100. It arrived today and it is not as good as the grip control on the camera. The handle control is better than the grip control so that leaves me $200 behind in the game. Maybe if it sold for $20 it would not be a rip-off but all I got for my $200 is a remote that does not do as good as the camera controls. Maybe my SuperCam and its smooth and very slow zoom capabilities spoiled me. I was really excited when I read your article about how slowly and smoothly the VariZoom was able to control the zoom. Poof-gone along with $200. I consider this VariZoom control to be a grossly overpriced waste.
I really like your magazine and I'm not complaining about the magazine, just saying that in my experience you really blew that one. I have been a subscriber for a number of years now and I look forward to receiving the magazine each month and reading it completely.
Gene A. Lang
Sorry to hear of your disappointing experience. We reviewed the LANC version of the StealthZoom with a few Sony and Canon LANC-equipped camcorders. Our experiences may well have been different if we had reviewed the version for the Panasonic camcorder.
In the October issue Matthew York describes a cumbersome method to view digital camera still photos on a TV set. There is a better way: most new DVD players will also display photos stored on regular CDs as slide shows. All you need do is download digital photos to your computer, edit and arrange them, insert title pages, etc., then save it all to a regular CD. Playback is easy on the DVD player with the usual start, stop, back, forward and pause controls. I copied over 5,000 old 35mm slides to CDs and got rid of all the slides. Anyone want a Kodak Carousel?
Herbert A. Rideout
Video or Still?
This is really scary. For the first time since I have subscribed to Videomaker, Mr. York, our favorite video booster, is actually renouncing video in favor of digital stills! The undercurrent of insecurity in his comments this month is something I have grappled with for years. Why should I continue to shoot video when digital stills give me far sharper pictures and auto-everything. Now that you can shoot at 15 fps, it's almost video. If TV audiences would really accept a good slide show in lieu of a video presentation, is this the first nail in the coffin for video as we know it?
When you think about it, many History Channel documentaries, and even Ken Burns' epics are largely slide shows with pan and zoom. Scary, isn't it? Or was this column the forerunner of your magazine becoming Video- and Digital Imagemaker? Actually, it's not a bad idea.
A Second on Support
Mr. Lattman hit the nail on the thumb concerning technical support by some companies (In Box, October 2003 Videomaker). In fact, we had problems with the same company. I have purchased some products from Pinnacle and I really needed some support. I also tried the phone, Internet, fax and carrier pigeon, with the same results that Mr. Lattman had--no one ever answered. I like their products, but would be hard pressed to buy any more, given their record of support--or rather, non-support. Two companies that come to mind that let you talk to a human being--HP and BlueFish. I would buy again from them anytime.
Dr. Jack F. Hill
Correction: In our brief summary of the Azden 100LT wireless microphone system (p. 14, January 2004), we failed to mention that a lapel microphone is included.