Broadening Your Vision

CCD-TRV30 8mm Camcorder

Sony Corporation

1 Sony Drive

Park Ridge, NJ 07656

($1099)

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.

And So

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 –
Control-L


Other features –
Diopter control, viewfinder indicators, camera mode edit search, three-
inch color LCD, remote, built-in speaker.

Record &amp 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

Elite Video

321 Ouachita Avenue

Hot Springs, AZ 71901

($700)

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.

Control

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&amp A and specs
pages) could stand considerable enhancement.

Painting Pictures

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 –
58dB

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


Nice Lines

HS-U770 S-VHS VCR

Mitsubishi Electronics America, Inc.

6100 Atlantic Blvd.

Norcross, GA 30071

($949)

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.

Using it

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 –
S-VHS

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

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