The Wireless Way
Nady 551 VR Wireless Microphone System
Nady Systems Inc.
6701 Bay Street
Emeryville, CA 94608
Nady has long held a reputation for supplying quality wireless microphone transmitters and
receivers to professionals and consumers alike. Nady’s 551 VR offers a system put together
specifically for camcorder users of all levels.
The Nady 551 VR Wireless Video System consists of the 551 VR receiver and the HT-10
handheld transmitter microphone. Also included is the 551 LT lavalier body pack transmitter. This
comes with a three-pin mike connector which you wire up to your favorite lavalier mike. Or, as an
option, Nady will also supply a lavalier mike to complete your system.
The lavalier transmitter, the handheld mike and the receiver units are very compact with simple
The handheld mike has a clean black finish and two very simple controls at the bottom end. The
balance is good and the mike has a nice overall feel.
The 551 LT transmitter has a belt loop and hides easily under clothing; the flat black finish allows
it to blend inconspicuously into most clothing. The antenna on this unit consists of a simple wire
about 18 inches long, black in color, which should also be easy to hide.
The 551 VR receiver, also black in color, features a passive shoe mount foot for direct mounting
on your camcorder. A simple 1/8-inch mini phone plug and cable attaches the receiver’s mike level
output to your camcorder’s auxiliary mike input. A short antenna screws into the receiver and you can
swivel it around for better reception. A headphone output on the receiver allows for monitoring
While monitoring the audio output right at the receiver is necessary for certain adjustments, you’ll
want to monitor your audio directly from your camcorder while shooting to be sure of what you’re
getting on tape.
Each unit offers some adjustment. The receiver offers a mute adjustment which filters out
excessive RF (radio frequency) noise. Normally, you won’t have to fool with this. If you do, the
control is just under the shoe mount. A special screwdriver comes with the system for this.
Similarly, the 551 LT transmitter has a trim adjustment (using the same screwdriver) for
microphone level. This is in a similar place as the receiver’s mute adjustment, should you ever need it.
The HT-10 handheld mike also features the trim adjustment found on the side of the mike barrel.
All three units use a red LED (light emitting diode) to indicate low battery power. The batteries,
standard 9 volt types, will last from 5 to 10 hours. Nady suggests replacing them after 5 hours for best
A major feature of the 551 VR receiver and 551 LT transmitter is their dual-channel operation.
You can chose between two switchable hi-frequency channels (between 170 and 216MHz) in the
event one channel has interference, or is in use by another system. The handheld HT-10 operates only
on a single channel.
Other features include the 551 VR receiver’s patented Companding Noise Reduction system. The
system allows for high dynamic range and hiss-free reception.
On The Air
In use, the system has very good range. I carried the handheld HT-10 mike in a straight line of sight
away from the receiver and got a solid recordable signal for an estimated 600 feet. Further out, the
mike began to break up and was unreliable. The useful range of the 551 LT was considerably further;
the 551 LT provided a usable signal at more then double the distance of the HT-10. Again, these are
the results I got with known good batteries, while testing out of doors and in line of sight. Indoor
range will drop considerably due to walls, obstructions and other interference.
Note also that while using the 551 LT, you should not roll up the antenna wire to hide it. This
shortens the range considerably. The antenna should hang vertical if possible, stretched to its entire
The sound of the system is crisp and clear, especially at closer ranges. The Companded Noise
Reduction system seems to work well to eliminate hiss. However, the high frequency response
seemed a bit muffled to me. In any event, overall frequency response is good.
The only flaw I can see is the price. Are we paying for that much quality, or at least partly for the
Nonetheless, I like the 551 VR Wireless camcorder system. It works nicely with camcorders.
Are you looking to improve your audio? Do you want to buy from one of the best names in the
business? Can you afford the price? If your answer is "yes," you can’t go wrong with the Nady 551 VR.
Nady 551 VR Wireless Microphone System
- Audio Frequency Response
- RF Carrier Frequency Two-user switchable channels
- between 170 and 216MHz (except the HT-
- Operating Range
- 200 feet in adverse conditions; up to 1500 feet line of sight; tested to about 600 feet.
- Audio Output
- 600 ohm balanced
- 551 VR (receiver)
- Audio out:
- 1/8-inch stereo mini jack
- Headset out:
- 1/8-inch mini jack
- 3mm screw thread
- 551 LT (transmitter)
Mini XLR for mike; 1/8-inch mini jack for antenna
- Other features
- Low battery/transmitting indicators; mute; all units operate on single 9 volt battery
- 551 VR, 551 LT; 2 7/16 (width) x 3 3/8 (height) x 7/16 (length) inches;HT-10 2 (width) x 2 (height) x 9 (length) inches
- 551 VR, 551 LT; 6.9 ounces; HT-10; 9.1 ounces
Slow Motion Analysis System
One Panasonic Way
Secaucus, NJ 07094
(AG-DS850 $7330; AG-A300 $1580)
Ever wish you could use the same kind of slow motion and replay effects that sports
broadcasters use at football games, car races and other sports activities? It’s all done with high quality
slow motion VCRs and controllers. Now Panasonic brings us a similar capability in the form of the
AG-DS850 hi-fi S-VHS editing deck and AG-A300 slow motion controller.
This combination of deck and controller, offered by Panasonic’s Broadcast and Television
division, allows several kinds of playback control not common in the S-VHS marketplace. While we
chose to test the AG-DS850 and the AG-A300 as a slow motion playback system, Panasonic also
offers a playback-only deck (AG-DS840) and an editing controller (AG-A350) for building a
complete editing system.
Panasonic has priced these units to bring this kind of control closer to the low-end professional
and prosumer level.
Taking A Look
By itself, the AG-DS850 VCR is a high-quality S-VHS hi-fi editing recorder. It will fit into any
editing suite that uses the RS-422A editing protocol (or Panasonic’s 34-pin connector as an option),
and it will generate and read vertical interval time code (VITC) or longitudinal time code (LTC).
The AG-DS850 is all business, with every control you could imagine spread across the cream-
colored front panel. Even with so many controls, access to them is uncluttered and intuitive. Every
button lights up when pushed, and other controls are either knobs or slide switches, so there is no
problem with control feel or access. A row of slide switches, for presetting various functions, is
located under a screw-down, clear plastic cover so you can’t reset them by accident. Nearby, a
standard jog/shuttle knob shows markings indicating the range of playback speeds available.
The VCR is slightly larger and heavier than an average consumer VCR, and is finished off with a
smooth, gray cabinet.
The AG-DS850 deck has a number of interesting features. Most obvious is the Digital
Slow system. Digital Slow works by using a digital video buffer capable of storing several fields
of video. The stored video passes out of the deck at a constant rate, stabilized by the deck’s built-in
time base corrector (TBC). This not only allows for fine slow motion playback but gives the same
editing accuracy to slow motion footage as to real time playbacks. A switch on the front panel allows
you to choose from a range of slow motion speeds, from -1/4 to +1 standard speed, or search speeds
of +/- 32X. Audio playback is available at all speeds.
The deck uses digital signal processing throughout. Some examples include digital noise reduction
(DNR), which processes the video signal components separately to minimize playback noise (non-
video artifacts that have gotten into the signal). Also, a digital comb filter and video head switching
mask help to provide for a cleaner signal.
The deck incorporates an internal "3-dimensional" TBC with a correction range of 1 field. 3-
dimensional TBCs provide not only a rock steady picture, but also offer excellent drop-out
compensation. (Dropouts are small white spots or flashes in the picture caused by a loss of oxide on
the tape’s recorded surface.) Most simple dropout compensators (DOCs) replace the damaged picture
area with the most recent good line of video. The 3-dimensional TBC replaces the damaged
area with the same portion of the previous field of video. Panasonic says this gives a more
natural-looking correction. The TBC will lock to an external sync source or generate its own
The AG-DS850 incorporates the IQ (Intelligent Quest) transport mechanism for precise control of
tape speeds and protection against tape damage. The mechanism includes automatic head cleaning for
the amorphous video heads. These heads offer a higher magnetic coercivity, resulting in an improved
color signal response.
Setup of the deck’s major functions is chosen from an on-screen menu. You can call up this menu
with the slide switches under the plastic window on the front panel. There are about sixty different
adjustments to operation, video, audio, editing, remote and time code parameters. For example, you
can use the menu to turn the hi-fi recording feature on or off, set the video recording to black and
white, or adjust specifics about your time code. A simple push of a button returns all adjustments
back to their initial setting.
A display screen on the front panel of the AG-DS850 indicates all current function settings of the
deck (including menu settings when in use). The display shows tape movement in either control track,
time code, or hours of capstan or drum revolution. This last setting is to indicate wear and tear.
Two VU meters indicate the levels of the audio tracks, which you control by knobs just below the
meters. The deck offers access to both hi-fi tracks and two linear tracks for record or play through the
front panel slide switches. Dolby noise reduction (NR) is available for the linear audio tracks.
The deck is capable of full assemble and insert editing. When insert editing, you use the front
panel buttons to select video, linear audio one, linear audio two or any combination of these. Note
that you must use an external edit controller if you wish to edit with time code. Other
interesting front panel features include a video level control, a picture sharpness control and two
microphone input jacks.
Except for a front panel headphone jack, all connections are on the rear panel. The AG-DS850
provides both S-video and BNC connectors for routing your video signals. The BNC connections are
of the loop-through style with switchable terminators. The unit includes time code connections, along
with remote TBC connections and an RS-422 serial hookup. All audio connections are of the XLR
(three-pin) locking type. The unit also provides independent inputs and outputs for all four audio
channels, as well as an RCA jack for your audio monitor.
Moving the Tape
The AG-A300 slow motion controller is compact, with simple controls. Its case is about half the
size of a phone book and finished in a cream color matching the front panel of the VCR. The
controller has its own A/C adapter power supply with a fixed cable for connecting to the VCR.
The AG-A300 slow motion controller offers the usual buttons for deck transport control.
The display window will indicate a tape count in either time code or control track, as well as the
direction the tape is traveling. A ready button to one side of the display will loosen the tape as it sits
in the transport to protect it until you’re ready to work.
One of the main features of the controller is the group of Point 1 to Point 5 Cue buttons. Using
these buttons along with the large T-Bar shuttle handle, you can set up to five cue points anywhere on
the tape. Once set, the push of two buttons will cause the VCR to quickly find that cue point. This is,
of course, not instantaneous, but it is surprisingly fast. You can adjust the controller (using DIP
switches on the rear panel) so that the VCR will automatically go into play, stop, search or
variable speed mode once the tape is at the selected cue point.
The other main feature is the T-Bar handle, which offers precise control of all slow motion and
search mode speeds in either direction. An interesting note: while controlling the speeds with the T-
Bar, the audio is always on, allowing you to slow down and analyze sound as well as picture.
As a "slow motion analyzing system" (Panasonic’s term for this combination), the AG-
DS850/AG-A300 combo is responsive and easy to use. The controls work well and the VCR response
to the T-Bar is solid and quick. The manuals offer clear and concise instructions that should have you
doing slow motion effects and even simple editing in no time. Some adjustments concerning the TBC
may seem confusing and go beyond the knowledge of even the average prosumer, but the factory
settings seemed to work fine.
Accuracy of the cue point feature is good. When playing back a time coded tape, cuepoints were
right on the money. Of course, accuracy slipped when using the control track to monitor the tape
position. In fact, if the control track is missing anywhere on the tape between cue points, the cue
system will simply fail.
I liked the AG-DS850 and AG-A300 slow motion system and had a lot of fun playing with it. The
AG-DS850 will really shine as a record deck in an editing suite, and if slow-motion capabilities are
something you work with often, the AG-A300 will be a welcome addition.
Fine system or not, though, its price still looks mighty high for those not in particular need of slow
motion. While law enforcement agencies and consumer product testing facilities should find this
system’s slow-motion analysis capabilities of considerable interest, I think consumers will probably
Panasonic AG-DS850 VCR
- Video inputs
- Composite BNC (x2), reference video BNC (x1), line BNC (x1), loop BNC (x2), S-video (x1)
- Audio inputs
- Normal/hi-fi XLR (x2), hi-fi XLR (x2)
- Video outputs
- Composite BNC (x2), Y BNC (x1), PB BNC (x1), PR BNC (x1), S-video (x2)
- Audio outputs
- Norm/hi-fi XLR (x2), hi-fi XLR (x2)
- Control protocol
- Horizontal Resolution
- 400 lines
- Other features
- Digital slow motion, IQ transport mechanism, 32X high speed search, Amorphous video heads, three-dimensional digital TBC, time code reader/generator, 16:9 Wide Aspect System (compatible with NTSC 525)
- 5 1/16 (height) x 16 11/16 (width) x 16 15/16 (depth) inches
- 26.4 pounds
- Control protocol
- Main features
- Digital slow motion control by T-Bar, variable speed -1/4 to +1, -1 to +1, -1 to +2, -1 to +3 (by DIP switch), 32X high speed search, full VCR control, five cue point memory, time code reader, A/C power adapter
- 3 9/16 (height) x 9 7/8 (width) x 5 1/4 (depth) inches
- 2.2 pounds
Fujix Fotovision FV7
Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc.
555 Taxter Road
Elmsford, NY 10523
Videomakers have always experienced frustration when trying to transfer still artwork to video. Sometimes the tripod won’t let you get close enough to a small photo, or the macro setting won’t work when you have to zoom in on a photo from a distance. And how do you shoot a slide? What if you want to shoot photographic negatives? Problems, problems.
Fujix comes to the rescue with the Fotovision FV7 camera. Fujix designed this unit especially to shoot 35mm slides or filmstrips (both negative and positive) as well as other forms of flat artwork.
What We Have
The FV7 is a compact unit, with controls easy to access and use. For shooting slides and filmstrips, you use the unit with its Fujinon f/3.2, 2X (5-10mm) zoom lens in an upright position. Two smooth flat sides fold out into a V position to provide solid support while the unit is in slide mode.
The primary feature of the FV7 is the slide/filmstrip shooting frame mounted just above the lens. To use the frame you mount your slides or filmstrips into special plastic carriers (included) which you then insert into a slot in the frame. This slot is adjustable and, along with the adjustable frame, provides four-way movement so you can frame your slide up properly. A thumbwheel zoom control, used with the framing adjustments, lets you manipulate the lens to crop out any part of the art you don’t wish to shoot.
Just above the slide frame is a two-piece dome which folds out to reveal two small fluorescent lamps, one on each side. You turn these on with a slider switch that has off, camera on, and camera/light on settings. You normally fold these lights down to illuminate your slide/filmstrip work. However, if left open, slightly larger transparencies will fit in above the lens.
By folding the legs all the way back toward the lens, the unit works upside down to shoot flat artwork or photo prints. The lights will work fine to illuminate such art.
The Fujix Fotovision FV7 is capable of several types of signal output, all of which are available from either the composite or the S-video outputs. A three-position slide switch offers video as a black-and-white negative image, a color negative image or a color positive image. This assures compatibility with almost any kind of transparency or artwork.
Two green light emitting diodes (LED) indicate power on and automatic function of the iris and white balance controls. Pushing a small red button turns off the auto controls. You can then adjust the color and iris using a series of thumbwheels. These adjustments provide separate control of the iris and the red, blue, and green color components of the image. You can use these to correct color if necessary, or you can paint or modify the colors if you desire.
The FV7 is so easy to use that the manual is almost un-necessary. Image quality is very good and color reproduction, especially in auto mode, is quite accurate. I was able to transfer all kinds of slides, negatives and flat art with no problems.
The FV7’s wide range of focus makes any type of artwork crystal clear and will even allow use of the unit as a regular video camera if necessary.
There are a few minor flaws. When doing flat artwork with the unit upside down, the little rubber feet at the ends of the adjustable sides do not allow for panning across your artwork. They will cause rough video if you try to slide across the art. The addition of small, sturdy wheels to replace the rubber feet would help immensely.
Another problem on the unit I tested was that the unit’s A/C adapter plug kept popping out of its socket. It may have been a problem specific to my test unit, but it was a problem nonetheless.
I really enjoyed the FV7. It does everything it’s meant to do and does it well. It’s fun to play with the color
adjustments and invent new ways to shoot art. Do you shoot wedding videos, documentaries, real-estate or
inventories? Do you use stills, slides or other art in these videos? If so, I’m sure you’ll find that the FV7 gets the job done.
Fujix Fotovision FV7
- f/3.2, 5-10mm 2X zoom
- White balance
- Auto, full color component override
- Composite video, S-video
- Other features
- Two built-in fluorescent shooting lights
- Video Performance (approx.)
- Horizontal resolution
- 400 lines
- 8 7/8 (width) x 6 1/8 (height) x 9 7/8 (length) inches
- 1 pound, 9 ounces