Q. I have come across the term “after image” in an instructional manual. Could you please tell me what this
term means and how one achieves it?
Albuquerque, New Mexico
A. After image commonly describes two entirely different things. In older cameras that used tubes
as imaging devices, after image (often referred to as smear, or image lag) caused bright areas of the image
to blur and leave “light trails” across a moving picture. This was a problem with the Vidicon and some
After image also refers to the burnt-in image sometimes seen on monitors that have held
the same unmoving image for long periods of time (like old store security monitors). The image literally
burns into the phosphorus on the back of the screen. You don’t want to achieve either type!
Q. Please give me some explanation as to why 3/4-inch and Betacam are so much sharper than Hi8 and S-VHS. Does bandwidth have something to do with it?
A. To begin with, 3/4-inch is not “sharper” than Hi8. In fact, the resolution of 3/4-inch is only slightly
better than standard VHS. But the image quality of 3/4-inch excels in other areas, especially color
reproduction. The format’s high signal-to-noise ratio often makes it look “cleaner” than the smaller
Betacam is a different story altogether. Here, extra bandwidth means more resolution,
but also the individual chrominance and luminance components record separately on the tape. The result is
a high-resolution, noise-free image considered by most to be superior to that of any consumer
Q. I would like to record my ride on Thunder Mountain during my trip to Disney World this year. Can my camcorder handle the ride?
Youngsville, North Carolina
A. In most cases, professional production teams place temporary mounts right on the car to get those
smooth, exciting amusement ride shots. In this way, the camera or camcorder escapes inevitable damage
from bouncing into car or camera person.
The question is whether you can keep your camcorder still enough to minimize damage
and still get some usable shots. You could try making a mount of your own to clamp your camcorder to the
safety railing, but you’d to contact the theme park in advance. The camcorder itself, if not bumped around,
should handle the G-force fine.
Q. Do you know of a mid-priced ($3K to $4K) Hi8 or S-VHS camcorder that will record from a line-level audio input while still using the camera for video input into the recorder section?
If not, is there a decent way to pad down a line level signal to match it to a microphone level input?
A. Sorry, Ronnie; I can’t think of a single consumer-level camcorder that will do this. Maybe our
Padding down the signal (reducing the voltage from mike-level to line-level) can
sometimes contribute noise, but this is minimal with a good quality attenuator. I’ve had good luck with
Radio Shack’s in-line attenuator (part #274-300, $3), or you could try Comprehensive Video’s high quality
IL-16 ($50). Short of that, a number of small mixers like the Shure M267 or the Azden CAM-3 (both of
which can run on batteries and have mic level outputs) will do the job.
Q. I want to buy two wireless mikes (on different frequencies) and plug them into a “Y” adapter. The
base of the Y will go into the camera. Will this configuration give me each mike on a different
A. Yes, if your camcorder has an external stereo mike input. You’ll need to find a “Y” connector
that has mono inputs on each part of the Y, and a stereo mini phone plug at the other end. If your
camcorder doesn’t have a stereo mike input, you can still mix the outputs with a mono Y connector and
record them on your mono channel.
Q. My old Go.Video twin deck VCR makes wonderful copies except when I edit. At each edit pause it
puts a few seconds of glitch on the tape. Can I do anything about this?
A. Sorry, Jack. Go.Video constructed their early decks without a flying erase head on the video
drum. These are good dubbing decks, but because of the missing flying erase head, your edits will include
glitches. Aside from this, there’s probably nothing wrong with your deck.
Recently, Go.Video included flying erase heads in some of their units, making them
capable of clean edits.
Q. I tried using S-VHS tapes in my VHS machine once and it looked promising. Is an S-VHS
tape superior to top-of-the-line VHS tapes?
Steven W. Roark
A. Apparently, some people believe that top-of-the-line VHS tapes can do the same job as S-VHS
tapes – that’s why cartridge hole punchers are available. These gizmos allow VHS tapes to record an S-
VHS signal. But the fact remains that S-VHS tapes do have finer, more densely packed oxide coatings than
standard VHS tapes. This allows recording of higher frequencies, resulting in the greater picture detail of
However, you need to know that manufacturers design standard VHS tape to work best
with standard VHS circuitry. The difference an S-VHS tape makes may be difficult to see, and probably not
worth the extra cost.