To Stabilize or Not…
In Doug Polk’s review of the Panasonic PV-IQ604 VHS-C Palmcorder (Product Probe, October ’94), he made
some questionable statements.
With reference to the camera’s electronic image stabilization (EIS), Mr. Polk says, “Unfortunately, when
you pan across a subject, the EIS responds somewhat slowly. Likewise, it overreacts when it does finally kick
in. This handicaps the start and end of any kind of camera movement. Such problems worsen when you
mount the PV-IQ604 on a tripod. Fortunately, at the flip of another top panel switch you can turn off the
Other than that last sentence, Mr. Polk’s statements don’t make much sense. The sole purpose of any image
stabilization system is to counter camera movement, i.e. shake. It should therefore be obvious that if you are
performing a deliberate camera movement, such as a pan (with or without a tripod), then the image
stabilization system should be switched off because the system cannot differentiate between desired and
undesired camera movement. This is one time when the camera operator has to use the gray matter between
Finally, Mr. Polk states that the PV-IQ604’s “automatic focus kicks in rather slowly….” He then continues:
“However, the manual focus performs nicely, since the lens has enough depth of field to be forgiving on
wider shots.” He seems to be talking at cross purposes here. It makes no sense at all to use manual focus at
the wide angle setting, for the very reason he states, i.e. greater depth of field, especially if the focus is set to
around the hyperfocal distance of 15 ft.
Critical manual focusing should always be performed at the telephoto end where the depth of field is
shallowest, prior to setting the selected focal length. This way, the subject will stay in focus from telephoto to
EIS systems incorporate circuitry designed to differentiate between shake and intentional moves
such as pans and tilts. Since most videomakers take their camcorders off the tripod to better move it around,
panning and other moves while testing the EIS system are legitimate. You are correct in pointing out that one
should always perform critical manual focus at the telephoto position. My point was that when using the PV-
IQ604’s autofocus, there is sometimes a delay that makes the use of manual focus more
In the December ’94 issue was an article “Smooth Moves” by Jim Stinson. As a motion picture and TV cameraman for over 30 years, I would like to correct his instructions on panning. In particular, I would like to address the following statement: “When panning, stand parallel to the center of the movement.” I have never heard anyone give that advice.
Unless you’re in a crowd where your movements are restricted, you should always stand in a comfortable
position at the end of your pan. Then you twist your body around to where you want to begin the pan.
Always go from uncomfortable to comfortable. If you are using a tripod, you wrap yourself around the tripod
until you find the spot you want to start your pan.
In the January ’95 issue, Jim Stinson continues his article with “Camera Moves II: What, When, Why.”
This is a very informative article for the new breed of video camera operator that cares about his/her final product. As a veteran cameraman, these terms are old hat to me, but I think the illustrations and the article should be very helpful to newcomers.
In the older days, before zoom lenses were the norm, cameras were equipped with turrets mounting two to four lenses. The rule was: each time you stopped the camera, you should change lenses, change angles (go to a different position if space allows) or both before you started the next shot.
Videomaker is the only consumer-type magazine that really gives pointers on equipment and
how to use it. A few questionable comments pop up now and then, but that is to be expected. Keep up the
good work. Thank you.
Marvin M. Shimel
Grand Terrace, CA
I would like to make a suggestion for an article that you might want to cover. I have been a subscriber for a while, but have never seen an article on setting up one’s own duplicating rack. I produce video training tapes on a very specialized subject, and I have checked into a duplication house. At this time, however, they are cost-prohibitive, so I would like to know what one would need to set up a duplicating rack–equipment, costs, pros and cons, quality, etc.
I feel this would be of great interest to a number of us who are new in the business and are now starting to
see constant sales in video. Thank you for your attention in this request.
Manuel L. Gonzales
Such an article is in the works. Watch for it in a future issue.
Kudos for Lens Piece
I just finished reading your article “All about lenses” in the December ’94 issue. In spite of considering
myself very familiar with the usage of lenses, we can’t deny that this field is a complicated one, hard to
understand for many videomakers and home photographers.
For years and years, I have used 120 and 35mm still cameras and I sensed the inability of most common
photographers to understand those “magical” numbers in the rings of cameras. Many of these photographers
never came to understand the relationship between these “magical” numbers, and as a result, most of their
pictures came out either under- or over-exposed.
While living in Cuba, and only through trials and errors, I had some success in photography. But I was
determined to learn the facts, and upon coming to this country in the 40s and studying the literature, I believe
I mastered it to some extent.
Years later, I became obsessed with moviemaking, and after a lot of studying, analyzing and practicing, I
bought a Swiss-made 16mm movie camera, the very best in those years. An associate friend of mine and I
were very much above the crowd, doing reporting work for Cuban TV stations and its movie industry as
Anyway, I never read such a complete, detailed work as yours, and I feel compelled to sincerely
congratulate you for your genuine effort to make this field understandable to the masses.
Please accept my congratulations, Mr. Stinson. Keep up the very good work you and the other fellows are
doing in Videomaker, a wonderful magazine I learned a lot from. I honestly mean it.
Opa Locka, Florida
Regarding Steven Muratore’s October Pause column, I’m not worried about an invasion of the
NII (National Information Infrastructure) by the “Video Nazis.” We don’t have to look, read or even care about these folks. If they drive the paying customers away, so what–the vendors will fix the problem. Lost revenue is a marvelous motivator in a capitalist society.
Highland Village, Texas
Better Manuals, Please
I just wanted to drop a note and tell you how much I appreciate the fine articles you write as well as the
Product Probes which you research. I just purchased a Sony CCD-TR700 because of the evaluation you made
on this camcorder in the August issue of your magazine.
I appreciate the fact that you write the articles so that people just getting started in this fun avocation or
vocation can understand what you are saying. Thanks a lot!
Many of us at my user’s group have Videonics equipment from Thumbs Up to TitleMaker to Equalizer to
the new MX-1 mixer. We think the equipment is great; the only problem is that the instructions on how to
operate it (the earlier equipment anyway) is not well written. All members feel this way. It would certainly
help if the powers that be in this company had some knowledge to write the instructional manuals for a
novice to understand.
Many of us have called Videonics on their Help line and their answers are excellent, but many “how to”
answers are not mentioned in their manuals.
We have received many inquiries about a videotape we reviewed, “How to Make Money with Real Estate Videos.” It seems that no one has been able to locate Professional Partners, Inc., the producers of this tape. If you have any information about this company, please drop us a line.
Correction: In the February Video Q& A colume the first answer gave the phone
number for Advanced Images, a company which claims the ability to salvage tapes recorded with one
clogged head. The phone number given was incorrect. The real number is (818) 957-2665. Also note that the
company says thier process will not work with 8mm or Hi8 tapes.