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Author Topic: Video Cameras  (Read 2690 times)

david strudwick

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Video Cameras
« on: September 08, 2006, 02:28:11 pm »

Hi there,

As more and more people cram into our building, they're being put in places where they can't see the stage. As a result, a camera projecting video onto our screen (only really used for words at the moment or occasional DVD clips) seems a sensible option.

The optimum place for the camera is c. 70 foot from the stage, so a large zoom is required.

Any suggestions as to what cameras we should consider? The camera doesn't really need to be able to pan or tilt as it should only need to be pointed at the one place.

Many thanks

David
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Greg Hertfelder

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Re: Video Cameras
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2006, 01:27:08 am »

David
There are so many variables. You have numerous cameras and manufacturers to choose from - Sony, JVC, Panasonic, Canon are top contenders. I recommend making a list of features that you need now and might need a year from now. There are a number of decisions that you need to make:
- Should the camera have a purely (pro) mechanical lens, or a (semi-pro) electro-mechanical lens on a lot of mid-priced DV camcorders?
- Do you need just a camera, or is it possible that you would want to use a camcorder for shooting projects to be edited?
- Would a camera that could be remotely-controlled (with memory presets) be desirable?
- Viewfinder size?
- Remote zoom control kit?
- Quality tripod?
- Signal output type: analog component, S-video, composite, IEEE-1492 (firewire), etc.
- Budget?

When positioning the camera, make sure that the lens is generally the same height as the presenter's head. Excessive up- or down-axis looks weird.
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Brad Weber

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Re: Video Cameras
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2006, 01:37:24 pm »

Greg,

Very good questions, but David's original comment about the camera not needing to pan and tilt and being pointed at one place makes me wonder if he may be thinking of a very simple, fixed camera rather than a manned camera.  If it is a fixed camera then issues regarding the viewfinder, tripod, etc. may not be relevant.  However, your questions regarding zoom (fixed, manually variable or remote controlled), signal type, image quality and budget would be relevant in any case.

If a fixed camera of limited quality is acceptable, then there are a number of what are essentially CCTV type cameras available that would minimize the cost.  If higher quality is desired then as Greg noted, Sony, Panasonic and JVC are the most likely brands to look at.

Do keep in mind that in many cases the lens may cost nearly as much if not even more than the camera body.  I have found that few people understand this initially and are surprised by it.
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Brad Weber
muse Audio Video
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david strudwick

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Re: Video Cameras
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2006, 05:25:10 pm »

Thanks for your responses guys.

As Brad worked out, I'm looking for a very simple fixed camera. While I'd expect the camera to be able to zoom, this would only be so that it can be set at the right distance initially. Further adjustments are unlikely to be necessary.

Either SVHS or composite out would be fine.

Image quality needs to be decent, as the image would be projected live onto a large screen (10ft by 7.5ft). This would be its only use though, so DVD standard not required!

Budget depends on what these things cost. I'm exploring the idea at present so really have no idea.

Are lenses often sold seperately from the camera?

Thanks for the help.

D
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Brad Weber

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Re: Video Cameras
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2006, 08:22:41 am »

David,


Most CCTV and professional cameras do not come with a lens.  There may be a default lens but often the lens has to be selected separately.

You mentioned that the camera would be about 70' from the stage, are you looking to get a tighter shot of something like the minister at the pulpit or a wider shot.  If a wider shot, do you have some idea of the height and width of the area you would like in the shot?  It is both the area in the picture and the distance the camera is from that area that will define the lens required.

Another thing that you already seem to have picked up on is that anything projected as a larger image magnifies any problems with or reductions in quality in the image.  So while composite or S-Video might be fine, I tend to recommend better quality cameras for projecting on a 10'x7.5' image than I would for viewing on a small monitor or for archival recording.
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Brad Weber
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Greg Hertfelder

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Re: Video Cameras
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2006, 01:38:07 am »

My observation has been that CCTV cameras work fine for mounting on a ceiling but settings like iris level and focus can be difficult to access and adjust. I suspect that a CCTV camera & zoom lens would cost as much a new pro or semi-pro DV camcorder. Even though you may never put a DV tape in the transport, your dollar will go farther by purchasing a DV camcorder. You do not want a consumer camcorder, as the power often shuts down as a battery-preservation prevention.

Cabling from a CCTV camera is usually limited to composite, which will add a lot of noise to the image that will be visible on the large screen. It would be better if the output of the camera is analog component (Y/B/R) or s-video (Y/C) for the cleanest transmission.

You could also consider purchasing a used pro (broadcast) or semi-pro (professional) camera. Google "used broadcast equipment".
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Brad Weber

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Re: Video Cameras
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2006, 12:17:55 pm »

Greg Hertfelder wrote on Fri, 15 September 2006 01:38

My observation has been that CCTV cameras work fine for mounting on a ceiling but settings like iris level and focus can be difficult to access and adjust. I suspect that a CCTV camera & zoom lens would cost as much a new pro or semi-pro DV camcorder. Even though you may never put a DV tape in the transport, your dollar will go farther by purchasing a DV camcorder. You do not want a consumer camcorder, as the power often shuts down as a battery-preservation prevention.

Both many CCTV and almost all compact pro "box" cameras such as the Panasonic AW-E350 or AW-E650 or the JVC KY-F560U allow for remote control of zoom, focus, iris, white balance, etc.  Some even have computer software for this functionality.  The "box" cameras are made for just this type of application and are compact, easy to mount and since the lens is a separate item it can be selected for the application.  Something like the Sony EVI-D70 single chip or BRC-300 three chip (BRC-H700 for HD) would be another option (although 70' is a long throw for these), these are packaged camera and pan/tilt systems.

It all comes down to balancing the budget and quality.  A color CCTV camera will have a lower quality image, but the price will match.  So if budget is critical and the image quality is not then this is one viable option.  Conversely, a 3-chip camera will have better quality and a price that reflects it.  Adding a camcorder or a pan/tilt to a basic camera body will also add to the cost.

Quote:

Cabling from a CCTV camera is usually limited to composite, which will add a lot of noise to the image that will be visible on the large screen. It would be better if the output of the camera is analog component (Y/B/R) or s-video (Y/C) for the cleanest transmission.

Any noise the cabling adds would be added to any signal as all these would use professional coax for runs of any length.   The advantages of composite > S-Video > component is in how they process the video signal at the camera and the resulting issues with the signal coming out of the camera.  Keep in mind that each of these provides a potential increase in the image quality there is also a related increase in the cost of cabling, DAs, etc.

Quote:

You could also consider purchasing a used pro (broadcast) or semi-pro (professional) camera. Google "used broadcast equipment".

I agree, you may be able to get a great deal on used equipment that will work well for you.
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Brad Weber
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Greg Hertfelder

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Re: Video Cameras
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2006, 09:49:25 pm »

Quote:

Any noise the cabling adds would be added to any signal as all these would use professional coax for runs of any length. The advantages of composite > S-Video > component is in how they process the video signal at the camera and the resulting issues with the signal coming out of the camera. Keep in mind that each of these provides a potential increase in the image quality there is also a related increase in the cost of cabling, DAs, etc


Clarification: My use of the term "noise" was simplification of video anomalies such as "chroma crawl" (inherent in composite circuits and avoided with use of Y/C and component video circuitry), and color space error (avoided by using component circuitry.) I was simplifying for purposes of brevity in the pure sense of signal-vs.-noise. Are we going to start quoting and picking apart ad nauseum? Let's not...

Brad, I would be interested to hear your perspective of price of a 3-chip CCTV-camera-plus-zoom-lens versus an off-the-shelf pro or semi-pro DV camcorder that has the equivalent size CCD and zoom lens specs (all new components, of course). While pricing for DV camcorders seems readily accessible, CCTV camera pricing seams a little more guarded by contractors and dealers.
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Brad Weber

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Re: Video Cameras
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2006, 10:41:37 am »

Quote:

Clarification: My use of the term "noise" was simplification of video anomalies such as "chroma crawl" (inherent in composite circuits and avoided with use of Y/C and component video circuitry), and color space error (avoided by using component circuitry.) I was simplifying for purposes of brevity in the pure sense of signal-vs.-noise. Are we going to start quoting and picking apart ad nauseum? Let's not...

Wasn't picking anything apart, your comments indicated that the difference between video, S-Video and component were related to cabling and signal transmission and I wanted to clarify that it was not really cabling or transmission related, it was the processing and that cabling/transmission issues could equally affect all three.  No big deal, you probably meant it differently and I was simply clarifying that any noise, etc. from cabling and transmission could affect all three signal formats, that's not where the differences were derived.

Quote:

Brad, I would be interested to hear your perspective of price of a 3-chip CCTV-camera-plus-zoom-lens versus an off-the-shelf pro or semi-pro DV camcorder that has the equivalent size CCD and zoom lens specs (all new components, of course). While pricing for DV camcorders seems readily accessible, CCTV camera pricing seams a little more guarded by contractors and dealers.


My thought is simply that products having the same size CCD and general lens spec does not make them equivalents.  That's sort of like saying every two way speaker with a 60x90 horn and a 15" woofer is the same.  If two products truly have equivalent lenses, CCDs, video processing, etc., then wouldn't the one that also has an entire recording assembly, microphone and so on included cost more?  Maybe some of the difference can be made up by quantity pricing but there would seem to have to be compromises somewhere for a camcorder to cost the same as a simple camera, much less for it to cost less.

I rarely work in the CCTV area and can't really address pricing there, only that my experience is that this often seems to be a more inexpensive option and that there are many choices on cameras, lenses, etc.  It is often indeed difficult to find published pricing for equipment sold through dealers.  There are many good reasons for this and I won't go into all that here but one relevant reason is that this equipment is typically associated with a level of support and expertise that is beyond what most catalog and online retailers can offer when they are working in a low price commodity sales model and that can vary significantly from one application to another.

I was not suggesting that a CCTV camera was the best solution, only one option to be explored.  There are many options, a recent post on another listserv noted that they are using an inexpensive wireless web cam for audio and video to the cry room and other rooms, the quality was not stellar but apparently acceptable for their application.

Although you probably could make a prosumer camcorder work for the application as I envision it, this is definitely not an intended use for that type of product.  Maybe we are simply envisioning different results.  I'm thinking a small camera mounted on an existing wall or balcony front that once aimed and setup requires not further intervention.  So some questions come to mind that relate to this application.  How do you get power to the camera?  Are there wall mounts available for the camera, and if not, what other parts or custom items are required to mount it?  Will the lens it comes with work for the distances and view involved?  What is the warranty and does it extend to commercial or industrial use as once you go beyond home consumer use manufacturers often consider it as commercial/industrial or professional use and many consumer products specifically void or limit the warranty with that use?  So my first thought for this would be an industrial compact "box" camera with an appropriate manual zoom lens and wall mount, many of these can be powered over the coax or via low voltage DC power by selecting the proper power supply.  That probably would have to be purchased through a dealer.
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Brad Weber
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Video Cameras
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2006, 10:41:37 am »


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