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need help with older video equipment


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#1 steve waschka

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 11:14 AM

ill start with an apology that i dont think this topic belongs here. but i couldnt tell you where the best place to put it would be except maybe the SD equipment forum. but it looks pretty dusty in there.

heres what i need:

i need to know what you would buy if you needed to go on ebay and buy a tube or early ccd rig today to shoot some interviews. cheap and i mean cheap! it needs to handle black and white too. i need to know what camera and what deck or laptop rig i could use for capture and can i copy it straight to my tower for use in adobe.

heres why im asking:

i am working on two small docu style films and i am REALLY liking the idea of using a broadcast grade video system to eliminate the costs associated with the interview segments. these are both self funded and i was going to do moderately close-in inteviews (shoulder and head) on 8mm 7266 7285 as i thought the grain would be interesting and off set the mundane of the stationary close-ups needed to make 8mm useable. again this is a production cost issue. im relatively new to shooting interviews and when the subject rambles on till the mag empties my wallet has a real issue with that.

SO>>>> i looked at some tape of the 3 tube saticon and 1ccd and 3ccd systems. so... the three tube stuff looks pretty nice. as long as most of the frame was near key. once your a couple of stops out your effed i know. the highlight tracer effect is no biggie as it will probably be always stationary. i think i can stage my shots and be ok. i have a hi8 camera somewhere but i think i would like to have an iris and a shutter speed / angle setting i can use to control my key exposure. plus according to what ive read the jvc ky and panasonic wv 3 tube and 1ccd cameras are capturing close to 600lines. that sounds better than what my residential hi8 did as i remember.

tell me what your thinking. if the idea absolutely sucks tell me that too. ill stick to 8mm film.

thanks a million in advance!!!

Edited by steve waschka, 20 December 2011 - 11:16 AM.

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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 11:51 AM

I wouldn't bother with the tube cameras, there are many old used 3 CCD cameras for sale. I'd tend to go for an old Betacam, at least there's a chance you'll find something to play it back on.
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#3 Keith Walters

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 04:28 PM

I wouldn't bother with the tube cameras, there are many old used 3 CCD cameras for sale. I'd tend to go for an old Betacam, at least there's a chance you'll find something to play it back on.

The last models of 2/3" Saticon and Plumbicon tube cameras produced a considerably better picture than the first CCDs that replaced them. Reds in particular were a lot better with Saticon tubes.
However, it requires a lot of skill to maintain tube cameras. The tubes can get out of registration quite easily, and it can be a long painful process to re-align them. They also tend to wear out, and can get burn marks if they're accidentally pointed at the sun.

CCD cameras don't have these problems, which is the main reason they became so popular so fast, but the image quality was originally nothing to write home about. Even now CCD cameras struggle with pictures of gas flames, because of the high IR content, which was not a issue with tube cameras. This is a particular problem with the current popularity of cooking shows.

The other advantage of a tube camera is that it can be re-adjusted for 16 x 9 operation, whereas a 4:3 CCD camera cannot, but again, this is a very specialized operation.

The bottom line is, a well-maintained tube camera will produce results that will match better with your film stock than an old CCD camera, but you would be lucky to find one at a reasonable price.

The other thing is that it's far more likely you will find a unit with a good camera but a useless tape deck. With a modern digital recorder you should be able get get acceptable results from the composite video output though. Accessing the component video output will give better results, but you usually need a special adaptor which may not be available.
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#4 steve waschka

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 05:15 PM

i studied betacam sp all day. now thanks to keith i have to go back and revisit tubes. thanks for the info! theres really not much easily obtained info about these cameras. for example once you find out a dockble deck connects to 50p bodies you have to determine what models are 50p. and then lens compatibility. etc etc. and even less easily found is footage that is tagged by camera model from that era. now adays everybody tags videos with the camera used and many discuss the transfer and upload processes. i did find some clips for sale or stock footage sites that did mention at least the format. this forum is really my only contact with anyone who has real history with this gear. thanks! maybe this will get botted into some search engines for some others. i found some betacam sp stock that was pretty dang nice as far as blues and greens. havent been able to compare much in the reds. theres apparently a reason for that.
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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 07:29 PM

I think the key part is finding a well maintained tube camera, to shoot some interviews you could find yourself involved in a lot of work, when you could buy even a later Betacam SP camera like a BVW400 for a not a lot of money. You can always record the composite video out onto a digital format.
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#6 steve waschka

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 12:53 AM

glad you mentioned that model brian. just purchased a bvw-400a. i like the recordings ive seen. and i think its going to keep life relatively simple.
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#7 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 03:54 AM

glad you mentioned that model brian. just purchased a bvw-400a. i like the recordings ive seen. and i think its going to keep life relatively simple.


The BVW 400 was one of my favourite cameras, no noticeable vertical smearing and a nice handheld camera, better in that regard than the DigiBeta cameras that replaced it.
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#8 Hal Smith

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 08:05 AM

Many years ago I maintained broadcast quality three and four tube video cameras. I concur with the advice to avoid them. They can make great pictures but unless you buy a camera that is perfect condition you'll be in way over your head with respect to getting (and keeping) it working right.
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#9 steve waschka

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 07:43 PM

i think tube cameras are pretty cool. i like vacuum tubes for music. but they can be tempermental and usually require warm up and cool down to ensure they stay in good shape. i have a marshall guitar amp full of em. wouldnt consider using a transistor amp ever again. so i can imagine cameras are probably not too dissimilar.

all of that being said. this is an interview camera. and a camera for running long takes trying to catch that one action in an unstaged sport where film is just way too cost prohibitive for me. and if i can figure out its strengths properly ill add it in where i can. ive seen some pretty nice work done with these things. but im a film photographer. i dont own a dslr. i just dont speak the language. i dont need to venture off down another learning path to figure out tubes. im already studying drum replacement. and praying that surgical procedure is not in my immediate future.

thanks for the help guys. what are your thoughts about glass for these things. i understand the bodies have a beam splitter in them. so its bolex all over again. think a POE will focus on that thing!? just kidding!
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#10 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 03:42 AM

thanks for the help guys. what are your thoughts about glass for these things. i understand the bodies have a beam splitter in them. so its bolex all over again. think a POE will focus on that thing!? just kidding!


You need to regularly check the registration of the tubes,

You'll need to get a standard definition 2/3" video zoom lens, there should be quite a few on the used market, although I wouldn't buy anything older than 1990s vintage.
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#11 Everett

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 04:24 AM

thank you ! I've read these instructions and now can try to work with an old video.
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#12 steve waschka

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 08:22 AM

brian im not sure how to tell when these things were made. except for probably the price. but right now they all look the same to me. i almost went with a dof adapter so i could just use reg lenses. but bought a canon j15x9.5 looks like the objective element spins so i dont think its super special. and that also means matte boxes are gonna be a pain in the a%%. but for the price i had to try it. guess its thread-ons and a hood. we'll see....
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#13 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 09:01 AM

A 9.5mm wide end is pretty old, they settled down to about 8mm at the wide end during the 90s. All the standard ENG style lenses have rotating fronts, so you need light weight support bars for a matte box. You need to check the mount is a B4.
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#14 steve waschka

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 09:40 AM

ya its b4. j15x9.5b4kre. not krs. dont know what thats gonna mean. well... the label says for sharp camera. that could be an issue. hopefully if anything its just in the wiring. i can redo that later (after i find a service man for the bvw). if it looks good on tape.
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#15 steve waschka

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 02:34 PM

brian: next hurdle is the video out. ill want to output to adobe for editing. the playback adapter i understand needs to be inline inorder to produce color. however the adapter appears to have a single bnc connector for output. should i just get a deck? is the video coming out of the cameras bnc connectors useable for final black and white?
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#16 steve waschka

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 04:35 PM

found some user guides. for reference to future researchers. the bvw 300 series camera (im assuming the 400 is not to dissimilar) has two bnc video outs. neither operate in playback mode and are for record monitoring only. the playback adapter va-500 only provides composite video and is also apparently best suited for monitoring. looks like a deck is in order for editing.
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#17 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 06:49 PM

found some user guides. for reference to future researchers. the bvw 300 series camera (im assuming the 400 is not to dissimilar) has two bnc video outs. neither operate in playback mode and are for record monitoring only. the playback adapter va-500 only provides composite video and is also apparently best suited for monitoring. looks like a deck is in order for editing.


The BVW series are only really for shooting, you may find it easier to record the composite video out from the camera using an external digital recorder or onto laptop when shooting your interviews. You'll need a player to digitise onto your NLE or you could get it transferred by a facility to a suitable digital format on a hard drive.
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#18 steve waschka

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 10:21 PM

update:

i have a lot of time into learning about betacam sp now. available working gear is limited. most seems to need work to get stable enough to use in a working enivironment. even then upkeep and repair diagnosis is complicated. although i have purchased the equipment for an absolute steal. it will be far more costly than intended when over. and i have been able to do much of the work myself. the camera is at a sony shop now for vtr go thru. probably gonna hurt. theres no place like film, theres no place like film....

Edited by steve waschka, 18 January 2012 - 10:22 PM.

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