Occasionally, it does happen-a small new gadget is priced higher than the big product it's meant to accessorize. Counterintuitive, perhaps, but when the accessory heralds a whole new technology, we might begin to understand the apparent imbalance. Panasonic is hoping so, with word of the release of a new 1" (2.54 cm) viewfinder for more than $10,000!
The AJ-CVF100G was initially being launched for top-of-the-line cameras from the company's P2 HD and DVCPRO HD lineup. But continued implementation of the technology is seen with Panasonic's AG-HPX300 camcorder in a smaller (a 1/2", 1,226,000-pixel model) LCOS viewfinder. The HPX300, even with its LCOS viewfinder, is about the same price as the big 100G viewfinder all by itself. This new viewfinder's imaging system uses Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) display technology for remarkably accurate and realistic images. The color reproduction is very strong with LCoS, owing to its complete and simultaneous RGB image display, as opposed to the color wheel approach of other viewfinder displays that split or separate the image color components.
The adoption of LCoS technology-commonly used for projectors-in the relatively small screen in a camera viewfinder heralds a new approach to image reproduction, one stressing more detail, consistency, and accuracy. Along those lines, this new viewfinder also sports a built-in heater for operation in low temperatures, adding extra confidence in accurate color reproduction. (Sony, by the way, also has a new top-notch viewfinder designed for its CineAlta F23 and F35 cameras. The HDVF-C30WR viewfinder has a suggested list price of $13,600.)
Protect Your Camera With Inflation, Deflation
Petrol Bags, with its wide range of video accessories, transportation cases, and bags, has introduced an inflatable model. Especially suitable for those videographers hopping on and off airplanes, this duffle-style bag protects full-size broadcast cameras, safeguarding them as much as possible against accidental damage from other cargo or jostling during a flight.
The inflatable bag (below) starts out as a compact 13.8"x9.4"x5.7" zippered nylon pouch. When needed, you just blow into a tube to fill the internal inflation system. Inside, the contents are surrounded by soft fabric backed by a firm, protective cushion of air. The inflation system is removable and can be easily replaced.
When inflated, the bag can be safely stored in an airplane's overhead compartment or inside a hard case or standard camera bag. Additional features include Petrol's nylon shoulder strap and easy-glide dual-directional zippers. The top of the bag unzips smoothly and opens wide to offer enough room for a full-size broadcast camera without disturbing the viewfinder and lens. An exterior side pocket holds a coiled tube that connects to an exterior inflation valve. The exterior is constructed of water-resistant blue CORDURA and heavy-duty black ballistic nylon. The announced list price is $259.
New Pro Audio Support On Pro Video Remotes
Being limited to two mics is often a real restriction on a video shoot. Empowered by new digital compression and compact audio circuitry, event videographers and ENG professionals are taking to the full audio capabilities of today's four-channel cameras (such as the Canon XL H1 HDV camcorder and another product mentioned later in this article) to meet complex production requirements.
Along those lines, audio gear manufacturer Zaxcom, Inc. unveiled its QRX100 four-channel RF audio receiver at NAB Show 2009, capable of receiving four channels of audio from up to two Zaxcom stereo or mono digital transmitters. An optional timecode receiver and IFB transmitter is available. The QRX100 is set to receive two separate transmitter signals on two separate frequencies simultaneously-providing unprecedented flexibility and ease of use in a broadcast ENG receiver. The unit will receive up to four channels of digital audio and will output in both analog and AES digital.
The QRX100 will operate between 512 MHz and 860 MHz with a digital sampling rate of 32 KHz to 196 KHz. Weighing just 6 oz., it measures around 3.230"x1.25"x5.0". The system has a voltage range of 6-18 VDC and a power consumption of 200 mA at 12V. Multicamera serial remote control is supported via RS422 and RS485 ports.
Remote camera control is a big part of many shoots, whether you work with a multiperson crew or as a one-person band. In order to take full advantage of hands-free operations and the creative opportunities that style of production can present, ikan has unveiled a new control and monitoring accessory for pro videographers. The Director, as it's called, is a small handheld device equipped with a 4.3" TFT LCD screen and LANC connectors for control over compatible Sony or Canon cameras. It lets you control zoom and focus as well as stop/start record with a simple thumb dial mounted on its top corner. What's more, the director (or operator) gets a portable production monitor with variable aspect ratio to watch camera composition, jib arm or small crane moves, and so on. The device can also be used for remote viewing or control when the camera is mounted to a camera stabilizer such as a Glidecam. It sports a headphone jack and A/V input connections. A sunhood and carrying case are optionally available. The $499 unit can be powered through either an AC power adapter or the internal rechargeable battery.
Options and Accessories Turn Light Into All-in-One Device
The option to run video gear on either AC or battery power is important to videographers. The fact that a device also offers variable spot and flood focusing capabilities adds to its value in various shooting scenarios. Even better if it's remote-controllable.
Litepanels, Inc.'s new 1x1 Bi-Focus is an LED fixture, so it draws less power and operates with less heat output than other filament-based lights; it's a nice alternative to energy-inefficient fresnels. The 1x1 Bi-Focus has two independent sets of daylight color balanced (5600°K) LED bulbs set in a familiar 1'x1' square footprint: one set of LEDs is flood bulbs, the other spot bulbs.
By cross-fading between the two LED sets, you can get variable flood or spot output (as well as some other creative effects). Because the 1x1 Bi-Focus utilizes 1,152 LED bulbs (twice the number of a standard 1x1), the fixture projects the same total light output whether the operator selects spot, flood, or any combination.
Adjustment of the spot and flood setting of the light fixture is easily achieved via its new integrated DMX controller or by turning the manual control dial on the back of the 1x1 Bi-Focus fixture. Like all Litepanels 1x1 units, the Bi-Focus offers infinite dimming from 100% to 0% with minimal change in color temperature. Brightness can also be controlled by a built-in dimmer dial on the back of the fixture or by the DMX controller. It runs on battery or AC power, including an optional 1.75-hour onboard battery pack.
Gekko Technology's new adjustable, focusable light, said to provide millions of options for different color temperature outputs, can match pretty much any color required, whether it's to bring a certain creative quality to a scene or to match existing light conditions. In addition to primary and intermediate colors, it can be switched to produce 2900K, 3200K, 4300K, 5600K, and 6500K, as well as a wide range of color gels.
The kleer color light engine uses a single array high-power light-emitting diode, operating under software control, to produce millions of different color temperatures. Self-monitoring sensors are paramount to ensure stable color across a range of output levels as well as correcting changes in performance caused by ambient temperature and component aging.
Videographers Out From Behind the Q-Ball
Now, an HD camera is not what you'd usually call an accessory, but this is not your usual camera. Camera Corps, Ltd.'s new Q-Ball HD remote camera system can be used outside or inside, remote or not, with various DC power sources. Q-Ball uses a 1/3", 2MP, 16:9 CMOS sensor to deliver a 720p or 1080i video signal. It has a good 10X zoom lens (5.1 mm to 51 mm) and good enough sensitivity to be used in pretty much any lighting condition. In fact, there's an infrared option to obtain pictures in near total darkness under infrared light.
Built into the small aluminum sphere (diameter about 115 mm, or about 4.5") are smooth-accelerating pan/tilt motors, which can be operated simultaneously or independently at speeds from 20 minutes down to 4 seconds per cycle. The camera can be mounted and used upright or inverted and, as it is weatherproof, in almost any outdoor condition. The camera interface operates from 9 V to 18 V DC power supply. The camera is connected via up multicore cable to a HD-SDI output interface; the Q-Ball also has four-channel embedded audio.
Just In Closing
Picking up on Patrick Moreau's April cover story about the new Canon 5D Mark II, BeachTek will soon release an XLR adapter for it! It has a headphone jack, which the camera does not. The dual-transformer unit also has phantom power capability and built-in power meters. It should be shipping this summer, at about $380.
Lee Rickwood (lrickwood at goodmedia.com) is a media consultant and freelance writer.