or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › Other Areas of Interest › Camcorders › Why are portable pro HDTV cameras so enormous?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Why are portable pro HDTV cameras so enormous?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Not long ago I was in New York City and one of the local news stations was finishing doing some on-scene coverage of some event or another. Obviously in such a market the coverage is in HD and the station would be relatively funded.

The cameraman had a TV camera which clearly was no smaller than the ginormous TV cameras I remember from the 80's and 90's. The thing rests on the shoulder and has a big indentation in it for the shoulder and is supported with two hands. From the look of it there's no way I can imagine holding that thing for more than ten minutes without getting at least a little sore. Considering that it appears setup to only mount on the right shoulder and thus doesn't distribute the weight, I'd have to assume that after a few years in that job any cameraman would be due for some extremely major surgeries, probably including fusing of discs, repairing of herniated discs, pins, brackets and screws. Unless they rotate cameramen pretty well such that each one only does this a few times a year I'd think that the news organization would be responsible for the workers comp claims for the enormous amounts of pain killers and physical therapy that the cameraman would likely need for the rest of his life.

Is there any reason why these cameras have to be so titanic? I have seen handheld cameras for consumers that can do full HD and are light as a feather. I've even seen some 3-ccd cameras that rival professional picture quality and fit in the palm of one's hand. AVCHD would be the smallest, but the HDV cameras are not that much larger and some can record at quality beyond that of most broadcasts.

I could see how a pro-grade camera would need to be a bit larger to acomidate interchangeable lenses, high quality optics and a better microphone, but is there any reason why it needs to be so gargantuan?

I suppose there is some argument that there would be better quality if you went with a system like betacam with a dvcpro codec, but I'd really challenge anyone to notice the difference on a local news report. I mean we're not talking about filming anything spectacular. Even so, is there any reason such recording equipment needs to be of such epic proportions?
post #2 of 13
Form follows function. Robust circuits , XLR inputs, redundant memory buffers, broadcast quality viewfinders, industrial canon-plug connectors, and seemingly infinite number of on-board controls demand a larger, rigid chassis. Every essential control has its own button, an ENG cameraman can't afford to be searching through countless layers of menus during a live shot.

One thing about the consumer AVCHD, is that it only rivals industrial cameras when the lighting is optimal for the venue. If you need to push the gain indoors, or add layers of neutral density on-the-fly, the quality is compromised. If you need lens versatility at all zoom ranges, you need a back-focus mechanism. If you need to record images on a data monitor, you need the circuit to select very specific scan rates (eliminate vertical bar rolling).

Your average professional camera has to be capable in many more environments than the 3 pre-selected lighting choices in our tiny toys.
post #3 of 13
There's also alot to be said about the stability that a larger camera provides.

I'll let someone else say that.
post #4 of 13
I wish they would add AVCHD & Divx HD codecs & many SDHC, Compact flash card slots
post #5 of 13
I do work as a videographer and editor/broadcast designer for a cable network.
The number one reason those camera are so large is sensor size. The larger the imaging sensor, whether CCD or CMOS, put more light volume per imager pixel. The same scene coming into a camera will look much better when recorded to a 2/3 inch imaging chip vs a comsumer camera's 1/8th inch chip. The low volume of light that a smaller imager chip gets is what makes their picture so noisey at low light levels.

Plus I'd rather have a ten pound camera on my shoulder for an hour straight than ten minutes of a 13 ounce comsure camera. Having the camera supported by my body, along my center of gravity is much easiler than you think. Even with two hands, a consumer camera shakes a lot more, and after several minutes, keeping a professional level of unshakeyness becomes quite hard. Plus the mass of a pro camera keeps it stable.

Panasonic's pro cameras have had AVC-HD and SDHC options for months now.

For the past two years I have been shooting with a Panasonic HVX-200, which is a handheld style pro camera. I also just bought a Canon HF100 comsumer camera for home use, it is so hard to watch the footage from the Canon, it crushes my blacks so quickly and put so much noise in the blacks. I was shooting my black cat laying on a black rug in daylight. The consumer Canon camera's picute was noisey and the the blacks seemed to merge together. I know if I had my Panasonic HVX-200 there, the suble tonal differences of the black cat fur against the black rug would have been as obvious on screen as they are in real life to your eye.

I do understand your thoughts on this. At our network, it takes the interns months to finally realize how much effort it takes to get great looking images to people's homes.
post #6 of 13
Some of the awful pictures they throw out at times make me wonder why they need these elephants as well.having said that look at a lot of the cameras being used used at the olympics for hd broadcast and they are around the size of sony ex3s so why do news stations use the monsters i am sure machines the size of the ones you see about in the olympics could do all the things the huge machines do.
I prefer my own cams pq to a lot of the broadcast material i see.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by erikcantu View Post


For the past two years I have been shooting with a Panasonic HVX-200, which is a handheld style pro camera. I also just bought a Canon HF100 comsumer camera for home use, it is so hard to watch the footage from the Canon, it crushes my blacks so quickly and put so much noise in the blacks. I was shooting my black cat laying on a black rug in daylight. The consumer Canon camera's picute was noisey and the the blacks seemed to merge together. I know if I had my Panasonic HVX-200 there, the suble tonal differences of the black cat fur against the black rug would have been as obvious on screen as they are in real life to your eye.

I understand that consumer-level cameras are not going to cut it in general for broadcast use because they are going to have a lot more compression, lower quality compression, lack the pro-grade optics and so on.

That being said, I'm still not sure what about the pro-grade cameras necessitates they be so enormous. AVCHD is probably not going to be high enough quality for pro-use, but some of the better HDV systems are pro-grade in terms of recording quality. Image sensors on consumer cameras are definately not quite up to par with those on pro-grade cameras.

Still, a decent HDV camera can still keep a relatively low profile. Would a high bitrate HDV system with a good quality pro-grade compression engine really be that much worse for broadcast use than whatever they're using? Does putting better optics on a camera necessitate that its size balloon from slightly better than palm size to the size of a small tank?

I'm also not entirely sure why a few compromises on the absolute quality of the image are so unacceptable when providing a 30-second clip of a Girl Scout fund raiser for the 11 o'clock news. The olympics, maybe, but for local news? Does anyone even watch their local news anymore?
post #8 of 13
And I am sure those compact packages cost several thousands of dollars.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flintyplus View Post

look at a lot of the cameras being used used at the olympics for hd broadcast and they are around the size of sony ex3s so why do news stations use the monsters i am sure machines the size of the ones you see about in the olympics could do all the things the huge machines do.
.
post #9 of 13
I think you (erikcantu) have it right. Besides smaller sensors, optics, fewer controls, etc., consumer cam vendors make heroic efforts (and compromises) to make their products as small, compact, simple and light as possible. This is not an important goal in the pro world. In fact, increased size eliminates the need for the many of the compromises required in consumer models, and the increased mass adds inertia and thus stability.

Quote:


AVCHD is probably not going to be high enough quality for pro-use, but some of the better HDV systems are pro-grade in terms of recording quality.

At 24mbs, 1920x1080 resolution, better sound, and with more processor power, AVCHD should be better (maybe signficantly so) than HDV. Don't confuse early AVCHD models and their compromises with limitations in the codec. Similarly, don't confuse pro optics, sensors, controls, and processing with advantages to HDV.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by elifino View Post

And I am sure those compact packages cost several thousands of dollars.

Probobly so but the question was why are a lot of broadcast cams the size of sherman tanks,nowadays they clearly dont need to be.
post #11 of 13
cameras that must dock with 'legacy' tape transports also dictate the size and dimension.
post #12 of 13
Oh, and number one reason broadcaster use "tank " cameras, we already bought them! The low end is $10K and going up to $60k (digital cinema camera go higher), then add the cost of the lens, these people bought their camera maybe last week or 6 years ago, why spend more money and throw away something you may have not even paid off yet.
AVCHD has much more potential than HDV, Panasonic already has a version of in their newer cameras, but at 50Mbps. HDV's long-GOP or nasty for high motion shots and nastier to edit.
Plenty of shows do us smaller cameras as a back up, ever see "Dirty Jobs", they run two shoulder mount cams, but the producer jumps in with a Sony Z1U, a $4k HDV camera.
But it really is all about image quality. Color reproduction, control, resolution, image processing, dynamic range, compression.
post #13 of 13
Actually size has to do with 2 main things.

The first is the size of the chips that capture the light. A pro camera will use three 2/3" or three 1/2" chips. she sheer size of these 3 chips makes the camera bigger. Bigger (or detachable) lenses for those bigger chips and a sturdier body to support that lens also add to the size of the camera.

Second... larger heavier cameras are more steady when handheld. Take a small handycam and then shoot the same thing with a professional DVCpro or XDCam unit and the shake of the image will give away the consumer model.


Also... another reason may be all the professional connectors that are required on a pro camera. I imagine that this could be solved with some sort of dongle...but that would prob. break after a couple of weeks of pro use.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Camcorders
AVS › AVS Forum › Other Areas of Interest › Camcorders › Why are portable pro HDTV cameras so enormous?