Sony Widescreen Camcorders: True Widescreen?

Paul Cooksley

Novice Member
Hi there

I am thinking of upgrading my ancient, but still working well Sony TRV120 Camcorder (bought 6 years ago) and would really like to have one that will record widescreen.

Now, I usually stick with Sony, and was looking at the HC39 and HC42 - these seem idential except the HC42 has analogue in ports? (I'll come to this in a second)

What I am really after knowing is this:-

Is the 16:9 Widescreen mode on these camcorders "true" widescreen? I mean, if you play them back on your 16:9 TV set, you can use the "Wide" mode on the tv and the picture looks like a true widescreen picture?

If I went for the HC42 (which has the analogue in port) does this mean I can connect the camcorder to say a VHS Video recorder and record directly from this onto the mini DV tape in order to then edit on the pc? If so, what lead/connections would I need to perform this?

Also: Does anyone have either of these models and if so, can you hear the internal motor noise? This is a slight grumble on my present camcorder - in silent rooms etc the noise from the internal workings/motor can be easily heard!

Any help really appreciated

Thanks
 

MarkE19

Moderator
Paul Cooksley said:
Is the 16:9 Widescreen mode on these camcorders "true" widescreen? I mean, if you play them back on your 16:9 TV set, you can use the "Wide" mode on the tv and the picture looks like a true widescreen picture?
Any camcorder that has widescreen recording should look correct when played full screen on a 16:9 TV. What some cams do though is to crop the top & bottom of the recording to look like widescreen, ie the CCD is 4:3 instead of 16:9. This is OK, but it lowers the resolution of the recording in 16:9 mode. The trick is to find a cam with a 16:9 CCD (or 3), but knowing what you are getting is not always easy to find out.
If replay is on a 28" CRT TV then I wouldn't worry too much, but if it is on a big PJ then the loss of resolution may be too obvious to live with.
Paul Cooksley said:
If I went for the HC42 (which has the analogue in port) does this mean I can connect the camcorder to say a VHS Video recorder and record directly from this onto the mini DV tape in order to then edit on the pc? If so, what lead/connections would I need to perform this?
The camcorder should be supplied with a small jack to 3 phono lead that will work for connecting a camcorder to a VCR. The chances are though that you will need a scart converter that works in both directions (if one is supplied it will almost certainly only work from cam to VCR and not VCR to cam) such as This.

Mark.
 

LV426

Administrator
Staff member
MarkE19 said:
What some cams do though is to crop the top & bottom of the recording to look like widescreen, ie the CCD is 4:3 instead of 16:9. This is OK, but it lowers the resolution of the recording in 16:9 mode....
Since we're talking about standard resolution PAL video (720x576) here, this would only be an issue if the CCD had less than 576 usable rows/lines of pixels when cropped in this way - or 768 actual. Most are 1024x768 or better.
 
R

Roy Mallard

Guest
the sony models you are true widescreen, full capable resolution of the camcorders (which is about 540 lines for consumer DV so not far short of the PAL 576 standard)

motor noise, well yes, they do have motors right next to the mic, in enclosed spaces or close to a wall or when the ambient noise level is quite low then yes the auto gain or reflections shall emphasise motor noise. This is no worse than on any other comparibly priced camcorder.
 

Bearded_Malc

Novice Member
The sony and cannon are the only ones that have enough pixels to do true widescreen. All the others crop. The cannon has some issues with motor noise and the advice is for anyone think of canon to check the noise for themselves. Widescreen on cannon also disables the mage stabilisation which uses those pixels too.

You might want to consider the HC90. A bit more than the HC42 but you do get a 3M pixel sensor which is enough to take stills too. Sony have new models out feb/april. Have a look at the sony web site. You can also download camera user manuals from there too so you can see how you could connect etc.
 

IAmATeaf

Active Member
I actually own a HC-39E and have recorded and played back quite a few tapes and can say that the recorded media is in widescreen. The camcorder has a true 16:9 CCD and all the editing software I've ever used has recognised the source as being in 16:9 format.

In terms of diffs between the 39 and 42 - don't forget tha the 42 also has DV-IN as well as the analogue pass-thru you mentioned so if it's important for you to save your edited footage back to the DV tape then you should consider a camcorder with DV-IN, for me personally this is not a problem as I never overwrite a tape once used so I hopefully have access to the original source should the need arise.
 

Paul Cooksley

Novice Member
Good point about the DV-IN - I never thought about that.

So, does this mean for example that you could run off your un-edited footage into the pc via a firewire cable - use a video editing programme, such as Pinnacle (thats what I have) - add titles, music, effects etc - and then via the DV in - record the finished product back to the camcorder on a dv tape???

Or have I got the wrong end of the stick here???
 

IAmATeaf

Active Member
Paul Cooksley said:
Good point about the DV-IN - I never thought about that.

So, does this mean for example that you could run off your un-edited footage into the pc via a firewire cable - use a video editing programme, such as Pinnacle (thats what I have) - add titles, music, effects etc - and then via the DV in - record the finished product back to the camcorder on a dv tape???

Or have I got the wrong end of the stick here???
No you haven't got it wrong, you'd be able to save your edited masterpiece back onto the tape assuming that you've kept the overall running time the same and not altered or recoded the footage to another format.
 

Paul Cooksley

Novice Member
Well that's excellent then - I never knew you could do that.

How good is the picture quality when you do this? Is it like or similar to DVD quality? As I don't have a DVD re-writer, I have only ever burnt VCD's and S-VCD's before .... So, if I run the footage off into Pinnacle Studio for example, and then make all the edits with music etc... when I run it back to the mini dv tape on the camcorder does it look better than VCD/SVCD???

If it looks better than VCD/SVCD I won't bother with a dvd re-writer (I would only use one for camcorder footage, so I just want to make sure I am understanding things correctly and that the finished product, can look good quality when it's back on the mini dv tape)

Do you just use the firewire to connect it to the dv in ???
 

MarkE19

Moderator
When you copy video to a PC, edit and then send it back to a new DV tape via firewire then you keep the PQ at 100% of what you origionally recorded. Editing does not cause any loss of PQ.
Origional DV recordings (and edited and rerecorded back to DV tape) will look far better than VCD and probably SVCD, but with the advantage of the total length can be a lot longer (SVCD = ~15 minutes, DV = 1 hour (90 minutes with LP)). DV footage is not highly compressed like MPEG-2 files (as used with DVD & SVCD) and therefore should look better than even a DVD, but this depends on a lot of other things.

The advantage of burning to DVD is that you cause no wear & tear on the camcorder when watching the footage, plus you can add a menu for direct access to certain scenes etc. For the cost of a burner it really is worth getting one IMO. A good DVD burner will only cost about £30.

Mark.
 

laser

Active Member
Paul Cooksley said:
Well that's excellent then - I never knew you could do that.

How good is the picture quality when you do this? Is it like or similar to DVD quality? As I don't have a DVD re-writer, I have only ever burnt VCD's and S-VCD's before .... So, if I run the footage off into Pinnacle Studio for example, and then make all the edits with music etc... when I run it back to the mini dv tape on the camcorder does it look better than VCD/SVCD???

If it looks better than VCD/SVCD I won't bother with a dvd re-writer (I would only use one for camcorder footage, so I just want to make sure I am understanding things correctly and that the finished product, can look good quality when it's back on the mini dv tape)

Do you just use the firewire to connect it to the dv in ???

If you want any sample footage from a HC42 I can post some avi or mpegs to the forum for you to look at.
 

Paul Cooksley

Novice Member
Laser

Yes please - that'll be good as I am seriously considering this one... best price I can see online is about £323 (excl delivery charge)..unless anyone knows better!

But yes, be good to see what the footage is like..

how is it in low light? I have read varying reports of this...

Also: On my old(ish!) Digital 8 Sony camcorder, when recording or playing back footage, sometimes I dub it off using the "flash" option on the digital effects mode -this kind of gives a "filmic" look to the video if you turn it to the right setting...

Can you do this on the HC42 do you know? (Especially during playback?)
 

laser

Active Member
Here is the link (file size 32mb):

http://www.laserdiscarchive.co.uk/sample_widescreen_footage.mpg

The footage has been encoded to a mpg file using Pinnacle Studio 10 to cut down the file size otherwise it would have been 150mb.

I'm currently uploading the file converted to .vob files so you can burn it to DVD to test out the footage on your TV set.

Low light recording is not fantastic and would definately recommend that you do not use the low light modes otherwise the picture becomes jerky. I would say its no better and no worse than other similarly priced camcorders. If you intend to record in a lot of low level light situations I would recommend buying the Sony light attachment. You can even buy them off ebay for £20-£30. Makes a big difference.

I'm not sure without reading the manual whether effects can be added on playback or whether they have to be added during recording. The camcorder does have plenty of digital effects but I never use them. I prefer to add all effects in post production using video editing software.
 

laser

Active Member

Paul Cooksley

Novice Member
Thanks Laser for uploading these..haven't managed to view the footage on tv yet, but even watching the file via media player, the footage does look very clear and the widescreen I guess looks just fine..

Before I get one then, just to confirm:

It definately has DV IN/OUT (which will allow me to transfer back to DV tape any edited video that I process via Pinnacle or similar software - via a firewire cable)?

Also: It has AV IN/OUT to allow me to hook up the camcorder to a VHS machine - capture footage and then edit it on a pc??

Thanks

Paul
 

laser

Active Member
Paul Cooksley said:
Thanks Laser for uploading these..haven't managed to view the footage on tv yet, but even watching the file via media player, the footage does look very clear and the widescreen I guess looks just fine..

Before I get one then, just to confirm:

It definately has DV IN/OUT (which will allow me to transfer back to DV tape any edited video that I process via Pinnacle or similar software - via a firewire cable)?

Also: It has AV IN/OUT to allow me to hook up the camcorder to a VHS machine - capture footage and then edit it on a pc??

Thanks

Paul

It definately has DV IN/OUT (which will allow me to transfer back to DV tape any edited video that I process via Pinnacle or similar software - via a firewire cable)?
Yes


It has AV IN/OUT to allow me to hook up the camcorder to a VHS machine - capture footage and then edit it on a pc??
Yes but you need the optional cable (VMC 15FS)
http://www.sony.co.uk/view/ShowProduct.action?product=VMC-15FS&site=odw_en_GB&pageType=Overview&category=ACC+Cables+-+Connectors
 

Freelancer

Novice Member
laser said:
Here is the link (file size 32mb):

http://www.laserdiscarchive.co.uk/sample_widescreen_footage.mpg

The footage has been encoded to a mpg file using Pinnacle Studio 10 to cut down the file size otherwise it would have been 150mb.
That's a nice video. It's clear that any lack of detail must be due to the compression, but i'll bet it looks even better in .avi.

Questions though:
1. What are those 6 little squares in the top right of the picture? Did you put them there, does the camcorder put it there, or did your editing place them there? Can they be removed?
2. Did you use any extra shoe attachments like an external mic, or say extra lighting, or a wide angle lens? I'm assuming that you used a tripod - either that, or you have the steadiest hands in the world!
 

laser

Active Member
Questions though:
1. What are those 6 little squares in the top right of the picture? Did you put them there, does the camcorder put it there, or did your editing place them there? Can they be removed? I'm not sure what you are referring to. I've downloaded the file and can't see the six little square in the top right. I've gone back to the original AVI file and there is nothing there either. I'm using Windows Media Player 10 to view the file in MPEG format.

2. Did you use any extra shoe attachments like an external mic, or say extra lighting, or a wide angle lens? I'm assuming that you used a tripod - either that, or you have the steadiest hands in the world! The footage was recorded using the internal microphone and a £30 tripod from Jessops with the steadyshot functionality switched off. The footage was recorded using the camcorders 16:9 widescreen mode (with no lens attachements i.e. camcorder straight out the box.
 

Freelancer

Novice Member
laser said:
Questions though:
1. What are those 6 little squares in the top right of the picture? Did you put them there, does the camcorder put it there, or did your editing place them there? Can they be removed? I'm not sure what you are referring to. I've downloaded the file and can't see the six little square in the top right. I've gone back to the original AVI file and there is nothing there either. I'm using Windows Media Player 10 to view the file in MPEG format.

2. Did you use any extra shoe attachments like an external mic, or say extra lighting, or a wide angle lens? I'm assuming that you used a tripod - either that, or you have the steadiest hands in the world! The footage was recorded using the internal microphone and a £30 tripod from Jessops with the steadyshot functionality switched off. The footage was recorded using the camcorders 16:9 widescreen mode (with no lens attachements i.e. camcorder straight out the box.
Thanks for your replies.
in relation to #1:
It appears an odd problem has occured. I can definitely see 9 tiny square objects in the top right of the screen, that stay there continuously even while the angles change - best seen on the 2nd shot of the train racing from the left to the right. Strangely, in this scene it appears the 3rd box of the 9 is greyed out, while the others are black. (speculation, are there 9 scenes on your tape? and was that shot the 3rd scene of the 9?). In the opening and last shots some of the 9 squares are greyed out to various degrees. I am using Windows Media Player 10, on Windows XP Sp2. The squares are best seen if you watch the footage in full screen mode.
Perhaps other may be using this too?

#2: Just out of interest, why did you swtich the steady-shot off?
 

laser

Active Member
I'll try wathcing again in full screen mode, although when I checked it was pretty much full screen but not quite! I can't remember how many scenes they where originally as the footage was cut from a 30 minutes seuqence. I might try posting a different clip to see if you can see the same problem.

I prefer to switch off the steadyshot functionality when using a tripod as you see more marginally more footage. It has something to do with the electronic stabalisation and the way the camcorder throws away some of the outer image to make the picture more stable.

However, for hand held shots, the stablistation goes back on. Its actually quite effective and nearly as good as those camcorders with optical stablisation.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
As a pure guess I would think that the 9 squares in the courner of the screen could be due to the fact that the PC displays the overscan area that is not visible on a TV screen.

Mark.
 

laser

Active Member
MarkE19 said:
As a pure guess I would think that the 9 squares in the courner of the screen could be due to the fact that the PC displays the overscan area that is not visible on a TV screen.

Mark.
Thanks Mark.

I definately don't see any squares when watching the footage in full screen mode on my TFT panel. Not sure if you would be more likely to see them on a CRT if you are using one.
 
C

conorwashere

Guest
it is defintely true widescreen and it's also a very good camcorder. i was told by a professional videographer that knows a lot about consumer camcorders that the hc42 produced better colors than the hc90. you should definitely go for that one.
 

Freelancer

Novice Member
Can anyone advise on the kind of lens that fit the Sony 42E or the 90E? What if i'm looking for a wide-angle lens? The names are all a bit sonfusing.. And what other types of lens are available for these cams? :lease:
 

MarkE19

Moderator
The HC-42e has a 25.0mm filter thread, therefore you can attach any add on lens that has that filter thread. Sony have a load of accessories including wide angle lenses listed for this camcorder Here.

Mark.
 

Freelancer

Novice Member
MarkE19 said:
The HC-42e has a 25.0mm filter thread, therefore you can attach any add on lens that has that filter thread. Sony have a load of accessories including wide angle lenses listed for this camcorder Here.

Mark.
Thanyou Mark.

A few queries:
1. can the viewfinder be set to black and white? I noticed while handling the camera that the viewfinder was colour.
2. As this camera does not allow manual changes of aperature and shutter speed what are users missing? What are the advantages of these features in a practical sense?
 

MarkE19

Moderator
As I don't own an HC-42e I can't say for sure, so your best bet is to RTFM :D , but my best guess is as follows:

1. I very much doubt you can set the VF to B&W. On my TRV-900e it is a colour VF and I've never found (or tried) a way to set it to B&W.

2. Manual aperature and shutter speed adjustments allow you more control over the way the picture looks, especially in low light conditions. A slow shutter speed on fast moving images (ie sport) will make the movements jerky. Aperature adjustments allow you to control the depth of field (how much of the picture, foreground to background, is in focus).

Mark.
 

Freelancer

Novice Member
MarkE19 said:
As I don't own an HC-42e I can't say for sure, so your best bet is to RTFM :D , but my best guess is as follows:

1. I very much doubt you can set the VF to B&W. On my TRV-900e it is a colour VF and I've never found (or tried) a way to set it to B&W.

2. Manual aperature and shutter speed adjustments allow you more control over the way the picture looks, especially in low light conditions. A slow shutter speed on fast moving images (ie sport) will make the movements jerky. Aperature adjustments allow you to control the depth of field (how much of the picture, foreground to background, is in focus).

Mark.
Thanks Mark.

Laser, a thought occured to me about the 9 small boxes i saw in the top right of the video - What tapes were you using to capture that footage? Are they Sony tapes, are they the sony tapes with the memory chips? Curious phenominon.
 

laser

Active Member
The tapes used are the Panasonic DVM60's (£1.39 each).
 

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