My History

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This is a little bit of video production history as well as video camera archive, I started filming with Super 8mm cine cameras all the way up to a Chinon 255XL Super 8mm with sound during 1975 it had a Chinon Reflex Zoom f: 1.7 \ f9-22.5 mm and a zoom ratio of 2.5x

Chinon-Super-8mm v3

The 1980s

The JVC KY1900 as seen below was a cracking camera for its day. I fell in love with its orange body, I had never seen a brightly coloured camera before, almost 30 years later I bought one on EBAY and to my astonishment it still produced a picture…this says a lot for JVC !

Hands up if you ever used one of these ?  When I started in this business many moons ago I joined a video production company called Flashback Video and they were using two JVC KY 1900 cameras almost identical to the KY 2000 camera (USA version), this was the Dawn of Corporate video production as we know it today.

My first recollection was at Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow and Chris (my ex-boss) and Ron Seeth were filming a band, I was there in my Radio Clyde capacity photographing the up and coming bands for John MacCalman (Radio Clyde producer & Jammy Records).

Chris and Ron were filming the Kelvingrove Music Festival and the thing that stood out was the orange JVC video cameras, I thought they looked the business. They were feeding long BNC cables into the back of the stage into two low band U-matic mains machines the size and weight of a small horse.

These days were the start of all our sore backs, I don’t know one cameraman who does not suffer from a sore back through years of holding and lifting various pieces of heavy video kit.

Soon after that music festival I went for an interview with Flashback and was offered a job as a sound-man, as I had worked for Radio Clyde I must know something about sound, that’s the impression I gave as I was desperate to get into video production.

Registration…in the early days of tube cameras we had to register the camera every time you transported it using a registration card. Tube cameras were very susceptible to go out of alignment, so you had to carry a small screw driver and a convergence chart. The camera had 4 small “pots” recessed near the front and you would look into the viewfinder and tweak the 2 colours till the lines converged i.e. These were not RGB what you were doing was aligning the tubes Blue-Vertical, Blue-Horizontal, Red-Vertical, Red-Horizontal… in other words all your black horizontal and vertical lines were totally black not fuzzy.

The Sony M3 Three tube camera

During my 4 years at Flashback we eventually moved over to the Sony M3 camera this had the 21 pin connector into a High band U-matic Sony portable recorder. The lead acid batteries were a pain and the 1st thing you had to do when finishing a shoot was to leave the two ton tessie batteries on charge.

Chris “Sony’s M3 camera offered the first really decent quality for industrial use. Actually a lot of these cameras were used for budget broadcasts around the world, although we were under no illusions that it was a broadcast quality camera. This was the first tube camera to give you auto registration, no more jewelers screwdrivers just point the camera at a registration chart, one press of a button and you were ready to go.

Me editing at Flashback 800

Me editing at Flashback

The other thing the M3 had was a really good remote control unit (which as far as I know is still used for later cameras – we certainly used it for our later M7 one of the first industrial cameras to use a 3 CCD chip set). This facilitated multi-camera studio shooting with proper genlock, colour matching and remote exposure control. There was even a fairly sophisticated scene memory facility, only a little less capable than today’s Picture Profile settings on the EX camera range.

I ordered Flashback’s Betacamcorder without having seen it ! STV were using the previous model BVW-200  and Sony announced an improved BVW-300, which I knew was going to outperform that model (one of the rare occasions when Sony sold a ‘2’ model number!). We waited six weeks for our brand new model to arrive – yet it became obsolete in a couple of months! (though it still works today as far as I know.)

In 1995 the Imix Turbo Cube cost £55k, but it generated so much heat that we had to install a £5k air-conditioning unit, so the investment was £60k. If I remember correctly, the base unit stored one hour of video and two hours of audio. I cannot tell you the Mb capacity, sorry. We added additional RAID storage modules to triple the capacity and backed up critical material to DLT high-capacity tape cartridges, which frequently failed for no apparent reason! Although now defunct, due to significant advances in digital image processing, the Turbo Cube remains the most productive NLE system I have ever worked with, as well as the easiest to master. It enabled us to achieve remarkable productivity, such as the complete post production of ten short broadcast slots or a half-hour documentary in a day.”

We had some good times working for Flashback in fact sometimes it was hard to call it work ! There can’t be many people who can experience the birth of their trade, yet Flashback Video was one of the pioneers of professional video production in Scotland and I was a big part of it. Possibly our wackiest job ever was to produce an advert for Tunnock’s Tea Cakes.

We had a small studio which had to be turned into a lunar surface, this is very hazy but I remember a lot of pyrotechnics going off at the wrong times, take after take after take and I can’t to this day remember what the end result looked like but a lot of paper mashie and matt paint should give you a better picture of our 1st break into the land of TV commercials.

1986 Clyde Cable Vision…

I decided during 1985 to apply for a job with Clyde Cable Vision a brand new cable television station, producing local content for the Glasgow Channel.

It had been decided that the cable laying was to start with Drumchapel in the west of Glasgow. These were exiting times, the latest video equipment, three machine computer controlled editing using a Convergence system.We had a small studio with 2 Hitachi Z31 cameras both with Autocue. The 3rd Z31 was used for filming news stories out in the field. The Z31 was a 3 tube camera but performed very well indeed. As you can see from the picture below it was built like a tank.

We had a busy schedule to fill, two news stories had to be edited for the 1pm live news slot and a further story in the afternoon for News Plus our 6pm live news magazine program.

I vividly remember a breaking story that happened during 1986, I was sitting in the edit suite putting the final touches to a feature when I got handed a high band U-Matic tape from Ian, “look at this”. I nearly fell of my chair, it was a four in a block house that had disintegrated in a gas explosion just round the corner where I had lived only 6 months previous. 5 people were killed in the blast. We had a tie-in with Radio Clyde at the time who offered their news reporters if they were at the same news story. Brenda Paterson did a piece to camera for us and strangely in 1986 we let a lot of VT happen with no voice over so the viewer was left with the noise from the gun mic.

We were competing with STV and BBC Scotland at that time and I will always remember the amount of crew they sent out, Cameraman, Soundman, reporter, we all had these but the broadcasters also had lighting man, and director sometimes a runner. We were all multi-skilled in fact we invented the meaning of the word in the broadcast industry.

We were also scorned upon from other crews, nothing less than social snobbery, they were better than us at least thats what they thought. We were again pioneers, I was a VT editor, soundman and in the studio a cameraman, sadly today it’s gone too far the wrong way, you have reporters making a hash of filming themselves with nothing short of glorified domestic camcorders, this might cut down on crew but it brings broadcasters down to the lowest common denominator and further reduces what was once quality television.

Bean counters or accountants to you and me are to blame for the demise of quality television news in Scotland and it’s nothing short of a disgrace, especially health and safety which is now so compromised it’s an accident waiting to happen. Sorry I will get off my soapbox.

26 years later I met Ian, Clyde Cables cameraman at a large sensor day at BBC Scotland.

George Cathro

As I was about to use the DJI Osmo during December 2015 I bumped into my Clyde Cable Producer, George Cathro.


Clyde Cable Vision took me to 1988 then I left abruptly to start out on my own. My first camera was a Panasonic F10 which was one of the first CCD cameras to filter down from the Pro range. The camera had a 14pin connector which connected via a 2 meter cable to an portable S-VHS AG-7450 recorder.


The Panasonic F10 was upgraded to the F15 which came in corporate grey colour. Grey is the colour that Panasonic decided was their professional look.


Surprisingly the F15 had a 2/3″ CCD sensor a horizontal resolution of 460 lines at centre and came standard with a 15x zoom lens, no auto focus in these days. For the film look boys the F15 had an optional 35mm SLR adaptor and C-Mount lenses.

Our next big leap into pro cameras was the Panasonic WV-F350 camcorder with 1/2″ FIT CCD for smearless image reproduction and a horizontal resolution of 700 lines. This camera docked with the AG-7450 S-VHS VCR but the downside was its combined weight on your shoulder. Me sporting a fine set of legs filming on Arran with my Panasonic WVF-350.


We left Panasonic for a JVC GY-X1TC SVHS-C camcorder this was far smaller and lighter than the Panasonic and produced a cracking picture right out of the box.

The JVC was our main camera for over 2 years moving over to Sony who had created a storm with a new technology called mini DV. The only camera available at this time was the Sony VX-1000 which had a 3 CCD chipset in a very small body.

This was the first watershed in video technology Sony had produced a technology that would set the word digital on the map forever.

I was absolutely stunned by the pictures this camera could produce but my professional pride was taking a bashing as this camcorder looked and was for it’s time …domestic. No more big cameras with manual lenses sitting proud on one’s shoulder, this was a major break from tradition but even then I had decided this DV format was the future, and until HD… this turned out to be true. Fortunately Sony had also decided DV was the way to go and produced the DSR-PD150 with a hidden surprise.

No one knew but the 150 had a very bad tendency to err on the magenta, this came to light when we started to notice people with ruddy complexions looked alarmingly exaggerated, so much so that I began avoiding filming close ups of guests who were  too much on the red side. Fortunately for my productions and people with reddish complexions, Sony became aware of this and soon updated the camera to the DSR-170 which was far closer to a neutral white balance and had the benefit of being better in low light. The other important feature of the 150/170 was the phantom powered XLR inputs and the fact that it recorded in DVCAM mode.

The next camcorder was probably my favorite to date the JVC GY-5000 Pro DV camcorder, it looked good, produced stonkingly good pictures but it’s achilles heal was a 4:3 picture. This was a good all rounder and was superb in low light. It was also one of the first pro camcorders to have a flip out colour LCD viewfinder. It was a joy to use and used not only mini DV tapes but standard DV tape up to 180 minutes. This was also the first camera I had owned that came with “V” lock batteries.

Because of the 4:3 issue more people were looking for 16:9 footage we went for the Canon XL-2…major mistake !

The XL 2 had three 1/3-inch CCDs that delivered a true 16:9 image without the use of artificial letterbox or vertical stretch tricks. It’s one major letdown was the crap viewfinder. You could not find focus with this and after giving up my trusty JVC with Hi Rez black and white viewfinder I was in a land of true dispair.

I don’t remember why I ever plumbed for the Canon…was it because it was white as most video cameras are boring black or regimental grey. The one thing about the early days of videography was that JVC had distinctive orange cameras and I loved this, cameras with attitude.

I stuck it for 6 months before getting a JVC  GY-HD100 this was indeed a good move as 100% of my footage was shot on DV so I had no need for the newest additional feature HDV. This was one of JVCs water shed camcorders…anyone who bought it for HDVwork felt cheated with the 720 25P only later models included 50P.


Sara and me filming on Arran for Type Two Diabetes during 2006.

T2 Crew 800

I on the other hand bought it solely for DV work and it produced some superb pictures. JVC so far have never let me down the pictures from this camera were clean and punchy. JVC had really thought about this camera even to the extent of  supplying not only an on board head phone but surprisingly a spare headphone jack socket, so simple but how many times in a news situation would it have been useful to have 2 H/P sockets for the soundman to plug into as well as yourself. It also had a Fujinon 16x manual focus lens.

It was the start of pro cameras that looked the part without weighing a ton.

Sadly I must admit to having owned a Panasonic AG-HVX200, these camcorders are a designers joke. It’s like holding a Nori brick, (Nori bricks were made in Accrington and weigh a ton).

There was nothing aesthetically  pleasing about this camcorder and it was definitely not made to sit in your hand unless your name happened to be Popeye. So why did I own a camcorder I despised, same old story, budget, I needed a camcorder that would give me 4:2:2 for green screen work and this was the only camera that fitted the bill and my pocket. I never understand how some camera manufacturers get it right and others insist on making clones of one bad looking camera after another. This camera in my opinion was made like this because Panasonic can’t afford to compromise their top end P2 camcorders. Don’t get me wrong this camcorder actually produced very good pictures but I am still of the opinion that a camera must look and feel right and the HVX200 did not do it for me. Fortunately I still had the JVC HD100.

2008 the Dawn of Pro Solid State

2008 was the second watershed in video technology HD was to prove an almighty leap in quality but had its drawbacks. In the summer of 2008 I bought my Sony EX-1 and two 16Gb SxS cards, my main worry was archiving, I had bought into a camcorder that you needed to re-use the media. I like so many others had no option but to store the XDCAM files onto 2 hard drives, I later bought an external Lacie Blu-ray burner and stored the master files onto expensive Blu-ray discs. I also bought the Sony PDW-U1 as this seemed to be the holy grail for archiving EX material. Four months later and still no drivers to allow the U1 to store EX footage so I sent it back to H Preston who refunded me.

I sold my wonderful EX-1 to my previous boss Chris who is to this day making various documentaries in and around the Isle of Arran. At the turn of the year I bought the EX-3 what a joy to use and those pictures… stunning or what, I love the aesthetic improvements.

The PMW-EX3 is equipped with a newly developed, large, easy-to-view, colour LCD screen with a high resolution of 1920 x 480 pixels. The LCD screen is located in an easy viewing position on top of the camera and can also be utilised as a high-definition viewfinder with the easily attached monocular viewfinder assembly.

Late 2009 to 2010

The uptake of the DSLR has been a strange phase in my life as a professional video cameraman, I did own a Canon 5DMk11 which records 1080 25p and I must put my hand up and say they have a place within the video world but their place is a limited one. Limited by the fact that the LCD is not good enough to see critical focus and although Canon did add the ability to manually control the sound with metering it is once again a lash up as you do not have any way to monitor your sound going into the camera which is just stupid.

There are major aliasing problems with this technology not to mention restrictive time limits on the length of filming you can do before the camera stops.

Both Sony and Panasonic during NAB 2010 have both shown prototypes of Super 35mm and micro4/3″ camcorders with interchangeable lenses these will in my opinion address the balance and I will predict the demise of the HDSLR during the second half of 2011 and in my opinion not before time. Cameras should be fit for purpose and the photographic HDSLR is not fit for professional filming, it is fit to play with and in my case produce really nice macro shots of camcorders I review, nice opening sequences and seemingly one episode of House…all tinkering…99% of major TV drama use RED, P2 varicam, Sony F35, Arri or 35mm adaptors with prime lenses.

The DSLR has spawned a new breed of mainly younger filmmakers and that’s a good thing, it has allowed students to get a feel for shallow depth of field, we can only hope the new generation of film like camcorders from Sony and Panasonic appear sooner rather than later.


The Sony PMW-350K was a fantastic camcorder and looked the part. This was my first 2/3″ chip camcorder and the bonus was the fact that it recorded SxS. I have gone full circle starting with shoulder mount and now back with a full size , shoulder mount camcorder.

If you thought the Sony EX-3 pictures were good the PMW-350 is as good as noiseless, my only caveat with the 350 at that time was a tendency to loose the picture profile which defaults it over to Sony’s factory profile which is far too sharp.

I produced a review about the Sony MC50 a £1500 camcorder with the 350 and it wasn’t till I got back to base that I noticed the PMW-350 had slightly green blacks this was noted after I had decided to shoot a similar scene with the 350 and MC50 side by side, the £1500 camcorders white balance (WB) and general picture was better…a shock I was not expecting, once again down to the camera re-setting itself.

I never investigated wether the WB problem was something I was doing wrong or a bug in the camcorder itself.

Don’t get me wrong the 350 produced some of my best footage to date but the complicated picture profile menu in the camera coloured my view of this camcorder and latterly it’s weight. Once the camera is in a large KATA bag with cables etc it became a strain on my shoulder.


The advent of the large sensor video camcorders brought another watershed to video producers but also brings its own problems…how many camcorders do you need to purchase to satisfy everyone you work for ?

At the end of 2010 we saw the first shots from the Panasonic AF101, at the turn of the year I had my hands on the AF101 and was so impressed I produced a hands on DVD called “Getting the best from your Panasonic AF101”.

The AF101 was indeed a game changer now we could produce cinematic, shallow depth of field footage rarely seen in the corporate sector, interviews have become less cluttered.

I had the 101 for about five months when I bought my latest camcorders.

Like the true cutting edge archiver that I am the Sony NX70 and the FS100 both film 1080 50p out of the box and are well matched as a camera duo. The NX70 to date has a poor rocker switch which was fixed with a FW update (After I had sold the camera), I use a Manfrotto 521i remote zoom control meantime. The FS100 produces a very sexy picture from it’s Super 35mm sensor and allows me the shallow depth of field I need for the type of corporate work that I produce.


After the Sony FS100 I dug very deep to buy the most expensive camcorder to date…the Canon C300 and it was worth every penny…the pictures this camera produces are truly stunning. When your goal is to produce footage with out of focus backgrounds you have to be careful to keep your f stops around the f4 mark but it leaves little room for error, if you are interviewing a statue then f2.8 or wider would give you a more pleasing result but no room for error.

I still get a kick from watching the footage back, no noise, cinematic, pictures that are stunningly natural and straight out of the camera, I am not into producing more work for myself using Canon LOG then re-jigging the pictures in post. There are those who promote RAW for everything, its fine for footage that needs to be graded but it adds a further step in the post production process one that can be avoided if you get it right in the first place.

As you discover in photography… RAW can’t get you out of everything.

The same can’t be said for the Canon XF305, I found this camcorder very disappointing, especially as the 305 was produced with broadcast as it’s main target. I struggled with blown highlights that I never resolved it has been the only camcorder to date to produce less than satisfactory pictures and not the cheapest either. One other feature of this camera is noise, even at 6dBs this camera is noisy, another reason I soon got rid of it.


Keeping up to date early 2013 I bought a Sony NX30.


The Sony NX30 was bought for a major production on “Type One Diabetes” as it has the ability to look like steady cam due to its fantastic steady shot feature and the fact that it records 1080 50p.


Later on that year we also bought a JVC GY-HM650 camcorder, having a Canon C300 is great for the majority of video work but I need a camcorder for run and gun, filming round factory’s, news story’s etc. The JVC 650 fits the bill with some cracking pictures out of the box and using the cheaper SDHC cards certainly helps with archive.


The surprise came late 2013 when I was asked to cover IBC for Holdan’s, I was asked to produce various interviews from manufacturers who use Holdan’s as their distributers. My dilemma was what camera to take, the Sony NX30 is fine but I really like the “look” of the C300 so that excluded the JVC 650 as well. I was all set with the Canon C300 when I stumbled upon the advert Philip Bloom shot with a pre production Lumix GH3, the pictures were very impressive. IBC has various halls about the size of football pitches and I was not looking forward to wandering round the show with a C300, Miller tripod and the kit that goes with it…keeping weight to a minimum with that cinematic look there were only two DSLRs to consider, the Sony a99 or the Lumix GH3, lenses and cost put me off the Sony so I plumbed for the Panasonic.


Along with a Tascam DR60 the GH3 is a stunning piece of kit with a stunning set of 1080 50p pictures to go with it. I now film 80% of my work with the GH3 using the 12-35mm f2.8 “X” lens and the 35-100mm f2.8 “X” lens. Having the DR60 makes this kit very user-friendly and I await my new GH4 camera with excitement.



During April I reviewed the Panasonic AJ-PX270 handheld full broadcast spec AVC ULTRA camcorder, the only 10bit 422 camcorder to film onto SDHC cards. This is a cracking camcorder with many flavours of codecs, I personally find AVC LongG the quietest of all the codecs.

I was so impressed with this camcorder I bought one for all my run and gun needs and green screen work.

Panasonic GH4 plus YAGH


After selling my Canon C300 I had enough money to buy 2 Panasonic GH4’s and the Panasonic PX270, the GH4 is a fantastic video tool giving me quality and frame rates I could only dream of 1080 50p 200Mbps and 4K internal recording. At 422, 8bit this camera produces some of the finest video material I have seen from a large sensor camera. DSLR’s have come of age and the GH4 is the first in a line of many mirror-less cameras.

The addition of the YAGH (SDI/XLR adapter) brings the GH4 in line with many Hi end large sensor cameras, shallow depth of field, 96fps slow motion, XLR sound with 48v phantoming, syncro scan the GH4 is packed with professional video features.

I mainly use it for interviews, green screen and product shots having a second non YAGH GH4 gives me a more run and gun setup or a second camera on an interview.


During July 2014 I needed a camera that could film in dark restaurants as the GH4 only goes up to 6400 ISO and becomes very noisy. The camera that was doing the rounds was the Sony A7s and claims that it could see in the dark. I watched Den Lennie’s appraisal of the A7s with interest and decided to sell one of my GH4’s.

In reality the A7s does indeed out perform the GH4 but only as far as noise, ISO readings of 10,000 are common settings in certain work I have done recently with my A7s and the full frame sensor is a major bonus.


I always need a run and gun camcorder to hand so when I got rid of my Panasonic PX270 I bought a Sony PXW-X70 and what a shock I got. This wee bundle of joy out performs most 1/3″ camcorders twice its price. Unlike a 1/3″ sensor the X70 has a 1″ sensor which does not suffer from the inherent grey mist effect, a noise reduction phenomena seen on all 1/3″ sensor cameras.

The XAVC 50MB/s pictures out of the X70 are truly stunning and having 10bit 422 allows you to use this camera alongside DSLR’s like the GH4/A7s as the quality is that good…not something I was expecting.

To get the best out of the X70 you need to use Class 10 speed 3 SDXC cards but at £25 a pop it’s a no brainer.

2015…The Sony PXW-FS7



My new Sony PXW-FS7 is my pride and joy, once again I pushed the boat out to get one but Full HD pictures to die for, this will be my defacto work camera. 4K 50p, 1080 50p, 10bit 422 it does not get any better and looks the business. I film most of my corporate interviews in 4K allowing me to cut in on the shot when the person stumbles, the GH4 was fine for 4K cut-in work but having the luxury of 4K 50p on the FS7 is very satisfying. TheFS7 just looks the business and no longer looks like a “photographic shoot”, don’t get me wrong I still use my DSLRs for video work, especially my Sony A7s for extra low light shooting and fast cutaways. The downsides of the FS7 are few but there is no doubt the £415 per 128G XQD cards are stupidly over priced compared to a Lexar SDXC U3 C10 at £70.

The Sony PXW-FS5

Me Sony FS7 title

At the latter part of 2015 we got the smaller sister to the Sony FS7, the FS5. I love the form factor, its so much more convenient to hold in your hands without straining your arms unlike the FS7.

DJI Osmo

Osmo and me

For years I have dreamt of owning a Steady Cam rig but cost and sheer weight has been a deciding factor. I owned a DJI Ronin M for a while but it took its toll once again in the arms so I jumped at the deal to exchange the Ronin for the Osmo. This is a brilliant piece of kit and with its 20mm lens is so much better than a GoPro.


Here is a still shot from the Osmo.

Just for the record…

I was at the Institute of Videography show about 10 years ago and had a  major discussion with this Sony engineer, Tony Bidgood about the usefulness of colour  viewfinders, I was told in no uncertain terms that “You would never see colour viewfinders on professional  camcorders as they  are not good enough.”  I think Tony owes me an apology …you only have to look at the Sony PMW-350, EX-3,  Panasonic 301 and the JVC HM700 to decide who was right 10 years ago. I have a philosophy that you should never say never,  if humans can think it one day it will become a reality and yes one day you will be able to “Beam me up Scotty”.


Well That’s it, 30 years of virtually the birth of video itself, certainly the beginning of professional corporate video as we know it,  back in the eighties although I was not aware, we were pioneers, we invented the meaning of multiskilling within the video  industry.

In those days, take STV a local broadcaster who my ex boss Chris worked for as a senior cameraman, they were intrenched with  unions and all the rules that came with it, you could be hauled over the coals if you dare touch even a camera cable lying on  the floor if that was not your dedicated job, ie. cable basher.

I am glad to say we have come a long way since those draconian  days but has it got any better…only time will tell. I also want to start a campaign for less black and grey camcorders get back to the eighties give the camcorder a distinctive look…even the RED ONE is black !


June 2015… Panasonic respond…The Panasonic DVX-200 4K 50p camcorder arrived you can see my review here.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

31 comments on this post

  1. I shot my first TV spot with the 2000 in Erie, Pennsylvania back in 1980/1981. I won a local advertising award for the spot for a hat maker…. after all these years I still remember how fun it was and is to pt together a nice piece of TV.

  2. Adam West says:

    Ahhh… memories…. sweet memories, Couldn’t agree more with the comments on the HVX200 it’s a brick, but I do love it all the same. (I have to I have one).

    EX3 is much more of a ‘camera’ type camera (er.. if that makes any sense at all)

    I may have to save up for one… but ditching all the p2 cards etc from the Panasonic will be heartbreaking (for my wallet)

  3. Yves Simard says:

    I had a KY210 ohh the days, learned on a Hitachi F-21… and of course the m3, m3A, bvp 30 30P.. paid a fortune for these cameras.

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

  4. HD Warrior says:

    Tell me about it…I am still paying through the nose for video gear…it doesn’t help that the UK has such a poor conversion against the Yen and the Dollar.

  5. Simon says:

    Wow, that’s a very young Tony ‘Bidders’ Bidgood!

  6. HD Warrior says:

    Thanks Simon I was wondering how long it would be till someone recognised Mr Bidgood, I am crap with names and could not remember Tony’s name. You can let him know he has gone down in the anneals of Sony history and if he cares to apologise for his poor predicting skills all the better.

  7. Jim Snyder says:

    I recall walking with my XL-1 Canon and having someone ask, “Doesn’t that big camera get heavy?” And also thinking about puny the camera actually felt! After the KYs and M3s, then later, BVW Betacams, the XL felt tiny,indeed! Add that to the 9600 Avid that eplaced roomsfull of tape machines, switchers, ADO and monitors and… WOW! Then there were the Arriflex BLs…!When I started, we actually had some Sony (-non-C) 1″ recorders with a yardstick and a grease pencil… When the mark spun around the drum, you’d mash down on the big red “EDIT” button! -after unreeling 35″ of tape. Of course, in THOSE days, we shot all the remotes on 16mm. I also remember all that stuff introducing me to another post-millennium phenomenon: eBay!

  8. lesj says:

    Ah yes, I remember those days also. I remember Flashback, didn’y you guys kick off by recording the finish line at The Glasgow Marathon and selling copies to the punters of them crossing the line? I started with Hitachi PF21’s, then JVC KY950, JVC BY110, JVC FP15, JVC DY90 (D9) then DSR570, now just ordering a EX1R

  9. Lenny Warren says:

    Boy does that take me back, I used a KY-1900e when I worked in Medical Illustration. We used to film operations… ah, them were the days. Prior to that it had been Bolex H-16’s….

  10. H. Wolfe III says:

    Great post! In my 26 year production history, I used some of these including: the JVC KY-1900, The XL-1 and the JVC GY250

  11. Gunther says:

    Started with Sony 3/4 machine, camera and deck with a cord. Had the panasonic 250 and 300 series super V, then the JVC Ky 17, KY 19 and then the KY27 with beta SP decks, Then Panasonic HPX 500,900 the Canon 5dm2, Gopros etc. Not to mention the 6- $3600 9gig seagate drives that had to be striped, when we started non-linear editing. I still boils down to the person using the equipment. Thank God! 🙂

  12. KIt says:

    I started in the wedding and event industry with VHS in 1983. The evolution was first single tube cameras attached by cable to a VHS recorder. Then in 1986 or 1985, the first VHS camcorders were put on the market. There was a stigma to taping in VHS, given it was not “professional”. Correct, it wasn’t, but it was all wedding clients could afford. When Super VHS came along in 1987, folks in industrial video took notice because to many, its images looked better than 3/4″ with the added bonus of lighter weight field equipment. Once the DV and DVCAM and DVC-PRO equipment came on the market in the mid 1990’s, it narrowed the gap between event (wedding), industrial and broadcast. Now, in 2011, the consumer point and shoot cameras and particularly the HD ones I think rival the quality of some Betacam SP gear, but the jacks for microphone input are missing and the lenses are glorified “peep holes”. Nonetheless, the lowered weight, the lowered cost, the speed of capturing video for NLE post, it is all a new ballgame. The DSLR revolution is making for motion picture quality on what used to be a wedding videographer’s budget. To me, tapeless is a wonderful thing, no more video heads to get clogged, no more moving parts, less energy requirements. This was a great article, I loved it.

  13. Jason R. says:

    Awesome, love looking back.
    Good stuff!

  14. Keith Hawke says:

    Ah but do you remember shooting with a clockwork Bolex? 100 foot loads. 2 minutes 40 secs running time. Manual processing of the reversal film and drying above a gas heater?

  15. Justin Keen says:

    Oh Keith, but I do remember that, except I only had a 50 ft processing drum and so I had to cut those 100ft loads in half when processing them! The film survives here – (Fancy meeting the intrepid Keith Hawke on this site!)

    But I also do recall the KY1900 in my first video shoots in Auckland, and the “pigmatic” recorders. At least they weren’t as hefty as the Ampex VPR-20 “portable” broadcast recorders we moved up to when I started out in Hong Kong in 1984.

  16. Ricardo R says:

    Great article. Lots of memories. I actually started with a Sony 8mm handycam that back in the middle 90s already had a 16:9 option. It stills works and gives great “analog” colours! Although I have evolved to the RED ONE, I still love both my Sony 8mm and my superb Canon XL1.

  17. Alex DeJesus says:

    I have a pair of Canon XHA1s’s that I am looking to replace soon – and your critique of their XF305 gave me pause, because the XF300 is the camera I was looking at. I had seen and read very favorable reviews until yours.
    I don’t understand why Canon charges an extra $1,000 dollars (USA) extra for the bloody HD-SDI and genlok when other cameras make a point of including it. That has been my main frustration deciding on a Canon.
    I film mostly live entertainment events, simple corporate videos, an occasional wedding. I need a run-and-gun setup, but also want to do more artsy, shallow DOF stuff. I may do a documentary soon.
    Anyway, I would like a camcorder of that style, with 4:2:2 and 50 Mb/s capable, but as a 2nd camera would like something with interchangeable lenses. Maybe a DSLR.
    I’m glad I stumble onto your site

  18. Matt Davis says:

    What a lovely journey through ‘camcorder’ memory lane! I’m with you all the way.

    There’s a lovely article in the making – let’s look back with your JVC KY1900 and the PD150, with today’s C300s and FS100s and compare, so we can really appreciate what we have now. 🙂

  19. Levi Pike says:

    Great run down of your personal history within the industry and the cameras that came and went. I agree….the JVC orange/red one visually was best…more color on the box as it produces within!


  20. Mike Clarke says:

    Blimey Its like reading my own biography. JVC1900E in 1982 followed by M3, M3A, BVW400, Digi Beta 790, DvCam 570, PD150, XL2, Z7, and now my PMW350. Are we twins separated at birth?

  21. Why did you not opt for the Canon 5D over the Lumix for your IBC shoot?

    HDW : Canon have no interest in producing a DSLR fit for purpose, the GH3 I realise does not have a FF sensor, apart from that its streets ahead of Canon and Nikon. Mirrorless is the way forward and the GH4/YAGH combination will be the defacto interview DSLR of 2014.

  22. Andy Jackson says:

    Hi Philip, I’m a self employed underwater cameraman. I currently shoot with a Sony Z1 and I’m still managing to get material broadcast but I can see I need to update soon.
    As you can imagine changing camera and housing is a big outlay and I have the dilemma of what to buy next without breaking the bank.

    You seem very taken with the GH4 and I’m wondering whether it might be the camera I’m looking for. I can see a lot of benefits with low light performance and broadcast standards etc. However I have concerns. I shoot with and without auto focus at present depending on how fast and how close the action is. The Z1’s autofocus rarely seems to lose target. I’m not sure how the GH4 would perform.

    Stability of the rig underwater is also important and sony’s steady shot has been a big help. Does the GH4 have something similar? Will the small size of the camera present me with added stability problems?

    I know you’re not an underwater cameraman but I would value your views on these aspects.



    HDW : 4K is a biggie for me its better than I was expecting although I use it for mainly cropping I can’t imagine how good a 4K underwater shoot might look. The 12.35mm f2.8 lens has POWER OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation).
    You can get underwater housings for the GH3 which by all accounts will fit the GH4.

  23. Hi Phillip

    In your article “How times have changed When film was preferred over video” you have captioned the photo of the second camera as an ACL. In fact it is the Eclair NPR 16mm and the lens is the Angenieux 12-120mm zoom, this version had a very strange zoom handle on the barrel. (useless as I remember). I enjoyed the article. Cheers Geoffrey

  24. rich lerner says:

    Hi Phillip, please help if you can I cannot get my Sony x70 into xavc when i put it in that mode the clip say “avchd content: no xavc
    Thanks for any help

  25. Howard says:

    What is wrong with you that you cannot think outside of the 25fps/50hz/50i/50p fortress Europe box ?
    These cameras have other qualities in other frame rates especially higher.

    HDW : I live in the UK edit in the UK so whats your problem, what would I want to film higher than 50p unless I need a slow mo look !

  26. Jay says:

    Which is the better camera to purchase for my documentaries. Sony PXW X180 or PXW X200

    HDW : If I had the choice with no money constraints I would choose the X200…3x 1/2″ chips are less noisy overall and especially in low light, you have to weigh the 17x lens (X200) against the 25x (X180), though I suspect the 17x is a better spec lens overall.

  27. In view of the disappointing 4K upgrade spec on the Sony X70, do you think the Panasonic HC-X1000 is the better camera to go for?

  28. Howard says:

    Go for the PANASONIC 270 it is superior forget about 4K trendy beast the high bit rate options on the 270 and its amazing lens
    will achieve all the quality you need. Yes it is fixed lens
    but an awesome and diverse lens at that. For news and documentary work the 270 rocks !

  29. Howard says:

    PS If you want to get the very best out of the 270 do not lock yourself into the “PAL” / 50hz section open up your world to all frame rates.

  30. Interesting insight! I too started with the “KY” series cameras – mostly the KY-1900, 2000 and 2700 and also stuff like the Sony BVP-300, 330 and Hitachi SK91. I used to lust after a Ikegami HL-79, which was the dog’s wotsits at the time.

    It’s years since I’ve owned a video camera, but I’ve just ordered a X70 and can’t wait to start shooting with it. It’s nice to read the encouraging comments here. Thanks.

  31. Megan says:

    Philip – thanks for all your great reviews.
    I’m currently looking for a camera to replace my Canon XF100 and just wondering why you got rid of you Panasonic 270?
    Any suggestions of what might be a suitable upgrade path – I’m looking for easy run and gun style with a good zoom (20x or more), separate focus and iris rings, ND filters and broadcast quality.
    I also use a GH4 so something that would match that footage would be good – it’s a minefield out there in terms of choice!

    HDW : I am not the right person to take cues from when it comes to new cameras. The Panasonic PX270 was a great camera, I sold it just before Apple brought AVC LongGOP to FCPX for a camera (Sony PXW-X70) that needs 3rd party software (Catalyst Prepare)…DOH ! For broadcast, run and gun the PX270 is just the job, one of the most under rated cameras on the market today, if I could go back in time I would still have my PX270.

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