Since 2002, the focus of this series has been to report what
trends, if any, we have seen in our client’s camera/format purchases from
year to year. When people think formats, tape-based camcorders are generally
what they think of, however this year, I have added IT-based camcorders as
well. When factoring only "New Camera Set-ups", we have seen some interesting
figures for broadcast and HD camcorders.
What are camera setups, and why do all professional cameras with
removable lenses require them? Prior to purchase, new cameras are calibrated to
factory specifications with test lenses. As many of you know, lenses have different
color tints, optical flare, and white shading characteristics which are due to
manufacturing model differences, and age. This is the main reason why video shot
with crews with the same model cameras look different. Some cameras look cool,
while others have a green tint. All these characteristics are compensated for with
a proper setup, which balances the camera to 3,200K, eliminates black tracking
errors with flare compensation, and provides a flat color field with camera white
shading alignments. In addition to this base set-up, the picture look can be
improved over factory settings by calibrating the colorimetry settings, such as
gammas and matrix, to a more pleasing realistic look. Half of our clients come to
us specifically for that "Macie Uniform Standard" look.
The following numbers represent trend changes in 2005, as
compared to 2004. Considering new-camera setups only: Panasonic Varicams have
increased by 450%, AJ-SDX-900 are up 300%, HDCAMS remained the same. DVCAM
camcorders have decreased 60%, and Digibeta is down 33%. For new, IT-based
camcorders, in 2005, we set-up six Sony XDCAMs. Overall, numbers of new-camera
setups have decreased by 26%.
Another interesting trend in 2005 was a 100 percent increase in
used camcorder purchases, as determined by the number of "Pre–purchase checks"
performed. Many of our clients send us camcorders to evaluate prior to purchase. We
perform all kinds of inspections from bad pixels, leaky capacitors, worn video
heads, deck mechanical condition, and inspection for hidden damage. "Buyer beware"
applies to expensive video gear as well. Occasionally we get a camcorder in with
bad pixels, worn heads, and leaky capacitors. Repairs of all these problems is
usually very expensive, and if these items are not corrected, reliability can
Back in 2002 when I started the "Format Wars" series, analog
BetacamSP accounted for 90 percent of our tape format service business. Currently
it is 52 percent, with digital Prosumer DV, HDV, DVCAM, DVCPRO, DVCPROHD, and
Digibeta on the increase. The volume of repairs has increased over 60 percent
during the same period .
There are so many more options for acquisition in the last few
years than any time in the history of video, making the choice more difficult that
ever. I feel the frustration on a daily basis with our clients looking for
replacements for aging gear. What do I buy! Should it be HD or SD? What format?
Tape or IT based? 1080I or 720P? What about HDV? The only good news is that prices
have dropped overall, while value and quality has increased.
In this time of "Format Wars" I have said if only buyers would
just pick one or two models, and go with it. This time is not much different than
with VHS vs. BETA, or Betacam vs. M2 wars. From what we’ve seen here, 2005 has
shown me that Panasonic has won the war this year for the high-end acquisition.
It’s not the purpose of this series to predict the future, only
show the trends of the recent past. One thing I know is that we are in the "Decade
of HD" (not my words) and that we all must get prepared for a lot of changes, from
our business to our home. Have a great-blessed year.