Miniature cameras on the move


Kieron Seth# TV-Bay Magazine
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by Kieron Seth
Issue 95 - November 2014

Using cameras in-car has always been problematic. Most importantly, the size of camera is crucial: sit a camera operator in the vehicle with a camcorder and the natural sense of intimacy is lost. Mount the camcorder within the cockpit and it is sure to obscure the driver's view of the road.

The alternative is miniature cameras. Toshiba's miniature industrial cameras have been a favourite among broadcasters, with their robust construction and reliable performance. Used as specialist lightweight heads on super-long carbon fibre poles or mounted to motorbikes, they have a reputation for delivering in any environment. Now with the latest iteration, the IK-HD5, many of the issues of miniature cameras, such as noise interference and lack of support for broadcast formats, have been overcome.

The full HD IK-HD5 has chalked up its first TV production, being used extensively on Channel 5's Never Teach Your Wife to Drive! The fly-on-the-wall documentary examines what happens when couples get behind the wheel with their partner beside them. London-based Minicams was commissioned to install and operate cameras in-car, in order to capture the front seat shenanigans as well as the view of the road ahead.

"What initially drew us to the cameras," said Minicams MD Nick McLachlan, "was their quality. They're the same size as earlier Toshiba heads, despite the leap in video performance." After initial testing other factors became apparent. As Milko Kostadinov, Toshiba's Europe Representative explains:

"The unmatched colour fidelity, improved light sensitivity and now IR capability of the HD5 line, makes our cameras one of the top choices for In-car - or any application with challenging and constantly changing light environment. The IK-HD5 camera line features Toshiba's signature Microprism technology this time furnished with a brand new trio of full HD CMOS image sensors with high S/N and enhanced IR sensitivity coupled with the feature-packed 3G-HD-SDI/DVI-D camera control unit."

The results on screen for Never Teach are impressive, as McLachlan attests:

"They're the best pictures we've seen from in-car cameras. It's a really tricky environment to shoot in with lighting conditions changing every second, and most cameras deliver pretty average results. Toshiba's IK-HD5 is way ahead in terms of picture quality."

The IK-HD5H 3CMOS mini-camera head provides native 1080p/i HD in each channel at full 50 frames per second and delivers up-to 1,000 TV lines resolution. The CMOS technology results in 1-stop higher sensitivity - F11.0 @ 2000 Lux (50Hz) compared to the F7.4 @ 2000 Lux (50Hz) of earlier 3CCD model. The companion CCU IK-HD5E introduces an adjustable 'knee and clip' functionality which increases the dynamic range for excellent colour performance in both bright and shaded areas of a scene.

The IK-HD5H also includes a removable optical low-pass filter (OLPF) for dual-mode imaging applications in visible light and near-infrared spectrums. Other features include expanded menu functions for red filter IR mode and approximately 3dB increased sensitivity in the near IR.

"The all-round performance of the IK-HD5 gave us the ability to film the couples at any time of day and whatever the weather. As lighting control is impossible in a moving car, the superb dynamic of the IK-HD5 range really paid dividends, giving consistently usable results." Continues McLachlan.

The production used Fujinon's new TF4XA-1 4mm c-mount lens with the in-car rigs. Its F2.2 maximum aperture and focusing range that starts at 0.1m made it a natural choice. McLachlan concludes:

"This is the best c-mount lens we have used. SeeSense recommended it to us and we were delighted with its performance. It's really up to broadcast standards."


Tags: iss095 | kieron seth | mini cams | miniature cameras | never teach your wife to drive | channel 5 | Kieron Seth#
Contributing Author Kieron Seth#

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