European broadcasting organizations are responding to consumer expectations for more high-definition television (HDTV) programmes. According to Akamai Technologies Inc., more than 80 per cent of European broadcast organizations plan to offer HD video content to online audiences within the next 12 months.
Resolve Optics Ltd. of Chesham, UK, already has noticed an increased demand for its Model 304 HD 10× zoom lens, which measures only 84 × 70 × 70 mm. The device’s mechanical tracking system keeps the image in focus through the zoom range, and its motors, from Mini-motor SA of Croglio, Switzerland, provide smooth and precise movements.
The greater number of scanning lines and the wider aspect ratio mean that HDTV lenses need twice the spatial resolution of conventional television equipment. Canon and Fujinon supply HD lenses for both studio and outside broadcast use, and these are becoming more compact.
For example, Canon’s Digisuper 22xs measures 336 × 165 × 175 mm and is designed for portable HDTV studio cameras. It incorporates an encoder servo system that adjusts the zoom in 0.5 s and the focus in 1.5 s and a focusing system that keeps the picture size constant when the focus changes. The HDxs series lenses have digital functions, including Shuttle Shot, which memorizes two focal lengths so that the user can switch rapidly between two zoom settings.
Figure 1. The Model 304 lens from Resolve Optics Ltd. zooms smoothly from 4- to 40-mm focal length, while keeping the action in focus.
Fujinon’s system, precision focus assist, rapidly adjusts the focus for the best image, comparing the contrast from two CCDs built into the lens barrel until they match.
The company’s new XA88x12.5BESM field lens for sporting events and concerts is smaller than is usual, with a very impressive 88× zoom ratio.
The University of Derby in the UK is holding two-day HD broadcast camera skills courses for directors and production companies based on the Panasonic HDX400 camcorder. This 4.3-kg device is well-balanced for hand-held operation and records up to 33 min of compressed HD video on a compact M-size cassette.
Some camera manufacturers are going well beyond the current HDTV standard. Ikegami Tsushinki Co. Ltd., working with Japan Broadcasting Corp., reported an ultrahigh-definition video system with 4000 scanning lines in 2003. It has now moved on to an 8000-line system, according to Peter John Robinson, general manager of the visual electronics and systems department of Ikegami Electronics (Europe) GmbH.
These are exciting developments.
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