Parts of a Video Camera

Instructional Video Production 4(1+3)

Lesson 04: Video Camera and Support Systems

Parts of a Video Camera

On/off/record/pause button A complex button, the on/off button has several functions put together in one place. The red button that we see in our camera is the record button. It enables us to record and to pause during shooting. Many camcorders also provide the camera on/off switch along with the recording button. The record button is normally placed in such a position that enables the cameraperson to switch on/off the camera as well as record/pause simultaneously.

Lens The lens assembly handles all the light and the image that comes into the camera. We can add lenses to achieve different effects in some models. The electronic news gathering (ENG) and prosumer versions nor­mally do not have this facility. This is the part of the camera that will focus and zoom.

Lenses gather light reflected by a subject and concentrate it on the imag­ing device. A lens hood is often mounted on the front of the lens to keep stray light from hitting the lens surface and causing unwanted glare.

Most camera models come fitted with zoom lenses or variable focal length lenses as they are called technically. This enables the cameraperson to shoot both wide and close shots without having to change lenses. The zoom button on the camera aids the cameraperson in zooming in for closer shots and zooming out for wider shots.

Viewfinder The viewfinder allows us to see what we are recording (most display in black and white, however). Almost all models let us play back and review what we have taped. The viewfinder also displays various indi­cators to tell us whether we are recording, and whether the light is ad­equate, the battery is charged, and other information such as the exposure, tape remaining, shutter speed, audio recording levels, frame guide (to com­pose properly), etc.

LCD viewfinder Most new versions of digital camcorders have the liquid crystal display (LCD) viewfinder, a small screen that allows us to see what we are recording, in colour. This is particularly helpful to check for compo­sition and colour, brightness and contrast levels of our picture.

Zoom The two-way zoom button enables us to zoom the camera lens in and out, that is; it allows us to go closer to the subject when we zoom in and further from the object when we zoom out. It is mostly marked 'T' for tele­photo and 'w' for wide angle. When the lens is in telephoto (T) position, objects appear closer and magnified. When the lens is in wide-angle (W) position, shooting longer/wider shots is enabled.

Internal microphone Some smaller models have this feature, but profes­sional models mostly have provisions to connect microphones externally. They are normally provided with two slots where we can connect two mi­crophones. While one microphone-normally mounted on the camera-is connected to one slot, the other slot accommodates an extra microphone. The camera-mounted microphone is normally used to record ambience sound while the extra microphone is used to record clear audio in situations like interviews. It is best to avoid an in-built microphone for re­cording purposes.

Recording levels Most professional models have a drum that we can use to modify the levels of audio we are recording.

Exposure/aperture The exposure button on the camera helps us to in­crease or decrease the aperture levels so that the picture becomes brighter or darker depending on what we desire. This increases or decreases the amount of light entering the' camera.

White balance Simply put, the white balance button enables the camera to see all blacks as blacks, all whites as whites, and all the colours in be­tween in their true form. We shall discuss this a little later.

Other features in a camera In addition to the above mentioned, most cameras have the following features:

  • Cameras that come with recording units are called camcorders (a combination of cameras and recorders). Non-camcorders need to be connected to a video tape recorder (VTR).
  • Camcorders can also function as players in the VTR mode, that is, we can play back the tape we have just recorded on.
  • Some professional models may not have the LCD viewfinder. There­fore, it is important that we learn to judge the picture quality through the black and white viewfinder itself. LCD monitors also consume a lot of power.
  • Cameras also come with user-friendly interfaces, for example, the menu through which we can change a number of settings in the cam­era. For example, if we wish to record colour bars, the menu will take us to an item that will record colour bars.
  • Some cameras also come with additional interesting features. We can record footage to make our video look like an old film, add a strobe effect, etc. However, it depends on the model we work with.
  • Most digital video cameras also have the facility to shoot still images. Such cameras can operate in three modes- VTR, video camera, and still camera. We need a storage device-a chip-to click and store images. Such camcorders also have provisions for shooting images with different resolutions. The higher the resolution, the lesser the number of images that can be captured on the chip. To shoot images we need to switch the camera to the still mode.
Last modified: Saturday, 21 April 2012, 5:40 AM