SONY HANDYCAM Handycam is a Sony brand used to market its camcorder range, and was launched twenty five

years ago in 1985 as the name of the first Video8 camcorder, replacing Sony’s previous line of Betamax-based models. The name was intended to emphasize the “handy” palm size nature of the camera, made possible by the new miniaturized tape format. This was in marked contrast to the larger, shoulder mounted cameras available before the creation of Video8, and competing smaller formats such as VHS-C. Sony has continued to produce Handycams in a variety of guises ever since, developing the Video8 format to produce Hi8 (equivalent to S-VHS quality) and later Digital8, using the same basic format to record digital video. The Handycam label continues to be applied as recording formats evolve, into realms such as HD video recording (1080i) and large capacity hard disk drives (240GB) and flash media (64GB) with incredible features. Chapters:
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The Beginning Of Handycam 25 Years Of Handycam The Small Size Of Handycam Handycam Image Stabilization Handycam Design The Sound Of Handycam The Beauty Of Handycam Handycam Is Easy To Use

The Beginning Of Handycam

The Handycam begins with the CCD-M8, introduced in 1985. The Beta video cassette, the predecessor to the 8-millimeter video format, was intended for use in integrated camera/recorder devices right from its

25 Years Of Handycam The flagship HDR-CX550V model. inherits outstanding features and performance acquired through two and a half decades of evolution. when shoulder-supported video cameras weighing more than two kilograms were the norm. the size of the next generation was decided on first with the condition that the camera must be operable with just one hand. the CCD-M8 was also the first to emphasize easy operation. an Intelligent Auto mode that automatically determines which of 90 possible scene settings are ideal for the scene you’re shooting. Since the 8-millimeter cassette was one quarter the size of the Beta cassette. released in 2010 on the 25th anniversary of the Sony Handycam. and then it was just a matter of pressing the record button to shoot. In addition to being the first camcorder to break the one-kilogram weight barrier. In the early 1980′s. but an unprecedented shooting experience in wide angle as well. the camera should be reduced in size by a comparable amount.88mm G Lens (35mm equivalent for movie shooting) – deliver not only excellent image quality. the CCD-M8 became a reality only after much trial-and-error development. . and playback was to be handled by a separate playback deck.inception. That line of thought led to a final size that was equivalent to two Beta cassettes. including aperture priority and shutter speed priority modes. convenient. practical features such as “active” image stabilization that works effectively even while zooming. and one of the highest performance lenses available in the field – Sony’s 29. With this demanding size requirement as a goal. The user had a choice of three focus settings and two white balance settings. The “one-button” concept introduced in the CCD-M8 led the way for the significant advancements in automation technology that followed. And users who want maximum creative capability will be delighted by a range of new manual features. It was record-only device.

To miniaturize to suit Sony customers’ needs. . and a weight of only one kilogram was achieved for the first time. was designed from the outset to be about the size of a Beta videocassette. the first model is likely to be relatively large and be designed to serve the high-end market. The CCD-TR55. impressive size reduction has been achieved in the Handycam line. will retain the same features in a significantly smaller. Size comes first. The problem of mechanical noise being picked up by the microphone was overcome by applying noise-canceling construction methods. Here’s a weird advertisement I found for the TR88 from ’89: A miniature drum mechanism had already been developed for the preceding product. By setting and relentlessly pursuing specific miniaturization goals. That size goal was attained. befitting its role as the representative of 25 years of Handycam evolution. The first Handycam. the CCD-M8. released in 1989. easy-to-use design. One problem was that the CCD-V88 had a number of protrusions that made it seem large. they design from the outside rather than the inside. however. The second model. In such cases. was widely known as the “passport-size Handycam” based on the concept of travel. it features a remarkably compact design that is at the same time solid and substantial. which were eliminated by implementing an internal microphone for the first time ever. the CCD-V88. The Small Size of Handycam It is sometimes necessary to adopt a new system in order to record the best possible image quality. but further miniaturization was necessary using the same basic technology and newly developed miniature lens.Despite the impressive list of features and functions provided by the HDRCX550. It was designed to be small enough to fit in a handbag and be taken anywhere.

which can lead to heat buildup within the device. the secondgeneration Hi-Definition camcorder. it suffered from a few drawbacks. and in the HDR-HC1. resulting in groundbreaking miniaturization in “passport size” Handycam that successfully popularized the travel-camera concept. Hand shake is a fundamental problem when shooting video. However. Handycam Image Stabilization Image stabilization has become an indispensable feature in both still and video cameras. One method adopted by another manufacturer was electronic compensation based on image recognition. and camera manufacturers have come up with a variety of ways to reduce it. This type of electronic compensation became so popular that image stabilization was expected in all video cameras thereafter. . such as not working while zooming. and sometimes misunderstanding subject movement for camera shake. the successor to the first DV camcorder. The same approach to miniaturization was applied in the DCR-PC7. These and other problems were effectively overcome. The evolution of image stabilization technology in Handycam camcorders goes back 18 years.Miniaturization means higher circuit density.

A new type of electronic image stabilization was there fore adopted in order to maintain the compact dimensions and light weight of the Handycam line. the angle of which was minutely adjusted to compensate for shake. the New Torino (Turin) Project was kicked off. a compact lens with an internal compensation element was devised to allow lens-shift stabilization (DCR-TRV900). with the goal of achieving even greater image stabilization performance before the Torino Olympics. . but was quite large and not suitable for use in compact models. Electronic compensation was added to the existing specialized gyro sensor that was being employed to directly detect shake. In 2003. This was Sony’s optical active prism stabilization system. To effectively achieve that requirement. and the resultant system was introduced in the compact CCD-TR2.The first image stabilization system incorporated in a Handycam employed a prism in front of the lens. The active prism system was subsequently employed in high-end models as well. mage stabilization was then required for still images captured by compact models as well as moving images. introduced in the CCD-TR900.

Once shooting while walking became possible. The name of the project was changed.Research was focused on reducing the size of the active prism system so that it could be implemented in home video camcorders. and it became a permanent operation that pursued image stabilization development full time. A major advancement was achieved in the HDR-XR520/500 with an Active Mode that provided improved stabilization at the wide end of the zoom range. the rolling shake caused by body sway while walking became an issue. This resulted in the development of a dedicated microprocessor (BONOBO) and a new precision optical stabilization lens system that were released in the HDRUX7. and allowed stable images to be shot while walking with the camera. .

the sounds of the city or friends talking help bring the original moments back to life. The compact Handycam made it possible to shoot handheld. in contrast to its bulkier shoulder-supported predecessors.A gyro to dedicated to roll detection was added. The viewfinder extended from the side. The next goal was to make the camera slim enough to fit in a pocket. Great care is taken to ensure that Handycam camcorders offer the best possible sound. This resulted in a thin vertical design in which the lens and flip-out panel do not overlap. Handycam Design Sony product engineering defers to design. This system was released in the HDR-CX520/500. but by placing the LCD screen in a flexible flip-out panel it became possible to shoot comfortably with one hand while viewing the screen. comfortable position for the viewfinder for that style of shooting. but the way that has been implemented has been modified over time with the introduction of new technologies and features. it was necessary to modify the way tehy were mounted for optimum viewing. significantly enhancing ease of use (CCD-TRV90). toward the rear of the camera. . and roll compensation was achieved by using the BIONZ image processor. Design and ease of use are both refined to the highest possible degree. The Sound Of Handycam One of the major differences between still and moving images is sound. When a video is played back. At the time it was normal to hold the camera with both hands while viewing the LCD. and design is never compromised solely to satisfy engineering criteria. When LCD viewfinders were introduced. The same applies to Handycam design. Handycam is specifically designed for handheld shooting. and is a location that remains standard to this day. This made it necessary to find the most practical.

In the HDR-SR12. The evolution didn’t stop there. When DVD disks were adopted as a recording format. the 5. The Beauty Of Handycam . Because of the compact size of the camera.1 channel sound capabilities of the medium were too appealing to ignore. Another problem that had to be overcome was that nearby sounds would interfere with sound from a distant subject. Stereo sound was a development goal for the second-generation passport size CCD-TR75. further refinements in computation capability made it possible to achieve 5. The solution was to once again use the time difference between the microphones to implement a “zoom microphone” function that was linked to the camera’s zoom lens (CCD-TR900). In order to provide even more realistic. This problem was overcome by using the time difference between the sound arriving at the two microphones and by giving the microphones more directional pickup characteristics.1-channel zoom microphone operation linked to the lens. spacious sound to match the video images.The best-selling passport size CCD-TR55 had monaural sound. the spacing between the left and right microphones was too close to achieve effective stereo sound.1-channel surround sound in the DCR-DVD403. more microphones were added and precise computation of the time differences between those microphones made it possible to deliver stunning 5.

The processing engine that generates the final image from the signal supplied by the image sensor. Then came the back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor that achieved twice the sensitivity of conventional miniature sensors. and then 1/3-type. it achieved significant reductions in both noise and power consumption. Dynamic range limitations were overcome. and after overcoming countless problems and obstacles. That belief came to fruition when the CCD-TR75. Development of CCD image sensors was initiated in 1970. But as further miniaturization of CCD image sensors was pursued. As semiconductor production technology advanced.A lens that precisely captures the scene. The general understanding throughout the industry was that the performance of CCD sensors would inevitably decline as the size was reduced. allowing high quality video to be captured even in low light (HDR-XR520/HDR-XR500). The image sensor – the camera’s electronic “eye” that converts the light captured by the lens to electronic signal. . The history of image sensors is also the history of man’s quest to shoot the most beautiful. power consumption became a problem to the point that it became necessary to adopt a different structure that had superior power characteristics: the CMOS image sensor. In 2007. Sony developed the original Exmor CMOS sensor which by converting the analog electronic signal to digital format within the sensor chip itself. and the CMOS sensor became more widely accepted. CCD sensors gradually became smaller: starting at 2/3 type and progressing to 1/2type. the CCD-M8. vibrant images possible. implementing a 1/2-type precision CCD in a camcorder the size of the CCD-TR55. but Sony firmly believed that performance could be maintained or even improved despite the miniaturization. the cutting-edge CCD sensor was implemented in the very first Handycam. The fact that “CCD” became a part of the product name attests to the important role this advanced component played in establishing the Handycam line. proved to be a huge success. Handycam image quality is dependent on these three basic components.

Camcorder recording quality had leapt to a new level. But as CCD performance improved. The DV format was further refined in the HDV format that allowed HiDefinition recording. it is generally understood that image quality is largely influenced by the recording format. resulting in the first and highly acclaimed DV-format passport-size camcorder: the DCR-PC7. Currently the AVCHD format provides ten times the resolution of 8millimeter video. and brightness parameters. It was particularly important to ensure that faces were captured properly. . It has taken time and the numerous small steps outlined above. the HDR-HC1 was the industry’s smallest digital Hi-Definition camcorder at the time. Although the production schedule was extremely tight. The first consumer camcorder to use the DV format was the DCR-VX1000. But that level of performance was not attained in one leap. Capable of 1080i Full HD movie recording. We also assigned a higher video bit rate to the face area. An improvement was achieved by switching from metal tape formulations to vapor-deposition Hi8 tape that offered the highest recording density at the time.At the same time. the limitations of the recording format became a bottleneck. The next step was direct recording of digital video data to DV tape. The problem was. Miniaturization progressed rapidly. effectively suppressing noise that can occur around the facial outline. The first Handycam used 8-millimeter videotape. Handycam Is Easy To Use Deciding what to shoot and how to shoot it has always been up to the shooter. focus. the BIONZ image processing engine made it possible to effectively detect faces. Emphasis was placed on face-detection performance with the goal of producing the world’s first face recognition system for video shooting. Image resolution is limited by the format used. but in order to make it easier to achieve outstanding results it was necessary to make the camera capable of automatically optimizing shooting parameters to match the subject. and became a massive hit. what to do next? Sony was ahead of the competition in providing variable skin color.

and then in video cameras in the form of a Dual Rec feature that allows simultaneous recording of moving and still images. but the solution was more quickly achieved via software design. scene. Hardware design was initially considered. charming smiles. And then.The overall result was face detection performance that was good enough to be incorporated in the HDR-SR12: the world’s first camcorder with face recognition. The Smile Shutter feature was first released in digital cameras. shake. the Smile Shutter feature made it easy to capture the most natural. . one of Sony’s engineers had the idea that it would be great if he could capture photographs of their smiling faces at the same time. Current Handycam camcorder include an Intelligent Auto (iAuto) that is capable of discerning four elements – face. and indoors/outdoors – and automatically selecting the ideal shooting parameter settings from 90 possible combinations so that optimal quality can be easily achieved in just about any situation. In this contest. while shooting movies of his one children.