On the glass side, lens technology continues to advance by getting wider and longer, but it's features like those found on Canon's new J22ex7.6B SD lens that keep broadcasters buzzing.
The lens is the first of the new e-IFxs series offering customizable functions, thanks to the use of digital technology. According to Director of Product Management Ken Ito, the same functions will be extended across Canon's product line by the end of the year.
Digital control of studio cameras began trickling into ENG lenses about three years ago. It allows the camera to memorize speeds or types of shots in the lens. One of the challenges that memory functions introduced, though, was difficulty in seeing what settings were selected. More important, if the lens was a rental or used by someone else, the settings would often be changed or reset. Ito says the new system removes many of those concerns.
"We created a display that allows users to set different features on the lens or change what each button does," explains Ito. "They can assign different commands, create a shuttle shot or adjust the speed of the zoom for a shot that can be recalled by pushing a button."
Programmable features include precise zoom and focus-curve setting and a movement mode that can recall zoom seesaw, zoom demand and preset controls. Up to nine user settings can be kept in the memory; there is also a default setting. In addition, a serial cable can be used to share the settings among connected cameras.
Ito says that, in today's production environment, a director can often like a certain shot during rehearsal but less-experienced camera operators have difficulty re-creating the shot during actual production. The memory function eliminates that problem: "It can even control the way to zoom starts and stops."
Canon has also introduced an electronically driven servo system. Ito says the system feels like a manual system but allows greater focusing with longer HD lenses. Because HD has a shallower depth of field than SD, focusing can be more difficult. The new servo, with a selection of near, far or standard, gives the additional precision needed. "A 5% adjustment in near setting moves the lens a lot more than in far," adds Ito.
Also new for the U.S. market is the NU-700N, a turnkey network-controllable-pan/tilt/zoom camera system. The system is designed for such applications as weather or traffic monitoring and includes a camera with three 1/4-inch CCDs and a built-in 20X zoom lens with a 5X digital function for a zoom range of 100X. It can be controlled via the Internet or a LAN via a non-proprietary-protocol control panel or even a computer. Ito says that, at $9,900, it's a fairly inexpensive system.