Meeting the demands of providing HDTV coverage of seventy-eight remote sporting events per year, along with a schedule of weekly studio productions is a challenging task for any collegiate video department. That’s why Ole Miss Sports Productions at the University of Mississippi chose to outfit each of its four 1/3-inch portable HDTV cameras with the 2/3-inch XJ22x7.3B IE-D Compact Studio HD lens from Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging. The result is a compact HD lens-camera system that provides long telephoto capability, crisp, clean HDTV quality, and is also cost effective and easily transportable.
“We were looking for an HDTV lens-camera system that would give us the biggest bang for our buck,” explained J. Stern, assistant athletic director of Ole Miss Sports Productions. “We are a small outfit, but the compact and cost-effective 1/3-inch camera, coupled with the handy size of the Canon Compact HDTV Studio lenses are a benefit to us because one person can carry everything. It makes our production process better, easier, and less costly for us from top to bottom.”
The genius of marrying the 2/3-inch lens to the 1/3-inch camera is that the HDTV images produced will appear visually more telephotographic by a factor of 1.83 (the ratio of the two image format diagonals—or 11mm/6mm = 1.83). Thus, the equivalent focal range becomes 13.4mm to 295mm (this becomes 590mm if the 2x extender is deployed). This facilitates a highly flexible HD imaging system for many sporting events.
“It’s amazing how close you can get with the Canon Compact HD Studio lens,” commented Stern. “Our ‘most distant’ camera in baseball is in left-center field. From there we can zoom in tight enough to see the catcher’s fingers as he is making the signals. With the Canon 2.0X Built-In Extender, you could see a tear in the catcher’s eye. That’s a whole lot of lens for the size.”
The 2/3-inch lens is coupled to the 1/3-inch format camera via a Canon LCV-42T mount converter. The primary role of this converter is to bridge the different mechanical mounts of the lens and camera, while also inserting a single glass element that compensates for the different optical path length of the 1/3-inch optical block. No transformations are made to the image size projected into the camera, thus ensuring that the three smaller CCD imagers are imaging the central “sweet spot” of the lens. This ensures the highest Modulation Transfer Function (MTF) under all conditions and minimizes all optical aberrations. The result is a remarkably high-performance HD field camera.
About one-third the weight of standard studio lenses (13.4 lbs.), the Canon XJ22x7.3B IE-D Compact HDTV Studio lens closely matches the combined weight of Ole Miss Productions’ 1/3-inch HDTV camera (approx 8 lbs.) and its studio adapter. The lens is a high-end optical system squarely based upon classic studio lens design principles, but reduced in size for direct mounting on portable HDTV cameras configured for field or studio productions. The XJ22x7.3B IE-D enables users to configure cost-effective, compact HD lens/camera packages that can be supported on modest-size pedestals or sturdy tripod systems (such low-weight lens/camera combinations are also ideal for robotic system applications).
“Our director loves the ‘big-lens feel’ of these Canon Compact HD Studio lenses.” —J. Stern, Assistant Athletic Director of Ole Miss Sports Productions
“Our director loves the ‘big-lens feel’ of these Canon Compact HD Studio lenses,” continued Stern. “In sports, there’s nothing like going in and getting a shot of the quarterback’s eyes, or the head coach in the dugout making signals. Even if it’s a less-than-two-second shot, it still tells a story and these lenses help us do that.”
Although smaller than traditional “box” lenses, the Canon XJ22x7.3B IE-D Compact Studio HD lens is loaded with Canon technology advantages. The XJ22x7.3B IE-D provides higher contrast and resolution compared with portable HD lenses, but at the same time reduces Focus Breathing to a zero level. Also, unlike other compact lenses that use simple LED indicators for zoom, iris, and extender, Canon’s exclusive eDrive system—coupled with Canon’s exclusive optical encoders—provides lens-status information on an easy-to-read display that delivers unequalled accuracy for such settings as f-stop, focal length, focusing distance, and other critical lens parameters.
The Canon XJ22x7.3B IE-D Compact Studio HD lens can be used with Canon’s current Studio/Field lens controllers as well as those for Canon ENG lenses. The XJ22x7.3B IE-D also offers compatibility with Canon’s new Digital Demands (tripod-mounted hand controls for zoom, focus, and iris) by use of a conversion cable.
“For the size, they’re a lot sturdier and more durable than I imagined,” Stern added. “I thought after two or three years that I would be buying new lenses just because of the price, but they’re still just like new and we’re halfway through our second year with them.”
Ole Miss Sports Productions streams its footage online as well as providing it to local cable television systems. “With these Canon XJ22x7.3B IE-D Compact Studio lenses married to our 1/3-inch cameras, we capture sports in absolute broadcast HDTV quality,” Stern said. “We feel like we do a phenomenal job covering Ole Miss sports but we couldn’t do it without these quality lenses from Canon.”