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Friday, October 25, 2013

Television Studio Camera - Update

The camera set is finally complete!
A couple of weeks ago I found this great Philips television studio camera. When picking up the camera I learned that it had been used till last summer and had to go when the studio changed all of their equipment to HD. Ever since HD became the standard I knew I had to be on the lookout for these cameras to pop up which isn't as easy as it may sound.

Update - See the camera in action!

You rarely find them on the market, but I was very lucky to find this one. I was hopeful the camera might still be working since it came with the zoom control and focus demand, but there was no way to test it. Since I don't have a studio I got it as a collectors item.

After close inspection at home it all seemed to be in a perfect condition and I decided to take a closer look in a few manuals. Normally (in studio configuration) the camera is getting power through the triax cable. This is the cable where all communication between camera and control room (image sound, data and power) goes through. I read about the possibility to change the camera to operate in a special stand-alone mode. This way you could use a normal power cord to power up the camera. I couldn't ignore this information and was eager to find out if I could get the camera to work. I had to open up a panel on the camera where a switch was hidden between a bunch of cables and computer boards, to change this mode. I was warned that the power you provide to the camera needs to be earthed and luckily I had a grounded power outlet nearby. I made sure everything was ready and switched the camera on. To my surprise lights on the camera started to lit up and the viewfinder started to power up as well. It took a few seconds and then I saw: nothing. Just a bright monitor with nothing to see on it. I started to get disappointed but didn't gave up yet. I got the zoom control and focus demand and tried to get a response of the lens. Still nothing. I checked the cables again and noticed the cable to the lens wasn't inserted properly. Tried again and this time I was able to zoom out and focus. But the image still looked vague. I started to turn some knobs on the viewfinder to change some contrast and brightness settings and all of a sudden I started to see a proper image. It was confirmed, the camera worked!

Camera waiting patiently on the floor for some support

Now, as much as I like sitting on the floor behind a camera, I had to start searching for a tripod and other accessories to complete the set. Again this is rare equipment and you have to do some serious investigation in order to find stuff like a CCU, OCP, tripod head and a heavy duty tripod. So I turned to eBay for help and by daily going through countless auctions worldwide I was able to find it all. Although I was able to get the proper CCU and Camera Base Station of this camera, I'm still not able to connect it all because I'm missing the proper data cable to go between the CCU and the camera. This would enable me to get full control over iris, gain, color balance, brightness, contrast, filters and hidden menus of the camera. I do have the right connectors and part of a cable but unfortunately I'm not technical enough to create a proper working cable from all these components. I'm also missing a triax cable, so I'm not able to connect the camera to the OCP and will have to keep the camera in stand-alone mode for now.

I really wanted to have a Vinten tripod to support this extremely heavy camera and found a HDT tripod that was being listed by someone as a very heavy Vinten tripod with strange dimensions. While looking at the pictures I thought I recognized a heavy duty tripod and after confirmation from Vinten, I bought the tripod. Now I only needed a tripod head to go between the tripod and the camera. I found a very cheap MK-7 head and managed to get it shipped from the UK with a single pan bar. If anyone who reads this has a pan bar left for me, please let me know! When the head arrived I was a bit disappointed by its condition, but overall it's good enough to support the camera. A small sticker on the head tells me this once belonged to the BBC. The last step was finding the right bolts to connect the head to the tripod and this actually took most of my time to find. But a few days ago I finally found the right bolts and was able to piece everything together.

Here are a few pictures of the entire set:

The red, orange and green light on the lens indicate zoom, iris and gain level
Zoom control and focus demand are all mounted on the same pan bar
The "on air" lights will flash on and off temporarily while powering on
I removed the script holder for this picture otherwise you wouldn't be able to see the camera
Low angle shot of the camera. Why? Because it's possible and looks nice!

I'm still searching for an extra pan bar, triax cable and data cable to go between the camera and CCU, so please contact me if you can help me with this!


  1. Nice find! How can I acquire one of these my my public access studio?

    1. I'm afraid these cameras are difficult to find and you'll need a bit of luck and run in to them like I did. You can try to search for it on eBay and keep checking regularly. To be honest, this was the first time I came across one and I've been on the look out for quite some time. Hope you will succeed!

  2. Do you know the camera lens mount for this camera?