Some Things You May Have Wanted To Know About Broadcast Video Cameras,

But Were Afraid To Ask.....

A Few Questions And A Few Answers

When you get your new camera, does it have the look you want? If not, you need it set up! It is recommended you check other cameras and see what you like in a "look". A standard "set up" that looks good every time is: A normal alignment of the VA card, set Gamma at 58 IRE, set pedestal to 9 IRE, set Knee to 98 IRE, White Clip at 110 IRE. From there the changes for your own, personal look can be made. Be sure and tell your engineer what you like in your camera set up.

Some Questions & Answers: Use them for finding a Qualified Camera Engineer

Q: Will you return my camera with the same look it had when it went in?

A: Your new camera engineer should say "Yes, we attempt to keep a customer's look for them. We know how a "personalized look" is important in today's production world."

Q: Can you set up my cameras Matrix?

A: A good camera engineer would have no problem with this request. He/She may have a DSC chart or a McBeth chart,  which could be used to set your matrix. He or she should say "we can help you customize the look of the matrix in your camera".

Q: I have a setup request outside of the normal one. Will you set up my camera this way?

A: Most engineers shouldn't have a problem with this as they have probably  performed custom setups for many customers. A good engineer would tell you "We can set up your camera any way you like."

Some Answers to those Unasked Questions....

What is this thing called Gamma?

So, you've heard all this talk about Gamma. So, what is it really? Gamma is the correction made to the camera signal to balance the non linear response of a picture tube (CRT). So, we make the camera non linear to correct for the picture tube! Now, after we have made this correction, when you look at a grey scale on a monitor, it looks like it is supposed to; each chip is in a linear progression from the preceding one. As it happens the monitor is slow to respond from dark to light images. So, we correct in the camera the opposite, by making it seem to respond too fast from dark to light. The results, believe it or not, is a normal looking picture! Try turning off the Gamma on your camera someday, and see what happens.

Matrix? Masking? Linear? What's it all mean?

Have you heard of the Matrix in your camera? Or have you heard of the Masking in your camera? They are really one in the same. Some companies call it Masking, while others call it a Matrix. In most cameras it is known as a Linear Matrix. This means that it's effect on the picture is in a linear fashion, before the addition of Gamma Correction. What this does for you ,the user, is allow you to change the color of your color. No, really, it does allow you to do this. Say I wanted to have a little more blue looking green; I can do this. Or maybe I wanted more yellow looking reds, I can do that too. And I can do all this without having an effect on the over all white balance of the camera. On all Sony cameras the matrix/masking is switchable. With the switch off, you have the look of a Sony camera. With it on, you are now able to adjust the colors, with the help of your technician/engineer. Many different color charts are available for this type of set up. DSC of Canada makes a SMPTE color chart. You can also use the McBeth color chart. Or you can actually select various colors of red, blue, green, yellow, magenta and cyan and use those. From there the matrix can be adjusted for the color look you want. If you mark the spots on the vector scope after you are done with the alignment, you can adjust another camera to the same points. Use a piece of plastic, that you can save, for the markings. This will allow you to repeat your Matrix settings again and again.  You can also match, to some extent, two different manufacturers cameras using the masking/matrix in your cameras. This is part of making your own custom look for your camera. Have your camera engineer show you more about the masking/matrix in your camera.

Note: Some of the older professional cameras do not have the Masking/Matrix circuits in them. These cameras can not be adjusted to the same extent the cameras with the Masking/Matrix can.

You can make your camera look any way you want!
Did you know that?


The experience of your camera engineers guarantees that a quality job is done for you. The best camera engineers have been working with cameras a long time. Find an engineer that you can talk with about your camera . A good camera engineer may have experience behind the camera as a shooter, or he/she may have done studio production work with cameras. Others may have been behind the scene working on the engineering of the cameras. When you find the engineer with this type of experience combined with good communication skills you know that your camera will be serviced, aligned and/or fixed to the highest possible standards.

Notes from the Author.....

Before I forget, I probably should mention that some of the older professional cameras do not have the Masking/Matrix circuits in them. These cameras can not be adjusted to the extent the cameras with the Masking/Matrix can. Also, I should mention that all of the information written here is not necessarily "Factory" information, but information gained after 28 years working with cameras. And it is information gained from experimenting, adjusting, aligning and setting up cameras to various customer requests. I feel that you need to have some experience shooting with cameras to help you work on them. Because of that I have been both a shooter and a technician for the last 28 years. Questions can be addressed to your favorite local service engineer, or to me on the InterNet. Use the E-mail link above. I will try to respond as soon as I read your mail. Hopefully I have answered a few of those questions about your camera for you.

Thanks for reading.

Camera Dave
Copyright © 1997 - 1998 Camera Dave Limited Partnership

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