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My Video Camera Collection - Consumer Camcorders

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These need no introduction. I'm not as much a fan of consumer camcorders as I am of consumer cameras or pro cam/corders, because they're mostly just finished technology. By 1985 pretty much everything had solidified and it was just a slow, plodding process of gradual upgrades, but there are still some neat specimens to be found.

JVC GR-C1U - 1984

It's the Back to the Future camera.

JVC GR-303

JVC GR-303 camcorder

It's a compact VHS camcorder. Yawn.


JVC GR-25U camcorder

It's a compact VHS camcorder. Yawn.


JVC GR-XSM735 camcorder

As typical for a compact SVHS (yeah, they made it in S) camcorder, the image quality is outstanding and the flip-out screen is actually quite large - rare for this era, when the housing was usually about 4" across with a little 2" display in the middle of it.



Pretty much the same as the one above, but cheaper and with a smaller screen.


JVC GR-EZ1 camcorder

GR-EZ1 back GR-EZ1 top

This is a weird creature. I think I saw the style referred to once as an "action camcorder"? Basically, it's a return to the 1983 Betamovie style - it can record, but it can't play out in the field because it has no active viewfinder, just a basic optical one like you'd have on a point and shoot camera. It gives you basic framing, that's about it.

It has a record button, zoom buttons and... well that's it. I think the idea is you hang it around your neck and can just hit the record button, with or without framing, like a lomography camera. Shootin' From The Hip, and all that.

It is capable of playback, when attached to a television.

Sharp VL-SD20

Sharp VL-SD20 camcorder

VL-SD20 back

This style of camera, with the twisting recording head, was very popular in the mid to late 90s. Like most of these, the quality is outstanding.

Sony CCD-TR400


Sony CCD-TR400 camcorder

It works alright.

Sony CCD-TR500

Sony CCD-TR500 camcorder

CCD-TR500 top

Definitely my favorite, honestly. It's jam packed with clever little doors and hatches. I'm gonna do a Youtube video about this one because it's just delightful to see all the little secrets they packed in. After I do that I'll upload pictures of its secrets. It wouldn't do to spoil my masterful presentation.

Sony CCD-TRV85

Sony CCD-TRV85 camcorder

CCD-TRV85 back CCD-TR85 screen

This is a very late model Hi8 camera with an enormous flip-out LCD screen.


JVC SF-P3 camcorder frame SF-P3 assembeld

SF-P3 camera attachment SF-P3 swivel connector

Hey, come on, this thing barely counts.

JVC put this beast out in '83. It weighs a pound or two. Sony had just released the Betamovie (or was about to - JVC claims they shot first) and JVC needed a camcorder for the market ASAP - this is my mental narrative, I have no idea if it's true. It certainly would explain this thing.

This is a plastic frame into which you dock the JVC GZ-S5 camera and HR-C3U VCR, and presto, you have a "camcorder." That is to say, you can hardly prove it's not a camcorder on paper. You'd be hard pressed, let me tell you. It looks almost like one.

The GZ-S5 originally connected to the VCR with a cable, and this device has the cable built into it - it goes through the lower part of the frame from back to front. On the back is a swiveling plastic module housing an EIAJ 10-pin connector and a 3.5mm phone plug; the former carries power, audio and video to and from the camera, and I believe the latter carries control signals for the various buttons on the front end of the rig. Once it's all assembled you really do have one unit that sits on your shoulder and acts as an integrated camcorder, but... well, I'd just guess very few people bought what JVC was selling, literally. It's pretty silly, and kinda rickety to boot.

Mine doesn't "work" insofar as I don't have a functioning GZ-S5. Once that's resolved I'm pretty sure it'll be in perfectly good shape, except I don't have a viewfinder, which is really a pain. Nobody seems to have one, probably because (I'm guessing) the ball and socket mount for it is a real fragile arrangement.

I'll make a Youtube video about this eventually to show some of the mechanisms, and probably a dedicated page about it to share more pictures.

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