TRV900 Tips and Tricks

Some of these tips are specific to the the TRV900, but many are widely applicable. Thanks to members of the TRV900 mailing list, and readers of these pages for contributing them. By the way, there are a number of very interesting budget-production tricks listed at

Camera Modes

Subject: Autoexposure modes
From: NMS
I've noticed a seemingly undocumented feature of the AE modes, at least S and A,
which is adjustable exposure. I had been looking for a way to vary exposure
within AE w/o going and using the Autoshift feature, and I didn't understand
why there was no exposure control slider like on all Sony camcorders. Well
there is, but I couldn't find it in the manual (please point to page in case I
missed it). After setting AE-A, and choosing the aperture, press exposure, and
the slider bar comes up and the dial then controls the exposure. Simple enough,
but I had to find it by accident.

Subject: Undocumented FF / Display mode
From: Louis Capps
Thanks for the comments.
I think you are right, this is not documented. Many things I've been
finding are like this. For instance if you go manual and slow the shutter
down then you can also hit the exposure after and remove much of the noise
in the picture. But you can't select exposure to reduce the gain and then
select shutter! We just have to learn the order.
Just found something tonight that I tried because it worked on my A1
Digital. If you select FF in VTR mode you get a blue screen. But you can
hit FF again while it is fast forwarding to temporarily display what you
are passing on the tape. When you release it goes back to the FF blue
[Ed. Note: above FF trick works on the D900 "video walkman" as well.

I wonder if we could persuade John Beale to collect and post a section in
his faq called "undocumented features." I found another one, but it will
probably seem obvious. On page 13 of the manual there is a note explaining
that after 5 minutes of inactivity in Standby mode the camera will turn
itself off. To restart it, they say to turn the Power switch to off, then
back to Camera. But pressing the Photo button will also wake it up. No big
deal, but my point is that there appear to be a bunch of these undocumented
features, and it would be handy to collect them.

Subject: progressive mode, external filters
From: (Peter McLennan)
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 12:43:24 -0800 (PST)
[...] I've found that if you invoke PS mode while the manual shutter
control is active, you get low res images, full of jaggies. It's not just
a fluke, I can repeat the situation.
Also, I've managed to attach a Cokin filer holder to the Sony 0.7X wide
angle lens. I can use a polarizer and/or a grad filter. Great improvement
for day exteriors.
One of my workmates was inspired by my camera and your page to get a '900.
While shooting near the ocean, someone kicked the tripod and the whole
works tumbled into the ocean. No insurance. He likes the camera so much
that he went straight out and bought another one!
Peter McLennan

Subject: -3dB reduced gain setting
From: "will"
The camera can have the gain reduced by 3db, and a "GS" appears
in the viewfinder. This reduces the overall gain for normal shooting
conditions, yet allows the gain to go up in low light. I recommend this
setting for reduced noise.
Another hint came when I was adjusting the manual white balance. I usually
run the camera with manual exposure, and in one situation I was changing
the white balance a few times during the shoot. The problem is that the
thumb wheel controls most of the functions, and I got confused as to which
function was currently assigned to the wheel. If it was currently set to
"exposure" and I hit the exposer button again, it would have bumped it back
to auto. I was afraid to touch it if it was in white balance mode, for
fear of causing a color shift. After one mistake during live shooting, I
noticed that the manual white balance indicator is highlighted by a faint
square box when it is controlled by the thumb wheel.

Subject: Re: Disable TRV900 standby mode?
From: "Charles Tomaras"
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 1999 20:54:53 -0800
Howard McCollister wrote:
>The TRV 900 goes into standby mode after 5 minutes. It wouldn't be so
>bad if all you had to do to "wake it up" was hit a button on the remote
>or something, but a lot of the filming I do is in operating rooms with
>this camera in a fixed position on a tripod on top of a video cart. I
>don't record with this camera the whole time, just intermittently. The
>on-off button isn't accessible without a stepladder, so it's kind of a
>pain to have the camera keep shutting down. How can I deal with this
>problem? The manual doesn't give a clue that I can find.
>H McCollister


You need to purchase the Sony RM-95 wired remote. It has a 16 foot cable
that plugs into the LANC connector on the TRV-900 as well as all other LANC
equipped Sony cameras. It will allow you to power up the camera after the
"on position" shutdown. It has a built in LCD display that will show you the
camera's "on" status as well as the current timecode numbers. In addition it
provides full transport controls, slow one-speed zoom control, control of
auto/manual focus, as well as ability to adjust manual focus. The remote
also has an adjustment position that turns it into a full servicing remote
that allows you to delve into service menus and memory pages of the internal
CPU of the cameras and VCR's it works with. [...]

[see my description of the RM-95 here.
Note, it is possible to make your camera non-functional by incorrectly using the
service mode of the RM-95. So be careful! See also using the RM-95
and my FAQ entry on auto shut-off.

Subject: Menu Commands via Remote control
From: "Bob Lafleur" (bob_lafleur at technologist com)
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 12:02:57 -0400
TRV900 Remote Control
I have a Sony VHS VCR which comes with a remote (model RMT-V158) that has a
slide switch on it for "command mode" 1, 2 or 3. This switch is normally in
mode 3 to control the VCR, and I found that if I put it in mode 1, it
controls my old Beta SL2700 VCR. When I got my TRV900 I figured I'd try out
the remote on it, and I found that with the command mode switch in position
2, it will control the TRV900.
Most of the remote's buttons work with the 900, even the "tape eject" and
"menu" button. You can control the 900's menus with this remote by using the
menu button, up/down arrow buttons, and execute (as an enter) button. If you
want to see the menus on your TV screen, of course you have to set "DISPLAY"
(in the OTHER menu) to "LCD/TV" and also press the "Display" button on the
remote (or on the camera) to get viewfinder symbols onto your TV.
All of the other transport controls work, including using the shuttle for
various speed forward/reverse play.
In Camera mode, you can control the currently selected manual option (white
balance, shuter speed, exposure, etc.) by using the up/down arrows and
execute button, but I haven't found a way to change the "current" manual
option (the one outlined in gray) or a way to turn them on and off. Also,
there doesn't seem to be a way to stop/start recording in camera mode
(unfortunately!) with the remote.
I would guess that any Sony remote with the command mode selector on it
should work in a similar manner, and even if you don't own a Sony VCR, you
could easily buy one of the remotes from Sony parts.
[C.Diaz reports that the Sony RMT-V229 remote also works.]

Subject: TRV900 can record in DVCAM format (?)
From: deadhead at pipeline com
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 03:27:52 -0400
I had a tape accidentally started dvcam [on the PD100 ?] and the
trv kept recording in dvcam - My only clue was it showed 40 minutes left at
beginning of tape.
Someone should try recording 10 secs black on the trv and see if the pd100
will continue for 60 minutes each tape.
[ed.note: one interpretation consistent with this info and the message
below, is that the TRV900 can record at the DVCAM tape speed, but still
uses unlocked audio (DVCAM format normally has locked audio). -jpb]
From Thu Aug 5 09:14:11 1999
Subject: Re: TRV900 - Can it Playback mini DVCAM tape ?
I can confirm that the TRV900 plays back tape shot on a PD100 (DVCAM) and
I've also recorded tape in the TRV900 that had been part used on the PD100.
I assumed the second part of the tape was DV. The fact that its audio was
unlocked suggests it was. I know it was unlocked because...
1) The i-link sigal fed to DVCAM equipment triggered the un-locked audio
2) The audio occasionally beeped as DV unlocked audio does when transferred
-- Malcolm
From Thu Aug 5 09:14:37 1999
Subject: Re: TRV900 - Can it Playback mini DVCAM tape ?
I edit DV to DVCAM digitally and back regularly and have NEVER had a "beep" in
the audio??
[ed.note: if there is a dropout on the MiniDV tape, there is an audible
beep with some (but not all) computer NLEs and digital editing equipment. On
playback through analog out, the TRV900 masks such dropouts by repeating
audio from the previous frame, which works so well you normally don't
notice it. At least this is my interpretation; some have suggested that
it is an unlocked vs. locked audio problem, but I haven't been able to
confirm this for certain. -jpb]

Production Techniques

Subject: Slow zoom technique
Date: Wed, 06 Jan 1999
Here's a tip for smoother slow zooms on the TRV-900 that I stumbled
across the other day. Instead of placing your finger directly atop the
zoom switch, place it just in front/behind it, then "roll" your finger
downward towards the switch until it makes contact and commences to
creep in or out. I find I can initiate and maintain slow moves with less
mental and physical "strain" with this technique. The only difficulty
I've encountered is with accidentally triggering the initial "Capture"
mode of the Still Photo button, located as it is just behind the zoom
switch. But I have relatively small fingers and with some care, I can
usually avoid hitting it. - Michael Dobo
Slow zoom technique, Part II:
Don't look at the picture to see when zooming has begun. Instead, slowly
apply pressure and look for the zoom bar to appear for feedback. This is
VERY repeatable and MUCH easier. - Chris in Dallas

Subject: Camera motion: Dolly etc.
"Doug Graham" wrote:
> One of the best dollies for handheld cameras like the 900 is an ordinary
> wheelchair, with the videographer sitting in it. Have a grip push you about.

Absolutely correct. I discovered this last year while shooting a promotional
video in a nursing home. I needed a dolly, and grabbed an available
wheelchair - it worked like a charm.

While we're speaking about weird "dollys", let me run a couple others by
everyone (you never know when you might be able to use them).

- I once attached my TRV-900 to the top of a STABLE radio controlled car for a
low-to-the-ground speedy approach shot. It worked great . . . just make sure
it is REALLY attached to the RC car!!! =)

- I've seen a TRV-900 hooked up to a RC helicopter as well. Came back with
some incredible aerial shots, as well as boom and jib-style shots. Just make
sure you can drive the helicopter before you attach the camera.

- The other way I've faked Jib shots before is when shooting a video at the
mall. Use the escalators (sp?) to your advantage . . . as long as the stairs
aren't in the shot, no one is going to know you were on moving stairs. Make
sure you get permission before you throw a tripod on there though. =)

Just some ideas . . . obviously, some are "use at your own risk", but you
never know when you might be THAT desparate.

Michael Koerbel

Subject: Defocusing the background
> For interviews etc. how do I achieve the effect like the news people do,
> where the subject is clear, and the background is defocused?
You want to minimize depth of field. You achieve minimum depth of field by
using the largest available aperture. In manual mode, the "exposure"
setting controls this, ranging from the iris "open" (minimum depth of
field, f/1.6 to 2.8 depending on zoom setting) to "f/11" (which has maximum
depth of field). There are settings beyond open which add processing gain
from +3db to +18dB, which normally you don't want because it increases
image noise or grain, and the gain doesn't affect depth of field.
Here are a few example images showing different depth of field effects.
The foreground tripod head is about six feet from the camera, and the
pencil cans in the background are six feet behind that. The out-of-focus
background is caused by a f/2 aperture used near the long end of the
zoom. To show the smaller depth of field, I used f/11, getting a bright
enough image by decreasing shutter speed to 1/4 second, at the same zoom

If you open up the aperture, you let more light in, so you may need to
reduce the light eg. with a ND filter. The camera has an internal ND filter
and you can use external ones too. Also, the more your camera is set
towards the "tele" end of the zoom range, the more apparent the effect. At
the widest angle zoom setting, the depth of field is always fairly large.

Step by step.

1) Get a reasonable distance away from your subject, say 7-10 feet or even
more. This isn't absolutely necessary but the more you are "zoomed in", the
greater the effect. To do this obviously you have to step back from the
subject, so as to have the correct framing. If it's an interview, you may
need external microphones (often a good idea anyway).

2) Use the slide selector switch at left rear edge of camera to enter
manual mode (the middle position). The bottom position is marked "hold" -
don't use that.

3) Now you can enter manual exposure mode. Press the "exposure" button on
the back of the camera. As you turn the thumbwheel below that, you will
observe in the viewfinder the f-stop settings. Perhaps it says f/4 for
instance. Turn the wheel until it says "open". This is your maximum
aperture (iris setting). This gives you the minimum depth of field.

4) This wide-open aperture may make your picture too bright, if there is
much light. Several options: you may need to turn on the camera's internal
ND filter (button near lens). You may need to use external ND filters as
well, if you're outdoors, or move to a shady spot. You can select -3dB gain
setting in a menu option (equals 0.5 stop). You can also increase the
shutter speed but that isn't recommended usually (increased stroboscopic
motion.) Note: if you do increase the shutter speed, you have to adjust
that first before exposure or other manual setting (due to a TRV900
firmware bug). Or, don't open the iris all the way, although that won't
defocus the background so much.

5) Finally, focus on your subject. The background should now be out of
focus. -jpb

Subject: SONY TRV900 Time-Lapse Tips
Date: 16 Mar 1999 16:23:28 GMT
I just LOVE this camera. I'm in the second year of producing a documentary
on a garden, and have been using the time-lapse feature on my new TRV-900
to catch crocuses opening, ponds melting, and currently it is aimed at a
daffodil that I HOPE will be opening today. Here are some tips if you use
1. Charge your batteries up all the way. I use a NP750 which gives me about 5
hours of timelapse recording.
2.Set your white balance balance to outdoor or indoor, not automatic.
Automatic will tend to fluctuate outdoors with shadows, and may make your
time-lapse look bad because of quick color changes.
3. I have it record 1 sec of video every minute, and then when I capture it
into Premiere, I use Stop Motion capture during playback. I tell it to
grab 60 frames per minute, which basically means that it will now grab one
frame of every second played back.
In the end, 5 hours = 300 minutes is compressed to 300 frames, or 5 seconds.
Just perfect for a video snippet.
Oh, I forgot to add. If you are doing timelapse outside, make sure you cover
the camera to protect it from the heat or cold. I used a sheet of that large
bubble wrap. That sort of creates an insulated package as the sun heats the
air bubbles.
Also, very important, cover your eyepiece with a quarter if outdoors, so if the
sun shines directly on it it won't have a magnifying effect.

Subject: TRV900 - wind noise through mike
To: Keith Bryant
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 11:54:43 -0800 (PST)
> Having read through your terrific web pages- and subsequently bought the
> PAL version of the 900 - I am now among the lucky owners of a great
> machine... bought 3 weeks ago...visited Lake Tahoe for 2 weeks and some
> terrific ski/mountain/snow footage. Now back in the UK I am looking to
> add accessories. First off seems to be a muffler for the mic...wind
> noise is a problem..and as I will be sailing a 40 footer in the Med next
> month wind noise will have to be reduced...BUT...given the position and
> design of the built in mic this would appear to be a problem. Have you
> any ideas? Best regards Keith.
I can imagine a large mic muffler but it would interfere with the focus
controls, I'm sure. Might be better to use an external mic, sony sells a
few, or use a third party one that would mount on the shoe, and plug into
the mic port. Much easier to put a big muffle on an external one.
A truly effective mic baffle can be huge, though, with any sort of real
wind. One person mentioned putting the whole camera downwind of a large
umbrella, an interesting idea. -john

Subject: Ocean sailing (bright light, flicker)
To: Harold H
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 14:01:52 -0700 (PDT)
> I was out off of Morro Bay, Calif. this last weekend and was noticing
> that on partially zoomed shots where the sun was over and behind the
> subject that the footage has some occasional 'flicker' where the image
> is very briefly darker than previous - which appears to me like the
> camera in auto is trying to adjust itself periodically to the level of
> brightness that is reflected by a boat's sails and the reflection of the
> sunlight from the water. I did not use the ND filter as I probably
> should have, or the backlight feature. (still new to the camera's
> functions and didn't know what that even meant until I got home!) Would
> these have helped? [...]
In bright outdoor conditions the ND filter is recommended. Usually the
camera blinks a little "ND" note in the viewfinder to remind you, if it
notices bright conditions. There is also a possibility you have a loose
iris which is sometimes sliding more closed (darker), in response to
vibration. Did this happen when you bumped or shook the camera, or in windy
conditions? Using both the internal and a thread-on external ND or
polarizing filter is may help, allowing the iris to have a larger opening
than f/11, and making small aperture size changes in response to vibration
less of a change in light overall. ND filters can also make your colors
look better; without them the picture may have a washed-out look.
For more info on filters refer to accessories.html#filter

Subject: Achieving a Film Look
From: "Hal W. Dowdy" (hdowdy at inetconn net)
Date: Fri, 4 Jun 1999 18:48:36 -0400
I bought my camera a couple of months ago. It's been a real joy. I am in
competition with several filmakers like myself who have gone Mini DV
instead of film. The others use The Canon XL-1 and the VX1000. I've seen
the footage and it ain't much different if at all. All of us film purists
are searching for the "film look". One thing I have discovered and it's
pretty simple is that if you use the flash effect at it's lowest setting,
you can get the kinetic look of film. I'm sure others have discovered this
effect, but I haven't seen it published on your page. The great thing about
this effect is, that you can apply it on playback. I am shooting a movie
with this camera in straight up video, and I am applying the black and
white effect coupled with the flash effect when I dump it into my
computer. I will then crush the blacks, to give the image a tonal range
similar to film. I sure would like to find a "film look" forum. If you know
of any, please let me know. Thanx, Hal
[ed.note: I have some notes about film-look here]

Shooting School Plays
Date: 13 Oct 2001
From: Tom Hardwick" (TomH at rdwick freeserve co uk)
Don't use any filters. Well, keep on your S-HMC UV for mechanical
insurance protection if you like, but for best results, don't use any
filters at all.
If you're not sure as to white balancing, put the camera into the artificial
light setting and leave it there. If as you say the show is performed under
a myriad of different coloured lights, there's not the slightest need to
manually whitebalance. And if you do you'll probably choose a less than
neutral light in which to do it.
And now - a few personal pointers from someone who's filmed a lot of
these "School Plays". Mix 'n match to your heart's desire....
1) As there'll probably be a mixture of white and coloured spotlights, set
your camera to "artificial light" on its whitebalance settings, and leave it
2) Set up as centrally as possible (though an aisleway is usually a no-no
for fire evacuation reasons) and make sure the tripod central column is
perfectly vertical. A check is to pan the camera left to right - if the
verticals remain vertical, the column's vertical.
3) Don't mess with converter lenses, you simply won't have time to fiddle
about. Set up such that your widest angle covers the complete stage, and
you'll get the best close-ups on offer from your zoom. Too far back and the
audio may start to sound more echoey.
4) For simplicity I'd leave the sound to the internal mics - but the best
idea these days seems to be to use a Mini Disk recorder right up there on
the stage. They hold perfect sync with your camcorder and can be put into
the mono mode to record an uninterrupted 178 minutes. Radio mics can be
good (at a price) but even the slightest radio interference will destroy the
5) Wherever you place your camera - 2 metres or 100 metres from the stage,
the exposure will be the same. Beware of spotlit talent - this can easily
fool the in-built meter into overexposing, and it's very important to use
locked exposure for such shoots. If possible attend a
rehearsal and shoot some test footage. Then you can use your viewfinder on
the day and know how much exposure to dial in. I vary the aperture and gain
to change exposure, keeping the zebra herd in mind.
6) I leave the TRV900E on autofocus as I find the system fast, accurate
and reliable. Beware of blacked out scene changes though, as the 900 will be
hunting for focus as the lights come up.
7) I've often had to shoot in LP simply because the play over-runs the one
hour tape. No problems at all I find, and the audio and video quality is the
same in LP as in SP if you're using a Mini DV camcorder. This is often a
surprise to people accustomed to the ways af analogue.
8) Close-ups add impact but are dangerous unless you know the script. You
can be zoomed in on talent who then stops speaking, never to start up again.
It's exciting stuff, but if you zoom very gently and pan slowly, the film
audience will see it as intentional rather than unintentional. A two camera
shoot will allow you some adventurous leeway.
9) Have the next tape unwrapped and ready to go. In a perfect world take a
spare camera and lots of batteries. Have the viewfinder at eyelevel because
if you stoop at all your back will ache for days. Use a fluid head on
sturdy legs.
10) And good luck. It sounds an easy project but isn't. It takes 100%
concentration, but your film will be loved by doting parents.

Subject: Shooting stage events
From: david.eggins at usa net
Date: Dec. 15 1999
I took some footage of a couple of stage type shows in Disneyland, and
came up with a better solution if I had to do it again.
1) Sit as close to centre stage as possible.
2) Sit exactly as far back so that when you are at full wide angle(no
zoom) the stage fills the screen.
3) bring your tripod, and use it as a sort of monopod. only spread the
legs a little bit, and hold the camera. This stops the shakes, and the
steadyshot will do the rest with the small movements.
4) use the screen if it does not bother people around you, as this is
easier to see the whole stage while zoomed in in a person, so you know
when to zoom out for action.
The TRV900 did an excelent job of picking up the sound from quite a
long way away in the Disney shows.
The only possible flaw is if the viewing stand is too flat, and a tall
prrson sits i front, or a lady with very tall hair like I had.
David Eggins
5) Turn OFF all musical noises/beeps so your neighbors are not annoyed.
This is a menu item (MELODY/NORMAL/OFF). You can hear the Sony handycam
beep throughout an entire auditorium when it is quiet- personal experience.
John Beale
I'd skip the tele-extender, and spend about $150 on an Azden WMS-PRO
wireless mike. Put fresh 9v batteries in both Tx and Rx on performance
night. Place the lavaliere mike element center stage, either taped to the
stage edge, or to a microphone stand, if one is there already (just
piggyback your mike onto the stand.)
Just before the performance starts, turn on the Tx and then man your camera,
which you've set up on its tripod at the back of the room, near the center.
If there's a balcony, and it's not too far back or too high, the front of
the balcony can also be a good spot.
Wear headphones to monitor the audio. If the wireless goes south, unplug it
and fall back on the camera's mike in the zoom setting.
Roll the tape. Try to stay zoomed in as close to the action as you can,
without losing track of what's going on elsewhere on the stage. Have fun.
Doug Graham
Panda Productions

Subject: Shooting the Color Purple
From: "James M. De Arras" (jmd at westlab com)
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999 11:50:03 -0400
I had my first experience with the 900 in manual mode at my son's outdoor
graduation yesterday. Way back in the '70s, I was a TV broadcast engineer,
and one task I had was "camera shading", during the news. The camera
operator, on the floor, was responsible for aiming, zooming, and focusing.
The "camera shader" was responsible for the image quality past that,
including initial vector scope setup with a color bar test image. I
operated the iris, and gain, watching on a scope and a monitor, to be sure
the image filled the available range, without exceeding either limit.
The TRV900, with zebra stripes on, is easier to "shade"! Manual white
balance was perfect, to my eyes. And adjusting the iris/ND filter, etc. was
simple, with the on-screen numbers showing where you are in the range.
And the end result image was noticeably better than the camera in auto.
Which brings me to the color purple! ;-)
If the camera in is auto-white balance, any significant presence of purple
in the image will throw the white balance off to where it appear blue
instead. I saw this dramatically in a tape I made a few weeks ago, in full
auto, of my son's school choir. The stage was simple black and white, the
kids were in black/navy pants/skirts, and white shirts. The Choir
director, however, a very stout woman, to be polite, was dressed in a 3/4
length vivid purple dress. It came out blue. In watching the playback, I
could see exactly what happened. While she was off stage, the whites in
image had a tungsten hue, warm. as soon as her dress crossed into view, the
white images shifted towards blue, cool. The character of the whole image
I tried purple yesterday, when the camera was manually shaded, and there was
no problem whatsoever.
It just proves you cannot always "guess" the correct white balance by
averaging the while image like the camera does on it's own, you need to use
a white card to get it right!

Subject: Reducing mic miniplug noise
From: "James M. De Arras" (jmd at westlab com)
Re: Static in connectors. I HIGHLY recommend a product from Canada called
Stabilant 22 from D.W. Electrochemicals, Ltd. It is a liquid semiconductor
and lubricant. It goes to continuity under pressure.
I have used it for over a decade, and still love it! It removes ALL noise
from connectors. Mini-plug noise, when you rotate the plug "live", goes
away. As does headphone jack noise. I use it on PCB edge connectors and
SIMM/DIMM memory connectors.
In addition to stopping contact noise, it also lubricates very well,
prolonging the life of the connectors.
It is hideously expensive, but a little lasts a long time. -Jim
[ed.note: another suggestion is to use rubber bands looped around the
miniplug and the lens barrel, applying positive compression to keep the mic
connector seated firmly and stationary.]

Subject: Synchronizing Multiple Cameras
Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 20:35:08 -0700 (PDT)
> I'm shooting with 4 DV cameras. I'm trying to figure out a way to have
> all cameras locked to the same timecode, or to do it after the fact. Is
> there a way to assign each tape a unique timecode, or does the TRV900
> just zero out whenever you load a new tape? Will it be possible to
> stripe on a different timecode onto the tapes after they are shot? Is it
> always drop frame, or can it be set for non-drop?
The TRV900 starts timecode at zero with each new tape, and in fact if you
leave a blank spot on the tape, it will reset to zero as well. There is no
way around that (unless you pre-record the entire tape first). You can't
change timecode after the fact, either. It is always drop-frame. Once you
load it into your NLE, needless to say, anything goes.
By the way, like all DV cameras (?) the time and date is stored on every
frame. You can set the TRV900 clock to within 1 second accuracy and mine
keeps good time. This may be of some help if the various cameras have
accurately synchronized clocks. If your NLE records the time info in the DV
datastream, you just have to figure out the offset of each camera's clock,
then you should be able to intercut footage very accurately.
My current NLE, the Bravado DV2000, does not record time, date or timecode
with the video so this doesn't help me, but it's "just software" and
hopefully this information will be more commonly recorded by future drivers
and used by future NLE software.

Subject: White Balance tricks
From: Andrew Takeuchi (takea at sprynet com)
> Does anyone know where to get a good white-balance card?
I find that most instances, any white surface (i.e. white t-shirt, sheet of
paper, piece of foam core) placed in your key light (whether it's direct
sunlight or an artificial source) is more than adequate for white balance.
I wouldn't waste dough on a grey/white card unless you plan to use it for
motion picture or still photo purposes. The most important thing is to set
the white balance and then check the color rendition of the scene by
eye. It may be necessary to use a mix of light (i.e. some direct sun, some
artificial light) to achieve the proper balance for the desired color
More useful than an expensive white card is a color correction gel swatch
book, (samples of gels used for motion picture and still photo
lights). I've found that you can shift the white balance to a more
appealing look by holding a bit of color correction gel in front of the
lens while white balancing.
For example, to warm up a scene, hold a piece of 1/8 or 1/4 blue in front
of the lens while white balancing. This tricks the camera into thinking
your white reference is just slightly bluer than true white and it adjusts
accordingly. Now pull the gel away and zoom out to get a look at your
subject -- If the scene is too warm, try balancing again with no gel or a
slightly less blue gel. To go with a cooler look, try using the Orange
These swatch books are available from companies like Lee Filters and Rosco,
and can generally be acquired for free at pro photo stores and expendable
supply houses. If possible try to get your mitts on the larger
"Cinematographers Edition" books.

Subject: Minimizing drop-outs at end of tape
From: (jimgunn at REMOVEjimgunn com) (Jim Gunn)
Re: Opinions: Is DVCam a safe acquisition format?
Simone Shoemaker (simone at cts com) wrote:
> I'd love to hear from people who routinely use DVCam equipment, such as
> DSR-300, DSR-130 or DSR-500 in their work. Have you EVER had problems
> with dropouts / frozen frames / dropped sound? Have you EVER had problems
> coming back with footage that could not be played back (i.e. having huge
> digital artifacts/ mosaics all over the picture)?
> My own experiences with DV so far have not been convincing, yet I know
> people are out there using this stuff. Have I just been having
> unproportionally bad luck, or what...?
I LOVE the DV format. I mostly use mini-DV equipment- mainly the
Canon XL-1, and sometimes the Sony VX1000 and even the Sony TVR 900
series 3-chip camera now. I have shot over 40 full length movies in
this format and have never had a problem like this. I even shot a few
flicks on the DSR 200a couple of years ago, which I did not like- but
not because of problems with the video, but rather only for reasons of
expensive tape costs, b/w viewfinder and bulk of the unit.
I hear that many pros like the newer DSR-300 for broadcast video
acquisition, if your budget affords it you may want to go with that
otherwise I recomend good lighting, a good mic on a boom and one of
the three mini-DV cameras I list above.
Jim Gunn - Jim Gunn Productions, Inc.
From: (Manxprods)
Date: 24 Sep 1999 19:34:17 GMT
I believe that most of the drop outs are probably due to tape transport
problems. I use the much more robust Digital-S 1/2" format, and occassionally
have these same problems anyway.
In my case, they result from insufficient winding force on the tape reels.
This happens with "terminal end effect" when the take-up reel is full and
torque/leverage is at a minimum, or when the battery is low and winding power
is reduced. The combination of end-of-tape and low battery will always give me
block noise.
Terminal end effect impacts any tape format, but is not so ruinously noticable
in analog formats as I understand it. It really will destroy footage with
digital gear. End your shooting 5 or 10 minutes before the nominal tape
capacity is used up. Never shoot on a marginal battery and use house power
when you can.
Tip McPartland
From: "Gary Pollard" (gpollard at attmysite com)
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 07:28:07 +0800
I've had less dropout with DV than with Beta. Even with tapes reused up to a
dozen times (something I don't often do because of how cheap the tapes are).
No frozen frames. No dropped sound. I did have a lousy sound "blip" turn up
a lot when I was using the DV300 capture card. [...] -Gary
Subject: Shooting Day for Night
From: D Gary Grady (dgary mindspring com)
Date: June 28 2001
The topic of shooting Day for Night comes up fairly often on the digital
cinematography board on

Basically, you want to underexpose as much as a stop or two, avoid
getting the sky in the shot, use strong backlight (either natural or
artificial), and fill just enough to be able to see what you need
to. It also helps to use the tungsten preset for white balance,
giving the overall scene a bluish cast. Depending on mood and other
things you might want to make the fill a contrasting (red or orange)
color. You might also want to consider using no fill at all, leaving
very deep shadows.

If you do have to have sky in the picture, you might see if you can
get hold of a graduated ND filter, one darker at the top than at
the bottom. Or you can accomplish the same thing in post, even
superimposing a few stars. (If you have a lot of patience, you can
even rotoscope around the foreground and make the sky very dark.)

Note that night-for-night often uses a very bright backlight on the
subject and back- or sidelight on the background to leave lots of
shadows facing the camera. No reason not to make the sun a big

It also helps to shoot around sunrise or sunset.

Shooting day-for-night with an overcast sky can be harder to do
well, I think.

As with most things, it's a very good idea to try out different
things. The great thing about video is that you can do this so
cheaply and easily.

Editing, NLE, Transfers

Subject: JPEG editing in PhotoShop 5
I thought I would mention a few oddities I have found in editing the JPG
files produced by the camera. You are welcome to post this, if you feel it
would be of interest.
I am not an expert on graphics programs, but I have a lot of them. As it
happens, the first time I read a JPG file from the TRV-900, I used Corel
Photo-Paint 8. In this program the prediction on this site of a somewhat
darker image was borne out. Changing the gamma fixed the problem. But
PhotoShop 5 was terrible. Dark doesn't begin to describe the result.
Almost black. And I found it almost uncorrectable. Intellihance produced a
poor result, altho better than the original. I eventually found out the
cause. The fix requires going to Preferences on the File menu. Under that
you want profile. In there change the mismatch setting to "ignore". Now
the pictures will open in a usable way. This problem will not occur in the
previous versions of Photoshop.
Ira Solomon

Subject: TRV900 and Photoshop touchup...
I've found that any image recorded in super fine mode when dumped to
disk and brought into Adobe Photoshop v4.x a simple "Filter, Sharpen"
and then an "Image, Adjust, Curves, AUTO" is SO EASY and quick to do and
works AWESOME every time. It really makes the picture PERFECT.
Shortcut for the curves adjustment is Ctrl-M on PCs. Just an FYI,
AWESOME webpage and this TRV900 is an AWESOME camera!!!

You can use the TRV900 along with its floppy drive to make titles. You can
create a title frame with a paint program on a computer, or do it the
old-fashioned way with markers and a piece of paper, posterboard, etc.
Computer, Step 1) Make your title in a paint or drawing program on your
computer and save it as a 640x480 JPEG file. I describe this in my TRV900
FAQ. You need to save it on a 3.5" IBM-format floppy drive so the camera
can read it.
Paper, Step 1) Aim the camera at the piece of paper with your title on it,
put the camera in "Memory" mode with the floppy disk drive connected, and
press the "photo" button. This writes the title to the floppy as a
JPEG. Instead of a floppy you can also use a PC Flash card or memory
stick. (You could also do this in VTR mode to write the title still-frame
directly on a tape for seven seconds running time.)
Step 2) Cue the tape recorder to the point on the tape you want your title
to appear.
Step 3) Follow the instructions in the manual to transfer the still image
from the floppy onto the tape. (In VTR mode, you select PLAY button on the
side under the LCD screen to see the still image, then hit the two buttons
on top ("REC" and the blank one) to record on the tape, for whatever length
of time you like).
Step 3a) if you're copying to another device, eg. GVD900 connected with
firewire cable, you do step 3) as above but just substitute the D900's
record buttons for those of the TRV900.
Remember you need to use the remote control for frame-accurate positioning,
i.e., putting the tape in "pause" mode and then advancing one frame at a
time to the correct point to insert the title.
If you want silence on the audio track during the title, you can go to the
microphone menu, select "manual" control and turn the level all the way
down. Otherwise the camera records the ambient sound along with the
title. Also (if in SP mode with 12-bit sound) you can insert a completely
different audio track later if desired (see manual).
Remember you can always rewind and re-record over the edited tape if there
are any mistakes. Also, I always slide the "write-protect" switch on the
edge of the MiniDV cassette for the original camera footage, and later the
edited tape once I'm done with it, just to prevent any unintentional

Subject: Transferring stills from other DV cam's tape to PC Card
Date: Sun, 21 Feb 1999 14:18:43 GMT
I have the TRV900 and a JVC-DVL9000. I recently took a snowshoe weekend in
the Adirondacks of NY.. Fun for sure. I used the 9000 and shot 80 stills with
it. When I got home I wanted to put stills to the computer. If I used the JVC
with its JLIP interface it would have taken days! I took the tape placed it
in the Sony and had it do a auto copy to its memory card. Yes! It worked like
a charm. Copied them all in 15 mins or so. I wonder what the 900 looks at to
determine if it is a still photo verses moving video? Anyway, if it is of use
to anyone. Have Fun!!!!!!! The 900 is really cool in many ways. I use a
Sandisk USB port memory card reader to get the pictures into the PC. It works
very well!!!!!
PS. The 9000 did really well for hours at 14 degrees or so. It was really cold
and the wind was blowing. Having the little battery stuffed up inside the
camera helped. For this out door extravaganza the 9000 was a good choice in
size and weight. The 9000 is also cool with its tricks! Toys, you got to love
Chris Custer of Custom Video Production in Milton Vermont

Subject: Transferring Super8 film to video
From: Thomas Hardwick (TomH at rdwick freeserve co uk)
Sent: Monday,June 21,1999 4:36 PM
Here's a quick rundown for getting Super8 movies onto DV tape.
1) Clean the film. You can buy film cleaning solution, use a VERY soft
hankie, take your time.
2) Set up the projector such that its image fills an A4 sheet of
beautifully white and matt paper.
3) Make sure the projector is perpendicular to the screen.
4) Have the lamp on max bright.
5) Set up the DV cam on a tripod, aimed at the projected image on screen.
6) Set the focus manually. Lock the exposure. Set white bal to daylight.
Yes, daylight.
7) have some room light on to dilute the contrast, just as you would when
you 'flash' slide film to make copy transparencies.
8) Use your TV as a big viewfinder.
9) Record to DV tape or to VHS or to your PC for adding titles, effects,
fades, transitions, colour correction later.
10) If transferring mute Super8 shot at 18fps you'll need a variable speed
projector to avoid strobing. If you're 50Hz PAL the projector will have to
run at 16 2/3fps to give no flicker. If you're NTSC you're going to have
more fun trying to get rid of the flicker.
11) If you're transferring sound film, take the audio out of the projector
and into the audio in of the VCR. Don't go into the mic in socket.
12) When the transfer's in progress, ride the exposure control constantly.
Movie film, even bad movie film, records a much wider dynamic range than
tape can handle, so you're out to compress this range by constantly varying
the camera's aperture. You'll need lightning reactions, and it'll make you
13) If possible, use an f1,3 projector lens rather than the f1 it comes
14) If muck in the gate is spoiling the original footage, don't be afraid
to zoom in gently to edit-on-the-run.
15) Have a practice run first. And remember - like painting your front
door, the best results come with the most painstaking preparation.
(ed.note: here is an old projector I used to transfer some old silent
home movies onto video. -J.Beale 2004)

Subject: Transfering super8 footage flawlessly w/trv900
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999 11:41:28 -0500
I was surprised when I read the article about transferring
(rephotographing) S8 images off a screen and the author mentioned
"flickering". If you are working in NTSC, this is completely avoidable. I
know because I do it all the time w/ 16mm and Super8. Most of the tips are
extremely helpful, but I have here an addenda of helpful tips which have
given me beautiful results.
1) Do not use progressive scan when rephotographing from a screen.
Progressive scan will give you a lot of problems when trying to match frame
rates (but this could also be an interesting effect if that's what you
want). But if you are looking for a perfect transfer, consider that you are
already capturing a film image, so trying to "match" the look is a
superfluous venture.
2) Use interlace scan (regular mode) and manual functions, of course.
3) In NTSC, use shutters of 1/30 and 1/60 for projections @ 6, 9, 12, and
18fps. I believe this also holds for 24fps - they are all multiples of 3.
4) Adjust to the desired f-stop. This camera (trv900) is peculiar in that
it wants to have the shutter first, then f-stop. If you use f-stop then
shutter, you'll experience a compensation of shutter to whatever f-stop you
choose, which will not help you in this process.
5) Use a monitor connected to the camera and away from your matte
projection surface. Be sure to do a test your monitor; test a little bit of
the footage you want to capture, as you may need to adjust f-stop.
That's it! You''ll be amazed at how beautiful these images can be.
Good Luck! -John Olivio

Subject: Transferring slides to video
From: "Thomas Hardwick" (TomH at rdwick freeserve co uk)
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 19:51:18 +0100
Slides are easier than film. Don't use a projector at all, and you'll
remove at a stroke a source of distortion (the projector optics and lamp
uneveness of exposure). Simply hold the (cleaned) slide up to the front of
your camcorder and film it direct to tape.
Modern cameras have such powerful macro focusing that this is easily within
their capability.
1) For lighting, aim the camera at a big (half square metre) sheet of paper
that's evenly lit.
2) Use manual focus, manual exposure, manual white bal. Each slide might
well need a change in the latter two for optimum results.
3) Remember a 35mm slide has an aspect ratio of 1,5:1 so it won't all fit
onto the 1,33:1 TV frame; you'll have to accept some masking.
4) Vertical (portrait) slides will require much more ruthless masking (think
about it).
5) Give each slide about 4 secs on screen, maybe more if the photos show
groups of people.
6) I audio dub music onto the VHS linear edge track afterwards, though an
NLE system is a much better way to go.
7) If you're a photographer, expect to be dissapointed. 35mm slides are a
multi megga pixel source of storage, and to ask a 576x500 frame (a good DV
image) to do justice to them is like asking Mick Jagger to sing soprano. It
can be done, but it's only an approximation...
As always, the preparation makes the product. Good luck.
[ed.note: I've seen slide->video fixtures at photo stores that mount in
front of the camcorder lens, hold the slide, and have a translucent white
plastic back for illumination. You could make a similar device, as well. -jpb]

Subject: Editing PAL and NTSC with NLE
From: "Johnson Ching" (johnson at ehk epson com hk)
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 12:05:27 +0800
I have a TRV900E (PAL version) and use DPS spark DV card for video capture
and software version is 2.02 beta. I found that the DV in/out of TRV900E
is multi-system which means it can be used to capture PAL or NTSC tape or
it can record PAL or NTSC DV stream from the PC back to the tape.
Whenever you run the DPS Spark program, it will detect the camcoder and its
video format (The camcoder should be in VCR mode and connected with
firewire before you start the program) Normally, if the TRV900E is in STOP
mode when Spark software starts, the software will detect that the camcoder
is PAL. However, if the TRV900E is in PLAY mode with a NTSC tape, the
detection will become NTSC mode. Once you have done that, you use the
control button of the software to stop the tape. The software will still
stay in NTSC mode unless you power-off the TRV900E or restart the Spark
software. Then you can capture or output NTSC footage to TRV900E. I also
try the same experiment on TRV900 (NTSC version) which borrowed from my
friend and It also works for PAL tape!!
I am not sure if other DV card like Miro DV300 or Canopus DVRaptor can do
the same thing. But I really hope this information is useful for you and
other TRV900 user and hope other users can contribute the info. with other
DV card.
Johnson Ching

Subject: sequential file numbering of JPEGs on disk
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 22:06:54 EDT wanted to know if it was possible to change the way the 900
numbers files as it writes them to disc. This method seems to work. If you
create a small .jpg file and give it a name Mvc-xxxx, then store it to a
blank disc, the 900 will see this number and begin numbering files it writes
as xxxx+1 and so on. It seems to work even if the key file contains only a
few pixels, it is NOT necessary for it to be 480X640, just to be a .jpg file.
By taking a number of discs and storing the key file on each, with the xxxx
part increasing by maybe ten digits each time (higher if you use lower
quality compression that puts more than 8 files on a disc) they will cause a
series of pictures to have unique, sequential numbers when they are used
later to extract files to the computer. Give it a try. Merek

Subject: Insert dubbing/ editing in-camera
Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 10:12:08 +0100
From: translators.guild at t-online de (Hajj Mahmud Lund)
I hope this is of use, as I don't think it is specified in the manual, and
I can't recall seeing it on the list over the last month or so, since I've
been on. The manual documents insert video recording in VTR mode but
doesn't mention it in camera mode, which for many of us, especially used to
more manual systems, would be normal and often used. [note: this is an
audio+video insert edit or overdub, not a video-only insert which AFAIK no
MiniDV camera will do. -jpb]
I've tried two methods, one of which is very accurate and the other much
less so.
The accurate method:
1. In VTR mode pause on your selected insert out point and
2. using the remote commander press the Zero Memory Set [so far just
like the manual's instructions for VTR insert recording]
3. Now switch the 900 to camera mode and
4. using the edit search back button (-) go to your desired insert in
point (of course, you can move around to get your exact in point with
the '+' edit search button, too, as long as you have gone back to before
the out point - which is now your zero point on the on-screen counter if
you have it displayed. [Press the button very briefly to move one frame at
a time.]
5. When you release the edit search button you are in standby
camera/recording mode.
6. When you next press the record button the 900 will jump out of the
recording into standby mode at your zero point just like in the pure VTR
mode (which is used only for recording material coming in through the
input jacks of course)
Accuracy: as far as I've checked is exactly frame accurate. But let's
say +/- one frame
PAL 900e
TDK DVM60 cassette
well recorded over section bridging several previous in/out, stop and
record sessions
length of insert: so far just 13-15 seconds as this has only been a test
record mode: SP
power: battery
I can't think of what other settings might affect the results but if
this is news to you all perhaps others will fill up the gaps.
The second, inaccurate method, is just like the first except that after
locating the out point in VTR mode, step 1 above, the 900 is immediately
switched into Camera mode, and then the Zero Memory Set button on the
remote commander is pressed. Everything else is then the same as above
but the insert out point was 12-13 frames early in my tests !
The third method, which I reckon is feasible, would be to do the whole
process while in camera mode, using the edit search buttons. I haven't
tried it, guessing that it would be as inaccurate as method two, and
also that in my tests I needed the single-frame reverse and forward
capabilities of the VTR mode to assess the accuracy. But if someone
could shoot a running SMPTE time code display, for instance, on the tape
and use that as the method for judging the insert out point as selected
with the edit search keys in camera mode, then there would be a means to
judge the accuracy of this third method. Also, I don't have that
facility. [another way is to just film your digital wristwatch, if it has a
1/100 second display in chronograph mode.]
--Mahmud Lund

Subject: Monitors for Video Editing
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1999 07:29:06 -0400
From: Terry Langille (twl1 at jps net)
James Trattner wrote:
> Could anybody recommend a monitor to use for video editing?
One of the true bargains in editing monitors is the 13" chocolate brown
Commodore 64 monitor that were sold by the hundreds of thousands years ago.
The monitor, which I believe was called the 1302, was made by the Pro
division of JVC for Commodore. The front inputs were video & mono audio,
but the back inputs were chroma/luma using RCA plugs. The chroma/luma is
S-Video of course, and it's a 5-minute project to modify an S-Video cable
to work with these little monitors. The picture, unless the tube has been
abused, is flawless, with perfect color. The advantage of these 'sleepers'
continues. Besides having a great picture, they seem to be sold at every
yard sale for $20-30. (I think I saw one as recently as 3 weeks ago) I have
3 at the moment, shelf-mounted above the edit desk.
I use another little 'trick' with these monitors, Radio Shack's Cassette
Control Center, a discontinued switchbox still in stock at many RS stores.
Originally sold as an audio switcher for rca signals, the CCS works great
as a video matrix switch. It has 4 i/o stations that can monitor the input
of the other 3 stations. Each of my Commodore monitors is connected to an
output. Any or all of the monitors can receive any of the 4 input sources,
although I do get a slight drop in gain if all 3 monitors are using the
same signal. I use the unused 4th i/o to dump one of the selected inputs
to yet another CCS box for further routing elsewhere. There's no ghosting,
interference or glitching during switching. $19 at those Radio Shacks that
still have 'em. -Terry

Subject: Sony VAIO Computer tricks- tuning speedups
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 15:37:15 -0500
From: "Langille, Terry W" (Terry.W.Langille at bridge bellsouth com)
The VAIO comes with tons of superfluous programs and promotional programs
for on-line services. In addition that nasty VAIO World interface that
acts as a shell around the multimedia programs is a 24% resource hog at
idle and a source of major headaches. Uninstalled it immediately.
Repeating, the Windows 98 Annoyances book is worth it's weight in gold.
The chapters on killing off Win98 'junk' is worth the price alone. I had
40+ processes running on my Sony out of the box. I followed the tips in
the book, and now I've got 11 running, and the box is FAST. Maybe we need
a VAIO Digital Studio message group. -Terry
Many of us trv900 owners are also editing, some on Win98 systems. In a
previous post I mentioned a book, Windows 98 Annoyances, by David Karp.
O'Reilly Publishing maintains a Win98 Annoyances companion web site that
actually includes most of the book in FAQ and feature format. I received
several backchannel requests Win98 help for more info about the book, so
maybe tuning and fixing Win98 is not so off-topic for our group after all.
The web site is

Topics include:

Reducing Clutter & Other Annoyances
Coping with Windows 98
Customizing Windows 98
Performance & Troubleshooting
Third-Party Annoyances
Stories & Humor
Frequently Asked Questions

Articles & Features:
The Book
The Utilities
Getting Started
Upgrading to Windows 98?
Windows 98 Second Edition
Registry Tips
Related Software
Dial-Up Networking
Internet Connection Sharing
Windows Scripting Host
Disabling IE Integration
Other Resources
Discussion Forum

The discussion forum is a realworld peer help board. Useful, free and
relevant. --Terry

Subject: Using TRV900 floppy disk drive with a laptop
Date: Sun, 02 Apr 2000 17:43:20 -0700
The Sony external floppy disk drive that comes with the camera cam be used
as a hot-swappable 3.5 inch pcmcia drive. This is useful for laptops. As
sony does not provide drivers, the manufacturer (Y-E Data) does...
The unit is identical to the PCMCIA Flashbuster and the drivers work no
problem. --Brad

Subject: Making VHS dubs from MiniDV tapes
Date: Sun, 21 Jan 2001

Until the era of affordable, writable DVD arrives, we're stuck with making old-fashioned VHS copies for clients, family, and friends. There are steps you can take to make the best of this, but realize that no VHS copy will be even close in technical quality to a good DV original. VHS has 240 lines of luminance resolution (at best) and very poor chroma resolution. DV is much better in every way: it has twice the resolution, much better signal-to-noise ratio, larger analog video output range (my TRV900 is linear from -7 IRE to 109 IRE, see dv transfer measurements), and very little chroma bleed.

So, what can be done? To start with, it can't hurt to record with a well maintained, high-quality VHS deck. For example I use a "prosumer" Panasonic SVHS AG-1980. It plays back all VHS tapes more cleanly than my "consumer" VCRs, although I think the advantage is mostly in the read head and playback circuits, not in the recording stage. If you use a SVHS deck, use the s-video cable instead of composite video from the camera to deck, this can in theory improve things even if you are recording in VHS format. Don't forget to keep the tape head and mechanism clean, either yourself or through shop service. By the way, some commercial VHS decks, like the Sony SVO-915 ($1615 list) use a wide, 58-micron video recording head for a cleaner video signal. However, all current consumer VCRs have the more narrow 19-micron video head (designed for the SLP or EP mode, to put 6 hours of soap operas on a T120 tape).

This is probably out of your control, but there are significant differences in VHS playback deck quality. I have heard that the JVC HR-S9800U ($450) has a good picture; I know my "prosumer" Panasonic AG-1980 (which has amorphous video heads) shows cleaner playback on the same tape than my low-end Sony, Sharp and JVC decks (utilizing ferrite heads). Of course, the playback deck should well maintained, in particular the video heads kept clean.

Commercial VHS tapes have every scene, maybe even every frame absolutely optimized for the best video luminance levels for VHS reproduction. Your own MiniDV material probably doesn't. An outboard "proc amp" such as the Studio 1 or Elite Video models can improve video that was mis-exposed or improperly white-balanced, but don't expect a proc amp to improve footage that was shot correctly to begin with.

I don't know what to recommend about tape. Maybe the commercial houses use some kind of superior tape stock, but I didn't turn up anything magical in my experiments with 13 different kinds of VHS and SVHS tape. The image from each brand and type of tape usually looked the same. One notable difference: I found the cheapest tapes seem more prone to dropouts. A dropout, caused by magnetic oxide falling off the tape substrate, shows up as a momentary white or black horizontal streak on the screen during playback. I have noticed "Maxell Gold" shows many fewer dropouts than "Maxell Bronze" (and it costs twice as much).

Commercial productions often use well-chosen scenes that don't depend on fine detail to work. A close-up of a face can look great on VHS because the fine detail would just be skin blemishes anyway. But a distant shot of a person will look better on DV than VHS, because the latter washes out all facial features due to limited bandwidth. Watch the lighting: if you are shooting video casually, you probably aren't using lighting to best advantage, and the colors and contrasts in your scenes are more "flat" than with a good lighting setup. The stronger colors and managed contrasts on a well-lit set look good to begin with, and they also transfer better to VHS.

If you add text and titles to your video, use a simple font that is large enough to withstand the loss of resolution when dubbed to VHS. Add a strongly contrasting outline to the font (eg. a black border around lighter-colored letters) to improve its visibility. The cleanest-looking titles I've seen on VHS have been plain white letters (actually, about 70% white) on a plain black background.

Finally, there is a psychological effect going on. After carefully editing your DV masterpiece on your computer, you are familiar with every tiny detail in every scene. The VHS copy looks like a fuzzy mess in comparison. However, wait a few days, and then view the VHS dub again without looking at the digital version. Standing on its own, the VHS version looks much more respectable, and fortunately, that is the way your general audience will see it.

-john beale

Subject: Dubbing MiniDV to VHS
Date: Jan.21 2001
From: Scott Williams
I have been very pleased with my VHS copies from my DV masters. I have 3 consumer Mitsubishi HS-U455 VHS machines that produce excellent results. My play deck is the GV-D300 with a Radio Shack amplifier between them. Occassionally, red can bleed a little. So when when I superimpose titles in Premeire, I avoid using the color red.

I also have an RCA VHS camcorder. My VHS dubs using the TRV900 are definitely better than an original shot on the RCA VHS camcorder.

Remember that the content of your video is the most important item to your viewers. Poor content is equally bad on VHS and DV. Most viewers won't notice things you and I will about the picture of the video, because they will never see the DV master. And they will not usually be as critical of our own work as we are.

By the way, I also have a JVC and a Sony VHS decks. The Mitsubishi VHS decks do provide me with better picture quality. My VHS dubs are made on JVC High Performance SX T120 video tape.

Subject: Transferring to VHS
Date: March 19 2001
From: Dave Millman (davemillman yahoo com)

[...] I did a couple of unscientific experiments with my 2 VHS decks at home, one at my neighbor's house, and a JVC DV-VHS deck down the hall at work at a video editing/duplication company.

JVC SR-VS10U mini dv/s-vhs deck: truly spectacular dubs, as you would expect from a piece of equipment costing almost $2000.

Panasonic PV-VS4820 SVHS deck: Excellent quality via SVHS input, almost as good via composite video. Not quite at the level of the JVC deck above, but darn close.

Panasonic PV-V4540 VHS deck: Very good quality via composite video inputs.

Old MGA deck (at neighbors house): Older deck: mono audio (not stereo). Lousy quality via composite video input. Dark, muddy, some noise.

I think varying quality of VHS dubs is an artifact of the varying quality of consumer VCRs, specifically the quality of their video input and record circuits, and the general upward trend of quality over time. For what it's worth, the video editing/duplicating company down the hall exclusively uses mid-high end Panasonic consumer decks and composite video inputs through a distribution amp for their duplication.

Although both the JVC dual deck and the Panasonic PV-VS4820 SVHS deck can both record S-VHS and S-VHS ET, I did the experiments using "plain old" VHS. By the way, the Panasonic PV-VS4820 is down to $239 on Amazon, which is a great price for a great quality SVHS VCR.

Modifications and Accessories

Subject: aftermarket hood for easier filter changing 
John: the most annoying feature of my trv900 is the placement of the filter
threads within the lens hood. I have already lost one expensive smc filter
trying to get it unscrewed/ I picked up a tip from a forum which
recommended using a photo 52mm rubber hood which would then allow you to
access your filters easily. I bought one (only 4.95 at local camera store)
and it has been so much better. Serves the same purpose as Sony's hood and
allows easy access to filters.
Charles Bateman

Note: I got an aftermarket rubber hood for photo use too. Mine is pretty
"wide angle" so, while access to filters is easier, it's probably less
effective a hood than Sony's, too. I assume you can get them with different
opening angles. -john

Subject: Another hood idea, with wide-angle or without
From: John Badkin (j.badkin virgin net)
Date: July 28, 2000
I have a Sony wide angle lens VCL-R0752 for my TRV900, no thread for lens hood.
Solution :-
Purchased a standard very large (not recommended by shop assistant) rubber
lens hood for 58mm thread from Jessops, part number JESRH58 for œ3.99; was
made in Taiwan so should be available world-wide.
Removed the rubber hood from the hard centre section. The rubber hood now
fits neatly and firmly around the wide angle lens and can be positioned in
such a way as to avoid obstructing lens vision (vignetting). Also my
modified rubber lens hood can be used on TRV900 (without additional lens)
as it fits perfectly around the manual focus ring. manual focus no
problem, rotate hood. Normally fitting an additional lens involves
removing the horrible awkward standard square Sony lens hood, fitting
wide/tele lens then possibly a lens hood; my modified rubber lens hood is
easily fitted, can be left in place, moved forward to suit after
additional lens is fitted. Another plus point is that you can permanently
leave on a filter to protect the TRV900 lens. Takes up less room in your
camera bag and no more problems with wear and tear on tight or crossed

Subject:The Lens Hood Mod: removing the notch
From: Darren Shroeger (shroeger at traverse com)
The TRV900 lens hood/filter thread arrangement leaves a lot to be
desired. This is a big shortcoming with this camera: The filters
attach so far out in front of the lens element that reflections
are often unavoidable when using filters, especially at the small
aperatures that the 900 loves to shoot at in bright sunlight.
The modification described below allows the mounting of standard
52mm filters _behind_ the hood which results in _much_ less
reflection when shooting into sunlight.
The procedure described below is for educational purposes only,
it may void you lenshood's warranty and is expressly NOT endorsed
by me, or GRAPHIC CONTENT CREATIVE in any way.
But it worked for me! ;)
Okay, here goes:
1. Remove the TRV900's lens hood.
2. Look at the back of it. Notice the lip with the notch in it.
This notch mates to a corresponding notch on the TRV900.
The entire lip needs to be removed in order to screw normal
52mm filters onto the back of the TRV900 lens hood.
2. Unscrew the 4 small phillips screws and remove the hood mount
(which includes the lip in question). Set the screws and the
threaded metal mounting ring aside.
3. Now use the tool of your choice to remove the offending lip.
I used a handheld orbital sander which sanded the lip in
a gentle, controlled manner. You will note that as the sander
works, the lip will melt and flatten out a bit to be wider
than the actual mount. Do not worry, this is normal.
4. Once the lip is fully removed the melted excess can be
trimmed easily with an Xacto knife. Check to see that
a filter will thread on to the rear of the hood, if not
you may need to remove more material.
5. Now you can reassemble the hood. Tighten the four screws
firmly so they do not come loose later.
6. Attach the filter of your choice directly onto the TRV900
lens, then thread the hood onto the filter. Make sure the
hood is on straight, as now the locating notch is sanded off!
Good luck and happy filtering!
Darren Shroeger

Subject: Mounting filter behind hood without modifying hood
Date: June 19, 2000
From: Anthony Brooks
Like most of your visitors, I was annoyed by the flare
problem caused by too much spacing between the lens and filter. Placing the
filter directly on the camera would of course be ideal, however, the lens
hood simply requires more depth than most filters provide and this forces
placement on the outside. I have read that some of your visitors are going
through great lengths to adapt to the problem (grinding and sanding the
plastic lens hood).
Today I noticed that my Tiffen UV filter has a metal ring that secures the
glass in place. I removed the ring and was pleased to find that it allowed
enough depth for the lens hood to fit tight. It works great! The filter can
now be placed directly on the camera and the lens hood holds the glass
tightly in place. PROBLEM SOLVED! I am not aware if other brands of filters
can be disassembled in that manner, but I'm sure you will look into it :). I
was pretty excited to share this with all of your readers and contribute to
your great website. Again, thanks for all your good work.
Best regards,
Anthony Brooks
Los Angeles, CA

Subject: Rule of Thirds template for viewscreen
Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 15:54:43 -0700
From: Jim Hilsheimer
Interested in improving my composition as I stepped up from a single ccd
digital to the 900, I divided my screen on the lcd panel into rules of
thirds (like a tic tac toe game) and I used one of the screen protectors
from my Newton PDA. Cut it down, drew on the lines and applied it. No
more fingerprints and I have a constant reminder to balance the image
according to the effect I am looking for and an accurate template to do it.
EvenKeel Digital

Subject: Video area visible on viewscreen
Date: Mon, 29 May 2000
From: John Beale
As you may notice, the TRV900 LCD viewscreen is wider than the standard 4:3
aspect ratio of a television set. The LCD shows more of the video image horizontally
than you will see on playback (unless you have a pro monitor set to "underscan").
I compared the image on the LCD while it was also connected to my TV set, and made
some marks on the edge of the viewscreen to remind me of where the real picture edge
will appear on playback. Here is a picture of what I did. This is the original image
being displayed from the compact flash.

Subject: Screen overscan pattern, Overlay for action/title safe area
From: David Hill (megla at bigpond com)
Date: Jan. 31 2001
You might also find this percent chart useful for determining screen coverage of a
viewfinder, viewscreen, TV or monitor. Just transfer it to card memory, floppy etc.
and view on your camera or other video display. You can download and print out this
4x3 mask or 16x9 mask on inkjet transparency material, on the correct size to lay
over your viewscreen, to assist you in composing your shots and titles.

Subject: Viewfinder anti-collapse prop
Date: 4 July 2000
From: Tom Hardwick
You know when the pull-back viewfinder (useful if you have 960/750
battery in place) pushes forward in all the excitement of filming?
Click, and your nose is pushed up against the battery once again. Damn.
Well, the latest tom hardwick mod is to get one of those nice matt black
plastic 35mm film canisters and with a sharp break-off blade knife, cut
a parallel sided segment out of the cylinder. Include a bit of the base
of the canister to give the walls strength and cut it to length (24mm)
such that it bows slightly to pop into the space between front edge of
sliding viewfinder and the fixed point on top of the camera body. The
bottom wall of the canister is up against the viewfinder and still
allows complete freedom of viewfinder movement through its radial arc,
but until the bit of plastic is popped out, the v/f cannot move forward.
Works well, looks good, is light, cheap, removable and effective.

Subject: Cheap mic boom/fishpole idea
A handheld mic boom, or fishpole, is used to hold a microphone above the
subject who is speaking. Your mic assistant (fishpole operator) typically
positions the mic just above the visible frame, or (depending on camera
angle) just under. Pro shooters use this technique to obtain better sound
than you could get from a mic fixed at the camera position.
You can buy a fishpole from a pro video source for $100 and up, but one
cost-cutting trick is to use a golf ball retriever: a pole with a round
plastic part at one end. Wrap foam around the mic handle for isolation, and
insert it in the retriever hole. (tip courtesy of Charlie Diaz)

Subject: Underwater remote video
From: "RICHELSEN,KAI" (KAI_RICHELSEN at bbn exch hp com)
Don Xaliman wrote:
> Would it be feasable to expect the submerged camera to send it's
> infra-red video signal to a battery powered monitor on the dry shore?
[no, but...] there is a way to sent a live video signal to the surface. It
works as follows: The TRV900 is submerged in a Amphibico UW housing
(e.g. Navigator 900). These housings have an optional water tight video
out connector to which a cable of up to some hundred yards can be
attached. At the surface the cable ends in a floating bouy which sends the
video signal via UHF to the boat or shore.
The equipment is available from

Kai Richelsen

Subject: Windscreen for trv900 built-in mic
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1999
From: Debbie (debbie at operamail com)
I hacked off a chunk of yellow foam from a very "non-serious" cushion that
I found upstairs... light, flexible, and porous. I suppose a piece of a
light sponge might work too. Anyway, I took scissors and trimmed it down
to about 3/4 of an inch thick (2cm). Then I made the width and length just
enough to cover the entire mesh of the TRV900's mic.
I took a couple pieces of adhesive Velcro strips and made 2 tiny sets of
Velcro, one to hold each side of the "windscreen" fast to the camera body.
The strips are about 1cm wide by 2cm high. I quickly sewed the
"aggressive" side of the Velcro to the foam windscreen, right on the edges.
And I stuck the "passive, fuzzy" side of the Velcro right on the camera on
the immediate spaces to the left and right of the wire mesh. Reason being
that the "passive" side of the Velcro would be less likely to snag up junk
(and the cuff of my wool sweater) when the windscreen is off.
Then I assumed that the remote wouldn't work since I covered up the IR with
the windscreen, and before I even tested the new screen, I chopped out a
hole in the foam. I was careful not to make too big of a hole and thus
compromise the stiffness of the covering. Took it outside, climbed the
hill and let the wind blow on it. It works great in light winds, but any
stiff winds still give me the undesirable noises. The remote works fine
with the windscreen on. I might try to make another one, more thick and
without the hole for the remote, which might possibly work in the stronger
Subject: TRV900 windscreen
Date: Mar 10 2001
From: Carroll Lam (cassie at dakotacom net)
Here are some images of a "wind protector" that I constructed for my
TRV900. side.jpg shows a view of it from the side, and open.jpg shows it
with one end unattached.

It was made from a 1-1/4 x 3 inch piece of 1/4 inch wind protection foam
from I used small pieces of self-adhesive Velcro on
each end of the foam and on the face of the TRV900 for mounting it. I have
found it will significantly reduce noise in windy conditions when shooting

Carroll Lam

Subject:UV filter and wide angle lens: silicone rubber
From: "Roth" (roth at umbc edu)
Sent: Friday, February 04, 2000 1:18 PM
> Regarding putting the UV or Polarizer in front of the wide angle or
> telephoto lens, neither of those lenses has a screw mounting on the
> front of the lens. The telephoto is a Cannon and the wide angle is a
> Century. [...]
From: "dh sullivan" (dhsulliv at okuc02 okanagan bc ca)
I can foresee only headaches putting polarizers anywhere but on the end. As
far as taping goes, I wish I had a nickle for everything I have taped on,
but it is sometimes messy lining thins up and hard to get the stickiness off
afterward. Most folks have a serious double take when i suggest my "fix
any x to any y" miracle substance. Its strong, clean, and easy to get off
afterward, but it like anything around lenses requires care. Silicon
rubber, the clear stuff in a small tube--forget the caulking gun size. Line
up whatever you want to hold together carefully, then put a couple of little
spot welds on opposite sides. Then when that dries four or five more, and
it will hold like steel. When you are through, split your little welds with
an exacto knife, remove the item and rub the excess rubber off. The best
thing since sliced bread. I am sure that there are other ways, all of which
will work if you can keep the elements in parallel alignment. The list of
photographic things i have attached to other things this way is long indeed.
Others will no doubt have perhaps more inventive ways.
Good luck.
[I would add one small word of caution about the use of silicone
sealants: these products liberate acetic acid upon curing which may be
harmful to some materials. -John Whitehouse ]

Subject: Dolly Tracking for a mini DV camera
From: John Lubran (John at movingvision demon co uk)
Date: Thu, 6 Jan 2000 13:04:51 +0000
Malcolm Slade (malcolm at slades demon co uk) writes
> I wish to shoot some tracking shots using my mini DV TRV900 and I wish to
> move and control the camera on the track remotely. I need a track length
> of at least 20 metres and would like to be able to insert some curved
> sections. Can anyone suggest a low cost solution.
We use a Cinekinetic Sawed Board Dolly which we paid a whopping 700 UKP
for (about $1,140) plus tax. Its a simple heavy duty ply wood board
about one square yard in size. It folds neatly in half for travel and is
fitted with a pair of diagonally opposed 'skate board' wheels in each
corner. These wheels allow the dolly to run on any tubing from about 1"
diameter up to any size. You can even have two unequal tubes!
Ours came with a padded travel case, a telescopic push/pull bar and
usefully placed holes and rubbers for fitting most tripods. There's a
whole bunch of optional extras available, such as an extendable pedestal
with a seat and various jib arms.
We use up to 19 foot lengths of light weight plastic earth pipe which we
carry on our van roof rack. The pipes can be joined together using inner
sleeves made from the same pipes (cut a piece out and compress to fit).
So we can have unlimited lengths of track very cheaply and easily laid
on almost any surface. Some times we build bridge type structures from
scaffolding to track over very uneven ground. For less uneven but not
level ground we use timber wedges and three foot lengths of oak planking
to use as sleepers. The great thing about being able to use six inch
diameter earth pipe is that at least 75% of the time we can just lay the
tack straight down on the ground without any preparation, even on quite
rough surfaces. If you don't travel with a van you can use smaller
calibre pipe easily cut to any length and extended to the required
length using the sleeves as described.
We just got back from a two month shoot in West Africa. Took the dolly
and bought some plastic earth pipe there, gave the pipes away before
returning. Have done the same when on location in the USA. The pipes are
cheap enough to be disposable. The only draw back is that you can't have
curves. It is possible though to simulate a semi circle shot by panning
and zooming.
We also use another Cinekinetic product called the 'Saddlecam' It's just a
heavy duty canvas bean bag cleverly shaped to grip any type of camera. It
comes with a vehicle mounting kit to allow the camera to be fixed in all
sorts of positions on just about any vehicle. We find it to be one of the
most useful things in our inventory. Can use it on the tracking dolly too,
or instead of baby legs. Also good as an aid to those shots where a tripod
is too awkward or big to use, such as a quick tracking shot from a car,
just place the Saddlecam on the window sill and hand hold. Again
ridiculously expensive at 180 UKP ( $290 ) plus tax!
Our other dolly is a simple disabled persons wheel chair, bought second
hand in the USA for $15. Only good for smooth surfaces but an excellent bit
of kit.
John Lubran
[Ed.note: see also this skateboard-wheel dolly which you might build yourself. Also, Victor Khong has another design for a dolly based on a handcart.]

Maintenance and Repair

Subject: Re: Cleaning the TRV900 LCD Screen
To: ralphal smart1 net (Ralph Allen)
Date: Fri, 14 May 1999 00:02:08 -0700 (PDT)
> While I'm aware of Sony's KK-LC3 LCD Cleaning Kit I was wondering if you
> know of other safe ways to clean the LCD screen or what type of fluid is
> used in the kit? Lightly fogging the screen with your breath and
> then using a clean cotton ball over the screen might be an option.
> However I seem to recall some discussions in photographic circles about
> the acids in your breath not being the best thing for lenses and their
> coatings.
I don't know if anything elaborate is required. Just today I wiped some
fingerprints off the TRV900 viewscreen with a corner of my cotton shirt.
Others report good results with Windex (R), a glass/tile cleaner which contains
ammonia. So, I tried some "Windex Original Glass Cleaner with Ammonia-D (R)"
on a rag and it cleaned the LCD screen nicely.
From Tom Hardwick: Any optician will supply you with one of these wonderful "micro-fibre"
cloths. Get one with writing on one side (it'll say Kodak or Olympus or something) and make sure that's the only side your greasy fingers touch. Not YOUR greasy fingers mind, one's greasy fingers. Then wash the cloth in soapy water once in a while and you'll find it's excellent at cleaning even the most delicate of multicoated surfaces.

Subject: How To Clean Your Lens
From: Bill Finch
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000
I've cleaned glass lenses this way for a long long time without creating
any problems. The first step is to remove particulates - some of which
might scratch the lens surface. I start with a source of clean compressed
air or gas and a nozzle designed for dust removal. All photo shops have
these devices - used for removing dust from negatives. Blow the dust from
the lens without allowing any liquid to condense on the lens surface. Next
with oblique lighting inspect the lens and pick (do not rub) any remaining
particulate from the lens surface with a small pointed sable hair artist's
or retouching brush - #1 or smaller. Once the dust is removed then place a
drop of Kodak lens cleaning fluid in the center of the lens. Now for the
awkward part. Hold the camera so the lens is pointed toward the ground. Wet
a piece of Kodak lens tissue with a small amount of lens cleaning fluid and
rub it with a circular motion on the front of the lens. Don't press down
with your finger - rub very lightly. Start in the center and work toward
the edges being very careful not to let any of the fluid enter the innards
of the lens at the edge. Let this all dry and inspect the surface. If any
"finger prints" or the like remain repeat with a more moistened lens tissue
and a light finger pressure followed by drying with a clean dry tissue.
Now for a list of don'ts. Use only lens cleaning tissue - not nose tissue,
not gene cloth, not eye glass rags, not your shirt tail, not kitchen
towels. Use only lens cleaning fluid - not solvents, not tap water, not
Windex. Real distilled water is OK for a rinse but it will not remove
greasy "finger prints". Never let the cleaning fluid enter the inside of
the lens. Never wipe a lens with dust on its surface.
I've used this method for the last 45 years on those godawfulexpensive
motion picture camera lenses. With the MP cams we never used a UV filter as
a dust protector. It cut the MTF slightly because of light dispersion. If
we shot in dusty situations we protected the entire camera with a blimp and
used a long bellows hood. If objects were expected to fly toward the lens
we would drop an ND filter in the filter slot on the front of the bellows
One other thing - we had to disassemble the lenses completely every 2 years
to clean all surfaces and relubricate. I doubt that servo operated lenses
require this kind of service.

Subject: Unscrewing a stuck filter
From: (koasis at earthlink net)
>I had screwed a ND8 filter between the camera body and lens hood. Now the
>filter is too tightly screwed to the lens hood that I can't unscrew them.
Yes, this happens all the time for a number of reasons. I have found
that instead of grabbing the filter (or hood) with your fingers and
trying to bully the darn thing into giving up its death grip, you can
place the front of the lens (with filter) into your open flat palm of
your hand and apply a bit of pressure at the same time rotating your
entire hand in a counter-clockwise direction. The filter will usually
break free. This works because you are not applying any squeeze pressure
to the filter and distorting it's shape. Rather, you are applying even
pressure to all parts of the filter.

Subject: Fixing loose lens ring
From: bob watson (bobw exchange microsoft com)
Sent: Feb 24, 2001
> I used a wideangle on my trv900. When trying to remove it, I needed to use
> a little force. Now the first ring is loose and can be turned and then
> moves the manual focus ring. Everytime when mounting the sunshield, this
> happens; then sometimes I can't focus manually...
To tighten the lens ring, you need to remove, or at least loosen, all
the cover panels on the camera to get behind the lens ring and tighten
the 3 tiny screws that hold it on. This job is not for the mechanically
timid or those without the service manual that shows how it all comes
apart and, more importantly, how it all goes together.
It's easy enough to do, if you know where you're going, but I wouldn't
advise tackling this job if you're not not comfortable with the idea of
disassembling your camera.
...Well here goes, but I'll include all the usual disclaimers (i.e. I am
not a factory trained technician, I don't know what the heck I'm talking
about, follow at your own risk, the author makes no warantee, express or
implied, that this procedure will not damage your camera, if you break
your camera, don't come crying to me, yadda, yadda, yadda....)
Remove the following phillips head screws (they all have the little => arrow
next to them):
0. Remove the tape, close tape door and then remove the battery. DO NOT
FORCE ANYTHING! Nothing in this procedure requires force. If something
is stuck, you (or I) may have missed a screw or a clip. Check with a
flashlight before trying again.
1. Orient the camera so that the lens is facing to the left and the LCD
view screen is open and facing towards you.
2. Remove the screw in the top cover next to the edit-search buttons
3. remove the screw in the top right corner of the battery slot
4. remove the screw two screws at the top of the button panel where the
LCD screen folds (the one on the right faces up), lift the top cover
5. On the side opposite you, remove the screw next to the yellow A/V
6. Under the camera, remove the screw closest to the front, just behind
the [L] microphone
7. the front assembly (including the auto focus button) is now held on
by to snap clips behind the auto-focus select switch and "push auto"
8. pushing in on those gently, while lifting the front of the top panel,
you should be able to pul the front panel, including the lens ring off.
9. The screws that hold the lens ring secure are on the inside of that
assembly behind the lens ring. Tighten them gently as they are just
screwed into the plastic lens ring.
10. Assemble the panels in reverse order of disassembly
Good luck! -bob

Additional lens ring notes from Ed Chejlava, 4/7/01
This is close to what you need to do. I just had this same problem occur on a
recent trip (ever notice that things rarely fail when you're near home with
tools....), and armed with Bob's instructions and the service manual, I ripped
into my 900. Up to #9 Bob is right on, and if all your camera is
experiencing is a little looseness of the front ring then this is all you need
to do.
However, mine (& Peter's from the sound of it) need a couple of more steps in
between 8 & 9:
8a: optional: disconnect the flex circuit board that joins the front panel to
the rest of the camera by gently pulling. (Goes back in pretty easily - this
was the only step that made me a little squeamish. Usually these sorts of
connections have a release mechanism built into the 'socket' end, but this is
just a plain pull-out, push in.)
8b: Remove the three little screws that hold the plastic lens ring on (the ring
with the "Sony Video Lens /Optical 12X" on it). The focus ring is held captive
by the front assemply and with this step will become free. The motion of the
ring is governed by a layer of a white grease riding on a surface of the front
plastic part. Try to set the focusing ring aside carefully to keep from
getting lint or dog hair in the grease. (the lint wouldn't affect the actual
function of the focus ring - a series of little teeth running through an
optical gate does that - but it might make it move less smoothly).
8c: The part that is loose is an aluminum ring that the plastic piece threads
into and which _was_ attached with a few small beads of some sort of black
glue. Disassemble the plastic and aluminum peices and carefully scrape the
glue off of the inside edge of the aluminum ring. (I purposely was sort of
rough when I did this with an X-acto knife so that the surface would get
roughed up to hold better next time.
8d: The plastic part has a couple of concentric cylindrical surfaces on it.
The outermost is where the glue used to hold this part to the ring. The next
inward is where the focus ring rides on its layer of grease. I cleaned all of
the visible glue residue from the outer surface and removed all grease from the
part with a small amount of degreaser. (I used....shhhh..... some Freon TF,
but something like the "Simple Orange" os such should work OK too). You want
ot make sure that the surface that will be glued is quite clean. I also
roughened that surface up with a small file to improve adhesion - being careful
to _not_ rough up the surface that the focus ring rides on.
8e: After the parts are all prepped and degreased (acetone or such is OK on the
aluminum ring, but I wouldn't use any nasty solvent on the plastic), I ran a
small bead of silicone sealer into the inner corner of the aluminum ring - just
enough to make good contact all the way around but not so much that it will
squish out onto the surface where the focusing ring rides. I used regular
white "bathroom" sealer. There's a small chance that a bit could show on the
front of the camera in the first couple of visible threads - so you might like
to use black or silver, but the white made it really easy to spot squeeze out
Looks sort of like this:
| | <--- Aluminum between the lines.
| |
| |
| |\
| | \
| | \
| | \
| | S \ <-- bead of silicone..
| | \
| | \
| =======
When you've got the silicone in place, just thread the plastic part into the
aluminum ring making sure that is gets seated firmly. Look at the rear
surface of the plastic piece and carefully remove any silicone that squeezed
8f: At this point, you can let the parts sit out for several hours to cure (if
you're really careful) or if you're like me, re-assemble the whole thing and
test for functioning buttons and such.
[I would add one small word of caution about the use of silicone
sealants: These products liberate acetic acid upon curing which may be
harmful to some materials. To ensure that none of the internals of the
camera are affected in any way I would suggest that the part is left for
a considerable time before reassembly (Stage 8f). This will allow the
liberated acetic acid to fully escape rather than be trapped inside
the camera internals. -John Whitehouse]
Go to step 9.
Note on step 10: On mine, the flex circuit that was detached kept trying to
get caught between the front panel and the rest of the camera, so check it
carefully before pushing. I also had a bit of problem with the part of the
front assembly that is supposed to slide into a little groove up by the
accessory shoe. If you miss that alignment, the front will not go completely on
with a rational amount of force.
All in all, it worked more easily that I had expected. Even reinserting the
flex into the socket was quite easy.
happy fixing!

Subject: Repairing broken tape eject control
From: "Giles Read" (Giles at read net)
Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1999 14:37:39 +0100
I wrote to you a while ago mentioning that the eject button on my TRV900 had
stopped working. I seem to have fixed it - here's how.
Warning: the following will void any warranty you have for your camcorder.
The usual disclaimers apply - this is a description of what *I* did to *my*
camcorder and I won't be held responsible if you decide to try it on yours
(etc). Make sure you remove the battery and AC adapter before doing any of
this procedure, and I recommend that you work in a very well-lit area - this
is a fiddly job.
All procedures should be carried out GENTLY - if you have to force it,
you're doing something wrong. Please be aware that there are fragile
multiway ribbon cables connecting various parts - only disconnect the ones
listed and do not stress the others.
Identify the screws which hold the case together. Sony helpfully labels ALL
first-stage disassembly screws with a special arrow symbol sort of like
this: =>
Remove all the marked screws from the base (5), tape side (2, including one
beside the AV socket), top (1), control panel (2: one under the small LCD
and one under "Sony" - do not remove the screw on the LCD hinge), under the
battery (4).
Remove the two screws which secure the tape cover to the eject mechanism.
Remove the cover.
Slide the lens barrel off the front of the camera. It will come away an
inch or two.
Lift the viewfinder assembly away from the body. It will only move a couple
of inches because of the ribbon cables.
Tease apart the grey and silver parts of the case. Welcome to the land of
An inch or so in from the battery compartment is a half-inch wide multi-way
ribbon cable which is plugged into a main circuit board. Gently remove the
At the bottom of the same circuit board there are two bundles of wires
plugged in via connectors. Note which goes where, then remove the plugs.
You should now be able to separate the case enough to get in and work.
The eject switch is located just behind the timer switch above the main
function switch. It is a small black piece of plastic, operated by a blue
lever connected to the eject button. Press the eject button - you'll see
bits of the switch move.
I found that the switch on mine had got clogged with dust or gunk or
something. There are two things you can try:
1 - use a thin sliver of something (a cut-down toothpick may work) and
gently press the switch to the limit of its travel a few times. This may be
enough to loosen the dirt and make it work again. Test it by reconnecting
the three cables, connecting the power supply and pressing the eject button.
If it works, great: you can reassemble the camcorder.
2 - You may have to remove the eject switch and give it the best clean you
can. This is achieved in the following way:
Identify the internal chassis fixing screw beside the VCR controls panel
(the screw is marked =>). Remove the screw. You should now be able to ease
the electronics assembly slightly (less than 1/4") away from the grey case
Remove the screw which holds the metal strap clip (above the power/function
switch) and remove the strap clip. This can be a little fiddly.
Remove the screw which secures the power/function switch.
Remove the power/function switch by sliding it inboard. It is connected to
the body of the camera by a blue/white ribbon cable - take care not to
damage it. Just up the cable from the power/function switch is the eject
switch unit, which also slides out of its mountings.
Press the eject button through its whole travel a few times. If you've got
a can of lens-cleaning compressed air, you could give it a blow with that. I
do not recommend using any kind of liquid cleaner.
Check the operation of the eject switch whilst it is out of its mountings by
reconnecting the three cables (see (1) above). If it still doesn't work I
don't think there's anything more that you can do except return the camera
to a Sony service centre.
Reassembly of the two switches is a bit tricky. You need to slide the eject
switch assembly partially into place, then get the power switch started in
its mounting. Be warned that the ribbon cable likes to get trapped and
kinked just at the top of the eject switch - it can be hard to get it to sit
flat properly. Just keep trying, and don't force anything.
Once the switches are back, screw the power switch to the case and then
refit and screw back the strap clip.
Replace the chassis screw beside the VCR controls.
Refit the three internal cables you removed.
Ease the two case halves back together again.
Ease the lens barrel back into place.
Replace the viewfinder assembly.
Refit the case mounting screws.
If you're lucky, you will have fixed the eject fault. If not, you're
unlikely to be any worse off than when you started.
Please note that one of the effects of disconnecting those internal cables
is that the camera resets itself to factory defaults - you'll have to reset
the clock and so forth.
Giles Read.
[Note: My eject button stopped working one day. I followed the above procedure
exactly, and poked a bit of dust out of the back of the switch mechanism with
a thin tool that looks like a dental pick. That fixed it! -jpb]

Cleaning the Tape Path
John Beale
After a certain amount of usage, which might be a few tapes or a more than 50 tapes, many TRV900
owners have experienced a "tape crinkle" problem caused (in many cases, we believe) by a build-up
of scum or gunk (apparently from the MiniDV tape surface lubricant and/or contamination on the edge
of the tape). You can have the camera professionally cleaned, or do it yourself as pictured here.

Note that I am describing cleaning the tape path, that is the tape guide, capstan, and pinch roller.
I don't recommend you clean the video head because it is very delicate, and if (for example) you turn
the head drum clockwise, instead of counterclockwise, you can damage or destroy it. If you feel you
are competent to service the head, check out these pages first. The notes below
are from the service manual.

File with the SERVICE MANUAL.


Carry out the following maintenance and periodic checks not only to
fully display the functions and performance of the set, but also for the
equipment and tape. After repairing, service the set as follows,
regardless of the length of use.


1. Press a wiping cloth (J-2.) moistened with cleaning fluid (J-1.)
against the rotary drum assembly gently, and clean it while rotating the
rotary drum assembly slowly with your finger in the counterclockwise

ASSEMBLY IN THE CLOCKWISE DIRECTION with your finger. The head tip will
also be damaged if the wiping cloth is moved perpendicularly against it.
Therefore, be sure to follow the above instructions when cleaning the
rotary drum assembly.


1. Clean the tape path systems (TG1 to TG7 and capstan) and the lower
drum using a super fine applicator (J-3.) moistened with cleaning fluid.

Note: Make sure that no oil or grease of the link mechanisms sticks to
the super fine applicator (J-3.)
Note: Do not use a applicator moistened with alcohol to the other guide
cleaning. But clean the pinch roller using alcohol.

Rewinding MiniDV tape into cassette
Doug Graham, 2 Sept. 2001
> Can anyone advise me how to rewind a MiniDv tape cassette
> (Sony) that jammed on my TRV900 exposing a inch of tape?
> There seems to be some mechanism that prevents one from
> simply winding the 'spilled' tape back onto the spools with a pen. It's tricky. Slide back the tiny cover lock switch at the side of the
cassette and flip open the cover. Hold it open with a finger of the hand
that's holding the tape. Hold the cassette upside down. Take a small
screwdriver or other similar object and press down on the tape lock, which
is a little dingus in a hole between the reel tables, located on the bottom
of the cassette near the back. It's under spring tension, so you'll have to
hold it down against that tension. Place the end of the screwdriver in your
mouth, to free up a hand.
In your free hand, take a pencil. Place the eraser end against the tape
spool drive hub and rotate until the tape is wound back in the shell.
If your wife comes in while you are performing this feat, she will fall down
laughing. This is normal. Do not swallow your screwdriver.

Restoring InfoLithium battery
John Beale, 4/13/01
Rechargable lithium-ion batteries can develop a passivation layer, especially
after some period of non-use, which will cause the battery to run low more quickly than expected. You can fix this by a process of charging and
discharging the battery in normal use, as described here.

Sony Info-Lithium batteries contain a small CPU chip (hence the "Info" in the name)
which enables the battery-minutes-remaining display on the camera. In a few
cases this CPU has apparently malfunctioned, displaying wildly wrong battery
lifetimes on the camera's display, and I know of no fix for this.

The camera communicates with the battery CPU through a third, flat metal
terminal between the battery's two recessed power connections. If this terminal
is dirty or doesn't make contact, at turn-on the camera will not recognize the
battery, and it will display the "Use Info-Lithium Only" message, before
turning off.

Back to main TRV900 page.