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Completely modular video camera

I've been a fan of the Canon XL series for some time now, but I'd like to see it go a step or two further.

What about a camera which is the sum of numerous interchangeable parts? Interchangeable lenses mount to a capture device, which can be available with different CCD's for different kinds of video (1 chip digital, 3 chip digital 1/4 inch, 2/3 inch, HD, what have you) It could be available in progressive scan or interlaced, NTSC or PAL (or switchable). This would connect to a 'skeleton' which would support the various other components, such as the recording element (DV tape, recordable DVD, Hard Disk)Eye piece, LCD screen, control panel, handgrip controller (zoom, focus, record button), audio capture block (with inputs for various audio types). There could be full sized and compact 'skeletons' depending on how much you wanted to hang off it. Everything would ust snap together as needed.

All in all it would be a camera that would grow with you, and be adaptable to whatever kind of video shooting you wanted to do. Anytime you wanted to try something better (or just different) it would be a simple case of buying the upgrade parts. The same equipment would probably be useful for still shooting, or audio recording, taken in component form.

Is this plan madness or is this plan madness?

Scott Watkins
Tue Apr 5 23:54:53 PDT 2005

I have always wanted the Canon XL-1 DV camcorder. And I love it for its modularity. It would be great if they come out with a more affordable camcorder body that would accept EOS lenses . . . Start there, then give us even more modular components.

Chieh Cheng
Wed Apr 6 16:31:16 PDT 2005

I agree. I think that the GL-1 was a missed opportunity (though I still think it's an excellent camera). I realize that the market is based on buying the latest and greatest, but wouldn't it make sense to develop a product with a very lucrative aftermarket? If you look at the SLR market there are plenty of aftermarket parts and additions, and if you look at view cameras things are even more modular. Why can't video be the same? (Digital view cameras are incredible.)

This site has some info on how to throw something together using a cctv camera and a recording deck (in this case a basic MiniDV camera)


But it would be much cooler if this is something you could snap together in a few minutes and just go with it.

Here's a view camera manufacturer as an example of how modular this could get


Scott Watkins
Wed Apr 6 22:32:22 PDT 2005

Hey, Scott, that "modular video camera design" is a great link. It got me to think about how to build a custom digital video camera with EOS lenses . . . well, maybe Nikon lenses . . . because most of those still have mechanical manual aperture control.

I suppose an adapter an be made to mount Nikon lenses onto the industral video cameras, such as the Hitachi HV-C20A 1/2" 3-CCD Color Camera.

Interesting to think about. But I can see why you would rather if the manufacturer would provide a Sinar-like system. It'd be more compact and easy to carry around . . . and it would be the ultimate film-like DV camcorder . . .

Chieh Cheng
Thu Apr 7 11:10:06 PDT 2005

Glad you liked the linkage. The Nikon idea is interesting, though I don't quite know enough about their lenses to see how this would be done (I've used SLRs a bit, but that was years ago, and I must confess a lack of knowledge of the newer lens types). The camera mentioned in that link uses c-mount lenses, which have a fairly diverse range.

I suppose that to a certain extent my objections are laziness, given that It's not that hard to throw together a solution like this. Given that I have a MiniDV cam already, I just want to be able to do more with it. There's a link at the bottom of the 'modular' link to a fairly tricked out example someone built for a feature. What might be useful is a simple rig to use two cameras together, mounted side by side (the DV cam as the recording rig, using it's controls to operate the deck, and the cctv camera as the capture device). I wonder now if you could control on the cctv cam with the controls on the DV cam?

Scott Watkins
Sat Apr 9 03:39:20 PDT 2005

Ammend the last line as:

'I wonder now if you could control ZOOM on the cctv cam with the controls on the DV cam?'

Scott Watkins
Sat Apr 9 03:41:15 PDT 2005

It's probably not too hard to "tape" the DV cam and the CCTV cam together so that they are easy to carry around as one module.

But . . . there would be no standard interface between the DV cam and the CCTV cam to control the zoom. You'll have to rig up your own, if that is even possible.

Chieh Cheng
Mon Apr 11 00:31:47 PDT 2005

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