When Richmond, Indiana-based public, education and government (PEG) access broadcaster Whitewater Community Television (WCTV) set out to improve the visual quality of their productions, they purchased three Z-HD5000 HDTV cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to achieve their goals. The resulting quality and outstanding sensitivity of the Hitachi cameras have WCTV staff hoping to add more Z-HD5000s in the future and may save the station money on other planned studio upgrades by reducing lighting requirements.
WCTV was established in 1988 as a community-based, not-for-profit organization to bring news, event coverage, educational content and entertainment programming to residents of Wayne County. The station operates three PEG channels while providing television studio facilities, equipment and training to members of the community wishing to create their own public access programming. Located on the Indiana University East campus, WCTV also creates productions for the university and its Athletics department including NAIA basketball and volleyball match coverage as well as commencements.
Replacing their aging studio cameras in 2018 as part of an ongoing studio overhaul, improved image quality was a key objective for WCTV. “While we can only broadcast in SD, we have been upgrading our production capabilities to HD for future-proofing as well as online delivery including Facebook streaming and our on-demand YouTube channel,” explained Ryan Harris, videographer and director at WCTV. “We had already changed our production switcher to an HD-capable, top-of-the-line NewTek TriCaster 8000, but the cameras were our missing link, and we wanted better quality.”
WCTV compared all of the major camera brands at a systems integrator’s local trade show, and found the Hitachi cameras to be the ideal fit. “We saw the Hitachi cameras at the Duncan Video Showcase, and the full package with the 7” color viewfinder, lens and fiber adapter was perfect for our needs,” Harris recalled. “We then saw other Hitachi cameras in action at fellow PEG station DATV in Dayton, Ohio, and realized how well they would fit our operations. We looked at multiple Hitachi models and decided that the Z-HD5000 was just right for who we are and what we do for our community. It gives us the quality of image we are trying to achieve, at the price point we were looking for.”
The improvement in visual fidelity provided by the Hitachi cameras was immediately evident. “The picture quality is definitely much better, not only for our online HD clips, but even our standard-definition broadcast looks much better now,” said Harris. “The image is so much clearer that it has created a different challenge for us, as viewers can now see any imperfections in our studio – such as holes in a curtain, or if we forget to sweep the floor. The color reproduction is also exceptional.”
The remarkable sensitivity of the Hitachi cameras has also provided immediate benefits that may be further amplified in the near future. “We are still in the midst of our studio upgrade, and we have a lot of old lighting that is dying out,” explained Harris. “The Z-HD5000s are a lot more forgiving of those aging lights. With our old cameras, we needed to open the iris all the way, and the image was still dark. With the Hitachi cameras, we can back the iris off, because they’re so much more sensitive. In fact, the Z-HD5000’s sensitivity may allow us to save money on our planned lighting upgrade, as our illumination requirements will be lower.”
The quality benefits are particularly striking when compared to WCTV’s previous cameras, which were from a different manufacturer. “In cases where we’ve needed extra cameras, we have occasionally used the Z-HD5000s alongside our older cameras,” said Harris. “I hate doing it, as if I want a consistent look, I need to ‘dumb down’ the look of the Hitachi cameras to match the output of the older units.”
To avoid that necessity, Harris is hoping to purchase at least one more Z-HD5000 soon. “We often need more than three cameras, particularly during election cycles, when we may have multi-camera shoots of candidate forums at the same time as government meetings we need to cover,” he elaborated. “I would like to get a fourth Z-HD5000 so we’re not forced to mix in our older, lower-quality cameras.”
In the meantime, WCTV’s first three Z-HD5000s are delivering all of the benefits the station had sought. “The Hitachi cameras have been worthwhile purchases, and we’re very pleased with them,” concluded Harris. “The Z-HD5000 is a well put-together, easy-to-use camera that gives us the freedom to get creative in our studio while providing the quality boost we wanted.”―BCS Bureau