Bradley Engineering is introducing a new integrated mini camera, The Eybe, at NAB that should ship in May, with orders already in from broadcasters in the US and Britain who were involved in its development.
It can be used for any point-of-view or discreet remote camera application, such as multi-camera reality shows, but is ideal for use in commentary positions, which is the application the broadcasters particularly wanted it for. “These people have pretty much driven the development because they’ve been insisting on something better, to reduce the size and improve the quality,” said the company’s Managing Director, David Bradley (pictured below with some of his Cam-Ball and Gyro cameras).
Compared to the cameras it previously offered for these roles, the Eybe has a larger sensor chip (up by more than 20% to 0.4-inches from 1/3-inch), and increased pixel count (nearly doubled to four megapixels).
Its rivals typically use a smaller (1/3-inch) Sony sensor that is now several years old and on many systems the output isn’t truly HD, “as they upscale an 8-bit output,” claimed Bradley. The Eybe uses an NMOS chip, an advanced CMOS design, which has “significantly lower noise,” with a signal to noise ratio of >50dB.
The camera, which should cost from about £5,000, works better in low light. “It gives about an extra stop in low-light performance,” he said. “It may appear better than that because we have black level control on it and can drag some detail out of the blacks.”
The camera is also easier to match to other cameras thanks to full RCP control (Bradley’s new Remote Camera Panel Mk3, pictured above, can also control Sony, Panasonic, Ikegami, Hitachi, JVC and Toshiba cameras).
The all-in-one Eybe has a 10:1 zoom lens (37-370mm), which is physically larger, so it can let more light through, and can output multiple formats (SD/HD, up to 1080p – including 25p, 30p, 50p and 60p).
It has a fully customisable outer shell that uses custom seals to make it weather proof (it hasn’t been tested yet, but should be better than IP65), and the new design looks ultra-smooth, something that should be mirrored in the way it moves. “One of the things we major on is getting smooth moves. The motor drives work very smoothly. If you have the slip-ring option, it will swivel continuously” – without the slip ring it does 320º. Its tilt range is +/- 130º from vertical.
At top speed it moves at a respectable 120º per second, but at the lowest speed it achieves smoothly controllable moves within 1º, so that even at tight lens angles it should still deliver smooth, fully proportional moves in pan, tilt and zoom.
It uses a single XLR cable for power and control, and a BNC cable for pictures, with the outputs built into the base so there is no need for an additional box.
Matching it with Bradleys’ new Multi Function Controller Mk2 (pictured above) and Remote Camera Panel Mk3 gives users full CCU control including black levels, paint controls, scene files, pre-set positions and multi camera control. Up to 99 pre-set positions can be memorised and recalled, including pan, tilt, zoom and focus for each pre-set. These positions, and all the camera settings, are automatically stored so you don’t have to remember to save anything before powering down.
Clutch slip, even when powered down, does not affect the pre-set positions. Absolute position sensors are used on the shafts so it always knows where it is.
It will operate with any of Bradley’s controllers, no matter how old they are, and up to 99 remote heads can be individually addressed and used on a single system.
The company says it is “committed to minimising equipment redundancy”, and that “virtually all the equipment manufactured by Bradley can be upgraded several generations and can be recycled at its end of life,” which is why the new camera technology found in the Eybe can be retro-fitted in to many of Bradley's existing products.
By David Fox