Cameras with genlock?

Hey LZX crew,

Anyone have any experience with camera genlock? Looking for a camera capture solution for recording footage off of a CRT; Filmic Pro on my phone does an okay job, but I’m guessing a camera with better glass/sensor and genlock would be loads better.

Any recs would be appreciated. Thanks.

The Blackmagic Micro Cinema camera has genlock and NTSC/PAL output. That’s probably as affordable a camera as you’ll find with newer gear. Otherwise it might be a bit of a treasure hunt.

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Thanks, Lars. I’ll let you know what else I come up with.

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Anyone using the Micro Cinema camera for this purpose that can attest to your results?

Have definitely found recording off CRTs to be a rather hit or miss affair and would love to eventually upgrade to a more stable/predictable setup. Occasionally see really good deals on these cameras on Craigslist here in L.A., especially now that HD is being overtaken by 4k as the standard for most pros.

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Several old Panasonic CCTV camera models (e.g. WV-CP460 or WV-CP464) come with a genlock input. They also have interchangeable lens!

I detailed those in this LZX camera guide!

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Well, I ended up jumping on a good deal on a used Micro Cinema Camera and I can confirm that the genlock works great. While getting it aligned and level is still a bit of a chore (at least with my janky tripod), definitely much easier to get clean footage off of a CRT as compared to the Canon 5d I was using before.

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Good tip, @sean, thanks. How’s the moire factor when shooting a standard/curved CRT with the BM MCC?

I haven’t had much time to test extensively yet and, if I recall correctly, both times I did I was using my flat Trinitron monitor rather than a standard curved one. That being said, I didn’t notice any difference regarding moiré using the MCC compared to my DSLR. With both, I’ve found using a slightly longer lens and soft focus help a lot, together with proper alignment and leveling.

The two big differences I do see right away are:

  1. Genlock reliably removes the overlap bar from the screen image that I generally get with my DSLR. (…Until zooming in a lot, at which point one presumably loses the advantage of matched frame timing when shooting only a small number of lines.)

  2. The MCC footage comes out pretty flat. Post-processing is required to take advantage of its wider dynamic range.

Will report back if I notice anything else (in the process of moving gear around again, so may be a little while before that would happen).

…Oh, the other thing: the ergonomics of the MCC are kinda terrible.

In most situations, one will probably only have to navigate the menus once, while setting up, and then simply press record/stop — so not too much of a problem. But the buttons really are tiny and awkwardly placed. Can’t say it is a “fun” camera to use.

i found mine on ebay. genlock isnt really a highlighted feature in the description so i usually rely on photos

I look up the datasheets for the cameras. You can usually find them online. If a camera outputs the right video format and has genlock, I add it to the list of models that interest me. Then I set up a saved search on ebay and wait for a hit. I’ve picked up a fair number of cameras that way.