“That Was Then!”
Sony’s BVP 300/330 Series Cameras Cemented the Company’s ENG Legacy
It was in 1974 that Sony introduced the VO-3800, the first portable U-Matic VCR. Though its design was primitive and it was never built for professional use, this 30-pound “brick” became the first portable recording device widely used in the explosive new field of professional ENG.
The 3800 recorded in color, but needed a big outboard power adapter to playback in color. This was supposed to keep the recorder light! Sony introduced the VO-3800 with a single-tube Vidicon camera called the DXC-1600.
As it had done many times before, Sony revolutionized portable video but missed its market by introducing a low-cost, non-professional camera. For several years, other vendors would supply the professional cameras—including the RCA TK-76 and Ikegami HL-77—for use with the VO-3800.
Within a year or so, Sony would introduce the BVU-100, a professional version of the 3800. It would add XLR and BNC jacks, but still retain the basic design and bulk of the venerable 3800.
Finally, in the late 1970s, Sony introduced the BVP-300, its first three tube ENG camera. It was an OK first generation camera, but still no match for the superior Ikegami cameras. Then, in the early 1980s, Sony introduced the BVP-330, a lightweight ENG/EFP three-tube color video camera that made the company a genuine competitor in the news business.
Sony would borrow the design of the BVP-330 when it introduced the BVP-3, the first three-tube version of the highly successful Betacam in 1983.
The BVP-330 was the first Sony portable to become popular with network news crews. It weighed 18 pounds and had three Diode Gun Plumbicon tubes. There were 600 lines of resolution with 57db signal-to-noise.
Moving beyond the RCA camera that launched the ENG market, the BVP-330 offered automatic registration with digital memory, auto beam control, white and black balance, iris level and lens close, a zebra-type video level indicator, SC-horizontal phase adjustment, 2H line image enhancement and +9 and +18 db gain switches. The price was about $45,000.