Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996
Published - 11th May 2004
How old is the standard for 12vdc 4-pin XLR connection (pin 4+, pin 1-)? It was brought up on a newsgroup and someone mentioned it being a Sony standard from around 1978. But I thought early Arri SR-1, Aatons, the Arri 35BL-1 (1972) and some other gear with the 4-pin XLR mounted in their bodies predate this. Plenty of cameras use cables that end in 4-pin XLR's to the battery, but use various proprietary connectors on the cameras themselves (Arri 16BL, 2c, S, M, etc., Éclairs and so on). And then there are the lighting and audio gear that use the 4-pin XLR.
So anyone know the history and origin of the 4-pin XLR standard? I'm sure Robert remembers a time when all cameras had bare leads and the operator needed to stick his fingers onto some open contacts and have the juice coarse through his veins.
Mitch Gross writes :
>So anyone know the history and origin of the 4-pin XLR standard?
The earliest I remember is the Arri 16-M, which may pre-date Sony.
IA 600 DP
The first time I saw the 4 pin XLR used was in the early 1960's by Eclair for the NPR camera for 12 volts. Pin #1 was neg and pin #4 was positive which is still used today. Now here is what unusual. The cable had 4 conductors. This was before crystal motors.
The Perfectone governor motor Eclair used sent the sync pulse down the cable thru pins 2 and 3 to the battery where there was a connector that the sound man could his sync pulse from. We also could use a Y-Cable at the camera and get the sync pulse from the Y-cable if the battery did not have this sync pulse out connector on it as most did not.
From Arriflex the BL's came with a large Bendex connector we all removed and put the 4 pin XLR connector on which became the industry standard for 12 volts. At Clairmont Camera we us the 4 pin XLR with pin #1 pin #2 16 volts pos. #3 24 volts pos. and pin #4 pos. 12 volts.
Mitch Gross wrote:
>How old is the standard for 12vdc 4-pin XLR connection (pin 4+, pin 1-)?
I remember it around 1970, on NPR's -- the four-pin connector was useful because you could send the sync pulse to the b battery belt, then attach the Nagra to the belt and not the camera. Some motors were, I think, wired like this.
The 1972 35BL uses it, as Mitch notes….the ACL used the painful Jaeger connector
While there were a few Arri 16 M and S's with 12 volt motors the vast majority were 8 volts. Jensen made an 12 crystal motor for them.
Mitchell R-35's also used 4 pin XLR's for power (the camera is circa 1965)
Mitch Gross wrote :
>Plenty of cameras use cables that end in 4-pin XLRs to the battery, but use various proprietary connectors on the cameras themselves (Arri 16BL, 2c, S, M, etc., Éclairs and so on).
There is also the 5-pin XLR. Was this prior to the 4 pin?
There are still many battery packs or blocks around with 4-pin and 5 pin. Maybe a battery manufacturer like Cine60 could be a at the origin.
One of the strangest connectors to the camera is the one for the Eclair CM3 motor, never managed to find a replacement despite some serious research. So if anyone out there with one on some shelve in early retirement...
Emmanuel on location from Beirut
Denny Clairmont wrote :
>The Perfectone governor motor Eclair used sent the sync pulse down the cable thru pins 2 and 3 to the battery where there was a connector that the sound man could his sync pulse from. We also could use a Y-Cable at the camera
Do you happen to know if this Y cable is the same wiring principle to the Perfectone motor made for Bolex? However the connector to the camera is very different than on the NPR. Don't know it's exact name or type but would love to know the wiring plan for it.
Emmanuel on location from Beirut
Denny Clairmont wrote :
>The first time I saw the 4 pin XLR used was in the early 1960’s by Eclair for the NPR camera for 12 volts. ...
Yes, the NPR seems to have originated it. We also have an early Arri 16M with a 3 pin XLR for its 8v motor, and a couple of 16S models whose cables terminate in a 5 pin XLR. Cine 60 suggested and supplied us with an 8v/16v belt with 5 pin XLR terminal for a 35-Ib and a jumper to feed that 16M.
...At Clairmont Camera we us the 4 pin XLR with pin #1 pin #2 16 volts pos. #3 24 volts pos .and pin #4 pos. 12 volts.
I like that idea.
Wade K. Ramsey, DP
Dept. of Cinema & Video Production
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC 29614
A friend of mine who is considering a camera purchase and was looking at the Panasonic dvx200 that I recommended but was a bit out of his price range so he took a look at the dvx100a and canon xl1s.
Has anyone had much experience with the xl1s and the canon 14x manual lens? Is it any good? Are remote zoom control's available?
I'm, used to DVCPRO cameras so the xl1s is not my preferred camera, but I have never tried it with the manual lens. This camera will be used by a film collective for shooting shorts, features and doc's. He's looking at a kit that includes the 16x auto focus lens and the 14x manual lens and a few other
>Has anyone had much experience with the xl1s and the canon 14x manual lens? Is it any good?
I've used the xl1 and the 14x manual lens. Found it to be pretty good. Now, I can't speak about how good the glass is, but the feel of the lens is more like the pro eng lenses that I'm used to. The ND operation takes a little while to get used to, but its fine. I have the dvx100 and can say that the canon manual lens has a better feel, but is not nearly as wide as the DVX. You can get a wide eye (century and others) that helps the canon out, but its an added expense. Overall, the canon 14x feels most like a pro lens than any other in the miniDV world.
Miami Beach, FL
>overall, the canon 14x feels most like a pro lens than any other in the miniDV world.
What about the JVD-GYDV500? I've shot with it and its not too bad. Its basically a miniature DVCPro camera. I don’t know if I like the feel of it sitting on my shoulder...but the same goes for the xl1. The JVC puts out a nice image, but so does the canon.
>Overall, the Canon 14x feels most like a pro lens than any other in the miniDV world.
Unless you go to a larger, shoulder-mount 1/2" MiniDV camera. By the time one pays for the XL-1s with the manual lens and the better B&W viewfinder -- which your friend has to do if there is to be any hope of focusing that lens or seeing the image in general -- the cost has risen to something very near that of the Panasonic DVC200 or the JVC DV5000. The standard 16x lens on either of these cameras handily outclasses the 14x for the XL-1s, and there are numerous other better lenses available as well including the nifty and crisp Canon 19x. These cameras also come with decent B&W tube viewfinders standard.
If your friend doesn't have the money then he doesn't have the money. In that case he's probably better off with the DVX100a, which I consider to be a better camera than the XL-1s anyway. But since budget is a factor here, he needs to consider all aspects of the purchase, including accessories such as batteries, lens adaptors, filters, tripod, sound, monitor, etc. These accessories can easily equal that of the camera itself.
>What about the JVD-GYDV500?
No longer made. Replaced by the DV5000, with a bunch of nice additional features.
>Has anyone had much experience with the xl1s and the canon 14x manual lens? Is it any good? Are remote zoom control's available?
The XL1s has great chips when coupled with a good lens. However, I don't think the standard lens is much chop. Sure, they improved it on the S series - you can actually do a zoom through (@) but I still find it soft and I don't like the way it renders highlights.
Strangely (?), that highlight issue is lens related - because I don't have the problem when I use the XL1 with EOS lenses (a combination which is amazing for macro videography).
I haven't used it with the official Canon manual lens, but I have used with Fujinon lenses adapted for it. It really does produce good results with a good lens - the colour rendition is slightly more warm.
There are other considerations, though :
The main problem, which is well documented, is the poor ergonomics. Its just not that good for either shoulder-mount or handheld work. It produces excessive fatigue.
The original XL1 had way too many functions accessible only via the menu. The XL1s does give you more control on the camera body, but there are still too many functions accessible only via the menu. My personal pet peeve is that the mic vs. line-level input controls are in the menu, rather than on an easily seen switch above the XLR inputs. When you're in a rush its easy to forget to re-check the input level and wind up with quiet or (worse) distorted sound. Grr.
Personally, the JVC DV500 / DV5000 are my (mini)DV-cameras of choice. They're designed somewhere between "proper" ENG/EFP bodies and miniDV cameras. The controls mostly follow ENG bodies: they are intelligently laid out, where you expect them to be and are easily accessible. But there are some features from miniDV cameras which are not usually on ENG bodies - such as s-video out. They're also nicely balanced for shoulder-mount work.
The 1/2" chip produces good clean images. The standard lens is nice and sharp (and you can rack focus!) The CCD is a bit on the 'neutral' side colour-wise (at least compared to the XL1). The standard lens is great. The B&W view is better than the colour LCD on the XL1 for sure.
All that said, I have yet to use the DVX-100 -- and from all reports, its a pretty killer camera, so it might be the better choice over both the XL1s and the DV5000.
Just my 5c.
Stuart M. Willis
Director + Editor
The 14x manual lens has gearing on it for focus, zoom and iris. This is not to install a video-style handgrip controller with zoom rocker, but instead to attach film-style traditional follow focus, zoom motors and such. Numerous companies such as Chrosziel and Vocas (aka Shade F/X) offer frontrod assemblies and various follow focus or zoom motor controls. Cavision probably offers the lower cost units, but you get what you pay for IMHO. JBK Cinequipt and Cinetech also have interesting and relatively inexpensive options.
Thanks for your responses.
My friend bought the xl1 s with the ma100 XLR adapter, a belt battery pack, 14x canon lens, the 16x auto lens, and the .72 wide angle adapter. He also got 3 ND filters, 2 UV filters, a Portabrace case and some tapes for a total including taxes of approx. $7300 Canadian (USD$5560). Yes I Agree the DVC200 would have been a much, much better camera, but would have set him back several thousand dollars more, especially with batteries, charger and case. (Approx. $11000 Can or $8400 USD) He already has a tripod that will work nicely with the xl1s, a heavier camera would have required a new expensive tripod.
Damn accessories are what kill you cost wise...
Curious as to why the 14x lens has a gear assembly. Is there an after market add on for zoom control? I haven't heard of one.
> Has anyone had much experience with the xl1s and the Canon 14x manual lens? Is it any good?
I have shot the XL1 with the manual lens and when compared to the quality of the servo auto lenses, well, there is truly no comparison. The manual lens is far superior. Don't know about zoom motors, though, I didn't feel like I missed that when I was shooting (is was for a narrative piece, a short dramatic).
But listen to Mitch's advice- I think his posting is very valid. I'm not sure of the economics but I'd guess that after you spent all the money with the lenses and other accessories, you might be better off getting a DV500 with the standard Fujinon lens. Much better camera, much better lens I think.
L.A., CA and Vilnius, Lithuania
>Do you happen to know if this Y cable is the same wiring principle to the Perfectone motor made for Bolex?
The Bolex MST (shot my first two sync films with one) had one cable to the torque motor, one to the bloop lamp, and one to the battery -- the recorder attached to the battery for sync, I'm pretty sure.
But it's been 33 years or so...
Jeff "foggy" Kreines