|Using cameras in-car has always been problematic. Most importantly, the size of camera is crucial: sit a camera operator in the vehicle with a camcorder and the natural sense of intimacy is lost. Mount the camcorder within the cockpit and it is sure to obscure the driver's view of the road.
The alternative is miniature cameras. Toshiba's miniature industrial cameras have been a favourite among broadcasters, with their robust construction and reliable performance. Used as specialist lightweight heads on super-long carbon fibre poles or mounted to motorbikes, they have a reputation for delivering in any environment. Now with the latest iteration, the IK-HD5, many of the issues of miniature cameras, such as noise interference and lack of support for broadcast formats, have been overcome.
The full HD IK-HD5 has chalked up its first TV production, being used extensively on Channel 5's Never Teach Your Wife to Drive! The fly-on-the-wall documentary examines what happens when couples get behind the wheel with their partner beside them. London-based Minicams was commissioned to install and operate cameras in-car, in order to capture the front seat shenanigans as well as the view of the road ahead.
"What initially drew us to the cameras," said Minicams MD Nick McLachlan, "was their quality. They're the same size as earlier Toshiba heads, despite the leap in video performance."
After initial testing other factors became apparent. As Milko Kostadinov, Toshiba's Europe Representative explains:
"The unmatched colour fidelity, improved light sensitivity and now IR capability of the HD5 line, makes our cameras one of the top choices for In-car - or any application with challenging and constantly changing light environment. The IK-HD5 camera line features Toshiba's signature Microprism technology this time furnished with a brand new trio of full HD CMOS image sensors with high S/N and enhanced IR sensitivity coupled with the feature-packed 3G-HD-SDI/DVI-D camera control unit."
The results on screen for Never Teach are impressive, as McLachlan attests:
"They're the best pictures we've seen from in-car cameras. It's a really tricky environment to shoot in with lighting conditions changing every second, and most cameras deliver pretty average results. Toshiba's IK-HD5 is way ahead in terms of picture quality."