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Betacam SX

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Betacam SX Logo
Betacam SX Logo

Betacam SX is a digital version of Betacam SP introduced in 1996, positioned as a cheaper alternative to Digital Betacam. It stores video using MPEG 4:2:2 Profile@ML compression, along with 4 channels of 48 kHz 16 bit PCM audio. All Betacam SX equipment is compatible with Betacam SP tapes. S tapes have a recording time up to 62 minutes, and L tapes up to 194 minutes.

Like DVCPRO, Betacam SX is capable of accelerated playback/recording and is part of Sony's all-digital production concept, targeted especially for ENG and newsroom use. Some units are 4:3 / 16:9 switchable. Despite primarily being a tape format, some decks are actually disk/tape hybrids and provide rudimentary stand alone non-linear editing capabilities. "Briefcase" field editors resembling laptop

Betacam SP technical specifications

  • Signal system: 8-bit digital component video. Four channel, 48 kHz sampling rate, 16 bit

uncompressed audio.

  • Scanner geometry: Helical.
  • Scanner rotation speed: 7S Hz (625 line version).
  • Betacam SX heads: Up to 16 Betacam SX heads (2 record)
  • Betacam SP heads: 4 Betacam SP heads for version capable of high-speed tape to disk transfer.
  • Track pattern: 12 tracks recorded per 2 frames.
  • Head-to-tape speed: 19.1 inches/s.
  • Video track angle: 4.62134 degrees.
  • Track width: 32 microns.
  • Pitch between track pairs: 64 microns.
  • Azimuth offset: 15.26 degrees.
  • Tape coercivity: 1450 Oe (115.4 kNm), metal particle.
  • Tape width: 12.65 mm.
  • Tape thickness: 14.5 microns.
  • Linear tape speed: 59.575 mm/s.
  • Shortest recorded wavelength: 0.744 micron.

Betacam SX tapes

Betacam SX S tape
Betacam SX S tape

Betacam SX cassettes come in the same S and L sizes as other Beta formats, coloured yellow. S tapes have a recording time of approximately 60 minutes; L tapes record up to 194 minutes.

Betacam SX tape shells are bright yellow. Betacam SX machines have gone out of production, although the format is still used by some productions.

Betacam SX devices

The cameras themselves are generally considered by most sound recordists to be quite noisy in operation, possibly because the amount of computer processing power, and subsequent generated heat, leads to cooling fans being used to keep the camera at a reasonable temperature.

Together with Betacam SX, [Sony] introduced a generation of hybrid recorder, allowing use of both tape and disk recording on the same deck, and high speed dubbing from one to another. This was intended to save wear on the video heads for studio applications, as well to speed up online editing.

Betacam SX also features a good shot mark feature, that allows marking of each scene for fast retrieval. A tape deck can scan the tape for recorded marks of each single cassette, and show it to the operator.

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