Betacam is a family of half-inch professional videocassette products developed by Sony in 1982. In colloquial use, Betacam singly is often used to refer to a Betacam camcorder, a Betacam tape, the cassettes are available in two sizes, S and L. The Betacam camcorder can only load S magnetic tapes, while television studio sized video tape recorders designed for video editing can play both S and L tapes, the cassette shell and case for each Betacam cassette is colored differently depending on the format, allowing for easy visual identification. There is also a key, that allows a video tape recorder to identify which format has been inserted. The smaller S cassettes use the form factor as Betamax. The format supplanted the three-quarter-inch U-Matic format, which Sony had introduced in 1971, in addition to improvements in video quality, the Betacam configuration of an integrated professional video camera/recorder led to its rapid adoption by electronic news gathering organizations. DigiBeta, the name for Digital Betacam, went on to become the single most successful professional broadcast digital recording video tape format in history. The original Betacam format was launched on August 7,1982, a blank Betamax-branded tape will work on a Betacam deck, and a Betacam-branded tape can be used to record in a Betamax deck. However, in later years Sony discouraged this practice, suggesting, in particular, the guide rollers tend to be noisy. Another common point between Betamax and Betacam is the placement of the linear audio tracks. Also, some Betacam and Betamax portables share the same batteries, Betacam was initially introduced as a camera line along with a video cassette player. The first cameras were the BVP-3, which utilized three saticon tubes, and the BVP1, which used a single tri-stripe Trinicon tube, both these cameras could be operated standalone, or with their docking companion VTR, the BVV-1, to form the BVW-1 integrated camcorder. The only transport controls on the deck were Eject and Rewind, the docked cameras VTR button started and paused the tape recorder. Later the Betacam SP docking decks had full transport controls but tapes could not be played back except in the viewfinder in black-and-white only. Sony then came out with the Play Adapter, a portable unit that connected via a multi-pin cable and had a composite video out jack for color playback. At first color playback required the studio source deck, the BVW-10 and it was primarily designed as a feeder deck for A/B roll edit systems, usually for editing to a one-inch Type C or three-quarter-inch U-matic cassette edit master tape. There was also the BVW-20 field playback deck, which was a unit with DC power and a handle. Unlike the BVW-10, it did not have a built in Time Base Corrector, or TBC, with the popular success of the Betacam system as a news acquisition format, the line was soon extended to include the BVW-15 studio player, and the BVW-40 Studio Edit Recorder
Image: Betacam betamax tapes
Sony Betacam SP Camcorder.
Sony Betacam SP BVW-D600P Camcorder with C6 Paglight and Rycote Softie
Sony Betacam SP BVW-D600P Camcorder with C6 Paglight and Rycote Softie (other side)