Ole Miss Taps Canon for Cost-Effective HD Lenses

Each year, Ole Miss Sports Productions covers 78 remote sporting events, in addition to a full schedule of weekly studio productions, for an audience that demands quality as well as quantity of content. To ensure a superior visual presentation for each of those shows, the University of Mississippi outfitted each of its four ⅓-in. portable HD cameras with a ⅔-in. Canon XJ22x7.3BIE-D compact HD studio lens. The combination creates a transportable, cost-effective system that provides long telephoto capability and crisp HD quality.

“We were looking for an HDTV lens-camera system that would give us the biggest bang for our buck,” says J. Stern, assistant athletic director of Ole Miss Sports Productions. “We are a small outfit, but the compact and cost-effective ⅓-in. camera, coupled with the handy size of the Canon compact HDTV studio lenses, are a benefit to us because one person can carry everything. It makes our production process better, easier, and less costly for us from top to bottom.”

Marrying the ⅔-in. lens to the ⅓-in. camera makes the images appear visually more telephoto by a factor of 1.83 (the ratio of the two image-format diagonals, or 11mm/6mm = 1.83). The equivalent focal range becomes 13.4mm to 295mm (up to 590mm if the 2x extender is deployed). This makes a flexible HD imaging system for many sporting events.

The Canon XJ22 on a JVC GY-HD250 camera helps Ole Miss produce top-quality content.

“It’s amazing how close you can get with the Canon compact HD studio lens,” Stern says. “Our most distant camera in baseball is in left-center field. From there, we can zoom in tight enough to see the catcher’s fingers as he is making the signals. With the Canon 2.0x built-in extender, you could see a tear in the catcher’s eye. That’s a whole lot of lens for the size.”

The ⅔-in. lens is coupled to the camera via a Canon LCV-42T mount converter, which merges the mechanical mounts of the lens and camera, while inserting a single glass element that compensates for the different optical-path length of the ⅓-in. optical block. No transformations are made to the image size projected into the camera, ensuring that the three smaller CCD imagers are imaging the central sweet spot of the lens. This ensures the highest Modulation Transfer Function (MTF) under all conditions and minimizes optical aberrations.

About a third the weight of standard studio lenses (13.4 lbs.), the XJ22x7.3BIE-D lens closely matches the combined weight of Ole Miss Productions’ ⅓-in. HD camera (approximately 8 lbs.) and its studio adapter. The lens is a high-end optical system based on classic studio-lens design principles but reduced in size for direct mounting on portable HD cameras configured for field or studio productions.

“Our director loves the ‘big-lens feel’ of these Canon compact HD studio lenses,” Stern says. “In sports, there’s nothing like going in and getting a shot of the quarterback’s eyes, or the head coach in the dugout making signals. Even if it’s a less-than-two-second shot, it still tells a story, and these lenses help us do that.”

The XJ22x7.3BIE-D provides higher contrast and resolution compared with portable HD lenses while reducing focus breathing to a zero level. Canon’s eDrive system provides lens-status information on an easy-to-read display that delivers accuracy for such settings as f-stop, focal length, focusing distance, and other critical lens parameters.

“For the size, they’re a lot sturdier and more durable than I imagined,” Stern says. “I thought that, after two or three years, I would be buying new lenses just because of the price, but they’re still just like new, and we’re halfway through our second year with them.”

Ole Miss Sports Productions streams its footage online as well as providing it to local cable-television systems.

“With these Canon XJ22x7.3BIE-D compact studio lenses married to our ⅓-in. cameras, we capture sports in absolute broadcast HDTV quality,” Stern says. “We feel like we do a phenomenal job covering Ole Miss sports, but we couldn’t do it without these quality lenses from Canon.”