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MkVIII Camera

Page history last edited by David Samways 6 years, 3 months ago





My old camera group colleagues (aided by a keen young chap called Malcolm who went on to do good things with miniature railway signals) were by now engaged in designing of a new camera, the Mark VIII (see photo). This was the world’s first camera to provide automatic set up. It did not actually do everything automatically but it was able to make the normal daily adjustments (more or less). This one had the ‘right’ number of tubes, i.e. three. While my team was not directly involved, we did design the two-dimensional image enhancement unit for it. Here again I had management trouble, this time for using an integrated amplifier in the design. The design work was kept very secret and, much to our amusement, the MD (not the one in the studio photo) was denied access to the lab because he did not have his pass and he was not on the list of those to be given access anyway. He was sent to the gatekeeper and forced to get his secretary to bring his pass from New Street to prove who he was before the gatekeeper released him. The truth is that no one really liked him.


As it was the world’s first automatic camera the VIII made quite a splash when it was launched at the International Broadcast Convention in London. Shortly after the event had started a slightly swarthy looking chap appeared and was shown great respect as he looked at the cameras. Shortly after that carpenters from New Street appeared and replaced the Marconi signs above our stand with GEC-Marconi. The person was Arnold Weinstock. This was the first of many company name changes.


The camera sold quite well around the world and did not have too many problems except for a nasty little capacitor. This had a ceramic coating which was easy to chip. If this happened moisture got in and the power rail was shorted out. All the capacitors, 200 per system, had to be replaced. Happily I only had to replace one set myself.


The next step for me was now to make a Telecine version of the VIII which was to be called the Marconi B3404.


An article covering the launch of the MkVIII camera can be found here (large file)


 Martyn Clarke adds ,

The dreaded capacitors got named Red Devils and the more reliable replacements Blue Angels

 Installation and commissioning engineers dreaded modifications like this !!


2 of the 1st production cameras were sold to the BBC and fitted in a 2 camera news OB Van


The Mk VIII was top of the selling league when Australia  changed over to Colour.


The Mk VIII was used at the UN in New York utilising the Mk IV  B/W camera cables that were already in the Security Council and General Assembly etc .


The camera also sold well in USA WKY Oklahoma being one of the first to acquire them


CBC Montreal purchased 21 for their new studio complex



Other references


MkVIII Camera brochure click here


MkVIII Portable Camera brochure click here


An advertisement by Amalgamated Wireless Australia (AWA) for the sales of MkVIII cameras in Australia in the Press and Ads section of this WikiThese sales were all made by Marconi man Shaun Metcalfe who spent four years in Australia.


An advertisement by Marconi launching the MkVIII Portable Colour Camera in the Press and Ads section of this Wiki.


The following YouTube videos provide a good description of the MkVIII camera; their commentary is in English.






A portable camera head for the MkVIII colour camera channel by J.R. Crook 1974 click here


The MkVIII Communications system by D.B. Manning and M. Hazle 1972 click here


A photograph to just show how hardy the Marconi MkVIII camera was at -14oC click here


Automatic features of the MkVIII colour camera by D.V. Ryley and Gyongyver Claydon click here


The MkVIII camera channel - design of the video circuits by J.D. Capers and P.W. Loose click here


The Choice for the 70s (MkVIII) by Norman Parker-Smith click here


Principles of video processing by W.T. Underhill click here


The MkVIII colour camera - aperture correction facilities by A de Mouilpied Fremont click here


Some memories of the MkVIII camera by Neil Friday click here





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