HDCAM SR Tape Shortage Boosts Alternative Formats

The Panasonic AJ-HDX900 is a 2/3" DVCPRO HD camcorder introduced in 2006

Leading broadcast equipment rental company HotCam has added extra Panasonic HDX900 camera packages to its inventory after experiencing a surge in demand for alternative cameras and formats in the wake of the worldwide Sony HDCam SR tape shortage.

Rental figures for April 2011 in both HotCam’s London and New York facilities show that television producers are currently looking at a range of alternative cameras and recording formats to HDCam SR, particularly ones that have guaranteed levels of recording stock.

The camcorders to benefit so far include units from Panasonic and Canon plus Sony equipment that uses the disc-based HD recording format XDCam.

HotCam managing director Trevor Hotz revealed that, in particular, a significant inventory of Panasonic HDX900s that was previously considered ‘difficult to shift’ was now proving very popular, leading to the fresh investment.

“Producers are worried about missing deadlines due to a shortage of tape stock and are now looking at alternatives,” he said. “To a certain extent it’s directing the market and the upshot is that it is re-vitalizing older stock which hasn’t been as popular of late, like the HDX900s.”

The Panasonic AJ-HDX900 is a 2/3" DVCPRO HD camcorder that records 100Mbps HD images in any of 11 video formats. Introduced to the market in 2006, it has 1080i, 720p, 24p and 25p capabilities and is considered highly suitable for long-form HD programming across entertainment, reality, sport, events and documentaries.


Sony ceased manufacture of its SR tapes following a tsunami in March 2011 that brought devastation to Japan and seriously damaged Sony’s Sendai Technology Center, the factory where the tapes are made. The move led to a worldwide tape shortage with leftover stock being made available on an allocation-only basis with broadcasters and large facilities companies getting preference.

Sony says that production of HDCam SR videotape will begin again in July.HDCam SR is the preferred delivery format for BBC, ITV and Sky in the UK and CBS, NBC/Bravo and Fox in the US. It is also used by a large number of producers around the world as their preferred acquisitions format.