A Hi8mm owner wants to know what Mini DV is!

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Ronald Epstein, Jun 7, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    The last camcorder I bought was a few years back
    when Hi8mm was the best format you could record on.

    To be honest, I thought Hi8mm was incredible.

    Years have gone by and I basically have stayed
    out of the information loop on camcorders and
    their advances.

    I have a big trip coming up at years's end and
    have been pondering videotaping it all.

    So, I look through a catalog and see that MINI DV
    is the hot new camcorder format. Trouble is, I have
    no clue what Mini DV is all about.

    Can someone give me a little background on Mini DV?

    How is the quality compared to HI8mm? Is it worth
    spending $800 (Canon Optura 20) to have the best
    recording format that is currently available?

    What kind of advantages should I expect with
    Mini DV over HI8mm?

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    DV is the current consumer camcorder standard. It's digital, so there's no degradation when making copies (until the tape starts to go bad, like with D-VHS). It uses a compression scheme similar to DVD. With a FireWire/1394 connection on your computer, there is no capturing per se; data is copied directly to the computer, which again means an exact copy. (With analog, there's a analog-to-digital step, which can vary in quality.) The frame size is identical to DVD, and there are more and more programs specifically designed to make the DV-to-DVD transition easy.

    According to one technical overview of DV, DV is rated 9 out of 10 in quality, while Hi8 is only 5.5!

    MiniDV is just the DV format in smaller cartridges, like 60 or 80 minutes instead of 2 or 3 hours for full-size, at SP. You can do LP, which gives you 50% more time, but that reduces cross-player compatibility. Actually, the mini size is much more popular than the full; the pros have other better DV-like formats, while the consumers prefer the small size.

    //Ken
     
  3. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

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    We have about 30 of the full size DV recorder decks at work ($3000 each). RON I have been shopping for a semi pro mini dv camcorder to record my daughter's wedding in Nov. The links are posted below. These are heavier camcorders than what the average person would use, but the quality is astonishing. 3 separate CCDs and a minime format.[​IMG]
    Supposedly the MiniDV format is the only consumer true digital camcorder from front to back. I can never get a definitive answer on that, but that seems to be the case.
    We used these at the university with great success. An alternative is the Sony CD recorder cameras. They can record MPEGS and JPEGS with sound. Very convenient for short videos. These were actually more practical for road use, and we did not need to do any conversion to use the MPEGS for web sites etc. We had a dependability problem on the ultra small camcorders with hard use. They tended to overheat and break.

    http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_g...3191e9dd9ff18c

    Sony's MVC-CD500 Digital Still Camera isn't just 20% slimmer than its predecessors; it also features massive 5.0 megapixel resolution (effective) with a Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 3X optical/4X digital zoom lens and the ability to write to inexpensive optical media.


    http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_g...3191e9dd9ff18c
    The DSR-PD150 is a compact DVCAM digital camcorder offering refined picture quality, features and operations suitable for professional use. It is designed for event videography, news acquisition, corporate video, the independent film community and production. Main features include DV/DVCAM recording, 1/3-inch 3CCD camera system, 12x optical zoom lens with 58mm filter diameter, 2-channel XLR connectors with +48V power supply, and Memory Stick® media slot, all packaged in a lightweight and robust magnesium die-cast body.


    http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_g...3191e9dd9ff18c

    JVC GR-DVL920 Digital Cybercam, featuring high-band 530 line processing and unique NightAlive low light shooting ability the GR-DVL920 is a remarkable camera. NightAlive combines a high-sensitivity 1.02M pixel CCD with slow-shutter and digital signal processing to achieve bright vivid full color pictures unlike other low-light solutions.


    http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_g...3191e9dd9ff18c

    The world's first DV camcorder designed from the ground up for professional ENG work, the GY-DV500 combines the convenience and cost-effectiveness of Mini DV with the performance and features you need. It incorporate three 1/2" CCD's for superior picture performance (equivalent to 750 lines of resolution) a superb sensitivity of F11 at 2000 lux and minimum illumination of 0.75 lux (LoLux mode). Ruggedly constructed with a rigid diecast magnesium housing providing the durability professionals need, the GY-DV500's compact design and light weight (less than 11 lbs. fully loaded) makes it extremely portable.
    Additional features like the menu dial and Super Scene Finder assure ease-of-use and shooting flexibility, while the IEEE-1394 and RS-232 interface allow integration into various non-linear and post-production systems. A professional camcorder in every sense, the compact, lightweight GY-DV500 redefines acquisition for corporate, educational, cable and broadcast production, as well as wedding videography and multimedia applications.

    http://www.nextag.com/serv/main/buye...3000&x=37&y=12

    1/3.6-inch 1.33 Megapixel CCD
    F1.2 Aspherical Super Bright Lens for High Quality Images
    540 Lines of Resolution with Super High-Band Processor
    4 Digital Still Image sizes (1600x1200/1280x960/1024x768/640x480)
    NightAlive for Full-Spectrum Low-Light Shooting
     
  4. David Susilo

    David Susilo Screenwriter

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    ROn,

    if you want to be able to play your older video-8 and/or Hi-8, you may want to consider Sony's D8 format. It uses the same motion-jpeg codec, but recorded on Hi-8 tapes rather than miniDV.

    Yes, the camera is larger, but I personally never liked tiny cameras' ergonomics.
     
  5. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

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    David has an excellent point!!!
    If you are going to continue to use one camcorder for all your stuff that Sony unit is a good deal. Panasonic makes good stuff also. Many have taken that route as a transition. I decided to dump all my VHS stuff a long time ago and my JVC/twin cam camcorder is next. I can always play my old stuff in an antique vcr and patch it over to my hopefully new minime.
     
  6. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Ron, there has been a lot of discussion in the past about this topic in the After Hours section, you may want to do a search there.

    Digital8 may be a good idea for you, but keep in mind, it's a very small part of the market, and very backward-looking IMO. Comparable to buying a Pioneer LD/DVD player in 1998 instead of keeping an old LD player and buying a DVD only unit. It's a Sony prorietary format (though other companies have licensed it). DV is the present and future of the camcorder market.

    I have a DV camcorder and I love it. I can make DVDs on my computer with the digital output and it's slick as you can get. Some DV camcorders have A/V inputs and will act as an A/D converter, so you can plug your analog camcorder into the DV camcorder, then capture the video on your PC just as if it was DV. This is a great way to go IMO. I wish my DV camcorder did this. [​IMG]
     
  7. EricK

    EricK Second Unit

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    I've got a Canon Optura 100mc Mini DV camera. I think DV is absolutely incredible. I don't remember much from when I researched getting one of these...was about a year ago when I bought mine...but key points to remember...at least for my purchase the camera had to have

    -optical image stabilization.
    -16 x 9 record and playback mode.
    -progressive scan.
    -1394 connection.
    -optical zoom rather then or in addition to digital zoom.
    -manual focus control as well as auto focus control.

    here is a link to a review of the Optura 100mc
    http://www.dvspot.com/reviews/canon/...ew/index.shtml

    Good luck!

    Eric
     
  8. marc

    marc Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Ron,

    I bought a sony DCR-PC101 for the birth of our first child a few months ago. I love it. Very small, easy to use and the quality of the video is superb. Since buying this model, guess what happened, yes, Sony has come out with a newer model, the DCR-PC105. Check this model out, better features and less list price. With DV, you cannot go wrong. Editing is a breeze.

    Marc
     
  9. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Unfortunately, most of the consumer mini-DV cameras are rather limited by optics and low quality CCDs... the DV formats are capable of a better picture than the camera optics can deliver. However, the generational loss you experience with Hi8 is non-existant.

    If you can afford the pricier 3 CCD cameras, go for it. They usually not only have better color due to the extra CCDs, but they also generally have better lenses onboard.

    -Scott
     
  10. Phil Tomaskovic

    Phil Tomaskovic Supporting Actor

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    Circuit City has Sony camcorders on sale plus you can get $100 back in MSN dollars (it is really a 20% deal but with a $100 max so any $500 or more camera maxes the rebate). This is an online deal only and you have to use a MSN wallet. For example, the TRV33 is $749 [plus the $100 credit]. Note you get the credit in Aug. They had a similar deal at Christmas the last few years and added this one for Fathers Day.
     
  11. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    You guys are fantastic. Have learned much here.

    However....

    Not sure if I really need to step up from my
    Sony TR101 Hi8mm camcorder or not.

    I just want to take exceptional videos on my
    vacation. The need to edit them on a computer
    has never really been an attraction for me. I
    can easily burn my Hi8mm tapes to DVD just by
    plugging my camcorder into my Philips standalone
    DVD recorder.

    Another thing that bothers me about Mini DV
    is that most of them incorporate still picture
    photography. Don't need it. I have a Nikon
    Coolpix that blows anything out of the water.
    The still picture function is just overkill as
    far as I am concerned, but it seems to be a
    feature included in most models.

    If the picture quality is that much better than
    Hi8mm then I am already sold. If I can buy a
    new camcorder in the $700-$1,000 price range that
    can tape in 16x9 anamorphic, then that is
    even better! I hate to have you guys do my homework,
    but I know so little about these camcorders. If
    anyone can recommend the BEST affordable camcorder
    that can boast everything I have talked about in
    this single paragraph, then please point me in the
    right direction.

    Thanks, everyone!
     
  12. Brajesh Upadhyay

    Brajesh Upadhyay Supporting Actor

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    Ron, I'm in the same boat. I've been considering the new Canon & Sony models. The Canon ZR70MC looks good. I've read the ZR65MC doesn't shoot well in dark environments. The Sony DCR-TRV19, 22 & 33 models also look good. c|net has reviews of "budget" camcorders here & here. I'm still reading reviews & haven't picked a camcorder yet.
     
  13. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    I don't know about MiniDV vs. Hi8, but given bright light, MiniDV units produce much better video than regular ("low-band") 8mm ones.

    When Consumer Reports evaluated camcorders, they indicated that digital models as a group were not as good at handling low light as Hi8 models. So if you get a MiniDV camcorder, you might want to hang onto that Hi8 unit.
     
  14. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    My MiniDV camcorder has a fuinction called "Gain-Up" that makes very low light camcording work really great. Grainy, but really great.
     
  15. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Much of the problem with low-light digital video is that the cameras have to compress the grain on the fly. All low-light photography has grain, but compressing that grain is not easy to do. The result is a poorer picture in low light conditions.

    Ron, if you have no desire to edit, your Hi8 camera isn't far behind in picture quality as compared to the consumer digital models. In your situation, not needing to edit, I would stay with the Hi8. Wait another year... there are some amazing things on the horizon. Tape is becoming a thing of the past...

    -Scott
     
  16. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    Ron,

    I am in a similar situation -- older Sony Hi8mm camcorder and a big trip scheduled for this summer. I looked into some of the MiniDV camcorders, but it's hard to justify the expense if you do not plan to do any editing (I do not, and it sounds like you do not either). DVD-RAM based camcorders are starting to appear, so I am not sure if this is the best time to jump into a tape format. I have decided to hang onto my Hi8mm camcorder for this trip, and instead used the money to add a Canon PowerShot G3 digital camera to my photographic arsenal.
     
  17. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I second (or third) the Sony Digital8 option. Sure, it's a proprietary format, but Sony is not exactly an obscure company either. Plus, how often are you going to be playing your tapes in someone else's camcorder? Once the information gets to your hard drive (where you probably eventually turn it into a DVD), it doesn't matter which format it came from, it will remain as AVI on your HD and you can convert it to whatever you wish in the future. I would go with D8, significantly cheaper. Additionally, they use standard 8mm and Hi8 tapes, which at least a couple of years ago were far less expensive than their MiniDV equivalent.

    --
    Holadem
     
  18. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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  19. David Susilo

    David Susilo Screenwriter

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    With me, the second most important reason in choosing D8 over miniDV (or worse, microMV) is just the size.

    Maybe my 2" 24-track 30ips background gave me this mindset, but I just don't trust anything that is tape-based which is that tiny. Just more margin for errors. Something I'd like to avoid when taping my daughter growing up.
     
  20. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

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