Camcorders and HDTV Resolution

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Greg Lovern, Sep 3, 2003.

  1. Greg Lovern

    Greg Lovern Agent

    Apr 28, 1999
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    Can digital camcorders take advantage of HDTV resolution? Or do they only display at NTSC resolution, even on an HDTV?

    If some digital camcorders can take advantage of HDTV resolution, what about the Sony TRV730? The TRV730 has 690,000 effective video pixels, which is more than NTSC(345,600), but less than HDTV (2,073,600 for 1080i). (Correct me if I'm wrong about those NTSC & HDTV numbers?)

    Does the TRV730 have to convert its 690,000 pixels down to 345,600 to display on an HDTV, or can it display all 690,000 pixels if connected to the HDTV's HD input?

    My wife is due with our first in November, and we've decided to get our first camcorder. Money is tight, so I'm looking for something used on eBay. I'm trying to keep the cost of the camcorder itself below about $300. But, obviously we'll be using it indoors a lot, so low-light capability is important.

    While trying to get up to speed on camcorder technology, I found that digital camcorders with great low-light ability are on the expensive side, and even the best are not as good in low light as a good analog Hi8. I was leaning toward making do with an old Hi8 for now, like maybe a Sony TR-81, which was highly regarded for its low light ability and is now selling for less than about $150 on eBay.

    But the editing and picture-quality advantages of digital formats are tempting too. I understand the 1st and 2nd generation Sony TRVxxx series are relatively good in low light. Their 290,000 effective video pixels equate to about 403 lines (correct me if I'm wrong?), very slightly better than S-VHS resolution.

    I had just about settled on the TRV310, when I found out that the best two 2nd-generation TRVs, the TRV730 and TRV830, had much higher resolution -- 690,000 effective video pixels. At a minimum, that would provide DVD resolution, but I haven't been able to figure out if you'd see all 690,000 pixels on an HDTV, or just 345,600.

    The 730 would stretch my budget a little, but it looks like I could find one for less than $400 if I'm patient. It might be worth it to see 130% more pixels, but maybe not to see just 19% more pixels.

    One other issue with the TRV730 is that some say it's worse in low light than the earlier TRVs because the same-size CCD (and therefore the same amount of light) has that many more pixels, therefore less light per pixel. But others say no, the 730/830 is *better* in low light than the earlier TRVs, based on their own observation. Any thoughts on that? I have a friend with a 730, and he isn't real happy with its low light ability.

    Since the TRV series can play Hi8 tapes and send them as a digital signal to a computer for editing in software, it might work out well to get the TRV730 for sunny outdoor shooting, and an old (Hi8) TR-81 for indoor and other low light shooting. But that would take me further beyond my budget than I'm really comfortable with, besides having to lug around 2 camcorders.

    I'd appreciate any suggestions, but mainly I'm interested in knowing if the TRV730 can show all 690,000 of its effective video pixels on an HDTV, or just 345,600.

    Many Thanks,

  2. Dwight Amato

    Dwight Amato Stunt Coordinator

    Nov 29, 1998
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    I wouldn't read into the specs to much, especially on a camera that costs less then $300. Specs are specs, and they don't mean much in the real world. They are pointing out what the CCD is capable of capturing, but there are many other variables. What about the lens? Internal optics? I guarantee any inexpensive camcorder will not display it's rated lines of resolution.

    For more info you should go to and post at their forums over there. I would also consider going digital. I also just got my first camcorder for my first baby, and it is very cool to connect it up to the computer and make a perfect DVD copy of my tapes. Now I can send my DVD's to my in laws far away and they can watch their grand daughter in digital goodness.

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