I have been using a Canon MiniDV camcorder (MV600i) for several years editing quite happily with Adobe Premiere and going to DVD with Adobe Encore. I am very happy with the format and quite experienced with the various software.

The problem for me now is that my old Canon 800k pixel density cam is being put to shame by better quality video.... In short it seems time for me to upgrade.

Now I am more your opportunist kind of videographer who gets better clips from 'commando' shooting with a small camcorder rather than one who is accustomed to one of those 1500+ breeze blocks on his shoulder. I would love to be able to afford the results of a professional cam but I could not live with either the bulk or the price. To go completely HiDef 1080i at this stage means not only a new cam, but a new computer, DVD player and expensive HDVD media. Additionally HDVD or BluRay players will not be widely owned in UK for some time so sending a disk to a mate will not become commonplace for a long time.

Back to cams..... Unfortunately whilst the pro cams stick with MiniDV for genuine quality and editability reasons, the consumer cams are marching in the opposite direction towards Hard Disk or DVD. The choice of consumer MiniDV cams is shrinking and the range of high-end / high quality cams is even smaller.

I did originally think of a good 3CCD cam as a step up in quality although the choice in MiniDV format is becoming very limited. It also occurred to me that most of the HDV cameras available can record in both 1080i and traditional DV. I don't particularly want to upgrade to an all HiDef operation right now due to the massive outlay. It would however make sense to future-proof my spend on a good quality HDV camera that I will use only for DV for now until the prices of the other kit comes down.

So I went to my local retailer armed with a blank casette. I recorded a clip from one of their low-end cameras and then followed it with a clip from a Sony HC5E HDV camcorder but in DV mode. I then captured the footage in AP and burnt the resulting MPEG to DVD.

And the result was ? Well not very much difference really. The low-end clip was native 4:3 and slightly poorer quality than my present Canon. The clip from the Sony was native 16:9 and a little crisper...... unfortunately not the startling result I ws looking for.

Both the Canon HV20 and the Sony HC5E are similar animals. They can both record in 1080i or DV, furthermore they can both output a previously recorded 1080i clip down a firewire internally transcoded as a normal DV clip. Not being able to test this myself I am wondering if the resultant capture would be of any better quality than the traditional DV recording on the HD cam?

Does anyone have any experience of this ?

I am currently left wondering if the investment is worth it at all !