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Thread: MiniDV/DVCam Vs HDD/SD Card cameras?

  1. #1

    Default MiniDV/DVCam Vs HDD/SD Card cameras?

    Probably a total newbie question but it's been a good 8 years since I bought a camcorder and I'm in the market for a new one. It's going to be used to film extreme sports (skating/etc) and I'm aware of the need for a fisheye lens, etc, but I have a more fundamental query - are the current gen of HDD and/or SD card cameras any good?! I've always been under the impression that the compression quality is vastly inferior to MiniDV cameras, but the latter have all but disappeared from the high street - can anyone shed any light for me? As long as the footage looks good and isn't going to look shabby on a giveaway DVD I'll be happy!

    TIA guys!

  2. #2
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    Current generation cameras use the AVCHD codec rather than DV used by miniDV. Although the compression used is greater, the method of compression is much more efficient. This means that HD content can now be recorded to hard drives, which wasn't really much of an option for DV. So the first thing to note is that the current crop of cameras are recording at a higher resolution. So for any given optics, the picture quality is, in theory, supperior.

    There are, of course, sacrifices. In order to deliver more for less (i.e. greater resolution at a lower file size), the compression is far greater. Typically, editing software wasn't developed to deal with compression between frames, which is what's used in AVCHD cameras. This means that older software can't edit at all, and older PCs are unlikely to be able to edit well with the right software. To put is simply, the minimum spec for editing AVCHD is far greater than DV. So that's the second point. You will need to check your software can edit and your PC is capabable of editing AVCHD. However if you're going to gove your footage on DVD, you will be downcoverting anyway, and you can downconvert to DV before editing.

    So, in summary. You will not notice a difference between DV and AVCHD at any given price point, but you will be getting higher definition. You are likely however to notice a greater difficulty in editing unless you have a fairly new, high specced machine.

  3. Default

    I find myself in a similar position to you! It's about time I upgraded my outfit. And in one of the TV mags this week is an advert for a Dell laptop and SonyDCRSX30E with 4gb onboard (, I've searched there website and can't find the offer! But the 17" version has a firewire link, so the quetion is could I use my mini DV cam with this laptop. And upgrade to a better cam later, because the Sony is not HD (as I understand), but then what software would I need for editing. I currently use Ulead MSpro at the moment and as I got it free off a mag it has become a favourite!


  4. #4


    Thank you Marc, that's incredibly useful!

    I always had a negative slant on the previous generation of HDD cameras and indeed any advice you browse from as recent as 2 years ago seems to suggest that MiniDV cameras offer superior quality, so I was just looking for pointers from someone who wasn't trying to sell me a HDD camera in a shop that didn't have MiniDV cameras hehe. It doesn't even seem that the previous generation of 3CCD semi-pro MiniDVs are widely available now so I assume they've widely been replaced in all but full broadcast situations. As I say, I'm not really concerned about the camera being full broadcast standard, it's more just not wasting money on something that's really only going to be any use for home video standard stuff.

    Would anyone have any recommendations? The usage, as I say, would be for filming extreme sports/skating. I'm not really so concerned about price but obviously the cheaper the better, heh.

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