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Thread: How to get the best out of an old Sharp VL-PD6 MiniDV ViewCam???

  1. #1

    Default How to get the best out of an old Sharp VL-PD6 MiniDV ViewCam???


    I am shooting video for best quality web viewing. Although I am looking into the purchase of an HD Camcorder, I currently have an old Sharp VL-PD6 ViewCam which is very component with lots of manual controls, a viewfinder !! etc. The quality is OK although only DV PAL SD, but a tad dull on colours and obviously the resolution is far lower than HD. However I was wondering whether you could offer up an advice on how to get the best image quality. I am currently using JVC MiniDV 60ME 60/90 tapes. Interestingly because of its solid construction it is a very steady camera compared to a HD Flashcard camcorder I have borrowed off a friend. Advice on the above would be hugely appreciated.

    As background I am also thinking of purchasing Sony Vegas as my S/W editor and will convert to H264 Flash. In the fullness of time I may well be looking at something like the new Panasonic TM700 or more interestingly the Canon EOS 550D although it Autofocus looks dodgey for video, but its image quality is stunning.

    Thanks in advance,


  2. #2


    I can't give you specific advice on your camera just general filming advice. SD is not a dirty word. Not shooting HD is not something to be embarrassed about. Learn how to use all the manual controls on the camera. Taking time to focus properly, shooting with the best light possible, manually setting the iris, shutter speed etc., will generally give you a nicer looking image than auto.

    Learn to frame the shot, use a tripod so the filming is not wobbly. Don't zoom in and out all the time. Don't wave the camera around like a hose pipe. There is lots of useful information in this forum which you can read up on and there are a lot of tutorials on YouTube about video making. I learned everything I know about video making from the internet and then practised it in the real world.

    If the limitations of your camera give you slightly washed out colours, you can use Sony Vegas to correct them. I've seen some amazing looking results from people who can really use the software to make an image from being ok to give it a wow factor. Read up on using the right codecs, with the right settings to get the best results.

    The main point of my waffling is to encourage you to practise and get experience with all the aspects of making a video. That's how you get the best from any camera.

  3. #3



    Thanks for the advice and very interesting it is too. Having just analysed my weekend footage I agree I can do abit to improve.... It is amazing that you think you are panning slowly in the field, yet when you get back it seems too quick to watch. I was also interested in you picking up on me using Sony Vegas. My instinct is to spend abit more here and go with Sony Vegas Pro hopefully via an upgrade thus getting a better price. Adobe Premiere is beyond my budget and I was not impressed by the premiere elements so it seems that Vegas Pro has a lot going for it. I was particularly interested in your comment about using Vegas to improve the image quality via better colouration etc. So it seems that one should spend the money on the editing software now, get the technique right and then upgrade to a better camera later....????

    As a side note I am running 64bit vista on a Quad Core 8GB PC which Pro can use where Vegas Platinum can only use 32bit and 1GB RAM(for pre rendering). Any thoughts on the benefits of dedicated graphics cards with Vegas Pro.... My current graphics is onboard but still very capable .... Excellent Motherboard... I built the PC myself.

    Thanks again in advance for any comments.... I think I am going to learn abit in this forum !!!


    P.s I would sort of hope to develop this beyond hobby to be able to offer some sort of commercial web video service.... I am already looking at streaming options like Amazon....

  4. #4


    Going the upgrade route seems like the most economic route for you to get Vegas Pro. It seems like you have built yourself a nice PC. I don't know enough about graphics cards to advise you.

    Good luck with your venture.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Blog Entries


    Hi Sam, with older camcorders the secret to good looking pictures is light... lots of it. In sunlight or bright light, SD camcorders will produce their best quality. In good light it's sometimes almost impossible to tell the difference between good and mediocre camcorders. Regardless of what the brochure says (records EVEN in CANDLELIGHT!!!) no camcorder performs at its best in low light situations.
    For t'internet, SD is fine until you feel the need to upgrade. As for the tapes, chose a brand and then stick with them. Each manufacturer uses their own type of lubrication on the tape. In the past, using different brands could cause the various lubricants to react and gunge up the heads. The makers claim to have sorted this but occasional stories still crop up, so why risk it? Unlike film, there's no difference in picture quality between different brands, the only gotcha is that some cheaper brands may suffer more drop-out than the "known" makes.

    My suggestions when starting out are KISS (Keep It Slow and Simple). Bung the camera on a tripod and avoid moving it if possible. Compose the picture, then keep away from that zoom button. It's a bit like driving a car, once you can confidently move slowly around the car park, doing a ton on a straight motorway is easy!

  6. #6


    Thanks for all of the replies.

    My concern with only using SD was that it did not really offer "professonal" image quality even for the web. Is this correct?

    However I do understand the KISS pronciple now that I have seen some of my initial footage.!


  7. #7


    To put your mind at rest about SD not being good enough have a look at the video below. It was shot in standard definition. While it may lack the pin Sharp clarity of HD. In my opinion the image quality does look good enough for uploading on the internet.

    One factor you seem to be missing in your equation is the interest/entertainment factor of the thing you are filming. I saw a very good movie the other month that had been shot using a mobile phone. The thing that made it good was the story it told along with good editing.

    All art is a mixture of communication and technical skill. If you concentrate to much on the technical you loose the most important part the communication.

    Sorry, I don't mean to lecture but I think this is an important point lost with some video makers who are too wrapped up in the technical side of video making.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Blog Entries


    There are all sorts of opinions about what is "professional" quality.

    Up until a couple of years ago, most of our wedding professionals on this forum used SD and they certainly are very professional! Some of the satellite broadcasters still shoot on SD and they make good stuff. HD is (in my opinion) "better" for a number of reasons but that doesn't mean that all SD is bad.

    The three biggest technical influences on how "professional" a production appears are:

    1. Lighting
    2. Sound
    3. Camerawork

    and then editing, equipment, presentation etc.

    If you get your lighting right, you can film with a mobile phone and it will look more "professional" than a poorly lit scene shot in HD. In the same way a poor soundtrack or voice-over will do your production more damage than by using a secondhand SD camcorder. Finally: "tromboning" "hosepiping" and "boating" will make the most impressive footage look home-made.*

    *Tromboning is where you keep using the zoom, like a trombone player.
    *Hosepiping is where the camera keeps moving, like someone watering the garden.
    *Boating is where the camera keeps moving up and down, like being in a boat, often seen with steadycam-type devices.

    So, in your situation, especially as it's for internet use, I would start in SD and see how it goes before spending money on an HD upgrade. It may be that, after a few shoots, you decide to get some decent lighting or a better microphone before getting a new camcorder. Just my opinion. Gotta keep saying that since the only "laws" in videomaking are the laws of nature, everything else is just... opinion.

  9. #9


    Midnight Blue,

    Very nice video.... and production. Was the 16:9 on the camera or via editor? Also did you ad some of the starlight effects by the editor? I assume that you used Vegas Pro 9 for this? The SD quality certainly looks excellent.... fantastic colours... Are there different qualities of miniDV or is it just a function of better miniDV camera? Also I assume that you were using a tripod for this?



  10. Default

    The Gaffer,

    Thanks for this great advice. I have lots to learn on my humble SD camera !!!!



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