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Old June 18th, 2006, 02:04 AM   #1
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VTR"Deck" vs. Camera

I'd like to get feedback on the pros and cons of using a deck over a camera to upload my video from mini-dv tape into FCP. I have a Canon XL2 and two GL2's that I shoot with. I would like to come away from using any of those cameras to upload my video. I've heard of people using cheaper "off the shelf" video cameras that they leave hooked up to their computers to get their footage into their editing software of choice. Any feedback is appreciated...thanks in advance.
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Old June 18th, 2006, 05:20 PM   #2
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In my opinion, there's something to be said about a quality piece of equipment dedicated to a purpose. Once I got my deck, my cameras stay in their bags and not become a part time edit suite accessory. The tape goes from camera to deck to storage. Ultimately, I will get more reliable service out of my cameras by offloading all the tape shuttling and headwear of preview, clip logging, and capture. It also saves disk space because I no longer capturing the whole tape to save on wear and tear from shuttling through a tape looking for the best take. Your mileage may vary.

I picked up a Sony DSR-11 after trying the equivalent JvC and returning it. I would get jitter in the audio from the JvC while the Sony worked just fine. I use a variety of Canon and Sony camcorders and everything works on the DSR-11 as long as it was recorded in SP mode.
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Old June 28th, 2006, 01:07 AM   #3
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VTR "Deck" vs. Camera

Thanks for the input Ernest. What you said makes total sense, I just have to make a decision on whether or not to stretch my budget to afford a deck. I use Canon cameras (XL2 and GL2) so I also want to be sure the deck I do spring for is going to work great.
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Old June 28th, 2006, 01:28 AM   #4
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I use a Sharp WD250U that I bought refurbished about 4 years ago as my capture device. I am still using it today, and I have not even run a tape cleaner through. I think that was a good investment.

All you are doing when you capture from any camera is sending 0's and 1's to the computer. A cheap $ 300 camera will do the same as the $1,500 decks. I don't see a reason for it.

There have been some reports of problems between brands. That should not be an issue if the DV format is adhered to. I've heard some speculation that placement of the data on the tape by a misaligned camera recording device to one side or the other that can create a problem in some cases. I have no idea about the inside techical aspects.
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Old June 28th, 2006, 09:36 AM   #5
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Deck Advantage

I also use a Sony DSR-11 deck for all of my edit suite work. Another advantage with using a deck is the speed of rewinding the tape. When I shoot in the field I take the tape out of the camera without rewinding it. I use the camera VTR mode as little as possible (if ever). You don't want to put wear and tear on a camera that cost $6000 versus a deck that cost $2000.
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Old June 28th, 2006, 05:28 PM   #6
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VTR "Deck" vs. Camera

I've got a tape rewinder, so I'm not likely to consider the speed of rewinding with a deck a deciding factor. I am trying to determine if there is a technical advantage, as well as, quality preservation advantage to using a $2,000.00 dollar deck vs. a $3-400.00 dollar camera.
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Old June 28th, 2006, 06:16 PM   #7
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Tom, I fried my XL2 a year ago because I was using it as a playback deck. I bought the cheapo camera and it works fine. You are much better off this way...Less wear and tear on the heads, and less concern about other issues that may arise. Because the signal is digital there is no loss of quality. And all the other info is there too...16X9, 24P or 30P, etc.
I've seen these cameras offered for less than $300 on this site and others. Well worth the investment...
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Old June 28th, 2006, 11:55 PM   #8
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A deck like the DSR11 has a few minor advantages like:
-reads DVCAM (most cameras do this anyways though)
-records DVCAM
-records onto full-size tape (useful for live work)
-faster tape shuttle speed
-tape loading mechanism makes sense.

The higher-end versions of that deck have even more advantages... and the price gets up there (look up the DSR-2000 on B&H :D about $14k). Even faster shuttling, SDI in/out, component in/out, handles 7.5 IRE setup properly, really good tape tracking, and maybe some other features.

Because camcorders are a mass market item, the price is hard to beat. I don't think the deck is worth it for the few minor advantages they give.
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Old July 4th, 2006, 11:15 PM   #9
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What about time code?

Will these cheap cameras send through the time code as part of the 0s and 1s? I guess they should.
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Old July 5th, 2006, 01:42 AM   #10
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As I read in other similar threads, the main advantages to having a deck are reducing the wear to the tape deck heads in the camera, and freeing up the camera for field use. It's mainly a business thing, as not having a camera free means a loss in profits. The thing I've heard is that if you shoot 100 tapes or more of footage a year, get a deck. Significantly less, and you should be fine using the cam as a deck.
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Old July 5th, 2006, 03:11 AM   #11
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Using a cheapo DV camera as a feeder is great because you've also got a small dv camera to take with you on vacation as opposed to dragging around an 8 lb camera with a 9 pound tripod lenses batteries etc., The only problem is that if you ever use a real deck it makes using a feeder camera feel like a dial up internet connection.
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Old July 5th, 2006, 04:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Will these cheap cameras send through the time code as part of the 0s and 1s? I guess they should.
Yes.

Quote:
The only problem is that if you ever use a real deck it makes using a feeder camera feel like a dial up internet connection.
If you do DV scene start/stop detection, that's not a big deal.
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Old July 8th, 2006, 08:14 PM   #13
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HD as well?

Does this also hold true for HD?

I'm considering buying an HD camera & do not have additional funds for a deck at this time - this would be helpful knowing that I'm not wearing out an expensive camera unnecessarily.
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Old July 12th, 2006, 09:29 PM   #14
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VTR "Deck" vs. Camera

All excellent information. I feel much better about purchasing an "off the shelf" camera to upload my source footage from. Does anyone have any suggestions or thoughts on what their favorite camera to use with Final Cut and iMovie would be? Any thoughts on what subtle things one might look for or consider in an "off the shelf" mini DV camera to be used for getting my footage into my NLE? Thanks again you guys have been great.
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