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Old October 6th, 2004, 03:27 PM   #1
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Quality difference between HD and Digibeta?

Hi -
I was wondering what the differences between Digibeta and HD are - why would someone use one over the other?

Thanks
Ari
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Old October 6th, 2004, 04:23 PM   #2
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Digibeta is a (storage) format, HD is not. HD is a term to describe
a higher resolution than SD. Do you want to compare SD versus HD?
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Old October 6th, 2004, 04:58 PM   #3
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I was actually wondering why the most expensive video cameras BHPhoto offers were Sony Betacams, rather than Sony Cinealtas or Panavisions or whatnot .

I basically looking for a comparison between the two formats - what makes them similar, what makes the different - out of curiosity.
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Old October 6th, 2004, 06:56 PM   #4
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I was actually wondering why the most expensive video cameras BHPhoto offers were Sony Betacams, rather than Sony Cinealtas or Panavisions or whatnot .

I basically looking for a comparison between the two formats - what makes them similar, what makes the different - out of curiosity.


The main difference, like Rob said, is in what they record. DigiBeta records Standard Definition images, HiDef cameras (like the CineAlte and the Varicam) record High Definition images.

So the real difference is in the formats that they record. Standard Definition has less resolution (720x480) than High Def (1920X1080), so Hi Def images are sharper, with more apparent detail. I believe they also handle color differently, with DigiBeta sampling color at 4:2:2 (I could be wrong about that, anyone know) and while the newer HiDef cameras like the Viper CineStream and the CineAlta 950 will sample color at 4:4:4 - generally giving you a broader color pallete to work with.

Also, those cameras mention are able to record at varying speeds approximating film motion - the CineAlta will record at 24p, and the Varicam will record at any speed, I believe, between 24p and 60p. Digibeta, like most video, is stuck with 60i and 30p (or in the PAL version, 50i and 25p).

They're similar in that they're both built on standard ENG bodies and work similarly - though the use options are different between the two (and the HD cameras, being HD, you have to have an HD monitor or a downconverter in order to see what's coming out of it - whereas DigiBeta is just SD video, it can plug right into any TV set or monitor).

That being said - if you put a Sony CineAlte and a Sony DigiBeta next to each other, kitted out the same, with the same set up, recording the same image under the same conditions, the two pictures will be different (at least, if you're monitoring the HD signal coming out of the CineAlta). The CineAlta (or any other pro HD camera) will have more detail, sharper resolution, and a deeper color pallette.

The real difference between them is the quality of the picture they produce - which all comes down to the fact that they record in two completely different formats. And as much as I love working with DigiBeta (I don't get a chance that often) the CineAlta blows it out of the water.

The reason you don't see them on BH Photo is price. They are extemely high price items. I don't think I've ever seen any one thing on BH Photo (camera or lens, alone) that was more than $30,000. The CineAlta body alone MSRP's for between $100,000 and $115,000. The Varicam between $60,000 and $75,000. And that's before you start putting lenses on it. That is, frankly, out of the price range of most people.
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Old October 6th, 2004, 07:03 PM   #5
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Out of my price league too ;)
FYI the most expensive camera I found at BH Photo was a Betacam for over $50,000. I'm pretty sure it was a kit of some kind though ;)

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=326776&is=REG

At prices like that, are there even retailers for the Cinealtas and Varicams, or do you just buy direct from Sony or whomever?

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Old October 6th, 2004, 08:55 PM   #6
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Ari,

B&H doesn't sell Varicam or HDcam cameras. A Varicam Cost about $65,000 without a lens and the Sony F900 costs about $100,000 without a lens. That $51,000 Digibeta on B&H was also without a lens. A lens for any of these cameras will cost $10,000 - $60,000.

Digibeta is Standard Def (SD) and shoots 720x480 @ 60i

SDX-900 (DVCpro50) is Standard Def (SD) and shoots 720x480 @ 60i, 30p, or 24p

Varicam (DVCpro100) is Hi Def (HD) and shoots 1280x720 @ 4p-60p

Sony F900 (HDcam) is Hi Def (HD) and shoots 1920x1280 @ 24p

People choose different cameras for a lot of different reasons. The Sony F900/F950 Cinealta's are pretty much the top of the digital hill right now, but the Varicam is very nice and has some special features.

I don't know why anyone would still use Digibeta when Panasonic DVCpro50 cameras are just as good and cost half as much or for a little bit more you can get a Varicam.

It sounds like you are more interested in the tape format differences of HDcam, HDV, Beta SP, DigiBeta, DVCpro100, DVCpro50, etc. Look at this for some basics:

http://www.macmillanfilms.com/formats.asp
http://www.adamwilt.com/DV-tech.html
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Old October 7th, 2004, 03:35 AM   #7
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Keep in mind that you cannot BUY a Panavision. They only rent...
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Old October 7th, 2004, 01:33 PM   #8
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<<<-- Originally posted by Ari Shomair : Out of my price league too ;)
FYI the most expensive camera I found at BH Photo was a Betacam for over $50,000. I'm pretty sure it was a kit of some kind though ;)

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=326776&is=REG

At prices like that, are there even retailers for the Cinealtas and Varicams, or do you just buy direct from Sony or whomever? -->>>

There are a handful of resellers for the Sony anyway - there is a link to them on their website.

Not that long ago, one of the resellers (I can't remember which) was offereing a hell of a financing deal on F900s - no interest for the first 5 years or so (on a 10 year loan) with a 10% downpayment. Still more than I could afford, but a good offer.

Every so often, you will see an owner sell a CineAlta or a Varicam second hand, usually because they've upgraded. Sony's just now releasing the new CineAlta, the F950, so a lot of F900 owners are upgrading. Still, every second hand F900 I've ever seen started at $65,000.
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