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Old October 26th, 2008, 10:14 AM   #1
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Mini DV carriage longevity

Hello... I've been lurking here for a few weeks, and have recently bought a mint used Sony FX1. I also have a Sony SR11, and an SR45. But the FX1 is the first camera I've ever owned that uses mini DV media. I use Vegas primarily, and recently on the Vegas forums there has been discussion about using these inexpensive tape rewinders to save on the mechanism of the FX1. Basically, this is akin to using the VHS rewinders most people have used when VHS was the rave.

So the question I have is whether or not there is objective data to support the assertion that one should use a less expensive camera to rewind tapes for the FX1--or maybe even use an actual mini DV deck to both rewind/fast-forward *and* playback for capture purposes?

Is this just an issue of a common sense argument, or is there actual proof one way or the other? Is there a MTBF listed by the manufacturers for the carriages on these more expensive cameras?

Thanks in advance.

TB
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Old October 26th, 2008, 12:23 PM   #2
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Generally you would only make a second pass (to dump the footage onto your hard drive), no FF/RW to stress the carriage or wear the mech unduly. Yes, you'd be putting SOME wear on the camera every time you record or play back, but if taken care of, the mech/heads are rated in the 1000+ hours range from what I've heard. Doesn't mean they don't fail or need adjusting sooner or later, but again, with PROPER care, the minimal extra use of dumping tapes to your computer shouldn't be a big deal.
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Old October 26th, 2008, 12:47 PM   #3
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You mention a tape rewinder similar to those used for VHS. If there is a MiniDV equivalent, I would be very, very wary of it unless it is 'smart'. The winding of VHS tapes is pretty brutal - just wind as fast as you can until the tape stops. That's fine for a large tape format and low quality. For MiniDV, though, the tolerances, size and quality work against you. You may have noticed that when winding, a MiniDV deck or camcorder changes the speed according to the tape position. This ensures a gentle stop.

Many DVCAM decks use exactly the same mechanisms as MiniDV (or full size DV) and these are intended for hefty abuse in editing rooms.
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Old October 26th, 2008, 02:17 PM   #4
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There are a few mini DV rewinders on the market, but all of them seem to have the same problem...they eat tapes. More accurately put, they deform the tapes (as far as I can tell). But I am not sure I followed Dave's point exactly--you'd record the footage, rewind the tape, play the tape to capture the footage into your PC, and then rewind the tape again. So that's a fair amount of activity for each tape, IMO.

While I started this review process going in search of a tape rewinder, I have basicially abandoned that thought--for the exact reasons mentioned here. But I do like the looks of the Sony GVHD-700 Video Walkman unit though, though it is somewhat pricey. But it is both AC and battery powered, has a screen to review the footage while you are still recording (like at a sporting event, for example), and it also supports the iLink functionality--so you can also transfer footage to the PC using this device. And I swear that I just saw the guys on the TV program "Monster Quest" using something lust like it as a portable TV monitor with a remote camera. I'm not sure I'd ever use that feature, but my point is that it's a very versatile unit.

So while it costs about $1000 to buy new, it may be well worth it if a person plans to shoot a bunch of mini DV footage.

Thanks guys.

TB
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Old October 26th, 2008, 08:18 PM   #5
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I think it is a good idea to have a second camera or additional deck to save wear on the higher end more expensive equipment you may own.

Sometimes I leave my tapes played out to the end of recording rather than rewinding them after capture. There is no need to rewind tapes before storage, and storing with "tails out" is not a bad thing unless others are going to be using the tapes, and in that case you may as well be "kind and rewind."

But I think an old second camera that might have issues could still be a good "rr" machine.
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Old October 27th, 2008, 08:17 PM   #6
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I had a Sony TRV 10 for about 8 or 9 years before it died and I beat the snot out of it. Used it for capture and transfer to PC. It finally coughed off when somewhere in the electronics it stopped wanting to record red.

When I took it apart there was some corrosion in the circuitry. I expect that was due to repeated and prolonged exposure to salt air.

If the cam you're interested in has been well cared for I don't think you'll have much of a problem. BTW, having a cheap cam just for transferring footage to your computer is a good idea.
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Old October 27th, 2008, 10:24 PM   #7
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Well, I'd have to get an HD camera in order to play HDV into the PC then. Instead I think I'd probably just get myself a Sony GVH-D700 video walkman unit, and take that into the field...or use it in the study for everything from RW/FF, to transferring HDV to the PC. Pretty neat unit.

TB
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Old October 27th, 2008, 10:51 PM   #8
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rewinders and tape decks

An external tape deck would rewind. Does anyone make one that works with an XH-A1?
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Old October 28th, 2008, 09:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Betka View Post
Well, I'd have to get an HD camera in order to play HDV into the PC then. Instead I think I'd probably just get myself a Sony GVH-D700 video walkman unit, and take that into the field...or use it in the study for everything from RW/FF, to transferring HDV to the PC. Pretty neat unit.
Yeah it is, but its MSRP is more than an HDV camera. I shoot with an XH A1 and capture with an HV10 which cost me about US$900 a year ago. I don't know what might be a comparable unit in the Sony realm but you might get more use out of a small HDV camera. I've used the HV10 for lots of things over the last year and it's been useful where the A1 would be too big and for b-roll.

You might want to consider that option within the context of what you expect your shooting requirements to be in the future.
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Old October 28th, 2008, 09:57 AM   #10
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There is one deck that will play Canon's 24F, and thats a new Sony and I can't think of the number (something-35?). There's a thread about it around here someplace. I think it's under $4K, which is a very good price for a decent deck. If you work in a production house with clients bringing in tapes and switch back and forth between tapes to capture a shot here and there as you edit, then a deck would be essential. But if you edit your own stuff or capture everything from your shoot in advance of editing, then using a camera is fine.

I'm considering the HV30 but have been using my XH A1 for quite awhile for capturing. Generally I capture most of an entire tape in 2 or 3 chunks, rather than going through and logging individual shots as I did in the old days. That puts much less wear and tear on the mechanism. However, I think it's still best to have a separate capture device. Now that the HV30 is down to 700 bucks at B&H, it's a nicely attractive option. And, as mentioned above, you have a good secondary camera.
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