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Old April 19th, 2005, 09:12 AM   #1
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DVCAM vs. Betacam SP

Hi

I was just wondering, to shoot a television serial drama and if given the choice what format would you choose DVCAM or Betacam SP? I am limited between these two choices and to be honest not too sure which to go with and why, so if someone can help me out... And which models of cameras should I choose for either? Basically what's the difference in quality between both?

Cheers...
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Old April 19th, 2005, 09:22 AM   #2
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You can see Adam Wilt's opinion at his DV FAQ:
http://www.adamwilt.com/DV-FAQ-tech.html

DV, DVCAM, DVCPRO (D-7), Digital8 9
MII, Betacam SP 8.9

Quote:
Please note that I'm rating the formats here, not any particular implementation. For example, even though DVCAM and Digital8 are identical in their fundamental picture quality, a $15,000 DVCAM DSR-500 is going to make a much better looking picture than an $800 Digital8 Handycam! Don't confuse the images produced by a bit of equipment with the underlying capability of its recording medium.
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Old April 19th, 2005, 02:03 PM   #3
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Thanks a lot Gleen for the article, I read most of it but where does it compare DVCAM to Betacam SP and tell you which is the better format?
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Old April 19th, 2005, 02:17 PM   #4
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Well, it's practically the very first thing on the page! Push the DV, DVCam, DVCPro link and it will move you the few paragraphs down to access the detail. This is a debate that amused us five and even eight years ago -- but not lately.

A Google will turn up more detail, but the fact is that BetaSP is an old, legacy format. Nothing wrong with a good BetaSP camcorder, and even a mediocre one is better than a mediocre DV25 device ... but the best DV25 devices are on par with the better BetaSP devices. It's just plain old technology now, and has enjoyed any sort of development for years.

Far more important is going to be what level of device you can afford, whether you will be able to stick to a good post production path, light well, et cetera.

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Old April 19th, 2005, 11:51 PM   #5
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Are you buying a camera?

Or are you going to get someone else to shoot?

I really don't have experience with either type of camera so take what I say with a grain of salt! However, from what I can figure:

If buying/renting a camera, it probably makes the most sense to get a camera that's really good value... those tend to be DVCAM, DVCPRO, and mini-DV cameras (for standard definition). Cameras equivalent to betaSP would be ones with manual lenses, 1/2" or 2/3" CCDs and are shoulder mountable. i.e. Sony DSR series (the mid to high end of it).

If getting someone else to shoot, probably go with what they have. A lot of cameramen own their own camera and know how to use it. This can be more important than minor technical differences. As well, betaSP kind of implies that they have been around for some time and have experience. That may not be a strong way to figuring out if the cameraperson is experienced and talented though. You could look through demo reels if you'd like.
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Old April 20th, 2005, 01:34 AM   #6
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Well I am not buying a camera, I already have a DVCAM DSR-390, but if this model is not enough or not good enough I might purchase a used Betacam SP DXC-D50SPL, depends...

I might even purchase a used Digi Beta DVW-700P, but I don't know if there would be much loss in its signal since I am going to use a Matrox system to edit the serial...

My background is in film, so if someone can kindly direct me to the right choice that would give me the best result for the best price, I can say that I have a budget of upto $ 13,000/- for such equipment...

Someone suggested that I should get the DVCAM DSR-570 with a broadcast lens as he said and it will be just fine and its results will be better than a Betacam SP, so I don't really know how true that is...

Thanks
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Old April 20th, 2005, 01:51 AM   #7
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The 390 will do quite well. Furthermore, You won't experience tape dropouts as the BetaSP format suffers from.

You really cannot get better video unless you go up in bandwidth. Any of the 50 Mhz formats are better than DV because of the differences in color capture and IIRC, slightly less compression. But you move up to the greater expense of 2/3" cameras.

Were I going to move up from my DSR-300, I'd be waiting to see what happens at the lower end of the HD market. I think Sony has already announce a move there with a DSR-700 series. But that may still be a lot of money.

Guess if I were you, I'd go talk to the distributors to whom you expect to sell the program.
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Old April 20th, 2005, 08:17 AM   #8
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IMHO if you're using the DSR series you'll get a better image with DVCAM than Beta SP, but the best choise would be Digi Beta.
But, if you have the 390 I'm sure you know if it;s good enough for you or not.
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Old April 20th, 2005, 10:47 PM   #9
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use your current camera ...
you might rent ( day here or there ) if you have special situations that your camera doesn't do well under ...
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Old April 23rd, 2005, 01:26 AM   #10
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This topic comes up from time to time..

and people tend to be biased in their answers.

BetaCam SP does not have a lot of drop outs in it, however, BetaCam Sp is aging as a format. If BetaCam SP is not downcoverted to firewire, it is probably slightly better, especially for keying purposes.

I don't see how any reality show could be shot with betacam sp alone however. I would always want a couple of extra dv cameras always available to grab quicky moments.

Are the newer digital dockable cameras still supporting betacam sp? If they are, the real test would be to try both a DV-CAM back and a BetaCam Sp back on the same camera.

Although BetaCam SP is now an "old format", I still see BetaCam SP archival footage that was shot ten years ago that still looks incredible. DV-CAM's biggest advantage is for a potentially small drop in quality the amount of mbs that DV-CAM requires is vastly more efficient to what it takes to use BetaCam SP in the NLE environment.

Answer, I'd use both.
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Old April 23rd, 2005, 04:52 AM   #11
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Thanks a lot guys for your feedback...

Basically as I said this is for a television serial drama that we are planning to shoot and not for a reality tv show...

Well can anybody show me a clip of a shot shot on DVCAM versus a smiliar clip shot on Digi Beta? Is there such a thing on the net were we can see the quality of picture between both?

Thanks again
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Old April 23rd, 2005, 06:47 AM   #12
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The DVCAM may also have 16:9,

IMO you are what you shoot and to me ,in general BETA SP looks like bad 80's video clips .


DVCAM may be a punchier look.

Cheers,
Ben Gurvich
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Old April 23rd, 2005, 10:29 AM   #13
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Bad 80's video clips?

What kind of experience do you have being around BetaCam SP?
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Old April 23rd, 2005, 10:30 AM   #14
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Hello,

I like SP for the 4:2:2 color space and the units are generally built for rugged use, very good quality. DVCAM is great depending on the camera, but it is 4:1:1 color space. With the better cameras, their CCDs and circuitry are better and you can get good keys without flawless lighting, but the bucks go up for better cameras obviously.

One of the questions you should be asking is where the editing will be done. If you are doing your edits, your NLE will be a very powerful ingredient in your decision making process... right?

Feel around your area and see who you may be using on your shoots and query them on what equipment they have, and like to use. The preferences of your teammates are extremely important, especially if they are doing your edits or using their camera gear.

Now I know you said that you are using your camera, but what if it fails, you might then have to rent or use one of your cameraman's cameras. This is why keeping a format that works with your teammates is so important when making this type of decision.

JMHO :-)
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Old April 23rd, 2005, 01:44 PM   #15
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Just another quick question, now if I go out and shoot the TV serial using DVCAM, but most channels around us broadcast using Beta or Digi Beta tapes, will I suffer a huge loss when I transfer my final project that was shot on DVCAM and edited on Matrox to a Beta or Digi Beta tape and will it look bad during broadcasting or it will look as good as we have filmed it and edited it?
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