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Old June 17th, 2005, 04:26 AM   #1
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MiniDV vs DVCAM?

Should the tape type figure heavily in the consideration of a new camera purchase?
I mean, the Canon GL-1 & 2 only records on MiniDV, the Sony PD150/170/X10 only record on the larger DVCAM tapes (I believe so, anyway - or can they do either tape size?).
In terms of quality, what's the safest? I've had really bad experiences with miniDV stock before, heaps of dropouts that I could never really pinpoint to camera heads or deck or simply bad stock.. But now I've read a few threads and some of the posts are about DVCAM dropouts... I know neither will be failsafe, so should the tape size be a HUGE consideration? I'm guessing overall quality of what's actually recorded is going to be due to the actual camera capabilities (pixel count/CCD's etc)?

Em
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Old June 17th, 2005, 04:36 AM   #2
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A search (link is in the bar above) on "minidv dvcam" (without the quotes)
yielded the following links on the first two pages:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=46031
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=43813
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=41622
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=40757
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=39724
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Old June 17th, 2005, 09:14 AM   #3
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the dvcam tapes that the pd170, pdx10, etc use are the same size as mini dv. there is a bigger size dvcam tape also, which many of the decks take, as well as the bigger eng style cameras. this is much like beta, umatic, etc tapes which come in a smaller size for cameras and a bigger one for editing decks. the difference between dv and dvcam is the speed at which the tape runs. (the small dvcam tapes, which are basically 60 minute mini dv tapes, give you 40 minutes of recording. spreading the data out over more physical tape makes them less dropout-prone. the above cameras will also take mini dv, though they won't do "lp" mode with mini dv. (which is best not to do anyhow.) this is convenient if you run out of tapes on a shoot and have to grab some at cvs or something.

personally, though, i wouldn't let miniDV vs miniDVcam be a determining factor in camera choice. i think the best dv (prosumer) cameras out right now (xl2 and dvx-100a) only take mini dv and i certainly wouldn't choose an inferior camera over them because it takes the miniDVcam tapes.

with mini dv, you just try to get better quality tapes (not wal-mart specials,) try to stick to using the same tape, and say a little prayer before an important shoot. dropouts sometimes happen, and when they do they suck, but in my experience it's pretty much a rarity. oh, one trick i used to do backc in my hi8 days (those tapes were motoriously dropout prone, although analog dropouts are preferable to digital.) anyhow, with hi8 i used to fast forward all my new tapes to the end and then rewind them. i don't bother to do this anymore with dv, though i figure it would probably work for the same reasons.
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Old June 18th, 2005, 07:13 AM   #4
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Thank you, lads!
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Old June 18th, 2005, 08:13 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Ford
the dvcam tapes that the pd170, pdx10, etc use are the same size as mini dv. ....
personally, though, i wouldn't let miniDV vs miniDVcam be a determining factor in camera choice. i think the best dv (prosumer) cameras out right now (xl2 and dvx-100a) only take mini dv and i certainly wouldn't choose an inferior camera over them because it takes the miniDVcam tapes.

with mini dv, you just try to get better quality tapes (not wal-mart specials,) .....
Doesn't this all mean that any camera that takes miniDV tapes, like the XL2, would also accept and record on a blank miniDVCAM tape, albeit with the recording being laid down on the tape in the conventional miniDV format? And if so, for critical shoots wouldn't it be wise to go with with the pro mastering miniDVCAM tapes in order to take advantage of their tighter tolerances and quality control? Or are there actual formulation differences between DV and DVCAM tapes in their coatings such that even though the cassettes are physically identical, they would require different recording biases etc due to different magnetic properties in the tape itself and so would be electrically incompatible even though they're physically compatible. I'm thinking back to the audio tape days when you had a switch to set bias levels etc on the recorder to compensate for the various tape formulations you might use and wondering if we have a similar situation here, albeit with no switch on the camera to give us options so we must use the tape formulation the camera mfgr has specified.
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Old June 18th, 2005, 09:35 AM   #6
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There's no problem with using DVCAM tapes in a non-DVCAM camera...
You're probably right about the tolerances being better, but then, I'm always a bit sceptical about DVCAM ...

Robin
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Old June 18th, 2005, 12:38 PM   #7
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yeah, in fact if you get the sony "master quality" dvcam tape (egregiously overpriced, btw,) they state right on the box that it will work on both systems, and print the running times for both (40 min/ 60 min.)
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Old June 18th, 2005, 12:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Davies-Rollinson
There's no problem with using DVCAM tapes in a non-DVCAM camera...
You're probably right about the tolerances being better, but then, I'm always a bit sceptical about DVCAM ...

Robin
How so? Since it's supposedly a higher level format than plain old consumer grade miniDV (not saying it is, mind you, but that is what Sony seems to imply), wouldn't your skepticsm be even greater with regard to the standard miniDV tapes?
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Old June 19th, 2005, 11:34 AM   #9
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i am yet to come across a DVCam tape or recording within that tape which is superior to standard minidv...

one thing to remember is that its still recording in DV format... and the ones and zeros are just that..
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Old June 20th, 2005, 03:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Ford
oh, one trick i used to do backc in my hi8 days (those tapes were motoriously dropout prone, although analog dropouts are preferable to digital.) anyhow, with hi8 i used to fast forward all my new tapes to the end and then rewind them. i don't bother to do this anymore with dv, though i figure it would probably work for the same reasons.
Me, too, and I still do this. Retensioning is a quick way to ensure that the tape is properly repacked for your camera. I've never bothered to stripe them, however.

In a related note, never ever transport a tape in your camcorder. Always take them out when done with a shoot and put them away in their case.

Also agree on sticking to one brand, one type. I only buy the pro tapes, another lesson from my Hi8 days. Mixing about with tapes is like having a bowl of cereal for breakfast in the same bowl as you had chicken soup the day before, without washing it. Impossible? No...
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