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Old March 2nd, 2006, 01:10 PM   #1
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MiniDv vs Digital8 curiousity

For some reason I was reading about 8mm stuff and got curious as to why Digital8 didn't find some niche in larger SD camcorders. Unless I'm mistaken, Digital8 and MiniDV are both DV25, so there is no quality difference, right? If that's true then the only difference is the physical media itself, and 8mm seems like a "meatier" tape then MiniDV.

It's not reinventing the wheel, Digital8 has been around for almost a decade. If you want to build a small camera, go with MiniDV which is almost as old. If you want to build a digital shoulder mount that runs off (what seems to be) more rugged tapes, go D8.
I guess there's only two rubs with D8; no pro decks, and Sony didn't license out the technology (except for a quick fling with Hitachi).

With HD on the horizon and tapeless camcorders now a Best Buy item, the point is moot. Just wondering, nonetheless...
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 03:01 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Jeff Miller
For some reason I was reading about 8mm stuff and got curious as to why Digital8 didn't find some niche in larger SD camcorders. Unless I'm mistaken, Digital8 and MiniDV are both DV25, so there is no quality difference, right? If that's true then the only difference is the physical media itself, and 8mm seems like a "meatier" tape then MiniDV.

It's not reinventing the wheel, Digital8 has been around for almost a decade. If you want to build a small camera, go with MiniDV which is almost as old. If you want to build a digital shoulder mount that runs off (what seems to be) more rugged tapes, go D8.
I guess there's only two rubs with D8; no pro decks, and Sony didn't license out the technology (except for a quick fling with Hitachi).

With HD on the horizon and tapeless camcorders now a Best Buy item, the point is moot. Just wondering, nonetheless...
My first DV cam was a Sony Dig 8. I resisted Mini DV because it seemed too fragile. It is the same format (DV25), but like Beta and VHS, the best idea doesn't always win economically.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 03:11 PM   #3
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Jeff, I've sometimes wondered the same thing. Yes, you are right, there is NO difference in the recorded signal between DV or D8. Not only is 8mm tape larger than DV, but it records at twice the tape speed as Hi8. This, I think, is its greatest shortcoming. An hour tape is now 30 minutes. A two hour tape is an hour. Why did VHS-C never get anywhere (apart from being as crappy as VHS)?

Sony could have, if they really wanted to, redesigned the EVV-9000 dockable Hi8 VTR into a D8 unit. That way there'd be a low-budget digital solution for those moving from Hi8 pro gear. However, Sony has a long history of arbitrarily dividing pro from consumer. The writing was on the wall when they introduced the DXC-D30 2/3" dockable digital camera head, yet never came out with a digital replacement for the 1/2" DXC-327B. The 1/2" format is now dead at Sony. Even DVCAM's waters have receded with the discontinuance of the DSR-1/1 VTR.

I suspect they'll be pushing XDCAM for pro work from now on. As for the consumer stuff, it may be going to disk, whether magnetic or optical. Whatever is most convenient for the consumer.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 04:09 PM   #4
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Hey, I've long been an advocate of D8! I have a DVX100, a GL2, and an old D8; only of the D8 can I say that I've NEVER seen a dropout. I use it for archiving, and for long shots - Sony actually makes tapes that will record 90 minutes of D8. It is a far superior physical format! HDV->D8 would have been interesting...
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 08:19 PM   #5
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Hey, I've long been an advocate of D8! I have a DVX100, a GL2, and an old D8; only of the D8 can I say that I've NEVER seen a dropout.
Hmmm...ya know now that I think about it, I've never had a drop out with D8 either. I wonder If I should use my old Sony as a digital back up for my XL2 shoots. The 24p data would be the exact same would it not?
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 08:35 PM   #6
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I didn't get that about 1/2 hour tapes. I remember going from 2 hours in 8mm to 1 hour with Digital 8
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 09:32 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Tony Tibbetts
The 24p data would be the exact same would it not?
If it's truly DV25, which seems to be the case :}

Wow gang, neat info and opinions, thanks! :D Sadly I didn't even get to play with D8 much, but the first camcorder I ever spent much time with (and still have) was a late 80's Pentax Movie8 (analog 8mm). It did fairly well stop motion, I wish I knew where those tapes are now.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 10:03 PM   #8
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Old forums

Like today, there was a lot of irrational discussion out there. I can remember a guy insisting in one of the forums that Digital 8 could not record as good an image, all other things being equal-- despite what was being reported by the experts. Of course, Digital 8 was used primarily in lower end consumer cameras, so you didn't see as good a picture coming out, but if you transfered to tape via firewire from a higher end camera, you ended up with same great video.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 10:43 PM   #9
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Digital8 History

The history of the Digital8 video format is inseparably intertwined with that of the DV format and also with the earlier Video8 and Hi-8 formats.

Sony was the developer of Video8, the standard 8mm analog format, that was followed by the upgraded Hi-8 version of it. A few other companies made some Video8/Hi-8 camcorders, but it was always mainly Sony's own show.

So, when Sony joined with almost every other video manufacturer in the early 1990s to develop DVC, the new mini-sized, consumer-oriented, digital format, they wanted to use their own Video8 cassette for it. The other DVC Consortium companies would have none of that, as they knew that using that 8mm cassette and having the format backwardly-compatible with all those Sony 8mm camcorders, would give Sony an unfair advantage. The consortium instead developed the smaller 6mm cassette for DVC, that we all know so well today. Sony had to agree to not market any digital video equipment that used the DVC CoDec with their 8mm cassette, until 3 years after the first sale of camcorders that used the 6mm cassette.

Before Sony introduced the VX700 in the Fall of 1995, which was the first camcorder to use the 6mm format, its name was shortened from "DVC" to "DV".

In January of 1999, Sony introduced Digital8, using the basic Video8 or Hi-8 cassette. This format uses the same CoDec as DV and the digital output signals are identical and compatible with each other, although obviously, the different cassettes aren't usable in each other's tape drives.

Using their Video8/Hi-8 cassette for mini-digital purposes, is what Sony wanted to do in the first place and if the other DVC Consortium members hadn't blocked it, we'd probably be using only the 8mm cassette, instead of the 6mm one, for DV. By 1999, DV had been established as the main consumer and semipro digital video format, so Sony kept Digital8 within the boundaries of a low to medium grade performance and cost range. They produced 5 MegaPixel Digital8 models in 2001 and 2002, that gave excellent performance for single-CCD camcorders, but all the others, before and since then, have been limited to having what I consider as just mediocre camera quality. However, any shortcomings of the camera sections that were used with the non-MegaPixel models, didn't affect the capabilities of the Digital8 recorders. They have performed well and match DV recorders in nearly every way. Sony has never made any pro-quality Digital8 VCRs, that have the advanced functions of several DV pro models. They have produced two consumer grade Digital8 mini-VCRs, in the Video Walkman GV-D series, that are nearly identical in form and function to the three DV mini GV-D models. These Digital8 VCRs are used by some people to copy and manually edit back and forth with DV models, as both use FireWire connections.

Now, it appears that Digital8 will likely disappear from production, after a few more years. One of its main functions was to provide backward-compatibility with Video8/Hi-8 tapes, from older camcorders, with most Digital8 models being able to play back their analog recordings. Hitachi was the only other company that made Digital8 camcorders, producing two models in 2001.

The recording head speed of Digital8 is 4,500 rpm, half that of DV. Digital8's track pitch or width is 15.2 microns for SP, compared to 10 microns for DV at SP. I've used both formats extensively and although the 8mm cassette is larger and seems sturdier, I've had flawless performance from both and have never had a failed tape with either. Maybe that's just good luck or due to the fact I never use anything but the most expensive cassettes, that are proven to be good performers.

On a side note, when DVC was developed, it was primarily intended to be a 100mbps mini high-definition format. A 25mbps SD version was also specified, as a secondary use for it. Later, the roadblocks that delayed the implementation of high-definition, led them to use the SD version as the primary one, as a way to more quickly turn their efforts into a profit. The 100mbps HD version has been mostly forgotten. Too bad, as it might have been a good, lower-budget way to produce high-quality HD video. Its specs call for a doubling of tape speed from that of the SD format, twice as many recording heads arranged around the head drum and a raise in the recording carrier frequency from 13.5 MHz to 23 MHz. This way, it could hit 100mbps and still give 30 min. recording time on a mini cassette. How many of us would trade a DVC100 HD camcorder, for an HDV one using only 1/4th the bit-rate at 25mbps, if the only advantage was 60 min. of HDV recording time, rather than 30 min. for DVC100 HD, on a mini-cassette? Actually, I suppose even if they'd used DVC100 HD, it would be more expensive than the HDV models we now have and HDV would probably been developed anyway, as a lower-budget format.

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Old March 3rd, 2006, 11:15 PM   #10
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j.s.m:

Great history lesson !! Its amazing how business deals, rights, and contracts can get in the way of an "ideal" product.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 11:24 PM   #11
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My old Digital 8

I have a TRV720-- what do you have guys ?
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Old March 4th, 2006, 01:00 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos
I have a TRV720-- what do you have guys ?
OK, you asked for it and now you have to put up with me raving about two of my pet pieces of equipment.

About 5 years ago, after doing a lot of research and hands-on testing, I picked a Sony DCR-TRV730, as my next small camcorder. This Digital8 was one of the first of 5 MegaPixel models, that stood out from the other regular Digital8 camcorders, like a lily in an onion patch. It has a Super-HAD 1/4-inch CCD, with slightly more than 1,000,000 total pixels and after the EIS margins are subtracted, has 690,000 video active pixels. It shoots very sharp video and I've tested it with a resolution chart to have a full 525 lines of res in playback. It performs better in low light than any other camcorder I've had, besides a VX2100. Many times, I've been able to seamlessly sneak clips from it, into footage I've shot with the VX2100. It has an 18X zoom lens, that actually gives about 19X magnification. With a 1.4X highgrade Canon telex, it's good for 26.6X magnification. It's great for wildlife shots and the telexed lens gives top quality, even at full zoom. The autofocus works well, even with the telex. The EIS is also very good and this model sold me on the performance capabilities of an EIS system. However, Sony quickly realized their mistake in giving so much performance for its low price and after one more year, pulled the MegaPixel Digital8 models off the market.
They now sell only a couple of dumbed-down models in that format, that have only 290,000 video-active pixels.

I also have a Digital8 GV-D200 mini VCR, that has been a workhorse for me. It's the one of the best three VCRs I've ever had, matched only by my GV-D1000 mini-DV model and my old 39-lb. Sony ED-Beta ED-V9500. I use this Digital8 VCR with these other two for manual editing and copying and to play my Digital8 recordings into a computer. I just hope these two Digital8s of mine don't expire, before I've squeezed all the usefulness out of the camcorder footage I've acquired. I'm re-recording as much as I can onto DV cassettes, for additional and probably more secure archiving. I think you can still buy a new GV-D200 from a few mail-order dealers.

I'd have liked to see Digital8 keep flourishing and to have had some 3-CCD camcorders that used it, but it's Sony's call, not mine. How would an HDigital8 format be? Speed the
tape and recording heads up by 2X and at 9,000 rpm (same as HDV) you could carry a 50mbps M-PEG2 HD format, with 30-min recording time on the small cassette. Or, keep the same speeds for 25mbps and 60 minutes. Personally, I'd rather have a 50mbps HDV system with only 30 min. recording time, than the current 25mbps one with 60 min.
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Old March 4th, 2006, 03:16 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos
I have a TRV720-- what do you have guys ?
TRV230. Got it as a recorder to use with an EVW-300 HI8 camcorder that had a worn-out drum. Used it only a couple of times on vacation as a camcorder in its own right. Too bad it can't play back the PCM audio from my old Hi8 tapes. Guess I'll have to get my EVO-9700 fixed if (when) I want to go through those old tapes...
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Old March 4th, 2006, 03:17 AM   #14
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I have a TRV730. Mostly I got it to have a digital camcorder that could play my old Hi8s, and be able to get rid of my el-cheapo Samsung Hi8 (my first camcorder). The TRV730 shoots a pretty good image for a consumer cam, with that 1/4" megapixel chip. My pet peave is the auto-only white balance. I just loathe auto white (drives me nuts when color balance shifts constantly). My TRV70 shoots a noticibly sharper, cleaner picture though (it's noticibly better than the TRV730 in low light too).
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Old March 4th, 2006, 03:27 AM   #15
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Funny thing is, I still haven't got around to digitizing my Hi8s with the TRV730 and I never really use it for shooting anything since I got the TRV70 shortly afterwards, so it just sits there aging gracefully. The only digitized versions I have of the Hi8s are still just the ones I captured at 352x240 with a capture card in an old computer years ago. I keep telling myself, someday I'll get around to it...
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