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Old March 10th, 2003, 07:02 PM   #1
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Do I lose quality when shooting in LP mode?

I've been told that to maintain the quality of my shots , I should always shoot in SP mode.

So when is it suitable to shoot in LP mode?

Or have I been mislead
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Old March 10th, 2003, 08:12 PM   #2
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Hello Jay,
I'd say you have been misled mainly by inference. DV is DV. The '1's and '0's get written the same whether you use SP or LP recording mode.

Ah, but there are are two big caveats. When recording in LP mode the tape is moving past the camera's heads much more slowly. That means that the manufacturing quality and condition of every square millimeter of that tape becomes much more important for preserving the recording. Nearly any defect, however small, will likely cause a drop-out in video or audio or both.

The second caveat is replayability. LP mode's replay tolerance for slight head alignment and tape speed differences between tape transports is nearly nil. That means that you may have trouble playing back an LP tape in a different camera (even the same model) or a deck. It will just appear as jibberish.

In summary, the record-time benefits of LP mode are just not worth the risk. You may initially have no trouble...but when it strikes (and strike it probably will) it will inevitably be on a tape that cannot be recreated. Tape is cheap.
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Old March 10th, 2003, 09:01 PM   #3
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Ken's 100% correct.
The quality of the shot video will be the same regardless of record speed- the difference is greater chance for "dropouts" when recording in LP mode.

If you're shooting a child's school play and you know it's 1.5hrs long and you only have 1 tape- I'd say go for it....but for critical stuff always stay with SP mode- in fact most of the guys here never use the LP mode- I never have!

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Old March 10th, 2003, 11:34 PM   #4
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Is DV tape more reliable?

This brings up a question I've wondered about -- are DV tapes more reliable than mini-DV? Compared to film stock, DV tape seems basically free to me. If you were shooting a feature would it make sense to use DV tapes in your mini-DV camera? I've found mini-DV tapes to be pretty reliable, but I've experienced the occasional dropped frame. Is there less likelyhood of this kind of thing happening with DV tape? They're supposed to be more sturdy. I realize the image quality wouldn't be any better.
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Old March 10th, 2003, 11:39 PM   #5
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When you say "DV tape" what do you mean? Are you talking about full-size DV cassettes?
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Old March 11th, 2003, 05:46 AM   #6
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Both blank DVCAM tape and MiniDV tape can be used iin MiniDV camcorders and DVCAM camcorders. The tape and cassette are physically the same size.

DVCAM tape tends to be a premium formulation and subject to tighter quality control so it is more uniform and has less drop out - thus the higher price. The effect you might see is fewer digital read errors Most people do not see any difference between the tapes in typical use.

If you do use LP mode for capture, it is a good idea to a transfer to SP speed media or complete yor edits as soon as you reasonably can to ensure future playback capability.
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Old March 11th, 2003, 07:35 AM   #7
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Yeah, I meant DVCAM. Sorry. It was late.
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Old March 11th, 2003, 12:41 PM   #8
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Postscript: If your goal is to get the most reliable tape for your miniDV camera Panasonic's "MQ" series tapes are perhaps your best choice. They run $5-6 ea. (much less expensive than DVCam tapes) and have outstanding specs.
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Old March 11th, 2003, 02:24 PM   #9
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panasonic etc

with a new gl2 I am pondering my choice of tape. I have a load of sony tapes shot with my previous camcorder. they are "excellent" tapes - sony's higher end tape. If there are better, more reliable tapes out there I would prefer to use them but I know nothing about tape specs. Can you point me to some number or explain how the panasonics are better?
The bigger question I have is regarding changing brands. We repeatedly read that one should stick with a specific brand because different brands use different lubricants, and even Canon support told me that, but they couldn't site anything definitive. It sounds like an urban legend but perhaps there is data to back that up. if that's the case, I'll stick with sony brand tapes since I'll be playing many of those older tapes through this new rig.
Any thoughts on why panasonic is better and if they should be used if their use has to be mixed with Sony tapes?
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Old March 11th, 2003, 02:55 PM   #10
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I wouldn't say that Panasonic tape is better than Sony. If you're comfortable with Sony tape you should continue to us it. Canon uses Panasonic tape as its standard but that's immaterial.

The tape lubricant matter is partly legend but but there is abundant evidence that switching tapes after a lengthy run with a particular brand is asking for trouble. Lubricant differences can indeed clog your heads. Whether or not this would happen to you I cannot say. Unless you have a very compelling reason to do otherwise you should buy the best grade of tape within your brand that you can afford and just stick with it.
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Old March 11th, 2003, 07:54 PM   #11
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There are two issues with changing tapes brands.

The old one was the lub - at one time abot 4 years ago, Sony and the rest of the world used incompatible lubs. Mixing brands was a invitation to a real bad head clog becaus ethe lubs did not mix well. Then the story goes Sony had a fire in their tape plant, tape was scarce for a while, and then presto the lub problem went away as Sony opened their repaired plant. All makers now use combatible lub. So this should be a non-problem with recent tape stock.

The more likely current issue probably relates to the fact that all tape will leave characteristic wear patterns and deposits as it runs. Where the deposits are left depends inpart on the mechanical characteristics (e.g., stiffness) of the tape. Changing tape can result in different wear/deposit patterns that could cause existing deposits to shift or break free and cause a head clog. Different problem but similar result.
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Old March 11th, 2003, 08:31 PM   #12
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Well I just experienced a personal LP mode nightmare. A friend asked a favor of getting some still captures from a tape he made. He neglected to tell me the tape was in LP mode. As a result the captures are dropout city. I'm going to recommend he try again with the acquisition device used for playback.
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Old March 12th, 2003, 04:03 AM   #13
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Well, I'm convinced - I will from now on shoot in SP mode. Thanks for all your replies and experiences
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Old March 12th, 2003, 04:34 AM   #14
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Jay,

I agree with Ken.

Don't be so afraid of LP mode if you only have one tape left and you need to shoot more than 60 minutes. When properly lit and exposed and properly toned in post, I doubt that anyone will look at that footage and be able to tell it was shot in LP Mode.

- don
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