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Old December 6th, 2003, 04:01 PM   #1
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Dvcam?

What's the difference between miniDV and DVCAM? How does one edit DVCAM? On a PC or Mac or other?
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Old December 6th, 2003, 04:04 PM   #2
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Leonard,

Basically, they are very similar; the same information (picture quality) is recorded in both formats but the DVCAM is at a slightly larger pitch (a little more space between lines of data on the tape). Many of the MiniDV players will also play DVCAM.

Since it's the same information, it's edited on all the same platforms.

Hope that helps.
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Old December 6th, 2003, 04:16 PM   #3
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Is the picture quality noticeably better with DVCAM? My miniDV videos still have an "amateur" look compared to e.g. footage shown on TV newscasts even though I'm using a 3 CCD camcorder (SONY 950).
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Old December 6th, 2003, 04:32 PM   #4
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Leonard, as Rob explained, there's no difference whatsoever in the "quality" of DVCAM vs. miniDV. The same ones and zeros are recorded on the tape. DVCAM tapes spin faster so you only get 40 minutes on a 60 minute miniDV cassette. This should make the tapes a little more robust and less likely to contain data errors. But in everyday use that doesn't matter much. There are a number of expensive cameras that record in the standard miniDV format, so it really isn't that much of a factor.

Your 950 is capable of producing very good quality video - I've projected images from it's sibling (PDX-10) on a 40' wide screen and they looked quite good. Learn how to use manual exposure and experiment around with the custom presets, these can go a long way towards improving your image (as can good lighting). But aside from that, the "TV newscasts" you're watching may have been shot with much more expensive cameras. Lenses alone for higher end cameras can cost over $5,000, and these cameras have 1/2" or 2/3" CCD's which are considerably larger than the 950's 1/4.7" CCD's. But networks are also using PD-150's these days and your TRV-950 should be able to come pretty close to that quality.
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Old December 6th, 2003, 04:55 PM   #5
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Thanks eveyone for your prompt replies! (Is there no good game on today? Oh right, #1 Oklahoma plays tonight).

Just a couple of points. If DVCAM and miniDVD gave essentially the same quality, why are there two of them? Is it only because DVCAM is more robust?

Would larger CCDs result in higher quality? I thought their major advantage is low light capabilty.

I notice B&H advertises in their professional camcorder section many DVCAM units with large CCDs with lenses in the $5000-6000 range. Worth the money?
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Old December 6th, 2003, 06:17 PM   #6
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The 2/3" chip cameras sell for $15,000 and up, and yes, bigger chips are better. You get higher resolution and a bunch of other stuff with a professional camera that makes the image look better. Different cameras have different electronics and process the signal differently, but the biggest difference is in the chips.

Actually there are 3 DV25 formats--miniDV, DVCAM and DVCPRO. I believe miniDV came first as a consumer product. Then when people started making movies and using the VX1000 professionally, Panasonic said, "Hey...big deal market here, let's make a pro version..." So they came out with DVCPRO, which is actually just a little bit better than DVCAM, in terms of the tape robustness. While DVCAM records at a 15 micron pitch, 50 percent more than the miniDV at 10 microns, DVCPRO does it at 18 microns. A little better probably.
Then I guess Sony decided that since Panasonic was selling the hell out of DVCPRO to the TV news biz they had pretty much owned since Betacam was introduced, they better do something, and DVCAM was born. However, the dummies at Sony who are still committed to selling big cassettes didn't really want to put DVCAM in the hands of TV people, thus helping to further destroy their own Betacam market, so they came out with something really stupid: BetacamSX. That probably seemed like a good idea to some people because the SX decks could play Betacam tapes and everybody in TVland would be happy. But not too many people bought into that, since it was even more expensive than Betacam. And Panasonic happily kept on selling DVCPRO into Sony's market. However, Sony built the DSR500, now the 570, which is considered by many to be the best DVCAM camera made...yet they still are trying to sell bigger cassette cameras to TV stations, in the form of the IMX...and most recently a whole new format called Blue Laser.
And in the meantime...Panasonic is working on a camera for TV people that records to a chip array. That one, in my opinion, should win, but who knows.
So, after that long winded view of recent history (at least it's my view), the short answer to your question of why DVCAM if the visual quality is the same is...because Sony wanted the pro market back.
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Old December 6th, 2003, 06:47 PM   #7
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Thanks, Bill; I thoroughly enjoyed that!!
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Old December 6th, 2003, 06:48 PM   #8
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I am also just a bit cynical; isn't it interesting that Sony - the world's largest producer of magnetic media - has developed the DVCAM format which uses 50% more tape than miniDV. All the same, when I'm shooting something that would be impossible to re-do then I switch my camera into DVCAM mode.... :-)
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Old December 6th, 2003, 07:22 PM   #9
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Just for the record, I shot something over the summer on Sony DVcam and came to edit it without the camera anymore. My XL1s wouldn't handle the tapes, yet my Dad's old Sony Handicam could play them, despite being a MiniDV camera. I think that all Sony DV cameras can play DVcam tapes, but other brands can't.

Oh and there is no difference in quality. I intercut some stuff shot on the XL1s and I'd even say the XL1s footage looked a little better.

To this date I've never had a problem with a MiniDV tape. Is DVcam more robust? Perhaps.. But I'd be inclined to agree with Boyd..

Kieran
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Old December 7th, 2003, 01:08 AM   #10
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Actually there's one more DV25 format: digital8. It's DV recorded onto hi8/video8 tapes. The idea of it is pretty good. Digi8 lets you use cheap hi8/video8 tape (which used to be produced a lot) and similar camcorder mechanisms and designs and the camcorders can play back legacy tape while record on a modern format. As an archival format it's good because metal particle (not metal evaporated) tape can be used. However, digital8 is fading out (Sony is watering down and reducing its digital8 line) which makes it really bad for archival and for the format.
Adam Wilt's DV FAQ has a lot of good info on the DV formats. http://www.adamwilt.com/DV.html

Quote:
I am also just a bit cynical; isn't it interesting that Sony - the world's largest producer of magnetic media - has developed the DVCAM format which uses 50% more tape than miniDV. All the same, when I'm shooting something that would be impossible to re-do then I switch my camera into DVCAM mode.... :-)
I don't think that Sony made DVCAM tape length shorter to sell more tape. It's mostly an un-feature for Sony to do it and they don't really make that much money off mini-DV tape anyways. If you shoot 600 hours of tape, that's about $3600 revenue with low profit margins (assuming $6/hour of tape)- only around $1200 revenue extra. The camera costs about many times as much but also has a much greater profit margin. Selling more tape doesn't really add much to Sony's bottom line.
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Old December 22nd, 2003, 08:00 AM   #11
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Just an interesting point to all these.

My DSR-250 with a 3-hour DVCAM tape can be made to record miniDV SP mode, and it goes for nearly 5 hours!

The downside is the tape cost twice as much per-foot than the regulard miniDV tapes.

I had wanted to get the PD170/PD150 because of DVCAM, which I thought meant the large 3-hour DVCAM tape, but it looks like it takes only the miniDV size tape. If that is the case, that is not much of an advantage over VX2100, especially since DVCAM format does not really "record more info" than miniDV SP. Right?

And what about miniDV LP? Does that record less info than SP?
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Old December 22nd, 2003, 08:25 AM   #12
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Just to clarify...DVCAM is a recording format, so is DVCPRO, and so is DV. Sony makes DVCAM cameras that use only mini tapes, and others that use both sizes. Panasonic and JVC make some cameras that use both sizes and some that don't--the Panasonic 200 uses only the full size tape, while the DVX100 only uses mini. All the 1/3" chip cameras only use the mini size--with the exception of the Sony DSR250, which uses both. And, the 250 can record DV or DVCAM.

The thing is, tape is tape. Some tapes are better quality than others. Sony's DVCAM tape is allegedly their best quality tape, but you can record DVCAM on any DV tape. Panasonic's DVCPRO format is even more proprietary--you should only use DVCPRO tapes in a DVCPRO camera, since the tape formulation is different. DVCPRO, by the way uses an 18 micron pitch, DVCAM is 15 and DV is 10. So technically the DVCPRO ought to be the best quality recording, in terms of robustness, dropouts, etc.

I think that any good quality premium tape stock is going to be OK for most any use, if it is properly handled and the camera is properly maintained. As I mentioned earlier, I never had any problems with DV tape, and I have a friend with an XL1 who has never had any problems. However, I have edited miniDV tapes from clients that have had really bad dropout problems. Judging from the quality of the footage, I would say the people who have brought me tapes with problems have been seriously amateurish in their approach to production. If the composition, lighting, and camera work in general is sloppy, then it is logical that their tape handling procedures would also be sloppy.

So I am inclined to believe that anybody can screw up anything. As an example, a few years back, before DV, when Sony was making a very nice high quality Hi8 camera, a freind of mine rented his out to a producer to get some hand held stuff on boats on the river. When the guy brought the camera back, he was complaining about the quality of 8mm tape and how dropouts made it unuseable. My friend showed me the camera bag: it had been drug through dirt and weeds, and the guy had open tapes, without their boxes, laying in the dirt and weeds in the camera bag. After the camera was cleaned thoroughly, it never had any more dropout trouble (my friend also didn't rent it out anymore).
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