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Old June 17th, 2004, 12:05 PM   #1
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Using a secondary camera to save wear on tape transports?

Hello to the group,

I have read in several places (websites of pro's) that you should not use your main camera (I'm using a Sony PD170) to upload/digitise tape into the computer for editing. Reason typically stated, is that if you do a lot of shooting/uploading, it will wear the tape transport mechanism causing premature wear and costly repairs.

The articles recommend purchasing a cheap DV camera with Firewire and using that as your tape uploader, thus keeping wear on the elcheapo unit, in lieu of your main camera. I'm wondering if lots of people actually do this? Are the tape transports that fragile, or is it more of a "in a perfect world," kind of a recommendation?

BTW, I'm using Sony DVCAM tapes. If I shoot in DVCAM, can I still use a regular DV (non-DVCAM) camera to upload into the computer via Firewire? I've seen some cheap cameras in the $250.00ish range with Firewire, so getting another camera just for uploading does not seem like a big deal, but I'm really curious if this is standard with mainstream video operators? Thanks in advance and all the best to you and yours!

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Old June 17th, 2004, 05:59 PM   #2
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If you shoot in DVCam, only Sony DV cameras will play your DVCam tapes. I think all current consumer cameras will play DVCam but check before you choose. As a reference point, a VX1000 will not play DVCam.

BYW, unless a client requires DVCam or you are editing with a linear system, there really is no advantage to using DVCam vs DV.
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Old June 18th, 2004, 09:46 AM   #3
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BYW, unless a client requires DVCam or you are editing with a linear system, there really is no advantage to using DVCam vs DV.

I'd have to disagree- DVcam does, indeed, have advantages albiet not ones people are usually looking for. DVcam records faster than SP thus there's less data at any given area of the tape. This doesn't improve visual quality but does improve reliability for audial or visual drop-outs considerably. It has a documented 50% less likelyhood to have drop-outs over standard DV tape. Granted it does have many draw-backs as well...price being the foremost reason- and record time, only 40 minutes.

The reason I use only DVcam tape is to hopefully avoid any drop-out problems I've had with past cameras. I take excellent care of all my gear but had bad luck with a DVX100 and moreso an XL1-S. If paying a little extra for DVcam tape will alleviate possible drop-out problems it's worth it to me. If I get drop-outs my footage is lost forever- there's no re-takes in wedding videography!
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Old June 18th, 2004, 02:11 PM   #4
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I use a secondary DV camera as tape drive all the time, full time. In fact the last time, which was many many months ago, I tried to use my VX2100 to upload, it acted funny and did not do it properly for some reason, the result was horrible. I scratched my head for several minutes, and then recalled prior to that I have been using my older (cheaper) DV camera to upload. So I switched back to the older camera, and everything went fine. Weird.

Perhaps it is the cheapy tapes I use. But now, I don't even try to use my VX2100 or DSR250 to upload, they are only for shooting. My older camera, permanently attached to the computer and AC power, does the upload, the print to tape later, etc.

Of course, all this is in DV SP mode. I would assume you need at least a PDX-10 to run DVCam.

If and when some bride pays me $3000 or more for a wedding, I will use DVCam tapes in DVCam mode on my DSR-250, probably be using both of them. Else, I will keep on using miniDV tapes.
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Old June 18th, 2004, 04:26 PM   #5
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Maybe it's just me but I've been using a couple of 150's for over 2 years with Panasonic PQ's in DV mode and have had a total of ZERO dropouts. Each camera has over 700 hours (actually closer to 750) and I can't for the life of me figure out why I should use DVCAM mode and shorten my tape even more. In 21 years of weddings I had more "dropout" problems with my old GE VHS cameras, my 455's and even the reliable X2's than I've had with the 150's or even my VX1000's. BTW I still have a 1000 and use it for 3 camera shoots and it's still a great camera.
Please understand, I'm not arguing a point just telling you what works for me.
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Old June 27th, 2004, 09:03 AM   #6
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Glen Elliot said: ----There's no retakes in wedding videography.
-------------------------------------

Actually, there was a big retake of a wedding that I did. The original video that was made of a friend's wedding was completely botched by someone else. So, they decided to restage it for the camera and asked me to shoot it. They were married by the bride's uncle, so there was no problem getting him for an encore.
The numerous guests thought it was a big hoot to be doing it all over, just for videotape. Since they got another big, free dinner, over 60 showed up to fill in the seats. All the music was provided by relatives of the bride and groom, so that was without cost. I didn't charge anything either. The concensus of the guests was that the second ceremony was done better than the first.

But sadly, the marriage failed after a few years and the bride had all the copies of the tape destroyed, in her anger at the groom's behavior. But, I lied and didn't erase the master tape. Sure enough, after six months they reconciled and were delighted that I was able to produce more copies of the event.
After a few more years, they parted again and for good this time----I guess. Yes, she trashed all reachable copies of it again and I still have a secret copy, recently digitized to last another decade or two. Actually, her relatives still occasionally watch a copy they have, but don't dare tell her about it. The name of the groom is unspeakable in her presence.

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Old June 28th, 2004, 08:30 PM   #7
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Using a secondary camera to save wear on tape transports

I use an approach that is slightly different. I use my 170 to dump the tape into the computer, but I dump the whole tape in one pass, so there's no stopping and starting. I think that's what hurts the transport the most; the continual stopping, starting and scrubbing. I can then edit from the hard drive. You need plenty of storage, but I have removable drives, so that's not a problem.

I'm not sure if my thinking on this is correct, but I think there is a higher probability of capturing the best quality if the playback is done on the same cam.
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Old June 28th, 2004, 08:43 PM   #8
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<<<-- Originally posted by Glen Elliott : BYW, unless a client requires DVCam or you are editing with a linear system, there really is no advantage to using DVCam vs DV.

I'd have to disagree- DVcam does, indeed, have advantages albiet not ones people are usually looking for. DVcam records faster than SP thus there's less data at any given area of the tape. This doesn't improve visual quality but does improve reliability for audial or visual drop-outs considerably. It has a documented 50% less likelyhood to have drop-outs over standard DV tape. Granted it does have many draw-backs as well...price being the foremost reason- and record time, only 40 minutes.

snip -->>>

Technically you may be right but I have more than 400 dv tapes around here and none of them have one dropout visible to the eye. I think that is enough proof for me. We use dv all the time in the local college and I cannot remember seeing a dropout in the last 6-7 years.
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Old June 29th, 2004, 10:42 AM   #9
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In my experience I've seen plenty- many on my friends XL-1s which eventually needed to be sent back in for cleaning and alignment and some in my brand-new DVX100 when I used Sony Premium tapes (never mixed brands). It might be that the XL-1s was getting alot of use and needed fixing- and that my DVX100 didn't jive well with my Sony tapes....who knows. I once lost my entire b-roll from a wedding shoot due to uncontrollable drop-outs (from the XL-1s) ...a very stressfull experience.
It was because of these negative personal experiences I figured if I could do anything to even REDUCE the likelyhood of drop-outs I most definitly would.

I have a feeling the heads on the PD-170 are a bit less picky than the DVX100's. I ran dozens of Sony Premium tapes through my old GL-1 and never had a problem. *crossing fingers*
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Old June 29th, 2004, 04:07 PM   #10
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I try to do this as much as possible. When I'm working with my partner up in Buffalo, I use his JVC (don't know the model) to play back tapes that were captured on my VX2100 or the XL1 our buddy let us borrow. The tapes play fine in his JVC, but I get mass amounts of digital dropouts if I use my cheapie Panasonic. (it's the one that has the screen on the back and the deck all in one with the handle on the left side).

Any thoughts why?

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Old June 30th, 2004, 09:17 AM   #11
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Logging and capturing is hard on a transport mechanism - at least the kind of logging and capturing that I do, with many clips taken from each tape, rather than a single pass.

So, yeah, I would recommend using a separate deck. I just bit the bullet and bought the DSR-11, which I've been incredibly pleased with.
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Old June 30th, 2004, 10:42 AM   #12
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I was thinking about purchasing a DSR-11 as well- supposed to be very rugged.

I capture all my tapes as separate clips AND do it in one pass as well. Vegas capture has an option for sceen detection....any time I hit stop then record again it creates a new file. I go back after capture and delete any extraneous clips. Very efficient workflow.
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Old June 30th, 2004, 12:44 PM   #13
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I wish I could afford a deck. I might have to eventually do the secondary camera/deck setup. In a way it's more beneficial, you get to have a regular camera for whatever, plus you can upload or "capture" footage, plus it's cheaper. Yeah, it'll be a lot slower and not as precise, but the benefits should outweigh the cons.
What would you guys consider the cons of using a secondary camera to capture, besides the ones i just stated?
Also, if I also only used fuji tapes (like my vx-2100) on the capture camera, there should be no glitch or dropout problem, right?
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Old June 30th, 2004, 01:18 PM   #14
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Cons:
- less robust, tape transports wear out much faster
- less picky in regards to tape alignment, won't display mossaic noise as redily as a cheap DV cam will if the tape track is different than the capturing unit
- Can only handle one format...PAL or NTSC not both, can only play mini dv. Decks like the DSR-11 can play and record to mini or full size DV tapes- including DVcam format.


There are many pros as well, as you know: it's much MUCH cheaper and adds a secondary "home" video camera to your library of gear. Beware though- I know a wedding videographer that does high volume and he's had his TRV-38 in for repair/alignment over 3 times already. His DSR-11 is still going strong.

Personally I use a TRV-33 I just picked up about a month ago to do all my capturing and use it as a digital to analog converter to view my edits out to external monitor from my NLE. I haven't done too much capturing on it yet but I'm about to start compiling footage for my 2005 Wedding demo..and I have about 15 tapes to capture...with differing formats. Some dry lube some wet...we'll see how well it holds up. *Thank gosh for a Mack warranty*
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Old June 30th, 2004, 01:24 PM   #15
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I have around a 1000 hours on my DSR-20 and it has yet to have any sort of problem. Think I've had it about 6 years now.
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