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Old February 10th, 2010, 11:48 AM   #1
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Tape or hard disk?

Planning on upgrading to HD and looking at the new Sony nx5u and the fmu128u hard disk. I currently use a VX2100 with tape. My question is this, is the hard disk dependable enough to use on weddings? It would certainly make work flow a lot easier. Thanks all.
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Old February 11th, 2010, 05:37 AM   #2
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Consider the mechanical workings of a hard drive:

The head floats over the platter and never touches it. The clearance has been described as having a Boeing 747 flying over the ocean at an altitude of 5", and what keeps it from touching the platter is a cushion of air. Any undue vibration will make it momentarily touch the platter's surface and possibly lose data due to physical damage to the disc.

The platter is spinning at 5400 to 7200 RPM. About the same speed as a circular saw. Come to think of it, the drum of a video tape drive spins about as fast.

For reliability you might want to take a serious look at solid state recording systems instead. In three years of shooting I've never experienced a single glitch as I had with tape. There is the risk of losing material when one fails to duplicate footage to permanent storage, but as for camera faults, solid state seems to have become very reliable. It's certainly resistant to mechanical shocks and impervious to magnetic fields. Some solid state media has even gone through the laundry without losing data.
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Old February 11th, 2010, 02:10 PM   #3
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Just to clarify, the FMU is solid state/flash. No HDD.

Sony | HXR-FMU128 Flash Memory Unit | HXR-FMU128 | B&H Photo

http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/micro-n...uct-HXRFMU128/

FYI, the DR60 is HDD while the MRC1k is CF card. But of course neither integrates seamlessly with the NX5 the way the FMU does.
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Old February 11th, 2010, 02:28 PM   #4
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Adam... I stand corrected. Thanks for the clarification. The term "Hard disk drive" in this case means it's REALLY hard. :-)
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Old February 12th, 2010, 01:09 AM   #5
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Thanks, so...

Thanks guys, so, in review, it does sound like the flash drive/FMU unit is just as reliable, if not more reliable, than tape?

My original plan was the Sony HVR-Z5U with the HVR-MRC1, which would allow me to record to BOTH the flash drive and tape. The NX5U can record to both flash and SD cards, but need $900 worth of cards assuming about 15gb per hour, so 6 hours of shooting (typicly 3-4 but I should be safe), would be 90GB, so 3 SD cards at 32gb each.

Z5U & MRC1: $4789

NX5U & FMU & 3 SD cards: $5149 (FMU currently has $500 rebate)

If I thought it was safe to just record to 1 media (basicaly what I do now), I could shave $900 off the NX5U package and spend about $4250.
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Old February 12th, 2010, 01:15 AM   #6
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Darryn...

Have you considered a Sony EX1r instead? It's a higher cost but:

-- It becomes a rugged one-piece package with no cables to worry about.
-- It's XDCam EX format has been proven to be very good under a variety of conditions and provides a great image.
-- The camera performs nicely under low light.
-- Records about 57 minutes per 16 GB.

Less hardware means fewer chances for something to go wrong.

You might even be able to find a used EX1 now that the EX1r has hit the market.
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Old February 12th, 2010, 09:12 AM   #7
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Personally, I find tape to be dangerously unstable. I've have had quite a few miniDV tapes get messed up over the years. I shoot the occasional wedding myself, and it is always multiple camera (for the ceremony anyway) for this reason.
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Old February 12th, 2010, 01:23 PM   #8
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Well, everyone has to do what works for them. There are a number of reasons to shoot multicam, and backup in case of a "failure" is only one of them. But multicam does mitigate the pain of a failure... even though the most common tape failure is a momentary dropout, not a total mechanical failure. I started in the Network TV business in 1982 and not only have I never had a tape go total failure on me, I've never met anyone who has.

Cards, on the other hands, when they fail, they fail completely. DOA. You get nothing. So having tape backup is nice.

I use the Z5/MRC combo and was planning to go completely tapeless, but it's so easy just to pop in a tape for backup that it's worth the $2 investment per hour per cam.

32GB SD cards can be had for less than $100, even for good ones, so I don't think you're necessarily looking at $900 to lay in a supply. But with Sony's rebate on the FMU it's practically free, so sounds like a good deal as well.
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Old February 12th, 2010, 01:34 PM   #9
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Thanks Adam, gravity keeps pulling me back to the Z5/MRC setup. Does this sound about right:

Pressing record starts both the tape and flash recorder at the same time. When my tape runs low, stop, swap tape, back to record. At post, simply download via Firewire all footage. If all is well, tapes not needed, but were good backup insurance at $10.

One last thing, if the memory drive is fitted in back of camera, where does battery go?

Thanks a lot for taking the time.
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Old February 12th, 2010, 01:46 PM   #10
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Thanks Adam, gravity keeps pulling me back to the Z5/MRC setup. Does this sound about right:

Pressing record starts both the tape and flash recorder at the same time. When my tape runs low, stop, swap tape, back to record. At post, simply download via Firewire all footage. If all is well, tapes not needed, but were good backup insurance at $10.

One last thing, if the memory drive is fitted in back of camera, where does battery go?

Thanks a lot for taking the time.
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Old February 12th, 2010, 01:53 PM   #11
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That's basically it. There are some tricks to swapping out the tape without interrupting recording on the card (as I detailed in another thread) but it's easily doable once you get the hang of it.

The MRC actually covers the entire battery compartment, which is quite deep and has room for even the large 970 batt without disturbing the MRC. The only issue is you have to remove the MRC when swapping batts or changing to AC power (you can still use it fine with AC, just the changeover process requires removing and replacing the MRC).

I personally hate the whole AC power arrangement on Sony's pro cams compared to the prosumer counterparts, but I'm sure they have a reason for it. But that's another thread.
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Old February 12th, 2010, 02:19 PM   #12
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Analog tape is one thing. That's probably the safest medium of them all. With MiniDV tape though, in my experience, if your going to have a problem, it will be a catastrophic failure of a whole section of tape. Usually not a big deal, but if it's over the vows, oh man, I get a cold sweat just thinking about it. You're right though, I've never seen an entire tape fail either. I do have a friend who had nearly an entire tape get wiped out on an industrial video he did last year. It was probably dirty heads I guess, but he's pretty anal about keeping them clean, so it can happen to anybody.
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Old February 12th, 2010, 02:26 PM   #13
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I've never ever heard of a whole section of tape going belly-up, but if you say it's happened to you I believe you. The most I've ever had to deal with is the occasional dropout, lasting no more than 1/2 second, and that, as you pointed out, is usually easily cut around if you're shooting multicam.

But it's always good to keep in the back of your mind that any mechanical device can fail anytime.
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Old February 12th, 2010, 03:32 PM   #14
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My meanest time to failure so far

I'm still on mostly on tape and am always a bit nervous when I do without it - like when I go direct to a Philips hard drive recorder or to a Firestore instead.

Today I had a scary experience with brand new hard drive. I had a warranty issue on my Macbook Pro because the graphics card was a Toyota (sorry NVIDIA) and there was apparently a bad batch. Anyway, before handing it over to the local Apple Store to fix I decided to take another backup of the hard drive, so I went in early to get a 500GB portable drive having already bought 2 as backup drives for relatives as Christmas presents.

So I plugged in the new drive to do a clone and about 10 minutes later the drive started making a noise like a budgie in a microwave. (No personal experience of this please note - just being imaginative). The store staff agreed it was knackered and said this kind of failure was not uncommon over a number of brands. The "not if, but when" issue of hard drive failure was mentioned, but the balance of opinion was that if it lasted a month or so it would probably keep going for years.
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Old February 13th, 2010, 08:25 PM   #15
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For the record, I've been working with solid state recording media for about three years now and haven't had a problem. The biggest issue faced by some is failing to copy what's been shot to an archive system. But if you're the slightest bit organized, and be methodical, that won't happen.

For continuous recording the EX1 and HVX cameras have two slots. When one card fills, the camera switches automatically to the next card. Pull the full card and replace with an empty one. Colored LEDs tell you which card is active.

As for how tough solid state is -- and how lucky some people can be -- read this article about a couple who lost all their precious vacation photos when their camera went overboard.

Express.co.uk - Home of the Daily and Sunday Express | UK News :: Camera lost in the Atlantic is reunited with cruise couple
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