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Old April 7th, 2010, 06:49 PM   #1
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DV vs HDV for DVD

HI

A few people have asked me this question and always thought it was a no brainer, but I would like to pose the question out because from my limited knowledge of video.

If your final product is to be a DVD, is there a major benefit to use HDV cameras? I know that there is probably some increased quality since HDV is higher quality, but if your final project is a DVD, it would have to be down converted to SD DV and then even lower when it gets rendered out to dvd. Is this proper thinking or is there more to it than that and there would be a more noticable difference in using a HDV camera.

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Old April 7th, 2010, 07:00 PM   #2
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Quality is fairly equal, so there is no benefit in using HDV if your final product is an hour long movie on DVD. HDV down-rezzed will produce good DVDs if you're prepared to do some extra post work, but if you've already got a decent SD camera, such as the XL2, then there is no need to use a HDV camera such as the XL-H1 for example because it will not, in my view, produce a superior video on a DVD disc.
It is of course better to use HDV/HD cameras if your end product is Blue-Ray.
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Old April 7th, 2010, 10:16 PM   #3
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I beg to differ

There COULD BE a visually significant difference. The key is 'could be' - that is, if care is taken to shoot properly, and the post-processing is done with high quality software. At the beginning of the HD era most NLEs had issues with downconverting, but that's now history.

Even free software like VirtualDub can produce stunning downconverts, far superior to shooting SD.
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Old April 7th, 2010, 11:12 PM   #4
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I do multi-camera shoots of weddings and other events like dance recitals. For about a year, I've mostly been shooting HDV, but occasionally shot some projects in DV. (That is, before I got the MRC recorders, I shot LP mode DV for events with segments longer than than one hour). My observation is that shooting DV with a very good DV camera like an XL1H and shooting DV with with a pretty good HDV camera (like an XH-A1 or FX1000) nearly yielded comparable results on a DVD encoded with a good encoder (such as ProCoder). However, when shooting both DV and HDV cameras (with the HDV cameras shooting in HDV) of a reasonably lit event , edited in 1080i PProCS4 (using Cineform), and then downrezzed on output to DVD, I have to say that the most of my customers thought the HDV footage's colors seemed truer, the images sharper, and the cameras matched better when displayed on the HD LCD" screens that most of my customers now seem to have. Note that I was editing in HDV1080I in PProCS4 and only down-rezzed when coding over to DVD Mpeg2. The customers with older CRTs were split between those who had Sony Bravia HD capable CRT screens (they were the most positive) and those who didn't (they didn't care one way or the other.)

I also did a couple of events where I had to trot out a trusty old VX2000 (which has been absolutely wonderful in dim light). When I've asked the performers to look at the video, most of them had no trouble distinguishing the VX2000 DV footage from the HDV footage. They didn't exactly complaint, but they did comment that it looked a bit softer and muddier.

On the other hand, when asked about the audio, it seemed to go the other way. I've done a couple of shoots for demo DVDs for local musicians. The pianists seemed to favor the audio feed to a VX2000 (PCM audio) over that recorded on similar mikes fed to the HDV cameras (Mpeg Layer 2 audio). Although the VX2000 audio seems noisier to me (more hiss), they mostly thought it seemed richer and less clipped.

I haven't had the chance to do much in the way of direct comparisons. I did try one test with the instructors at a dance studio. I had the Sony VX2000 looking at a stage from one side of the room (shooting widescreen DV) and a Canon XHA1 shooting HDV on the other. I gave them whole stage fixed views from each camera. Three of the four instructors preferred the down-rezzed HDV footage.

None of this has any statistical significance. What I took away from this anecdotal impressions is that, with multi-cam events, most people seem likely to prefer HDV when down-rezzed to DVD over straight DV.

On the other hand, if you shoot single camera, good quality DV, where there is no immediate comparison (as you get with a multi-cam shoot), then most people in my area don't seem to have a real preference.
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Old April 8th, 2010, 05:12 AM   #5
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No matter how pure your water is and how many gallons you've got in your tank, you can only fit a pint in to a pint glass.

If you've only got HD or HDV cameras to work with, and you don't mind the extra work spent in down-rezzing etc., then there is no real need to buy an extra SD camera...but if you've already got the very best that SD can provide, such as an XL2, then there is no need to purchase a much more expensive XL-H1s version of the same camera if your end product is ONLY to SD DVDs.

I have both cameras, and I certainly do not see any marked difference between the two when the highest possible quality 1-hour long DVDs are produced from either camera. I prefer the end results from the XL2, but that, like others who may prefer the XL-H1 down-rezzed files, is all down to personal taste and not a fact that one is better than the other.

Quality is very important to me. I produce and sell thousands of DVDs worldwide every year and if I thought that my HDV camera's video images were better after being hugely compressed to fit the DVD Mpeg2 format then I'd certainly have been using them more than my SD cameras. Even the XL2's raw files need to be compressed to fit on a DVD disc.

Jay's last sentance in his post is certainly true. Feedback from customers is that they can't actually spot a difference, and when an average of votes is taken both sides win.

What it all boils down to is that either camera will produce wonderful professional quality DVDs of the higest standards.

Mark's question was "If your final product is to be a DVD, is there a major benefit to use HDV cameras" - And my answer to that question is certainly no, there is not a "major benefit".
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Old April 8th, 2010, 08:52 AM   #6
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I think the question needs to be further refined.

There is certainly no major benefit using a $1500 Sony FX1000 against a $15000 ENG SD camera when the final product is SD DVD.

My results are using the SAME camera, a Sony Z1 in SD mode versus HD mode. Sharper image, richer colors with downcoverted HDV - at the expense of the audio as Jay noted, wave is clearly better than mpeg2 @ 384Kbps.

Again, we really need to know what "major benefit" means to the OP, and also the cameras he is comparing - there is no "one size fits all" answer.
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Old April 8th, 2010, 11:04 AM   #7
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I much prefer the image quality straight from an XL2 compared to down-rezzed HDV clips from a Z1. And so do many others that I've asked. In-camera SD direct from the Z1 is even worse than the converted HDV. So we are back to personal tastes.

This discussion has been thrashed out over the years in similar threads, dividing people on both sides of the fence with no forgone conclusions. The simple fact is that both can produce top grade professional quality DVDs if done correctly...and if placebo DVDs with no labels on the covers were sent out to a thousand home viewers, I have no doubts that the majority would not notice the difference or be able to match the correct cameras to the labels.
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Old April 9th, 2010, 08:34 AM   #8
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The main question that i was looking to answer was that a friend of mine asked me if it was better to buy a 'cheap' little HDV or AVCHD camera at the local electronics store, or to spend the same amount on a prosumer SD camera such as the PD150 or VX2000. Seeing that his final product would be DVD, i thought that he would not notice much difference in the picture, and that something like a VX2000 or PD150/70 or canon would be more useful to him.
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Old April 9th, 2010, 01:28 PM   #9
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A lot depends upon how the finished product will be viewed. If it's on a 4:3 SD CRT, those 4:3 SD cams will do fine. But if there's any chance they want to shoot 16:9 and view on a widescreen HDTV, then the VX and PD will not be a good choice.

There are many discussions of the widescreen DV ability of those cams here and elsewhere, and aside from one guy who thinks they do just fine, the consensus (and my personal experience) is that the VX and PD do horrible widescreen when displayed on a 16:9 HDTV. Displayed on a regular old CRT, the letterboxed widescreen that they do does in fact look fine.

And Tony illustrates how personal tastes come into play on this issue; the majority of opinion that I've taken away from these boards is that whether shooting DV or shooting HDV and downconverting -- either in the cam or in the NLE -- the Z1 and its ilk do a much better job of SD/DV than even the best SD/DV cams. I've had probably a dozen different Sony HDV cams, including the Z1's little brother, the FX1 (same lens, chips and virtually everything else), and never shot anything but HDV which I later downconverted, and found these images a whole universe better than anything I ever got out of my VX2000. The old argument used to be that the VX and PD were so fantastic in low light that no HDV cam could ever come close, but even that is no longer true.

But it's all really personal. My experience is that even the cheapest HDV cam makes better DVDs than any SD cam.

Note that the XL2 that Tony talks about has a native widescreen chip, so the Sony VX/PD widescreen issues do not apply. For a more detailed explanation of how this all works, see this website:

The DV, DVCAM, & DVCPRO Formats -- tech details, FAQ, and links.
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Last edited by Adam Gold; April 9th, 2010 at 03:06 PM.
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Old April 9th, 2010, 04:03 PM   #10
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Good afternoon,

Hd to Sd converted in sony vegas actualy gives a little sharper image than straight SD out of the Hd camera. If done correctly it will also be a little sharper than that image out of my xl2, I doubt anyone other than an obcessive camera guy would note it.

However, if you have low light I would prefer my xl2 as it will do better in the lower light than my xlh1 (not sure about my fx1 yet).

If shooting 4:3 I will use my gl2 and xl2 for certain on an SD shoot.

If shooting 16x9 SD I will shoot xl2 and my xlh1, down converting in post.

Shooting hd is obvious.


Just my 3 cents worth.


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Old April 12th, 2010, 01:18 PM   #11
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Another option that you might consider is shooting in DVCPRO 50. I have shot a number of projects in this format because others recommended it to me, and the transfer to DVD is excellent
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