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Old October 4th, 2006, 04:59 PM   #1
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Is digital better than analog?

*LONG POST, APOLOGIES IN ADVANCE*

Hi folks.

Part time I do weddings, dance recital videos, etc. I shoot with a Sony PD170, edit on FCP, yadda, yadda, yadda. I love my camera!

Full time I'm a videographer at a local TV station. We shoot on DVC Pro, edit on Newsbyte, etc. Might switch to AVID in the near future.

I like to think I'm okay at what I do. I won the best photog award in my state once. Moons ago...

In the little world of television, there are a few forums where the tv folk gather and shoot the breeze and discuss whatever is going on. Much like what we have here at DVInfo.

I've been in television for more than 14 years, and if there is one thing I will go to my grave believing is that there are more primadonna PHOTOGRPAHERS than there are anchors.

Yes, sometimes I'm embarrassed to call myself a photog. It's sickening. I thought that 'video journalism' was about telling stories with video and sound, not the tool used to tell the story.

Which is the reason for my post.

I can't tell you how many 'holier than thou' photogs there are who look down their nose at me and the people like you who gather here because of the TOOL that is used in getting video.

'You shoot on miniDV? You should have your tail kicked for using a joke camera and format!'

Folks, it makes me sick. I've seen the work linked to from this site and I am in AWE with what I see. My hat is off to you all.

Back to those primadonnas...

One 'photog' (don't even know him) is hell bent on preserving his BetacamSP camera for the next 20 years and to heck with anything miniDV. Here's what his website says about digital vs. analog:
<>
'Digital is better when you consider high end digital formats such as Digital Betacam, HD Cam, or MPEG-IMX... ...when you consider low end digital formats such as Mini-DV, DV Cam, or even DVC Pro, this is not the case.

Low end digital formats have several inherent flaws. First, they use a compression ratio of 5 to 1, meaning that the image information and detail is compressed to 1/5th it's original bandwidth, thus reducing the picture's chrominance and luminance (color and brightness) information and ultimately reducing the overall picture quality. Betacam SP on the other hand, is UNCOMPRESSED (1:1), achieving full chrominance and luminance bandwidth. High end digital formats use a mild compression ratio that is almost imperceptible.

The low end formats also sample color information in a 4:1:1environment. This means that the chrominance (color) bandwidth is sampled at 1/4 of the luminance (brightness) bandwidth. Luminance is sampled at 13.5 MHz, while the chrominance is sampled at 3.375MHz. Betacam SP and other high end formats use the 4:2:2 environment, where the chrominance is sampled at 6.75, twice the rate of the 4:1:1 format, providing higher quality and more professional images.

Low end digital formats also use smaller and cheaper chips (CCDs) with fewer pixels per chip than Betacam SP and high end digital formats. Betacam SP and high end digital format cameras feature three 2/3 inch chips with over 520,000 pixels per chip.

Mini DV and other low end digital cameras have three 1/3 inch chips and just 270,000 pixels per chip. These cheaper and smaller chips offer less horizontal and vertical resolution, about 500 lines compared to Betacam's 900 lines. These chips are also more susceptible to vertical smear, that nasty line that runs from top to bottom of the screen when a bright object enters the frame.

In summary, simply being digital doesn't make a format better than analog...
...Betacam SP is still Superior, technically and aesthetically. There is just no comparison. If you care about high quality production values and the image you're projecting, call us for your next production and insist on using Betacam SP. Because we care very much about our client's image and the product we produce, we WILL NOT use low end digital formats such as Mini DV and DVCam. We will continue to use Betacam SP and high end digital formats such as Digital Betacam and MPEG IMX.'

So pretty much, screw anyone who uses those little cameras. A 50 thousand dollar Betacam is the way to go. PERIOD. Anyone using miniDV is a waste of time and money.

I've gone round and round with this joker. My thought on the subject is that if we truly love what we do and we're good at it, the tool used to get the job done doesn't matter.

I know for a fact that Steven Spielberg could make a great movie with a few 800 dollar cameras! And he'd still win an Oscar!

What's the reason for this post? It's not that I'm wanting to stir the nest. I'm wanting to get YOUR THOUGHTS on the TOOLS used to get the job done.
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Old October 4th, 2006, 05:08 PM   #2
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Ask him what he is going to do when the stations do only HD.....
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Old October 4th, 2006, 05:19 PM   #3
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I'll reply with an analogy:

My wife can cook a five star meal in a tin pan over a propane lantern. I, on the other hand, couldn't make anything other than pigs-in-a-blanket even if Emeril himself let me use his own personal kitchen.

The technology is great, but it's just the means to an end. I'd rather a well crafted film shot on VHS-C over a shoddy film shot on 70mm.

The Beta is nice, but most wedding and dance recital clients wouldn't know the difference, nor could they afford to hire a crew with the 50K rig.

Watch any Discovery Channel documentary show. When you see the 2nd camera in shot, quite often the camera is a MiniDV. Apparently they think that the format is good enough for their programming. Its good enough for me too.
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Old October 4th, 2006, 05:45 PM   #4
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Looks like this is the site?
http://www.bvatv.com/analogvsdigital.htm

There really wasn't anything spectacular there in the demo area that didn't seem like it couldn't be done with DV.
The other thing is that most pros buying new cameras these days are likely getting HD or HDV, which completely changes the comparisons this site is making.

Bottom line is that it comes down to what you can do with the tools you have.
Show someone a demo of great looking video, motion graphics, animation ... whatever and let the images sell, not the tools.
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Old October 4th, 2006, 06:03 PM   #5
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Yes Nick, that is the site.

On a forum dedicated to TV photogs, we go round and round on this topic about once a month. The reason I didn't give a direct link is that I want to keep my anonymity on that forum.

I am in agreeance. The camera is only a tool, the means to an end to get the job done. I seriously doubt that many viewers (television news, dance recitals or weddings) notice the difference between something shot on Betacam SP or miniDV.

FYI... at my shop, we also use the P2's and all the photogs are EGO FREE. I'm fortunate to be there.
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Old October 4th, 2006, 06:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Jushchyshyn
Looks like this is the site?
http://www.bvatv.com/analogvsdigital.htm
There is a lot of wrong information in the chart on that page. For example digital or analog doesn't care what size ccd the camera is using, There are 2/3 inch DVCAMs. Vertical smear? I don't get vertical smear in my Sony DSR390 unless I crank to gain to +18, the same thing happened with my Sony PVW537 when I cranked the gain.

Joe
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Old October 4th, 2006, 06:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colby Knight
Yes Nick, that is the site.

On a forum dedicated to TV photogs, we go round and round on this topic about once a month. The reason I didn't give a direct link is that I want to keep my anonymity on that forum.

I am in agreeance. The camera is only a tool, the means to an end to get the job done. I seriously doubt that many viewers (television news, dance recitals or weddings) notice the difference between something shot on Betacam SP or miniDV.

FYI... at my shop, we also use the P2's and all the photogs are EGO FREE. I'm fortunate to be there.
Yeah, posting that much content from a site though makes the page google click away. I think it's also important to see this content in the context of the site, mainly in relation to their demo material.

In the end, the material shown is not at all "bad" either. They seem to be a perfectly fine production company ... just a bit over the top in their "education" of clients.
Maybe 10 years from now they'll be singing the "it's not the tools" song while shooting their Betacam SP gear when everyone in the "dv" crowd has moved on to shooting on RED Fives :)
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Old October 4th, 2006, 09:01 PM   #8
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The webpage linked above is really full of misleading, misguided, ignorant information perpetuated by those who seem to fear technology and doubt their own talents/abilities. Nothing WRONG with Betacam but in many, if not MOST cases, it adds unnecessary expense for marginal at best quality gains, if ANY. Most clients will not see the difference in quality but they WILL notice how much cheaper the production can be with digital...



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