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-   -   Question about minitape vs hard drive? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-vixia-series-avchd-hdv-camcorders/105648-question-about-minitape-vs-hard-drive.html)

John Waterman October 14th, 2007 08:35 PM

Question about minitape vs hard drive?
I'm looking at buying the Canon HV20 using tape, or the Sony HDR-SR7E with 60GB HDR.

The idea of buying a video cam with magnetic tape rubbing against a record/playback head is a turn-off for me. Yet the HV20 shines most everywhere else.

Then again, what do 60GB (22 hours of High Definition) HDRs cost to replace?

You can probably tell I'm a beginner and I'd welcome your take on this.

Thanks ~ John

Bob Kerner October 15th, 2007 04:43 PM

I have the HV 20 and briefly weighed the tape v HD issue. The conclusion I came to was tape is still king unless you have unlimited funds to buy hard drives. It's a lot easier to carry extra tape than it is to carry an extra HD. What will you do when you fill the HD; for example, on a long trip and you cannot offload the drive?

Using a hard drive is appealing. I hate the idea of tapes laying around but it seems like the best way to go for now until prices for hard drive storage drop and it becomes economical to have a back up.

I would not let the storage format scare you away from an otherwise wonderful camera. I thought the tape would be a pain, but it isn't. I sort of like knowing I have an archival copy of my projects that's not purely digital on a drive that can fail without notice. I hope to upgrade to something bigger/more control and I wouldn't hesitate to go with a tape system.


John Waterman October 15th, 2007 05:22 PM

Eminently sensible advice Bob - I much appreciate it.


Chris Barcellos October 15th, 2007 05:29 PM

But, there is another- Check out the Canon HG10-- HV20 double with hard drive--- be the first on our block and return back to us with reports !! (Note:Record in AVCHD)

John Waterman October 15th, 2007 05:47 PM

Thanks Chris. Canon is churning them out. I'm a bit scared of AVCHD, rendering times and the super-computer I'll need to run this show :)


Chris Barcellos October 15th, 2007 08:26 PM


Originally Posted by John Waterman (Post 759421)
Thanks Chris. Canon is churning them out. I'm a bit scared of AVCHD, rendering times and the super-computer I'll need to run this show :)


Actually I pulled some AVCHD footage off the internet, put it on a Vegas 8 time line, and then rendered to a Cineform intermediate file, and it seemed to work fine. Was real jumpy in preview, but when it rendered to intermediate, plays beautifully on WMP.

Marco Durando October 16th, 2007 01:48 AM

Tape drawback
I agree in principle that tapes are the best choice at the moment, at least in theory, but I am always surprised that no one considers a drawback that in my experience is important. I owned two miniDV tape based Canon cameras, the first was Standard Definition (MV20), the second is HDV (HV10). Both were prone to very frequent dropouts (one every 4-5 minutes), but with HDV this is even worse because you loose several frames, often in the middle of a valuable and unrepeatable footage.
To try to prevent this, I use only Sony HDV tapes, I never leave the cassette in the camera when not in use and avoid carefully dusty environments, but the problem is always there (I noticed there is a huge difference in the frequency of dropouts from one cassette to another, although of the same type and brand).
I took the first miniDV camera four times to a Canon center, but they never succeeded in getting it definitely repaired, the only result was to add other small problems and have the camera less and less reliable.
I wonder if this problem occurs only to me and why.

Tom Hardwick October 16th, 2007 02:57 AM

It sounds as if you've been terribly unlucky Marco.

Mini DV tapes are still remarkably cheap, and a couple of US dollars for 13 gb of HDV storage is not to be sneezed at. HDD camcorders sound wonderful until you realise the massive compression and the editing limitations they bring to the party. Ditto with SD card cameras. DVD camcorders are a bit of a joke now and SxS (and even more so P2) storage is eye-wideningly expensive.

And how will you store your raw footage? Mini DV tapes are cheap enough to just put on the shelf, but come home with your HDD, DVD or flash memory camera and what do you do? You can store it all on hard drives, but that's hoping for the impossible - that the bearings won't one day sieze up. Store to home-burnt DVD media? Whoooah! Store to Mini DV tape - gosh, we're back where we started.

Tape may sound to be old fashioned and I've no doubt camcorder salesmen have an easy time slagging it off to new customers. But come outside into the bright light of day and you'll realise the humble, cheap, reliable, compact Mini DV tape is an amazingly big storage container is a minute space. And all for less than the price of a sandwich.


Don Palomaki October 16th, 2007 07:23 AM

FWIW: Tape is still the back-up storage method of preference, even for data. When a hard drive dies, it is by and large dead (well, some recovery may be possible by specialists - costly). However, most material can be recovered from a broken tape by respooling it to an empty cassette. You only lose a foot or two of tape at the break (no splices please - bad for heads).

Desktop PC hard drive storage costs about US 25 cents per GB these days, about as cheap as MiniDV tape. (13 GB for $3).

But tape is linear and slower transfer. Bottom line: Do what works for you.

Bill Ravens October 16th, 2007 07:39 AM

a small(?) corollary problem with tapeless capture: the LTC is written onto the tape and then read by the hard drive captur system. if you don't use tape, the timecode isn't recorded.

John Waterman November 14th, 2007 04:52 PM

Thank you very much for the additional comments - much appreciated!

Ray Bell November 14th, 2007 05:43 PM

The question of Tape or HD.....

There is one more extra that you get out of using tape with the HV20...

If you record to the HD then the camera outputs 1440x1080....
If you record to tape and capture the footage from the firewire port, the camera outputs 1440x1080

Here's the extra for using tape...

If you record to tape and capture the footage from the "HDMI port", the
camera outputs *1920x1080*

And if you use Cineform Prospect for an intermediate you get 10bit precision
I/O for that footage, 1920x1080 from tape..............

The key to the extra for using tape is to use the HDMI port....

John Waterman November 14th, 2007 06:01 PM

Thanks Ray.

That's interesting. Does that 'jump' using HDMI apply to both NTSC and PAL? I know sweet all about HDMI but I'll research it more on the web.

My HV20 arrived this morning - small and perfectly formed! :) I'm blown away by the quality result.

Michael Jouravlev November 14th, 2007 07:21 PM

Tape is obsolete. It is still used for computer data backup, because manufacturers are able to deliver cassettes having higher capacity than hard drives. 4TB tapes still make sense for backup if you have 500GB HDD. A 500GB external HDD can be purchased for about $100. MiniDV cassettes, on the other end, hold only about 13GB and cost from $3 for cheap ones to about $7-10 for fancy ones. There is no economic reason to stick with tapes.

Another thing is that tapes are not truly rewritable, they are "write-several-times-only". I reused a tape three times and on the third time I got dropouts. Ok, this was a cheap $3 tape, but still it was made in Japan by Panasonic, so I expected at least couple of dozen of rerecordings. My camera is a regular DV one, with HDV the dropouts are deadly, so one would use a tape only once, this is $3-5 for every hour of recording, and again, and again and again. This is not just money, you waste the Earth resources in a sutuation when you could preserve them.

HDDs and memory cards have no dropouts and they are truly rewritable zillions of times. The limited capacity of an internal HDD is not an issue for most amateur videographers because it is possible to review and delete bad clips right away. I don't think that an amateur videographer shoot more than 5 hours of video daily, and I don't think that all of this video is worth preserving. So, if you are on a vacation, every evening you would go through the clips and delete bad ones, easy.

But even HDDs are not the ultimate storage, memory cards are. Screw Panasonic with its P2 cards, 16GB SDHC cards are available right now for quite reasonable $150. About 10 years ago I bought 8MB RAM for my computer and payed $150 per 4MB! And you won't need a ton of memory cards, because you can reuse them over and over and over again, and you can delete bad clips right in the camera, so you would not have to capture a whole tape and then throw out junk.

When the prices on memory cards drops to, say, $10 a pop, one will be able to archive video on cards just like now he archives video on tapes. Before that moment comes, use DVDs and/or HDDs. Just use different media and make copies and you will be fine. It is unlikely that your HDD will fail the same day you scratch a DVD with the same data.

Currently SDHC cards are manufactured in three speed ratings: 2MB/s, 4MB/s and 6MB/s. The slowest 2MB/s rating aligns nicely with currently available AVCHD camcorders, that produce 13-15Mbps video. Is this incidental? I think not. As faster and more capacitious cards become commonly available, the AVCHD bandwidth may increase. Notice, that to record HDV-like video onto a memory card you need 6MB/s card, the most expensive one. Maybe this was another reason why camcorder manufacturers went with AVCHD instead HDV-in-a-file (which is just a high-res MPEG-2 video).

I think that this rant is largely pointless, especially if one wants a prosumer camera. In the pro or prosumer category there is no choice besides P2 cards or HDV (naturally, on tape). There are no cameras in say $1k to $3K range that have enough pro features and looks and size and presense, that write to SHDC cards. So if one wants to use cheap memory cards then the only choice is the uber-simplified palm-sized cameras. This is just sad. I would love to see something like PDX10 or HC1 that writes to SDHC card instead of tape. I would appreciate widescreen standard def mode too.

John Waterman November 14th, 2007 08:25 PM

Appreciate your take on things Michael.

Something I've frequently wondered about is: are cam manufacturers (such as Canon etc) deliberately holding back on advanced features such as solid-state storage, so as to stretch out the gravy train. When I look at the dozens of cam models under one brand I see what appears to be deliberate redundancy and thus huge waste.

Then again, what do I know.

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