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Old February 5th, 2003, 08:01 PM   #1
Mick Phipps
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How do playback heads function when.....

Hello all. I wanted to ask an important question regarding recording and playback on DV. I capture my DV on an XL-1s Canon dcam. I do not wish to use the XL-1s to playback as it is undo wear and tear that needs not happen. Therefore, I want to purchase a very cheap (a few hundred dollars) online used, to buy a cheap dcam that I can playback my movies/video from using firewire into my G4 Mac.

Now, that's what I want to do. My question is this.....
If I capture my video on my XL-1s (3CCD chip) which does a fantastic job. When I play back my video on this cheap 'player' camera into my G4 for editing will I loose any quality?

That's my main question. I've heard "Yes, you'll loose quality because the playback heads on a cheaper camera aren't the same as higher dollar cameras". I've heard, "No, the quality of what you captured on video is played out into your G4 without any quality loss. Whatever you captured, it will play into your G4." I don't know what to believe. I wanted to post this here as there are several professionals out here that really know their stuff. If you don't know for sure, please allow others to post as this is for business needs. Purchasing a 'player' unit (desktop model) is still a bit pricey. If I could find one for about $500.00 new i'd jump on it (most of us would). I'm surprised the cost of them are still so high ($1,000 to $1,500 new).

Thanks for your input and any constructive comments. Respectfully, Mick
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Old February 5th, 2003, 08:17 PM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Kansas City, MO
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I will guess that there may be some quality loss but it will be very minimal. I don't know that for a fact but base the guess on what I know about professional decks. They do vary in recording and playback capability. However, most people could never tell the difference in a side-by-side comparison. Even if there is a slight quality loss, your instinct is right to not use your decent camera as a deck. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. If you could save money and get a real deck, like that low end Panasonic that sells for about $1000, that would be excellent, but I realize that's a lot of money for home use.

Another good reason to not use your camera as a deck is that some cameras can develop head alignment problems for no particular reason other than wear. Some seem to be more sensitive than others. If you record something on your XL1 and if it has developed a head alignment problem, you might load your footage, edit it, then master it back out to the same camera and never know you had a problem...until you took the master tape to a dub house to get some copies made. If there was an alignment problem, the tape would play just fine on the camera that recorded it but would not play on a deck adjusted to normal standard. This has happened to several people. The lucky ones are those who used the camera to dub the tape to another camera or deck and THEN had their camera repaired. The unlucky ones are those who sent in their camera for repair and then discovered that it would no longer play the questionable tape, for obvious reasons.

So, yes, get the cheapo camera to use as a deck. If there really is any quality loss, it most likely would be so minimal as to be insignificant.
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Old February 6th, 2003, 12:21 AM   #3
Mick Phipps
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Thank you Bill. I appreciate you taking the time to explain things also.

It helps make sense out of things. I'll go ahead and buy something cheap as a 'player' only. Maybe I can find something with the lense mechanism broken as I only need it as a player anyways. You can get broken stuff pretty cheap sometimes. :o)

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Old February 6th, 2003, 08:13 AM   #4
Obstreperous Rex
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: San Marcos, TX
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Hi Mick,

Let's put it this way, if there is any difference in quality, it's so very slim that you'd *never* see it. Also, keep in mind that a brand new Canon ZR60 camcorder costs less than $500. Do yourself a favor and buy new. An older, used 1-CCD camcorder, especially a cheap or half-broken one, will hurt you more than help. Trust me, it'll pick the wrong time and place to go belly-up and eat a tape. Get a new one, the difference in cost is not that significant. Hope this helps,

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Old February 7th, 2003, 04:57 AM   #5
RED Code Chef
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Holland
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I'd absolutely go with Chris' advise! You would not want to
have your new tape eaten. You will see this happen with the
footage you just shot and cannot afford to loose (I twisted murphy's
law somewhat here).

Also there should not be any quality loss, why? Because
everything is digital! The camera basically reads the digital stream
off the tape and sends it to your computer, that is all. The only
way you will loose some quality will be when:

1. it drops frames (probably cannot read the tape too well)
2. it reads the information on the tape incorrectly and it cannot be corrected (you will see macro block errors)
3. it will not read it at all

I suggest you bring a tape you recorded with your camera to
the shop where you buy one to see if the camera(s) you have
selected actually play it back 100% okay!! It all should be
compatible, but that is not always the case!

Good luck.

Rob Lohman,
DV Info Wrangler & RED Code Chef

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