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Video Camera - Media types your thoughts
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Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Video Camera - Media types your thoughts on 06/27/2009 22:21:13 MDT Print View


Looking for a lightweight video camera to take out with me.

Whats are the thoughts on the type of media I should be looking at? HDD, Flash, MiniDVD, tape, or anything else. Each have their pros and cons explain your choice.


Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Video Camera - Media types your thoughts on 06/28/2009 06:02:38 MDT Print View

First what I would not recommend...
Mini DVD.
This format was developed for the user that wanted quick and easy viewing of their footage on their TV without using the camera for playback.
Also for sharing the movie with friends and family (IE, pop the disk in the Mail)
Mostly to appeal to the same consumers that preferred VHS-C over Video 8.
It was a good idea when flash memory was several hundreds of dollars for 1 GB
Hybrids (HDD+flash memory) are no longer that useful because of the large size memory cards and the low price.
(however at the high end of the amateur range the Pana HS 300 is very nice)

Mini DV. Great value for money, easy to edit. Mini DV is the least compressed format and is recorded on individual "frames" The easiest to edit.
HDV. The High Def version. Same tape , but using MPEG2 compression, so the footage is recorded in groups of frames. Basically it means that during editing most frames have to be "built" from key frames.
You need a decent dual core processor and lots of video memory and RAM for this.
Somewhat still smoother picture than flash memory versions. ( 1x 60min tape is about 20GB)
Canon have the HV20/30/40 as a good example of this technology. ( as well as bigger semi-pro /pro models)
See also the Sony HVR-S270, HVR-Z7 and HVR-Z5

Flash Memory
Standard and HD
Now that you can get a 32bg SD card, this is the emerging de facto "standard"
MPEG 4 type compression (AVCHD/H264) , very aggressive and hard to edit. (see comments in the HDV section, add a bit more grunt)
At the lower end you can get very small and relatively robust models including the weatherised Pana SW20 and Sanyo CA9
The top end has similar models from Canon/Pana and Sony to their tape versions.
With this format the most troublesome parts of a video camera (transport, ejection mechanism, head wear ) have been eliminated.
The only moving parts are in the lens block.

Edited by Franco on 06/28/2009 06:09:55 MDT.

Richard Mueller
(richca) - F - M

Locale: Western USA
Re: Video Camera - Media types your thoughts on 06/28/2009 11:03:48 MDT Print View

I just recently purchased a Sanyo Xacti CG10 Duel Camara. It is a HD camcorder ( 720p) and will take 10 megapixel photos. It uses flash memory for the recording and photos. The duel camara weighs 7 oz. with a battery and memory card installed. So far I am pleased with the performance and quality of the video and still photos of this unit. I bought it for $199.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Editing on 06/29/2009 04:12:47 MDT Print View


Can you qualify "hard to edit"? Can I suck this into my Macbook and cut and paste 30 sec clips to make a DVD to post to the grandparents, or is this going to jam up the whole works?

Thanks, Rod

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Video Camera - Media types your thoughts on 06/29/2009 16:47:51 MDT Print View

I have no experience with Macs, AVCHD was till recently only fully supported by Windows based computers.
All cameras are sold with some basic software that handles cuts and simple transitions (wipes/fade) and some titling. Most only work with Window based computers.
If you find one that supports Mac, then that will be the cheapest way out.
You can import files into iMovie, some recommend importing with v8 and editing with version 6.
Final Cut Express has now full AVCHD support.
So importing is not a problem.
Editing depends on the file type. The easiest is standard definition .
Next is 720P and 1080i , the hardest is 1080p.
To then do some cuts and save the footage onto DVD, see some of the comments in these links
Avoid JVC, they usually have their own version of the different CODECs.
Or Google "brand X, model x and Mac compatibility" )

James Lee
(JLeephoto) - F

Locale: Triad
Don't forget storage on 10/13/2009 21:34:22 MDT Print View

What most people seem to forget when shooting HD footage on memory cards or hard drives, is that you're probably going to want to archive the original footage and this equates to a LOT of hard drive space (60min HDV = 44GB).
There are a lot of online discussions about problems with Macs and the AVCHD codec. Because AVCHD is highly compressed it takes more processing power and newer software to work with.
For that reason, the ease of use, and the quality of HDV compression on mini-DV tapes, I'm sticking with HDV mini-DV for now. After the edit, I can shelve the tape and come back to it without saving all the raw footage on hard drives.
On the other hand, if you can deal with the storage, and work out the editing issues, HDD & memory card cameras are much smaller/lighter.

James Lee
(JLeephoto) - F

Locale: Triad
Just checking on 10/13/2009 21:49:30 MDT Print View

I haven't used the AVCHD format so I was just doing some checking over at and the conclusion of most of the pros is that you'll need a lot of mac horsepower or you're likely to "jam up the whole works." With Final Cut or iMovie the AVCHD files must be transcoded to AIC or ProRes codecs which are about 4x the size of the original footage. Suggest you try before you buy.

David Brandenberg
(daveinflag) - F

Locale: High Desert
Video cameras on 10/24/2009 21:01:48 MDT Print View

Would you happen to have any recommendations for a vid cam that is suitable for web videos/you tube...that sort of thing. I currently have a mini dv camcorder that is good but not great.

I do like the fact that I do not have to devote hard drive space for storage.

The info you provided on formats and editing has been very helpful.