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Video recording heads question

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Jay Huubs
Video recording heads question
on Oct 6, 2010 at 8:56:41 pm

I am an entirely self taught shooter, editor, producer, and everythig else that goes along with producing videos. But my basic knowledge of how things work is limited, take for instance the issue of video recording heads (if that's what they are even called). I record sporting events using multiple static cameras for different angles. I use cheap mini DV cameras since I had to purchase so many of them and they are very likely to get damaged if one gets crashed into. My video looks grainy on bigger flat screen TVs. SO I asked my buddy who has these nice $3000+ cameras why his looks so good and he is recording onto the exact same mini DV tape as I am. He said is was the recording heads. So my quesiton is, do I really have to drop 4 figures to get a decent looking picture? Or do I switch to the lower end HD cameras that record to flash card or HD? I though about getting a prosumer camera, but can only afford one, so when I edit multiple cameras it would look "sharp, crappy, crappy, sharp, crappy, etc." Are mini DV cameras a thing of the past? I know it takes money to make money, but I can probably afford maybe $500 a camera since I need 3 or 4.

"Life's a pitch and then you buy."
-Billy Mays


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Roger Watling
Re: Video recording heads question
on Oct 6, 2010 at 9:48:21 pm

It's more the lens, image chips and processing that adds the dosh and the quality, plus the amount of control you have over focus, Iris and White balance

There is also a limit to the resolution you can get on a DV tape.

If you go for a hard drive camera, really, I mean REALLY check it out against what you have as not all what they are cracked up to be. The 400 quid JVC Hard drive camera I bought isn't as good as the Sony DV camera a mate bought off Ebay for 150 quid - especially in low light although here in the UK DV is a dying format.

Old editors never die, we simply fade to black


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Brian Mulligan
Re: Video recording heads question
on Oct 7, 2010 at 12:28:25 am

So are you both shooting the same format? MiniDV tapes can shoot SD or HD if the camera is shooting HDV. Or miniDV can shoot DVCPRO.

And current LCD screens are designed for HD, so any and all SD usually looks bad on them.



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Mark Suszko
Re: Video recording heads question
on Oct 7, 2010 at 2:10:45 pm

The DV signal is ones and zeroes. They are either on the tape, or they are not. Both camcorders use error detecting and correcting circuits to fix drop-outs in the tape, but the recording heads are not the secret to why his camera looks better than yours. His camera may have a nice D/A conversion circuit on playback. But the real answer has already been said.

In drag racing they say there is no substitute for more cubic inches. In cameras, there is no substitute for bigger glass and sensors.


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Gary Hazen
Re: Video recording heads question
on Oct 8, 2010 at 12:20:43 pm

Roger and Mark are spot on, a better imager and glass will improve the quality.


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Video recording heads question
on Oct 10, 2010 at 1:02:09 am

"So my quesiton is, do I really have to drop 4 figures to get a decent looking picture?"

So could you be comparing HDV to DV? Both use the Mini DV cassette.
If that is the case, not only does the better glass and pickups found in the HDV prosumer cameras make a difference, but HDV has more pixels, better colorspace and compression algorithms. And if the other camera you are comparing yours against is a Progressive scan format, it will have a better perceived sharpness.

Besides the acquisition cost of an HDV camera, you have to think about editing. If you have a system that is adequate for DV, that doesn't mean you can just jump into HD problem free. You may need to spend some money to upgrade your editing system as well.

In the end these HDV prosumer cameras are a bargain. You get a lot of picture quality for 5K these days. 10 Years ago, there wasn't anything that even came close to these cameras in professional broadcasting as far as picture quality, and those cameras would have been 60K+ without a lens.

Scott Sheriff
Director
SST Digital Media
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


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Tom Matthies
Re: Video recording heads question
on Oct 12, 2010 at 8:51:24 pm

Also make sure that you are running your camera with the automatic gain TURNED OFF. If your cameras aren't getting enough light they could be bringing the gain up to compensate for the low light. Running the gain up past normal will give you a very grainy/noisy picture.
Good lens. Good chips. Lots of light = Good video. (at least technically)

I shoot a cooking show and I use three Sony AVCHD hard drive cameras for "Grill Cams"-(In addition to 3 Broadcast quality cameras).I shoot at 1080i even though the show is in SD. The larger frame on the 1080i cameras gives me the ability to pan and scan within the SD frame. The quality is actually quite good when the frame is reduced down to SD. There is plenty of recording time on the camera hard drives as well. I capture it to Apple ProRes 1080i thru the HDMI ports on the cameras using a Kona LHi card. It works pretty well. Might want to borrow one and give it a try.
Tom

Faster! Better! Cheaper!
Pick any two.


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