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David McCoy
HDV Deck Recommendations
on Jul 20, 2016 at 11:10:21 am

I need help deciding what HDV deck to buy. I'm working on a documentary, and I'm going to be capturing several hundred hours of footage, so I want to start off with the right deck.

I'm looking at some used Sony HVR-M15AU, M25U, M35U decks. So far these are the only decks I can find below $800. I'm hoping to stay below $500.

The footage is a mix of 1080i, 30p, and 24p, with Panasonic and Sony tapes, shot on a variety of cameras, mostly a Sony HVR-V1U and a Canon Vixia HV30. Currently working with a 2015 27" Retina 5K iMac, FCP X, and yes I have FireWire to ThunderBolt adapters.

Between the 3 decks I haven't noticed any major differences that would come into play for me, except for the headphonjack and HDMI output not available on the M15AU. My main concern is quality and reliability. Any advice?


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Noah Kadner
Re: HDV Deck Recommendations
on Jul 20, 2016 at 10:22:51 pm

HDV comes over Firewire as a digital signal with no transcoding during capture So.... any deck will give you identical quality captures as long as the heads are in decent shape.

Noah

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John Rofrano
Re: HDV Deck Recommendations
on Jul 21, 2016 at 2:03:30 am
Last Edited By John Rofrano on Jul 21, 2016 at 2:06:29 am

[Noah Kadner] "HDV comes over Firewire as a digital signal with no transcoding during capture So.... any deck will give you identical quality captures as long as the heads are in decent shape."
+1

We use the term "capture" but HDV is really a digital transfer just like DV. Whatever digital bits are on the tape are the exact same bits in the file on your hard drive. So quality is not a deciding factor. It's all about features from deck to deck.

I should probably point out that HDV is NOT a standard that everyone followed i.e., Panasonic, and Canon HDV tapes might not play back on a Sony deck! (it's not like DV at all in that respect) and the 24p formats were absolutely incompatible. Every manufacturer had their own crazy scheme of stuffing 24p in a 60i stream. I would spend time investigating which tape formats those decks will play back or you might get surprised after purchasing one when it doesn't read your tapes.

~jr

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