standard definition compress video enough to be noticeable. This is at the consumer and prosumer level.
The camcorders with built-in hard drives under High Definition compress video a LOT - but the Panasonic and Sony machines use AVCHD which is only newly usable by generally available personal-computer based video editing applications. I continue to find it amusing that Sony has been selling AVCHD camcorders for nearly a year and their own Vegas video editing application still cannot import/edit AVCHD encoded video.
JVC recently introduced a hard drive based high-definition camcorder that does NOT use AVCHD and apparently uses the same compression used by the external hard drive video capture mechanisms like those from FireStore...
I would like to understand the reasons why "someone" suggested the hard drive version...
About me: I use a Sony HDR-HC1. It is a miniDV based, 1080i, sibling of the HVR A1... which is the step below the HVR V1. I am a hobbyist, but have had the opportunity to work with lots of pros shooting short film subjects, documentaries and various other genre.
ALL of the pros I have worked with use miniDV, DVCPRO or film. For this discussion we'll stay with minDV tape (because the DVCPRO is a Panasonic-specific item and you are asking about Sony cameras). I met only one semi-pro who used an external FireStore drive but he had a very specific requirement AND got a GREAT deal on the FireStore (free).
My views on the miniDV tape vs hard drive discussion:
1) Once the tape is shot - do not re-use it. Take it out of the camera, lock it and mark its contents on the label. While it does take a gyration, it is possible to accidentally delete footage from a hard drive that you did not want to delete. Arguably, you *could* write over something on miniDV tape - but only if you use the rewind button during the capture process.
2) MiniDV tape records an hour (when HD)... Actually, 63 minutes, but tape is affordable, and *generally* there is a break in the action where a new tape can be inserted - I typically start sniffing to that "open space" (if I need to) when I hit the 40 minute mark on the tape-used counter. The different hard drive camcorders have different sizes - and different total capture times. I have yet to understand what happens when the hard drive is filled and there is more video to capture. I generally carry 5-10 tapes with me + 1 in the camera in addition to the planned number of hours of the event I am recording. So... if it is a 3 hour shoot, I have 8-14 hours of tape with me. I have been on shoots where the plan was to work from 7am until midnight We used a LOT of tape. I suppose when using a hard drive based camera, one *could* carry a laptop and upon filling the hard drive, I could dump the contents onto the computer.
As well, having been an IT manager in a previous life, I know that hard drives fail. So do tape drives - but if that hard drive fails before I have a chance to transfer video, I am looking at a data recovery service (like http://drivesavers.com/ ) to get my video - whereas I have my tape in hand and get another miniDV camera...
3) MiniDV tape is its own archive. Once I lock the tape and label it, the next time I do anything with is is rewind and import to my computer. Then put it back in its case and store it (in a fireproof, waterproof, lockbox). I do my edits and output to DVD... sometimes I output back to the camera. The DVD is downsampled to standard def (I shoot in high def almost always, unless the director tells me otherwise). Exporting to my camera allows me to use the camera as a playback machine connected to a HDTV allows 1080i playback (using the component cables included with the camera). A hard drive based camera would require me to archive the video on my computer (to DVD - which is not as good of an archive method as digital tape) so the step I saved up front is needed elsewhere in the flow.
Again, having been in IT, backups to digital tape is a normal thing... and miniDV tape is digital...
4) The only advantage I currently see to hard drive based camcorders is that it takes a lot less time to transfer video from the camera to the computer for editing. Typically, this would be a drag and drop file copying activity - so however long it takes to copy multiple large data files. In the miniDV tape world, transferring standard definition video is real time - that is, 1 hour of tape captured video will take 1 hour to transfer - 1 hour of high definition video can take up to 2 hours to import because of the decoding that goes on (Actual time will depend on your computer's processor). This is done using a FireWire connection between computer and camcorder. Does your computer have a FireWire port? Do you have LOTS of available hard drive space on your computer? This is not material to the discussion, but you should know that hidef video will take 3x-4x more space on your computer than standard definition video. A 250 gig drive just for video editing is the MINIMUM I would suggest - I have been caught too many times with not enough room with that, so I recently added another 500 gig drive.
At this point, I am not willing to trade superior image quality (from miniDV tape) for that time savings (from hard drive based camcorders). I start the import process and go do something else... like design the disc art, have a cup of coffee, mow the lawn, capture more video, skim leaves out of the pool, play with my Terrier...
Later, if I decide I am in a rush, I may consider the FireStore type devices... but the built-ins just are not up to the imaging that miniDV tape provides for... in my opinion...
Hi, can anyone clarify the benefits or limitations to using Hard disks in a prosumer digital video camera as opposed to tape? I am about to purchase the Sony HVR-V1p High Def camera and someone (a sorta home-movie hobbyist) suggested that I shoulda gone for the hard disk version. I've seen that there is a Sony HVR-V1U 3-CMOS 1080i but it seems a little lower down the food chain.
Any expert opinions gratefully received.