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Which type of camcorder video format do you prefer?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / March 8, 2007 4:15 AM PST

-- Digital8 (Why?)
-- Hi8 (Why?)
-- MicroMV (Why?)
-- Microdrive, CompactFlash, and built-in hard drive (Why?)
-- MiniDV (Why?)
-- Mini DVD-R/DVD-RAM (Why?)
-- S-VHS/S-VHS-C (Why?)
-- VHS/VHS-C (Why?)
-- 8mm (Why?)
-- Other (What is it?)

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by eranoco / March 8, 2007 8:13 PM PST

Because they are SUPER and the BEST!

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Hi 8 is probably the best overall
by SRG2511 / March 16, 2007 10:16 AM PDT
In reply to: S-VHS/S-VHS-C!

It may not give you the best resolution, but... it is high res. enough to be able to view it with detail; hi 8 camcorders also play and record on 8mm tapes, they can be converted into digital on the computer; the playback and record times are best in pack (I hate stopping and putting in a new disc, or VHS-C tape.), set it and forget it. Easy to edit on the computer. I gave back a digital 8 camcorder by Sony, because it only played digital 8 format. Pain in the neck if you wanted to play it back on more popular 8 mm or hi 8 players or camcorder. Hope this helps.

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by ple3672 / March 8, 2007 8:49 PM PST

I have S-VHS, HI-8 and MiniDV camcorders purchased and used over the years. I have also used VHS and VHS-C and Beta. There is no comparison between the Mini-DV in the digital domain and any analog format for editing and final production of your videos.

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by Bageech / March 8, 2007 10:37 PM PST

I aint got no camcorder.

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by cdwatters / March 8, 2007 10:59 PM PST

I've not migrated to HD yet, but I've been using a CF-based Camcorder since my daughter was born about 2 years ago. I can get about an hour of 640x480 30FPS video on a 2gig SD card, and with the prices on SD dropping my main concern is having enough battery life to fill up the memory card.

With removable media, I do not have to tie up the camera just to transfer to my computer for editing - just stick the card into a CF reader and away I go! The MPEG4 files require some work to edit, but I'm not a professional, so Nero, Roxio and even Windows Movie Maker meet my needs.

The Camera I'm using (a Pentax Optio M) does a good job of shooting stills as well as video. That model has separate triggers for camcorder and still camera modes. If only they could both be used together to shoot a high resolution still while rolling video it would be perfect for me.

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Camcorder Format?
by jaytmoon / March 9, 2007 12:22 AM PST

I used to use a JVC VHS-C camcorder for many years. When the drive belts began to slip and dry out, it was too old to get replacement parts. I shopped around and decided on a Panasonic DV with a 100x zoom and a built in Still capture. The main reason was price, at less than $270. Other reasons were that the DV format is widespread and the tape are available everywhere when traveling. The Hard drive and DVD buring units were much more money at the time and since they were new technology, I decided to go with a platform that was well established and refined. The DV cam is fairly energy efficient, with a long life 3.5+ hours of charge life. It makes a big difference when your away from any electric outlets and extra batterys are pricy.
Good Luck.

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by follish / March 9, 2007 12:26 AM PST

It seems like hard drives would be the safest way to store media. Writing over old material wouldn't be a problem, and although I've never used one, I assume putting it on your computer would be a breeze, plus, they look pretty damn sexy.

Anyone want to give me one for free? eh? eh?

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Do What I did
by coachgeorge / March 9, 2007 4:09 AM PST
In reply to: Digital

Stay at Marriott 30 weeks a year, accumulate enough points and get one for free...............

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by pnoric / March 9, 2007 12:46 AM PST

I wanted a digital camcorder. I also wanted it to play my old 8mm tapes. My first camera was Sony so I stayed with Sony and ended up with the DVR-TRV350. It has a photo mode, Memory Stick, USB streaming, Hi8/8mm playback, firewire, Svideo---everything I want before going to the $1,200 models.

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MiniDV, duh!
by Troy_tuq / March 9, 2007 1:06 AM PST

It is still an industry leading format in small-scale film. It doesn't drop frames like dvds, it doesn't scratch like hard-drives, it requires less processing-thus better quality then flash memory, better quality then Digital/Hi8/8mm, smaller then VHS formats... and it is standard so it is easy to find cameras that use the same format.

For the little bit extra these tapes cost each, they are worth it. I will not buy a different tape, until maybe they make a new type for HD... but atm, miniDV is doing a good job with that as well.

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by Troy_tuq / March 9, 2007 1:20 AM PST
In reply to: MiniDV, duh!

My current camera is a Panasonic PV-GS500. It uses MiniDV, and it takes amazing video. It uses the same lenses system and 3CCDs that its more expensive cousins use (and the more expensive camera uses MiniDV).

TRV-725 was my first Sony Handycam using basic 8mm tapes. It was great at the time... but not being digital made it a pain to edit. I will most likely use my Panasonic until it breaks, and that could be a while, because if I need it, and Panasonic makes it, I own it.

Tape maybe something of the past, but it will take a lot of advancement by the industry to prove me wrong that tape is still superior.

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Why buy tapes?
by coachgeorge / March 9, 2007 3:19 AM PST

My vote is "Microdrive, CompactFlash, and
built-in hard drive". Go with a device that has an internal hard drive.
Never replace or wear out tapes, don't waste dv's (mini or otherwise). Burn to Full size cheap DVD's what and only what you want and need.
I went with the Sony Handycam DCR-SR80. So far the only downside is no view finder. You need to use the lcd to frame your video. Some people do not mind that, it bugs me. I would rate this camera about a 7.5 out of 10. CNets review can be found at

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Why buy tapes
by pnoric / March 9, 2007 10:58 AM PST
In reply to: Why buy tapes?

I like tapes. I keep one for "in the workshop" another for "Our Cows" and yet another one for "Vacation 07. When I get to the end its time to record to the DVD player/recorder which I do directly through through firewire. I don't know how many times you can reuse a 8mm digital tape.
The future I souppose will be HD (hard drive not high def do you really need that in a camcorder?) especially if they get up to 4 hours. Then can you make say 4 folders and use them like I use different tapes?

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Waiting for a better Camcorder
by Vital2U / March 9, 2007 4:01 AM PST

I would prefer a camcorder that uses flash memory, since memory is getting so inexpensive. When I use my camcorder, I always "dump" it off to a videotape, DVD, or computer. The problem today is that camcorders that use flash memory do not have full features, such as optical zoom, in particular. I would think a full featured camcorder that uses memory would result in a product that would have few moving parts (as in a tape drive or DVD drive) and be lower in cost, smaller and lighter, and have the ability to swap out memory for additional recording time, when needed.

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dv choice
by cliff treasure / March 9, 2007 8:09 AM PST

I prefer dv camcorders because there are no problems with existing editing softwares and harwares i use pinacle io software and it works well.I use the leadtek tv 2000 xp and i was able to get the result i am satisfied.

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miniSD Card
by ranron / March 9, 2007 8:44 AM PST

I'm not a camcorder person, but I've been using a Nokia N93 for a while now and I'm getting a hang of the video features especially because the quality is superb for a phone. The quality is crystal clear, VGA resolution, 30 FPS, and they are recorded as MPEG4 files. This is all recorded onto a 2GB miniSD card. The files are limited to 60 minutes, but I can pause, and stuff, so its no problem. Also I can easily delete the files I don't need, quickly, and I can also transfer my video files onto my computer and edit with the included Adobe Premiere Elements (but I use Premiere Pro anyway).

So the idea is I use miniSD (which is very easy to carry if I decide I'm going to lug around a bunch of them).

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by hautie / March 9, 2007 8:46 AM PST

I have been using 8mm camcoder for many years and also mastered my instrument very well transfering of video movies is a breeze with a capture card.

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by Gadgeteer1969 / March 9, 2007 9:34 AM PST

1. It is uncompressed video so you lose nothing.
2. It is relatively cheap
3. It is recognized by every movie editing program out there.
4. Reusable
5. There is no other type of media out there that is better overall

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Professional Disk
by BrianMDPHD / March 9, 2007 10:11 AM PST

I have been in professional video for about five years now, I find the Professional Disk by Sony's PDW line to be THE way to go. Full true active file-format video recording, violet-ray optical disk. Because of this I chose "Other"...

But with the new RED camera out I might be switching out...

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by xcntry / March 9, 2007 11:00 AM PST

For those of us that shot hours and hours of 8mm video and then moved to a Sony Digital8 camcorder to preserve our images, I have never seen a good explanation about why Sony esentially abandoned the Digital8, backward compatible, format camcorder. (I think they still make an old clunky Digital8 that isn't backward compatible, but you can tell this isn't where the company's heart is.) Was it size of the camcorders, being able to charge more $'s for a new type of tape format, new is better, following industry direction, or what?

I'm sure size wasn't the issue. If Sony did away with half the stuff on the Digital8 camcorders, most of which nobody used anyway, redesigned the body and tape loading system, and made other modifications, they could have brought the size of the Digital8 down to something approximating the current DV camcorders. The 8mm media is very durable, more so than the DVD media that they now use for a lot of their camcorders. True, 8mm tapes (and also DV tapes) are susceptible to most problems that DVD's are except that DVD's scratch. This is a serious problem, particularly for travelers or those prone to accidental dropping, etc. How many DVD's have been rendered useless by simple scratch? You can smear toothpaste on a DVD to get it to run, but the data under the scratch is lost.

I have 8mm cassettes that have survived since the 80's in a box in my garage. That's 20 years!!! They've been viewed several times, thrown in boxes, recorded and rerecorded several times, slammed around, gone through 3 moves and stored at high temperatures and low temperatures. I have yet to find a tape with degraded images!!! A couple of cassette's had problems replaying, but if the tapes don't work, you can take the cassette's apart, rewind the tape, or place the spools in another cassette and you can usually get them to work.

All the predictions for DVD life are much lower, some predictions of a decade or less. DVD's are fine if you immediately move to a harddisk and are diligent about doing backups and moving to other media. Are most family, point-and-shoot type photographers that diligent? I don't think so and I'm a prime, point-and-shoot, "honey, I'll do it next week" example.

If you want to know the demand for backward compatible Digital8 camcorders, look at their sales on eBay. Dozens of Digital8's are sold on eBay every few days at prices that are high for used DV equipment. Thousands of people have old 8mm tapes that want to transfer their images to digital media.

Sony has missed the boat on continuing to further develop backward compatible Digital8 camcorders and Hi8 media, just like they have on a number of other electronic products that they have offered thru the years. Digital media reporters and guru's have also missed the boat. These folks only want to praise the latest gimmick, without asking questions about longevity and usefulness to the average Joe Blow user. Why haven't the most powerful media folks railed against formats that are iffy as far as durability and best for the average consumer? Why aren't they herding the average consumer away from a media (DVD) that is marginal unless protected in cases and family room storage boxes; that must be kept away from kids that want to use them as frisbees; and that experts warn about degredation within a decade?

My vote is for Digital8-based camcorders simply because I haven't seen anything else that's any better. I think any tape format is better than DVD's or harddrives, simply because of the durability aspect. Tape is more like photos for the average family use; you can throw them in a box for 20 years and still view them when your kids are grown.

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Mini DV & Mini DVD-R
by msamsudk / March 9, 2007 1:00 PM PST

I have used Mini DV for over the year and its help me of making own movie. If u are required a good quality movie picture i would suggest to go to Mini DVD-R. A picture quality is batter than Mini DV and u can play to DVD player after that.

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MiniDv the best choice
by rkbush / March 9, 2007 1:31 PM PST

I never had much use for a camcorder, but being an eBay addict, I found a nice Samsung for about $120. It's a great little machine, and I like the little-bitty tapes it uses. The DVD camcorders just don't seem a good choice--I would worry about it getting dropped and it's fragile laser getting damaged. I usually buy technology 1-step behind the latest and for tiny prices.The MiniDV has great picture quality and is easy to download on my computer. Price is the best guide...most camcorders are very good now, it's pretty hard to find bad ones.

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Camcorder video format preference
by mva62sgn / March 10, 2007 12:10 AM PST

Mini DV is best for most folks. The picture quality is superior and it is relatively simple to capture and edit on the PC. Until HD formats and camera hardware are perfected and final formats are selected by the marketplace, I will happily stick with Mini DV. Just like VHS now, the tapes will be available long after this format is replaced.

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by tom.maggio / March 10, 2007 12:23 AM PST

I just bought my first camcorder ever about a month ago and and settled on a Panasonic 3CCD model. I love it and I love tape. I'm old school that way.

It took me a couple of years to get off of 5 1/4" floppies to the 3 1/2" ones. I'll probably always be a tape person. When i started in radio in high school our station used tapes for its religious programming, I worked at an easy listening station when I was in my early 30's and we used tapes before migrating to CD's.

For me there is just some kind of physicality about handling the tapes, filing them, getting them and using again etc. that just appeals to my hands on nature.

Oh and yes miniDV is superior for all the reasons given above.


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by HillbillyHobbit / March 10, 2007 1:30 AM PST

Tapes are readily available, cheap, and re-useable.

Quality is excellent for my needs - non-professional, family gatherings, nature shoots, hobby, etc.

End product is easily transferred to PC for editing.

Technology is tried and true and should be around for some time to come.

Cameras are now comparatively cheap, when mine finally needs replacing.


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DV tape for HDV (for now)
by norbiy / March 10, 2007 4:32 AM PST

My reply may be of limited use to many hobbyist videographers, as I'm in a transition, I hope, from serious amateur to independent movie maker. Right now I own a Canon XLH1, which has the advantage of being able to record to HDV tape or send a true HD datastream to whatever storage device may be compatible with the standard cables for its HD/SD HDI output connector.

In general I think it depends a lot on what your final goal is. For now HD-DVD or BluRay disc writers are prohibitively expensive for most of us. My present projects are usually shot in HD, but downconverted for playback in SD on a DVD which may be prepared on either my computer editing station (if I'm trying to provide something polished) or (for casual, personal and family footage) just fed through my DVR/DVD recorder to its hard drive, edited minimally, with simple, no-frills cuts, as no other transitions are manageable from that device.

If you plan to work a lot with an NLE like Vegas or Final Cut or any of the others out there, it may be worthwhile (if your camera will allow) to record straight to some sort of portable hard drive.

Transferring raw tape to the NLE for editing is a very time-consuming operation. And though you can sometimes set up the transfer and go on to work on something else, this will often require that you work on two machines -- or plan for your other task not it involve a computer at all. Certainly, once the price of multi-terabyte storage devices drops into a more affordable range, the shift to full HD will become more tempting -- and the time tradeoff will also have become a no-brainer. I can't imagine trying to feed true uncompressed HD to on-disc files from tape -- even if it were possible.

In the next few years, at least on the "prosumer" end of the market, I can't see any other technologies besides some kind of portable HD or a HD format disc being viable (for HD, that is). As long as you're satified to shoot in SD, though, what will affect the quality of your work probably has more to do with stabilization, learning to shoot in a more "cinematic" way than it will have to do with particular formats of storage. If you're looking to improve your work, better to invest in a good tripod, one of the more affordable Steadicam devices and investing time and energy into learning good "filmmaking" techniques.

If you do go to HD or even HDV, these become even more important, as HD has a much lower tolerance for handheld shooting techniques, excessive use of zoom and the other telltale signs of "home movie" syndrome.

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I prefer a HDD Video Cam
by crsawood / March 11, 2007 10:53 AM PDT

I recently purchased a HDD video camera to replace my Hi 8. I was going to go with Mini DV, but I am glad that I went with HDD.

The HDD that I purchased is extremely small. I carry it around my neck with a camera strap. My Hi8 is obviously smaller than my old full size VHS, but it was still big enough at times to get in the way.

I was missing out on a great deal of video, because I was not carrying the camera around. It was big enough, that it took over whatever you were doing, and did not allow you to enjoy whatever you were doing. When something happens quickly that is worth capturing, I grab my camera, which is always on a charger, and ready to go. I do not have to find a tape, wind through a tape, and hope that I am not taping over something important.

When I get ready to edit, it is very easy to put the video onto my harddrive of the PC (I use an external 360GB hardrive, and archive the MPEG files onto DVD for later editing if needed. I like to edit and make short montages (you know, the type that people actually want to watch), and have thoroughly enjoyed the ease of having the clips on the Hard drive, as well as having them all named (I rename them with topics), and all categorized with the date that they were shot. Although there may be some artifacts left over from the compression process, I think that it is minimal. It is certainly overshadowed by the fact that this camera is easy to use, take with me, and manage the video from. I would rather have a video that I was able to shoot with a small camera, that I didn't have to hunt for a tape for, that might have some compression effects, than to have nothing.

As for time recorded, I can record 17 hours on mine in the highest resolution. I do not think that should be a problem at all.

I am very happy with my choice, and it is important that you make the choice based on your needs, and how you will use the camera.

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Digital Video format
by castingRod47 / March 12, 2007 2:20 AM PDT

-- Digital8 (Why?)
-- Hi8 (Why?)
-- MicroMV (Why?)
-- Microdrive, CompactFlash, and built-in hard drive (Why?)
-- MiniDV (Why?)
-- Mini DVD-R/DVD-RAM (Why?)
-- S-VHS/S-VHS-C (Why?)
-- VHS/VHS-C (Why?)
-- 8mm (Why?)
-- Other (What is it?)
-- MiniDV (Why?)
................I think this type of Capture medium is a durable one..
-- Digital8 (Why?)
................I may try this one/as a Re-recording management/to access other analog devices and output-->>to my PC..where I can convert to far I was thinking A-D..conversion/
-- Hi8 (Why?)
................I could probrably use this for CLOSE-Ups ONLY..and then convert to:DV-avi/
-- Other (What is it?)
.................I could not use any others/I depend on IEEE 1394/and like to use Dolby-Digital Sound on my DVDs..
I would quess your possibilites lie in the depth of your LENS shot..Wide Angle shots vs. Zoom photography..of course light issues are always present( I think 20-minutes)will change your Capture Photography/
..................I now hand wind my [mini]DV-tape....................
.......Fast Forward+Reverse seem to damge the tape at some point......
I think its Camera PanaSonic PV-DV53 is approaching 4-years of extreme weather/I've made over 100-DVDs from this camera..and its still Crystal Clear--its just I need to use a TAPE HEAD Cleaner about once a month now--and they have been costing $$14.00/<<---bummer.

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