Camcorders forum

General discussion

flash drive vs hard drive

by momatlast / September 13, 2008 12:50 AM PDT

I'm buying my family a new camcorder. I was confused about which one is the best in the long run. HELP

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What's your definition of "best"?
by Kees Bakker / September 13, 2008 12:52 AM PDT

What's best for me needn't be best for you.


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If you are buying today,
by boya84 / September 13, 2008 2:29 AM PDT

"Best" has different definitions.

Best video quality comes from least compressed digital video stream - which means DV and HDV - which, for consumer based camcorders, means miniDV tape. MiniDV tape provides an "automatic archive" if you do not re-use the tape and store it in a cool, dry place. It continues to be the storage media choice of the pros because it is cheap, stable and the video formats are mature and can be used by nearly all half decent video editors. Connecting a MiniDV tape camcorder requires the computer to have a firewire port - if your computer does not have one, hopefully it has an expansion port because they are easy (and cheap) to add. MiniDV tape comes in 60 and 80 minute recording lengths. Fill a tape, remove from the camcorder, lock it, put in a new tape - keep doing this until you run out of power.

Consumer Hard disc drive (HDD) camcorders can have problems with vibration (this can be caused by loud audio from sources like big crowds making lots of noise, loud motors - cars, planes, boats, etc - loud music, whether amplified or not... among other audio sources) and can have high altitude issues (over about 9,700 feet) because of lack of air pressure. If you drop/break the camcorder before video has been transferred getting to that video may mean working with a data recover service like DriveSavers - be prepared to open you wallet wide. HDD camcorders can record for hours before filling the drive. When the drive is full, you stop recording - either transfer video to a computer or start deleting "less important" video files. Transfer is usually using USB (some JVC HDD cams use firewire). There is an extra step to archive the files BEFORE editing starts. Video quality is not as good as MiniDV tape. This does not mean it is bad - just not as good.

Flash memory based camcorders save to the same formats HDD cams do - either highly compressed MPEG2 files or REALLY highly compressed AVCHD (for high definition) files. Some video editors cannot deal with AVCHD unless the editor is the current version - in a few cases, the video editor can't deal with AVCHD camcorders from one manufacturer, but not another. Storage shelf life for flash memory video is not quantified. Because flash memory is still relatively expensive, the normal process would be to copy the file (using USB) and take that extra archiving step like the HDD cams.

I would suggest you narrow your search to miniDV tape or flash memory based camcorders - but keep in mind it is not just the camcorder - other factors (computer capabilities, video editor, long-term storage...) should be part of your decision-making process, too... the camcorder is just a part of the entire process flow.

Set a budget... Sony, Canon and Panasonic are the usual suspects in the consumer camcorder environment.

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Flash vs Tape camcorders
by mattdot / May 12, 2009 5:26 PM PDT

I definitely agree with @boya84 that hard disk camcorders have their problems and should be avoided. This link <a href="">compares flash to hard disk camcorders</a> and comes up with a few more negatives for HDD like battery life, etc. Flash camcorders and tape camcorders are the best options. Still, hard drive are good for cheap storage (in your computer and in a portable video storage device), you just don't want them in your camcorder.

You are going to eventually have to put your video onto the computer because when you want to share your video, you are either going to burn it onto a Bluray or DVD, or you are going to upload it to youtube or something.

It is nice that anywhere in the world you can buy an extra MiniDV tape if you run out of space. However, tape is sensitive to temperature, and has it's own shelf life issues. I do like that flash camcorders are generally smaller than their tape cousins.

Some older software may not work with the HD stuff, but if you're buying HD, then you are buying for the future, and you're going to have to upgrade your software at some point.

They both have their advantages, but my money is on a flash camcorder with a portable video storage device for extra storage.

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the link
by mattdot / May 12, 2009 5:35 PM PDT
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And as stated before...
by whizkid454 / September 13, 2008 2:45 AM PDT

A miniDV camcorder with bad optics will not produce the "highest quality available" if the lens, sensor, and processing engine are subpar. These components are more important in deciding between a HDD and miniDV camcorder than is the format itself.

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Good point...
by boya84 / September 13, 2008 7:33 AM PDT

My assumption is that the lenses, imaging chips and all that stuff is approximately equivalent across cameras in a similar price range... It would not be fair to compare a Flip, Canon ZR930, Sony DCR-SR85, Canon HV20, Panasonic HVX200 for the purpose of defining the "best" one.

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by hallbarn / August 25, 2010 1:39 AM PDT

Which is best HD or Flash Drive?

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Best for what?
by boya84 / August 25, 2010 12:51 PM PDT
In reply to: Camcorders

The file types are generally the same very compressed video so the video quality is the same assuming the lenses and imaging chips are the same size in the different camcorders.

And we presume by "HD" you mean HDD (hard disc drive) to compare camcorder video storage types and not "high definition" video format...

For video quality, lowest compression is "best" and in consumer camcorders, that least compression is still miniDV tape DV/HDV format. Not high compression AVCHD compression to MOD/MTS files. In this case, newer does not necessarily = "better".

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