Video Cameras forum

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HD camcorders are semi-worthless

by intrepiddd / June 16, 2008 4:08 AM PDT

I would like to buy an HD camcorder but I have learned it is not like the good old days when I could take the tape out of my camcorder and save it for watching directly on my TV later.
It seems there is no straight forward way to watch HD camcorder video on my TV except to connect the camcorder to the TV. So how do I send HD videos in the mail to the grandparents like I used to do?

Am I missing something? Is there some PC software that can record HD videos onto a disk that I can watch on my TV? Are there some HD players (ie BlueRay) that can record my camcorder video to a disk?
It seems all this HD Camcorder hoopla is a big bust as far as I'm concerened. If I can't easily save my HD videos for TV replay, what the heck good is it? It seems to me HD camcorders are semi-useless. What am I missing?

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First of all...
by whizkid454 / June 16, 2008 7:29 AM PDT

A good definition of your term of HD is required. Do you mean hard disk drive (HDD) camcorders or high definition (HD) camcorders?

Neither are worthless. HD video is very crisp and creates a whole new watching experience. It is much better than SD video. HDD camcorders are helpful in situations where you will need to continuously record for many hours at a time or if you are doing some casual daytime shooting and don't need the video for any important purpose afterwards. Perhaps just to show some friends some footage of the kids or sports? Whatever it may be. Yes, you can connect a HDD camcorder to any DVD recorder and transfer the video to a DVD.

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HD on DVD?
by intrepiddd / June 16, 2008 9:06 AM PDT

whizkid454 says "Yes, you can connect a HDD camcorder to any DVD recorder and transfer the video to a DVD."

Are you sure I can put HD (i.e. 1020i/p) on a plain old DVD?
If not, what good is an HD camcorder? I might as well continue to use my old camcorder.

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Please clarify your acronyms...
by whizkid454 / June 16, 2008 9:35 AM PDT
In reply to: HD on DVD?

HD = High Definition
HDD = Hard Disk Drive

Using the conventional burning method, no you cannot burn HD (High def) video to a normal DVD. In certain circumstances, for example, AVCHD, you can put that HD video on a standard DVD and play it on a BluRay player and you will see the HD (High def) video. Yes, there are HD HDD camcorders available.

When I said you can transfer HDD (hard disk drive) video to a standard DVD, I meant to add standard definition video. There are many ways you can do this: 1) use a computer DVD burner 2) use Sony's DVDirect or 3) use a DVD recorder (with analog inputs) you may have hooked up to your TV to record shows.

The benefit of HD camcorders is that you get much better picture quality. There are many possible ways of storing and sharing that HD video. I already explained a few.

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No need to define terms
by intrepiddd / June 16, 2008 1:05 PM PDT

I never mentioned HDD so why would you be confuse my use of HD with HDD? I am only concerned with HD (high definition video i.e. 1020i/p). I don't care how the camera does it.

You said: "When I said you can transfer HDD (hard disk drive) video to a standard DVD, I meant to add standard definition video."
This seems to be saying the same thing I have been saying - There is no way to create HD videos on a disk - only standard definition.

So again I say why would anyone buy a HD camcorder if you cannot create HD video on a disk? What am I missing?

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Now I see your aim...
by whizkid454 / June 16, 2008 10:23 PM PDT

Sorry about that. Was a little confused on what you actually wanted to have happen with said HD video. An example of a camcorder that records HD video to a DVD disc is the Sony HDR-UX20. This disc is a miniature, standard definition disc with HD video on it; the same disc that is used on any other DVD camcorder. However, to pop out that DVD and play it would require a BluRay player which I assume not many people have that yet.

So, your options are limited with HD, for now. Once BluRay gets going, I'm pretty sure AVCHD will grow with it. Once we start seeing BluRay in the $100 burner and $2 disc stage, people will adopt. For now, HD is a good idea if you're not going to be sending out the videos on disc and you would just like to keep them on your computer and keep them there until BluRay becomes a better supported format.

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You might want to note that high def video is 1080i or p. It
by Kiddpeat / June 16, 2008 10:42 PM PDT

is not 1020i/p. You should note that SD video is considerably better than the VHS video you seemed to be referring to in your original post. High def is better than that as has been explained.

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There is more than one
by boya84 / June 18, 2008 8:58 AM PDT

method... as pointed out earlier, it does not need to be high definition on a "normal" single layer or double layer disc. Even video captured as high definition but downsampled to standard definition is very crisp as compared to the standard definition-only days.

But since we do not know your environment - nor that of the grandparents to which you refer - it is a bit of a challenge.

As I recall "the old days" of sharing video with others, I would connect the camcorder to a VHS deck and copy the contents of the camcorder video to the tape in the deck. I don't remember sending the one and only original copy of video anywhere. No, or very limited, editing. Now that we can edit, add transitions, credits, special effects and audio, home movies can be lots more fun - whether high definition or standard definition.

There are different ways to get different formats of video to others.

1) You *could* do the same today as in the "old days" - There are lots of VHS decks still available. The copy will not be in high definition. Can you keep using your existing camcorder? Yes.

2) You *could* get a DVD recorder. Essentially the same as the VHS copy, but on disc.
The copy will not be in high definition. Can you keep using your existing camcorder? Yes.

Both of these options are for standard definition only, so I expect you are not interested... but for completeness, I included them.

3) You *could* get a BluRay burner
This means the person with whom you are sharing has a method to play what you burn
and it is properly connected to a HDTV. The copy will be in high definition only if you recorded in high definition and output as high definition to the BluRay disc. A high definition camcorder would be needed.

4) You *could* save the edited high definition video files back to the camcorder - if the camcorder is miniDV tape based - and send that miniDV tape to the person with whom you are sharing... In order for them to view the video, use of HDV miniDV tape based camcorder or a HDV deck properly connected to a HDTV is required. A high definition camcorder would be needed to capture HDV.

5) You *could* save the edited high definition video files as video saved at "full quality" and burn to a data DVD as a data file - not as a video (VOB or VRO) file. Because high definition video uses so much room, only a few minutes will fit on a double sided (8.5 gig) "normal" DVD. This disc would then be played back using a computer with a current (fast) CPU and an optical drive capable of reading the DVD data disc. The data file would likely be QuickTime or .AVI. If the recipient has an AppleTV or other "media center" device capable of high definition file use, that would normally be connected to a HDTV... Or if the computer with the appropriate CPU and optical drive is connected via VGA (my Panasonic plasma has a VGA port), then it can be the playback computer.

5a) Rather than using a disc, you *could* copy the data file to a memory card or other external storage device. A double layer DVD can hold up to 8.5 gig; but there are memory cards and thumb drives
that can hold more. Or even an external drive would work - and those come in terabyte sizes. When the folks are done watching, they just send the card/drive back for the next videos to be copied.

6) You *could* upload the finished project video to sites like and computer playback at 720p high definition is possible. Connectivity of the computer to a HDTV (as indicated above in example 4) would be helpful. In addition to this, you *could* have your own 1080i/p storage site for sharing HDV for streaming or download in case you can't find one.

7) You *could* upload the finished project video to sites like and have the recipient download the video for playback on computer (perhaps with connectivity to a HDTV)... If the recipient does not live closeby, this would likely be much faster than mailing a disc - if speed is a requirement.

So... you CAN create high definition video on a disc - but perhaps there is no need to. Just as in the past, where the recipient needed compatible equipment, they would need compatible equipment today. Optical discs are not the only method for sharing video; DVDs can be used a data storage devices - not just for sticking in a DVD for playback.

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hd are worthless indeed
by moncandido / June 16, 2008 8:03 PM PDT

the standard tape(mini dv) is still the king. forget about hd equipments. carry a portable mini light with battery pack, tripod. once you made the videos use these softwares to exclude you from the rest: mediachance editstudio pro 6, tmpegenc 4 express, tmpegDVD 3 author, tmpeg mpeg editor 3 and tmpeg movie style. download the divx bundle/divx author. although there are redundancy of applications the feeling of owning and creating high quality videos for the web and TV viewing is a pleasure. no headaches.

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This looks like the latest attempt to market crap on cnet.
by Kiddpeat / June 16, 2008 10:38 PM PDT

A listing of unknown, but related products many of which are named tmpeg. Temporary Egg perhaps?

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HD Camcorders
by Duchossois / June 18, 2008 4:46 AM PDT

I started looking about two weeks ago and found very little help at the two major stores near me. All the suppliers of HD camcorders seem to be creating a confused market. Not one could tell me just what I would need to go to a HD camcorder. I thought maybe some help would come from software people, Adobe said without Photoshop 3 (expensive)it would be foolish to buy an HD at this time Others said I would need a Blue Ray burner to make a disc. I think I'm gone to wait it out and when someone realizes that they aren't selling they will make the changes. I choose to edit my videos.

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you must live under a rock
by Pepe7 / August 28, 2008 12:58 AM PDT
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My high definition video is
by boya84 / June 18, 2008 1:17 PM PDT

in HDV format on miniDV tape.

If you are referring to hard drive based camcorders, they would be identified as "HDD". And I do not agree with your assessment. The data file storage media almost does not matter. If the camcorder manufacturers would use DV or HDV format it would not matter if miniDV tape, HDD, flash memory or DVD. But they don't.

My camcorders use miniDV tape and they store DV and HDV. And if I want, I can add an external hard drive from FireStore. If I do that, they become HDD camcorders. The difference is, the external drives from FireStore save n DV and HDV format - like miniDV tape.

And since I do all my editing on Apple Macintoshes, I don't have "headaches" editing DV or HDV or any other video...

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Why Own High Def Camera when backup is so cumbersome?
by jimhaleyscomet / June 19, 2008 7:44 PM PDT

Your original statement is that "HD camcorders are semi-worthless" probably stems from because making backups and sharing HD video is cumbersome. Sharing standard def video is not anymore cumbersome than before. While cumbersome backup and sharing is a pain, there is good reason to shoot HD video.

Actually, the only reason for a consumer to shoot in HD today is that your precious video original will be very high quality. Later as blue ray disc prices fall ($25 each no!) then you can make copies of HD video for sending to the grandparents and backups. However, nothing prevents you now from making standard definition DVD's of HD originals to send to the parents.

Personally, I am leaning toward getting another HD Mini-DV camcorder (about $700) to make HD Mini-DV backups of my originals. I would also use it as my TV's HD "player" so I do not put alot of hours on my $4000 professional quality camcorder. Purchase another camcorder for the grandparents ($700) and they could watch video in HD as well.

I can't seem to get the video into / out of my iMac without dropping the quality but I do make many standard definition DVD's to send to the grandparents.

Jim Haley

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interesting statement you made...
by boya84 / June 19, 2008 10:45 PM PDT
"I can't seem to get the video into / out of my iMac without dropping the quality"

What kind of camcorder are you using?

This should not be an issue with a miniDV tape based high definition camcorder. iMovieHD and FinalCut will import DV and HDV (you may need to add the Apple Intermediate Codec for HDV) and both applications easily export to miniDV (DV and HDV) camcorders.
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Still confused on HD trasfering issue
by johnv41 / June 20, 2008 5:28 AM PDT

OK... maybe I am not as technically savvy as I hoped I was, but I am simply looking for a straight forward answer to what the original poster was asking... Can I take video from a HD(High Def) camcorder (ie: Canon Vixia HF100) and burn it onto a regular DVD from my computer. And in turn watch it on a regular DVD player at my house or any one else?s DVD player at their houses.

The vast majority of people that I know have non HD or Blue Ray DVD players. Just the run of the mill standards.

The problem that I am facing, as seems the original poster, is that it does not make sense to buy a HD camcorder if I have no way of transferring it to an medium that fits the requirements above. If the only way is to invest a lot of cash into a HD DVD burner for my computer to transfer it, then a HD player for my home to view it, then I am not in the HD camcorder market yet.

Thank you in advance for your help!

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No worries - we're all in this together...
by boya84 / June 20, 2008 7:50 AM PDT
Can I take video from a HD(High Def) camcorder (ie: Canon Vixia HF100) and burn it onto a regular DVD from my computer. And in turn watch it on a regular DVD player at my house or any one else?s DVD player at their houses.
Yes. When you burn to the regular DVD burner in your computer with the DVD authoring application, the resulting standard definition video burned to the regular DVD can be played in a regular DVD player whether at your house or anyone else's.

The vast majority of people that I know have non HD or Blue Ray DVD players. Just the run of the mill standards.
I agree. As do I. I capture my high definition video to my Sony HDR-HC1 or HDR-FX1 miniDV tape based camcorder. I import that high definition video to my computer over a firewire connection. Edit the video. Render the standard definition DVD. I also export the finished video project back out to the camcorder. I can use the camcorder as the playback deck connected to a high definition TV. Later, if I ever get a BluRay high definition burner connected to my computer, I *could* re-import that from the camcorder to the computer and render the high definition video file out to the BluRay burner. I *can* save the finished project as a data file (like a .mov or .avi or .mp4) that is a high definition video file so if I connect the computer to the HDTV, I can watch the video project in high definition.

The problem that I am facing, as seems the original poster, is that it does not make sense to buy a HD camcorder if I have no way of transferring it to an medium that fits the requirements above. If the only way is to invest a lot of cash into a HD DVD burner for my computer to transfer it, then a HD player for my home to view it, then I am not in the HD camcorder market yet.
I agree and understand. My apologies for continued confusion.

I hope no one is expecting high definition video to be played back in a non-high definition DVD player...

* For providing standard definition video (that to my eye seems much clearer that standard definition video captured in the camcorder to a regular DVD), the DVD authoring application automatically downsamples the video so there really is nothing for you to do after editing and getting the authoring app going other than click "burn". The high definition video rendered to the regular DVD as standard definition video happens automatically.

* For providing high definition video, it depends on what you get the final video project to - and compatible playback capabilities in your house... In the old VHS days, that required (1) having a VHS tape player and (2) possibly a VHS-C caddy if that media type was used for sharing. Today, we have more choices.

If you require high definition playback of a DVD, that requires that the DVD was burned as a high definition DVD - The HD-DVD vs BluRay format war is over and BluRay won. Use of a BluRay burner connected to your computer would provide the method for a BluRay DVD blank to get the high definition video.

But since discs and a DVD player are only one way to connect to your HDTV, I went down the path of providing the other ways high definition video can be stored (in your computer's hard drive, in a media center device hard drive, as a data file on an optical disc or saved to a memory card) and that your computer can be used as the playback device if it can connect to your high definition TV.

And last, one of the advantages miniDV tape based high definition camcorders have over other storage types includes the ability to export the edited high definition video project from the computer back to the camcorder and that miniDV tape can be used to send to others if they have a way to play HDV format data on that miniDV tape. This could be a HDV deck (expensive, but possible) or a HDV camcorder (still expensive, but can be less than the deck).

I hope this helps clarify... If not, I'm willing to try again...

(I remember when VHS and Beta decks first came out and there were all sorts of complaints that they were too expensive - and most TVs did not have multiple composite video inputs so we dealt with those RF modulator switches and such. This is along those lines. Some people made a go of it and enough went with VHS. It is only the last few years that VHS decks have gotten really cheap - being replaced by DVDs... and not to be complacent, new technology needs new equipment, so high definition format needs new investment. Some people are ready for it. Some are not. Personally, I got got my miniDV tape based high definition camcorder first... over a year later I got my HDTV. I still do not have a BluRay burner - but since I can connect my computer and high definition camcorders to the HDTV, I don't know that I will ever get one. I send DVDs to my parents - they are standard defintion DVDs because all they have is a "regular" DVD player connected to a standard definition tube TV and high definition is nothing more than a news article or electronics store ad to them... They do not have a computer - but if they did, then providing them a link to a site like or transferring high definition files using or sending a hard drive through the mail would be an appropriate method of sharing high definition video with them - without having to invest in a BluRay burner...)
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What a great forum for HD INFO
by Duchossois / June 20, 2008 8:08 AM PDT

I learned something from every posting and have a much positive feel about my future purchases. Thanks all

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That helps, but one more question...
by Hadley08 / August 27, 2008 12:15 PM PDT

I had the exact same question and this has helped a lot, but I still have one further question. I was able to purchase a Canon HF100 for $600, which seeemd to be a pretty good deal and there seem to be good reviews out there for it. I am glad to hear that I will be able to create SD DVD's that I can play in my "basic" DVD player and give to family, etc. (baby on the way).

The dilema I have is whether using an HD camera to just create SD DVD's (which is what will likely happen for the near future at least)is overkill? Should I just buy an SD camera? My feeling in buying the HF100 was that since it seemed to be a pretty good deal, I may as well get the HD, but if I could get an SD model that provides the same quality SD, for less money, does it just make sense to stick with a SD? I just have not found many good reviews for hard drive or flash camcorders at a price around $400 or $500, so my thought was that if I could get an HD model that has good reviews that may be the best option. I just have no support for that assumption. Another model I was looking at is the FS100 since it is more of a "budget" camcorder, but the reviews I have found do not seem that great. I do not need top of the line, but I want to have good quality home movies.

With a baby on the way, there are many expenses and I do not want to spend more or buy more camcorder than I really need, when the main purpose will be for home movies. I am content with paying the 600 if I got a camera that will provide good quality SD compared to oter SD camcorders.

Thank you

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It is all about what you can - or what
by boya84 / August 27, 2008 1:45 PM PDT

you *want* - to afford. Remember, what you capture now is what you will see in the future. If you can afford HD, then by all means, jump in. If you cannot, then don't. I know when my son was born 21 years ago, I could not afford the state of the art of film or VHS or Beta video at the time. We have lots of stills from film cameras. It was not until he hit late elementary school that I got a full-sized RCA VHS (analog) camcorder. Then when he hit high school, I got a miniDV Canon Elura 60. He still uses that Elura - and I'm into HDV.

Twenty years from now, what do you think you want to be watching?

Would I have done it any different? Probably not. When you boil it all down, it is the memory that REALLY counts. Sharing it is nice and all, but that is secondary.

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