Camcorders forum

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HDV, whats the deal?

by cubs123 / June 7, 2007 7:57 AM PDT

I am deciding on getting a camera and was wondering the specifications and pros and cons of an HDV camcorder. I was lookin towards a Sony HDR-HC1 Handycam as my choice, mainly I'm looking for one in the -$800 price range. I'm not a camera expert, so I was wondering if anyone could give me some insight on the what's and what not's of buying an HD camcorder.


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I've been using an HDR-HC1 for nearly 2 years.
by boya84 / June 7, 2007 8:41 AM PDT
In reply to: HDV, whats the deal?

They are no longer made - those for sale are either used, refurbished or the retailer bought a bunch.

1) It captures hidef. I like that I can opt to capture 16:9 or 4:3 standard def.
2) It uses standard miniDV tapes. 63 minutes on a Sony Premium tape. The expensive special HD tapes are not necessary.
3) Manual capabilities - but I wish I could have a focus ring and a zoom ring. They are combined which means you pick which one you want to be manual. I guess this part should be in the "Cons" section.
4) Mic-in jack. It is only 1/8" and not XLR, but I use a BeachTek DXA-6 for my XLR mics, so no biggie.
5) Photos are pretty good - but light needs to be good, too... The built-in flash works - but only in photo mode. If you take pictures whil video is being captured, the flash will not flash.
6) It is relatively small - but big enough where some folks think it is a pro-rig... especially since it is hidef.

1) It is a bottom loader. If mount to a tripod, changing tapes is a pain - unless you have a "spacer" between the camera on the tripod.
2) When using the 2x tele, when zoomed in on something far away, it is great... when you zoom out, you can only get about 1/2 way until a "barrel effect" starts happening. The corners turn black and it looks like you are looking out from a barrel...

Neither pro or con, but things you need to know:
1) When you import the video (via FireWire, which means you computer needs a FireWire port and you need to buy a 4-pin camera - 4 or 6 pin computer (depending on the port on your computer) because one is not included in the box, it is not a real-time import - it will be something less than realtime. On my nearly 2 year old 2GHz G5 iMac flatpanel importing a full 1 hour tape can take 2.5 hours. I start the import and go do something else. That 1 hour of video will take up over 30 gig of hard drive space (1 hour of standard def is a little over 10 gig).
2) When you finish editing and burn the project to DVD, you will likely be downsampling to standard def. When you playback in a normal DVD player, it will be the clearest standard def you have seen - but it is indeed standard def. If you want to see it in hidef, you will need to also export the finished project back out to the camera and a recordable miniDV tape - then, using the camera as a playback device, connect it to a HDTV with the included component cables (and the audio jacks of the analog AV cable. It looks awesome.
3) Never re-use a tape. When the tape fills or the project's capture is done, take out the tape, lock it, use the labels that cam in the tape case and mark the date and contents on the label.
4) Use a solid, stable, tripod whenever possible. A monopod is OK, too.
5) Consider getting the LANC. It is a wired remote you can clip to the tripod handle. Very handy.
6) Get a good, sturdy case like a Pelican or SKB. Protect your investment.
7) Get an optional high-capacity battery (or two). No camera comes with a good battery in the box.

External mics are a different discussion - look through the Camcorder forum for additional details.

I would buy an HC1 again if they were available new.

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I tried that link I posted - if it works for you, great.
by boya84 / June 7, 2007 10:30 AM PDT

if not, the "video lesson" surf clip at is what the link is supposed to pull up. The HDR-HC1 is a 10x zoom camera and the 2x tele example kicks in about 1/2 way in. I don't know if this link will work - it is the same clip.

Please keep in mind the uploaded video was originally shot in 1080i, but when you upload to myspace and youtube or similar sites, they downsample a LOT so this video is NOT indicative of the quaklity one gets from any particular camera...

I should have an H.264 (to flash) example link to post soon...

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by cubs123 / June 8, 2007 1:29 PM PDT

So for a good qualit HD camera, should I look towards one with a hard drive (HDD) or tape (HDV).

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I never said anything about a hard drive based
by boya84 / June 8, 2007 2:00 PM PDT
In reply to: Prefer

camcorder for hidef footage.

If you want best quality, stay with miniDV tape. It is likely the video editor you already have can deal with it. If you get a Panasonic or Sony hard drive based hidef camcorder, you need to get an editor that can handle AVCHD - because that is the compression method used. AVCHD-capable video editors are only now being made available. MiniDV tape based camcorders do not use AVCHD to compress hidef video.

If you look at the Sony HDR-FX1, HDR-FX7, HVR-A1U, HVR-V1U, HVR-Z1U, the Canon XL-H1, XH-G1, XH-A1, Panasonic AG-HVX200... they all do miniDV tape. You will not find a high-end camcorder that has an internal hard drive and compresses hidef video using AVCHD for a reason - the pros and prosumers won't buy them. The only hard drive camera I would consider at the moment is a miniDV tape based camcorder that supports something like a FireStore external hard drive system - not an internal hard drive system (the compression used on the external drives is not AVCHD).

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Thank you
by cubs123 / June 9, 2007 12:27 AM PDT

My last quesion is, although it can be your own opinion, is what is the best marketed HDV, USB compatible, under $2,000, camera out there? I am kind of picky towards the camera I'm going to buy and just want to know other's opinion. PS I prefer cameras with a lens hood or attachable wide angle lenses.

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HDV and USB?
by boya84 / June 9, 2007 1:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Thank you

There is none. The only thing USB might be used for when connecting a high definition, miniDV tape based camcorder to a computer will be to transfer any stills you might take - so the transfer is from the memory card to the computer - not tape to the computer. FireWire (marked on the camera typically as the DV port) is used to transfer video from the miniDV tape to the computer.

As previously indicated, the hard drive based, high-definition, camcorders compress using AVCHD - so are not "HDV"... but that captured video would be transfered using USB. There is a JVC (GR-HD7) hard-drive based camcorder which does not compress using AVCHD, but the reviews have not been too good.

While the Sony HDR-HC1 is no longer made, its "pro" sibling, the HVR-A1 seems to still be in production. (this is a rather old article)
I'm not a big fan of the top-mount XLR adapter (my BeachTek mounts to the bottom of my HC1), and it appears Sony replaced the HC1's flash with the XLR adapter mount on the A1... And the A1 has the same combined manual focus/zoom ring as the HC1. It is a bit more than you want to spend, but the XLR addition is useful and you would need to get that, anyway, for using good mics... Be VERY wary of online vendors where the prices seem too good to be true - because they probably are.

Because the A1 is not a consumer camera, you won't find it in the normal consumer outlets like BestBuy or Fry's or other brick/mortar electronics stores...

The A1U and HC1 come with a removeable lens hood. I use a 0.6 wide-angle and 2x tele lens with my HC1. They are available for the A1U as well:

You will also want an extra rechargeable battery - or two. As for a case - I use a Pelican 1500 or 1600 depending on the shoot's requirements (mics, tapes, lenses, power brick, audio/video cables, XLR cables, etc...).

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Just a little info about GZ-HD7...
by whizkid454 / June 9, 2007 10:13 AM PDT
In reply to: Thank you

It does have that lens hood you were wanting, but I'm not sure about attachments....

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It has them...
by boya84 / June 9, 2007 10:20 AM PDT
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Sony HVR-A1U
by cubs123 / June 10, 2007 8:05 AM PDT
In reply to: It has them...

I read the article about the Sony HVR-A1U and am impressed. The reason I need USB to upload the video is because my computer (Dell XPS 400) which I bought online has no Firewire port. My friend has a low end MiniDV Sony camcorder and all he has to do to upload video is plug, capture, and done! Is this the same with the camcorders I'm looking for?

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You can add a FireWire port
by boya84 / June 10, 2007 12:21 PM PDT
In reply to: Sony HVR-A1U

If you read through this forums, you will find it full of folks who found that the USB port did not work when trasferring video from the camcorder to the computer - for standard definition. Their resolution was to use FireWire. In the case of HDV (High Definition Video), when the video is imported from the camcorder (over FireWire), it is "decoded" in the camera and then hits the computer. You will not capture in real time. High Definition (HD) video will take up 3x-4x more data on your hard drive than standard definition (SD) and will not import at real time. An hour of SD = ~10 gig on your computer's hard drive. An hour of HD video takes up over 30 gig on your hard drive - and depending on the CPU will take more than one hour to import. My 2GHz Macintosh G5 takes 1 hour to import 1 hour of standard video without trying hard... and 2.5 hours to import 1 hour of HD video.

When you burn HDV from your computer to a normal DVD, it will be downsampled to SD. It will be the clearest SD you have ever seen - but it will be SD. Want to watch in HD? Export the project to your camera and use the camera as the playback device connected using HDMI or component cables to an HDTV... unles you have one of the cool new HD or BluRay burners. A single BlueRay writable DVD, holding 50 gig is ~$30 each and an HD blank disc (~$20 for a 25 gig disc)... I think the HD blanks are about the same. Then you need a HD or BluRay player connected to an HDTV with HDMI or component cables... If all you want to do is upload to YouTube or MySpace, then an HD camcorder is overkill.

Please keep in mind that USB is a bursty protocol, whereas FireWire is much better for streaming lots of data. And some applications won't recognize the miniDV video camera at the end of a USB cable.

I'm not saying transferring video from a miniDV tape camcorder over USB won't work - appaerntly some folks have actually been able to do that - but I am saying many people have had problems doing that and resolved the issue by adding a FireWire port to their computer. It is cheap and easy to do.

It is much more common that the camera is a hard drive (HDD) based camcorder that will use USB to transfer the video data files over USB simply by mounting the camera's USB drive as just another drive. In the case of an HDD based camcorder capturing HD - well, I am not going to go into the AVCHD discussion again.

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$$Firewire port how much $$
by cubs123 / June 11, 2007 8:26 AM PDT

How much is a Firewire port, and are most cameras, even HD ones, plug in and capture, or do they need software?

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FireWire ports can be
by boya84 / June 11, 2007 10:23 AM PDT


or expensive (replace the computer with a new one that includes a FireWire port).

I have plugged in - using FireWire - Panasonic, Canon and Sony camcorders and have not needed to install an extra driver to transfer video. I have also plugged in those same cameras and transferred stills over USB (from the camera's memory card) and no additional drivers were needed. But then, I use a Macintosh for stills and video and audio editing. I do know all those cameras come with a disc, but I don't know what's on them. Maybe some low-end image manipulation applications... Other operating systems may require a driver to be installed. I have no idea.

If you mean HD as in "hard drive" camcorders, the acronym is "HDD". They usually just mount as a USB device. I don't know if your computer's operating system needs a special driver installed to do that. Mine does not. If you mean "HD" as in High Definition, I guess that might depend on the video application you're using. I did have to install a codec in one of the video editing apps I use, but that was about it... the other video app I use just worked - nothing extra needed.

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I just took a look at the stock Dell XPS400
by boya84 / June 11, 2007 10:33 AM PDT
In reply to: Sony HVR-A1U

If you stayed with the 512 meg RAM from the base configuration. Increase it. 1 gig is OK, 2 gig is WAY better.

If you still have only the base 80 gig hard drive, you need to add another drive... that 2nd drive should be a minimum of 250 gig. This is especially important if you really are considering editing high definition video. Internal or external. If external, FireWire is best.

If you stayed with the base-configuration optical drive, it is not a DVD write-able drive. You should get one. Again, internal or external - and if external, FireWire is best.

You probably should be on Windows XP... SP2... with all the updates.

Everything else looks OK...

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by cubs123 / June 12, 2007 6:05 AM PDT

I use Adobe Premiere Elements for my editing, and when I say HD I meant high-defenition. Also, what are your personal favorite HDV or HDD cameras and where is best to buy them?

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I use a Sony HDR-HC1
by boya84 / June 12, 2007 9:38 AM PDT
In reply to: Specifications

and for "best quality", miniDV tape continues to be the appropriate media on which to record.

"where is best to buy them" is subjective - I wanted to be able to lean on a real person if I had issues and I am OK with paying taxes because they keep our society running - so I bought my HC1 at Fry's Electronics in Concord, CA.

Other people consider "best" as price only - I do not recommend that thought process. Too many people have been ripped off by web-stores - they are posted around this camcorder forum. Reputable web shops like are probably OK, though. The places I would be wary of online are the places with advertised prices that are too good to be true...

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About the HDR-HC1
by cubs123 / June 12, 2007 10:28 AM PDT
In reply to: I use a Sony HDR-HC1

I was looking into getting one, but is there anything about the camera that is corrected in other Sony cameras?

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What don't you like about the HC1?
by boya84 / June 12, 2007 10:42 AM PDT
In reply to: About the HDR-HC1

Then we can decide if a correction was made.

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by cubs123 / June 12, 2007 11:06 AM PDT
In reply to: About the HDR-HC1

I've heard the HC1 has auto focus trouble and it is from 2005, I thought it was somewhat outdated, but proven wrong. If it uploads with Firewire, which I can get a slot for, will it be compatible with Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0 or my computer?

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by cubs123 / June 12, 2007 11:10 AM PDT
In reply to: About the HDR-HC1

I also forgot to add, is the JVC Evervio GZHD7 a good HDD camera?

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I normally don't
by boya84 / June 12, 2007 1:06 PM PDT
In reply to: About the HDR-HC1

use the autofocus, so I don't know if that is really an issue.

Check with Adobe - I use FinalCut.

I told you it was discontinued at the start of the thread.

I've never been a fan of JVC camcorders.

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by cubs123 / June 13, 2007 5:48 AM PDT
In reply to: About the HDR-HC1

Adobe Premiere Elements isn't compatible with HD footage, so I'll have to get a new editing software.

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what is a recommend HDV editing software for Windows
by cubs123 / June 17, 2007 10:11 AM PDT
In reply to: About the HDR-HC1

Now that I need a new editing software for HDV, do I need any other hardware?

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I already provided hardware suggestions for the base machine
by boya84 / June 17, 2007 12:07 PM PDT
In reply to: About the HDR-HC1
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My machine
by cubs123 / June 17, 2007 12:52 PM PDT
In reply to: About the HDR-HC1

Im no computer expert but heres what I can tell you.
Dell XPS 400
1Gb of Ram
70GB hard drive
ATI Radeon X600 graphics card
no firewire (getting a card)

thats all I can really say

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hard drive
by cubs123 / June 17, 2007 12:54 PM PDT
In reply to: About the HDR-HC1

I bought it with a smaller hard drive to save $ but i have an external hard drive of I think 250GB

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