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Newbie Question: AVCHD or HDV?

by gtznj / November 20, 2007 1:26 PM PST

Hi, I've been in the market for a new camcorder to finally retire my old Sony Hi8. Naturally, I would like to get the best I can afford to make it last as long as possible. I've been eyeing the Canon HV10 since it's first came out (when it used to be well over $1k) for HD recording. Now that I'm finally ready to buy (not to mention the HG10 can now be had for mid500s) I see these new cameras with AVCHD. The convenience of no-more tape appeals to me and the minute sizes, but after reading a lot about AVCHD, I don't know if I should even consider them.

I'm leaning towards the Canon over the Sony. Size and hard drive are important to me. Please advise. Thanks.


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AVCHD is severe compression. There deoesn't seem to be
by Kiddpeat / November 20, 2007 3:16 PM PST

any magic involved. IMHO, it's a poor choice.

The HV10 is already obsolete. It's highly praised successor is the HV20.

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Blunt replies, such as yours, don't tell the whole story...
by whizkid454 / November 20, 2007 8:59 PM PST

Automatically saying AVCHD is a poor choice without taking into consideration other factors is absurd. Asking questions to get more information might actually benefit the original poster in the long run.

To gtznj: What types of events will you be shooting? Every month, how often do you think you will use your camcorder? What are you planning to do with the video you capture? Will you edit on the computer? Will you make DVDs? Do you have a HDTV? What type of computer you have (processor, memory, hard drive space, etc.)? Your answers will give us a better idea as to which camcorder would fit your needs best.

Yes, the HV20 is a great camcorder. So is the HG10. Both received praise from many reviews including Check their reviews and see how they did against each other. The HV20 is better in some respects, yet the HG10 has some advantages that tape camcorders could only dream of. Trade-offs are going to be present, but it's up to you to decide which features you want most.

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The blunt truth is that AVCHD is very high compression. It
by Kiddpeat / November 20, 2007 11:38 PM PST

fails to come anywhere near the quality that is captured by a camera like the HV20 on tape. It was necessary to suspend judgement for a time since we didn't know what Sony might pull out of the format. That time is over. The jury is in. People asking the question deserve to know what we do so that they can make informed decisions.

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Why are you commenting about Sony?
by whizkid454 / November 21, 2007 12:16 AM PST

The discussion was between the HV20 and the HG10. Yes, AVCHD does compress, everyone knows that already. (You've stated it previously.) It seems as though you still do not take into consideration the other factors in choosing a camcorder. Video quality, yes, is a top concern, but other factors such as what you will do with the video are important as well. No one, including me, is saying AVCHD is better than HDV. I'm merely stating that both have advantages and disadvantages compared to one another.

That is why asking specific questions actually HELPS the soon-to-be owner.

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Probably because
by boya84 / November 21, 2007 12:23 AM PST

Sony developed and has been pushing AVCHD in support of the BluRay ecosystem.

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Just to add...
by gtznj / November 21, 2007 12:05 AM PST

I will be using the camcorder pretty much daily. I have a four-month old daughter. All my footage will be downloaded on my iMac (2.4 Intel Core Duo, 2GB RAM, 250GB HDD and an external 500GB). I will be using iMovie '08 to edit footage. After these replies, I think I'm going to go for the HG10. Thanks!


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If you're going with AVCHD...
by whizkid454 / November 21, 2007 12:19 AM PST
In reply to: Just to add...

I'm glad you knew iMovie '08 supports AVCHD editing.

Are there any other questions we can help you with?

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Some additional resources for you
by boya84 / November 21, 2007 12:40 AM PST
In reply to: Just to add...

I am happy you made a decision. Walk into this with your eyes wide open. (I do all my HDV, DV, stills and audio editing on Macs.)
"iMovie '08 allows you to convert AVCHD to the Apple Intermediate Codec format, but does not support AVCHD directly." I had to do a custom install with the original system discs because the AIC does not come installed by default on the computer. This is not difficult - but you do need to know about it - and you need to do it.
Be aware that hard drive camcorders will split long captures into short ones - You "stitch" them back together when editing. This is common for all HDD based camcorders - and is not a Mac issue. Conversely, an HDV (miniDV tape) import of a long clip gives you a long clip.

You probably want to get REALLY familiar with this area... Also, be aware that so many iMovie'08 users complained to Apple about the way iMovie was so dumbed down as compared to earlier releases that Apple is allowing iMovie06 as a free download and it does not handle AVCHD directly...

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by frankjboyd / February 3, 2008 11:22 PM PST
In reply to: Just to add...

what sort of cable do i need to achieve this

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Read the manual.
by boya84 / February 4, 2008 1:11 AM PST

It can be downloaded from USB port.

Personally, I would not waste my money on the highly compressed AVCHD format.

I have been editing high definition video for over two years from my Sony HDR-HC1 on my Macs. I am now in the market for a new camera to augment this one. If any other media made sense, I would welcome it. Because of AVCHD compression, neither built-in hard drive or flash memory makes sense when storing newly captured high definition video.

1) There is no "archive" of the video so there is an extra step of archiving the video to optical disc. Since I am limited to double layer DVDs, that means 8.5 gig per disc. The hard drive and flash HD cams store 40 gig+ so that means burning 5 or more DVDs for archiving the original files.

2) AVCHD compresses a LOT. In video, compression = loss of data = loss of video quality. HDV is superior due to less compression...

3) I take the hint from the pros... the hard drive based storage they use is esternal and stores using DV or HDV. Take a look at the Firestore products... or check the Panasonic AG-HVX200 using P2 cards - it too does DV or HDV (or DVCPRO). You will not find an internal MPEG2 or AVCHD compression camcorder in the pro lines (with the exception of the Panasonic HSC1U, but calling that a "pro rig" is such a stretch, it should be in the consumer area. It is more like the Sony and Canon hard drive AVCHD camcorders. Anyone who thinks recording in 5.1 is "pro" has never been in a sound studio where all the 5.1 audio generally comes from (not recording on-location into a handheld camcorder). Quoting VideoMaker's review of this cam, "To achieve these long recording times, the AVCHD format, even more so than HDV, is highly compressed, which means there are (currently) unavoidable trade-offs" and it goes down the discussion path.

5) If you are still on track to get this camcorder, you would be wise to get very familiar with the support area at They have lots of active posters relative to iMovie and FinalCut and AVCHD.

Summary: HG10 or any AVCHD camcorder is highly not recommended. This is not a Mac/Windows thing. This is an AVCHD thing. Guess why the prices have been dropping so dramatically...

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As much as the manufacturers
by boya84 / November 20, 2007 10:22 PM PST

are pushing AVCHD, it is NOT ready for prime time - if there is any plan to edit the material.

It is possible that AVCHD in the future will be OK, but the current version is not appropriate. That means updates/upgrades may be OK for the camcorders of the future but not those available now.

If you want high definition footage, HDV is the only viable alternative. (Hint: There may be financial and technical reasons the camcorder companies are deeply discounting the AVCHD versions while the HDV rigs seem to be maintaining their prices.)

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Thanks for all the replies!
by gtznj / November 21, 2007 2:34 AM PST

Whizkid, as far as this topic is concerned, I think I'm good. Thanks for your help.

Boya, thanks for those links they are very helpful.

The only thing I hate about HD camcorders is the fact you have to convert the footage down to SD to record them on DVD. Which defeats the purpose of buying an HD camcorder IMHO. I guess when the Bluray recorders are in the $100-$200 range, that would be the time to really enjoy this technology. Although I'm willing to bet anything that when that time comes, there will be a newer technology in the horizon, that would make HD look like the old VCR quality. Maybe this whole Bluray vs HDD thing will be scrapped for some new technology like HiHD (Hyper-intensive High Definition) or something like that. LOL

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I do a couple of things when the editing project is
by boya84 / November 21, 2007 3:01 AM PST


1) Burn to DVD - yup, you are correct, it will downsample to SD - but it will be the clearest SD you have ever seen - especially when played back using progressive scan and connected to an HDTV with component cables.

2) "Share" the project back out to my camcorder. Yes, it is a miniDV tape based rig, but when the project is exported to the camcorder, it is HDV. If it is THAT big of a deal, I can then use my camcorder as the playback device connected (via component cables and stereo audio) to the HDTV and watch the project in all its HD glory. I do not have this "export" option with non-miniDV based camcorders.

At some point, when HD burners are something I want to do, I can re-import this archived video and burn out to the HD DVD or BluRay or whatever...

3) I need to do some research - but I *think* if I had some sort of media center or Apple-TV device - or even if I got an Apple mini and connected it to the HDTV using the monitor cables, I could watch the content as HD as well... I've not yet had time to play with or research that.

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Thanks for the comments and advise...
by gtznj / November 23, 2007 12:52 PM PST

I'm now the proud new owner of a Canon HG10! I got it at my local Fry's that was doing a special on it "today only" (Black Friday) for $787. + tax - which I thought was a great deal. The only thing that sucks was that I was in line for about 45 minutes.

Thanks again! I'm looking forward to share some videos in the VERY near future.

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by boya84 / November 23, 2007 2:28 PM PST

Have fun!!!

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