AVCHD or miniDV HD?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by CMD is me, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. CMD is me macrumors 6502

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    #1
    I'm in the market for a HD camcorder to upgrade my Sony HC90 (very nice little SD miniDV). Typically I shoot ~3 hrs of video on a week vacation then edit it down to 60 minutes or less in iMovie to get the best quality for iDVD burning. I work off of a 2.1Ghz MacBook Pro with 3GB ram and have a 500GB FW800 external.

    I've read for the best video quality, tape is still the way to go and AVCHD (though improved) still has more artifacts than miniDV. Any reason to jump on the AVCHD wagon or stick with tape for now?
     
  2. zioxide macrumors 603

    zioxide

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    #2
    I prefer tape. Also, since you're taking your camera on vacation and shooting a few hours of video, if you had an AVCHD hard drive camera and the hard drive filled up, you wouldn't be able to shoot any more. With tape, you can just buy another $5 tape and you've got another hour of shooting. Also with tape, you have an automatic backup of your footage. The difference in picture quality is probably negligible, so for these reasons I'd say tape is better.
     
  3. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    That's one of the biggest reason I can see. I have no way to burn a HD DVD (yet) nor a AppleTV (though also considering an AppleTV so I can stream to the TV). Either way I still would like to have the original archived and don't want to start buying stacks of external drives.

    Another concern is HD failure (ie, oops someone dropped the camera!). Tapes seem to be a bit safer. Yet when you go to BB or CC all you see now are non-tape models... marketing??
     
  4. zioxide macrumors 603

    zioxide

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    #4
    Probably. Don't buy from BB or CC anyways. Buy all of your camera stuff from B&H. B&H is great, many professional studios use them, and many other members on here do too.

    For cameras, I'd recommend the Canon HV30. It gives probably the best picture for all cameras under $1000. If you want to save a little bit of cash, you could get the Canon HV20 (last years model).
     
  5. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Are they an authorized dealer for what they sell? There a few, Beach, Preferred Photo, Abe's, etc that all seem to have really really low prices.... really really low makes me wonder why. Zoommania is another I saw -- even lower (a lot lower) than B&H.
     
  6. AviationFan macrumors 6502a

    AviationFan

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    #6
    B&H? Oh yes. They have among the best reputation of all the companies in this market.

    - Martin
     
  7. nutmac macrumors 68040

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    #7
    As an AVCHD user, the biggest reason for not getting AVCHD is Mac apps (e.g., iMovie, Final Cut Pro) not providing native support. The file size balloons up pretty fast when converted to AIC or ProRes for editing. Perhaps next versions of iMovie and Final Cut series will provide native support for AVCHD (as many Windows video editing apps currently do).

    That said, the quality has improved significantly on the latest generation of Canon and Sony AVCHD camcorders. At the highest bitrate, artifacts are more or less comparable to similarly priced HDV camcorders (although HDV holds an edge when it comes to low light). And given AVCHD's hybrid shooting mode (ability to record to memory card as well as internal hard disk or flash memory) and ease of deleting footage, most should not be constrained by recording capacity. AVCHD's appetite for battery should be of greater concern.

    If you are considering AVCHD, take a look at flash based AVCHD camcorders such as Canon HF100. They are almost entirely free of moving parts, making them highly reliable and noise free. And if you are too lazy to edit, their ability to delete footage easily and instantly is a huge plus.
     
  8. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

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    #8
    B&h

    Don't mean to threadjack but B&H are awesome. I spent over 5Gs there over the years and never had any problems. No upselling or grey market stuff.

    I was in New York last summer and visited the store. I complimented them on their professionalism. Considering alot of the other New York stores are scammers that I have dealt with, B&H are top notch.
     
  9. Courtaj macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

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    #9
    Not entirely true. AVCHD cameras I've seen have a fan because they get hot with all that video processing. You might be able to hear the fan recorded by the onboard mic(s) if you listen closely enough.

    Onboard mics are onboard mics. Expect them to pick up mechanical noise (including fans, harddrives, zoom & focus) and operator noise (shifting your grip, operating the zoom toggle) and you'll not be disappointed. They're not perfect.

    Best,
    Andrew.
     
  10. aloofman macrumors 68020

    aloofman

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    #10
    As nutmac said, lack of native support is the biggest issue with AVCHD right now. (This is true for Windows apps too.) The other issue is that AVCHD uses are a very CPU-intensive compression scheme. It needs a fast machine to play it and work with it. At this point the only real options are to convert it to something FCP and other NLEs can use. Personally I think ProRes is overrated, but if your livelihood doesn't depend on it, it works fine.

    On the other hand, AVCHD has a bigger upside to it. HDV is the easier choice right now, but there's not much more efficiency that can be squeezed out of the MPEG-2 format. H264 (which AVCHD uses) has much more potential for improvement. As computers get faster and the compression quality improves, I think it will leave HDV behind. But that could be a while. I'm not sure it's a reason to buy AVCHD right now.

    Tape vs. solid-state drive is mainly a workflow choice. If you have enough cards and hard drives to copy to (and a good archiving plan) for what you're doing, that can be a really great way to work. But most people don't. I feel like we're on the verge of ditching tapes, but the industry isn't quite ready for it yet.
     
  11. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #11
    Thanks for all the replies. Sounds like HDV is best for me. I don't even have an AppleTV yet so no way to watch edited video YET (that will be changing). I've tried a Sony SR10 and really like the size which was my main interest in, but honestly its not THAT much smaller than the HC9.
     
  12. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Back on the fence

    I just read some reviews on CamcorderInfo. Seems Sony's AVCHD is now outperforming their HDV. They show the SR12 is cleaner in low light than the HC9 and say its on par with their 07 camcorder of the year, the HDV HV20. Looks like AVCHD has caught up and may be surpassing with R&D focus.

    Since I'd edit both and any HD content requires an AppleTV for me the biggest differences are 1) archives -- AVCHD = hard drive archive. A HDV tape = tape archive. and 2) I can watch the archived tapes directly (not that I ever do).

    Still haven't decided.
     
  13. Courtaj macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

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    #13
    You know, I used to think that the more time spent on the fence meant I'd either get used to it (develop callouses or something), or I'd start wearing out a smooth patch on the palings, but now I'm not so sure!

    I agree about the ease of archive: the tape comes out and, hey presto, instant archve. It looks like HDV is still to be preferred in terms of ease-of-use if you're going to be editing.

    BUT having been using a fairly basic AVCHD camera over the past few days (a little Panasonic HDC-SD5), I have to say it's nice not having to bother with tape when shooting and reviewing.

    So it's still swings and roundabouts.

    On the archive side of things, from one point of view AVCHD is easier to archive than tape (or perhaps it would be more accurate to say "almost as easy"). I'm not sure how Sony's AVCHD format is implemented, but with the SD5 / SD9 or the forthcoming 3-CMOS Panasonic SD100, which also promises a focus ring and a mic input (all of the Pannies record to SD cards) you can copy the card's contents to harddrive, label them, and leave them there until you feel like dealing with them. If you want to review them (which for me at the moment means in-camera until the files are converted to something the Mac can digest) you can copy them back across to an SD card, stick it in the camera, and review to your heart's content.

    Oh, and no delicate tape transport mechanism to go haywire.

    Have I made a decision? Well, no one said it'd be easy, eh. The main stumbling block with AVCHD seems to be solid NLE support, still . . .

    Andrew.
     
  14. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #14
    In all honesty, I'm use to tapes and been shooting with them for 10 yrs. Upgrading to a HDV is merely upgrading my miniDV to a higher quality video. With hard drive, its a new deal. However, after I transfer my SD miniDV to iMovie and edit it, I've NEVER gone back to watch the original tape. That said, archiving to a external drive vs keeping it on a tape really isn't an issue. Perhaps the tape FEELS more secure unlike a hard drive which can be "deleted" or fail... and again, to ping pong the issue, why would you accidently delete a file stored in an "archive" folder and if the HD really fails you usually have a forewarning, plus there are ways to retrieve most data.

    So what's the issue? Perhaps what I'm use to... I must be getting old.
     
  15. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #15
    And one more thing....

    HDV tape drop-outs -- I've been playing around all weekend with a few cameras. Today when I was watching a 10 minute HDV segment recorded 1080i on a NEW, but "standard" quality, miniDV tape there were 3 drop-outs on the footage. I assume it was the tape. I guess that's another argument for tapeless.

    Update on this (read on pg 2)
     
  16. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

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    #16
    1. Low light sensitivity has little or none to do with the codec or storage format, and everything to do with the capture sensor and image processing. So you want to be sure to look at individual models if low light is important to you. That's why I ended up getting an HV20 myself. One great thing about the HV20 is that even if other models have matched it at low light, it is a bit older and is a screaming bargain right now.

    2. Tape dropouts can happen. Generally people recommend only using a tape once for important footage. Then do a minimum of playback on that tape, which isn't a problem since you're going to capture to your computer for editing anyway.

    So just to play devil's advocate (again I own a HV20 and chose tape for many reasons people have discussed here), if you were going on an extended vacation and wanted to shoot video and play back/review while on vacation, you might want to think twice about doing too much of that with tape. I mean for family vacations I don't think it's a problem as you're not going to suddenly riddle your tape with dropouts, but for something important I would try to minimize tape usage.
     
  17. queengeek macrumors newbie

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    #17
    RE: AVCHD or miniDV HD?

    I think it's a matter of what you're seeking. I couldn't wait to get rid of tapes and get a small hand-held that was convenient and quick to use. My intro into the HD world has been the Aiptek A-HD+1080p because it fits in my pocket. Far too often, I've missed those "moments of my life" trying to fumble for tapes. I also vacation via cruise ships and I love the fact that I don't have to carry a bug of stuff with me with the Aiptek. Now, I know that this camera does not compare to the high-end cameras and it's not AVCHD compliant. If I had the money, I would buy the Canon HF 10 or HF 100 hands down and still not have much more than a few SDHC's card to take a long with me. If i have to switch media, I'd rather it be SD cards than a bulky tape.

    I wish I could say I had first hand experience with the Canon but everything I've read, says it works well with the Mac. In fact, I'm recommending this cam for a church's setup so I'll know pretty soon.

    Import options
    I do not know if the AVCHD options for tapes allows you to just import the clips you want versus sequential importing like older mini-DV tapes but that is something that always drove me crazy. I did not want to manually import desired clips nor did I want to import all the clips on a particular tape. I thoroughly enjoy importing the select clips which reduces time and diskspace requirements.

    In summary, I think it's a matter of choice and priorities. For me, my priorities included (a) being able to easily carry a HD cam and swap media and (b) save time and diskspace on import. For me the quality between tape and cards was negligible.

    QueenGeek
     
  18. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #18
    Interesting you should say that. The was new, however I had been stopping and starting it a lot to compare it to another camera.

    If that is true, it also starts to work against the idea of popping the tape in and taking it to a friends house to watch -- keep watching it over and over and there's a great chance of loosing data.
     
  19. bandaros macrumors member

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    #19
    Tape is still the way to go if image quality is your biggest concern.

    For now.

    There have been improvements in IQ for some of the newer HDD based camcorders, though I still believe that at a consumer level - the HV20/30 still outperforms them.

    I'm betting this will change in the near future. I would stick with what you have right now until an AVHCD cam comes out that hands-down beats the HV20/30 in IQ - which may be closer than some might think...
     
  20. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Looks like the future is hear. Check out CamcorderInfo's review of the Sony SR12 or new Canon. They claim to have surpassed the HDV in some ways. I can confirm this with the SR10 I tried out while shooting side by side with a HV30. Pretty much the same PQ and no strobe effects now!
     
  21. bandaros macrumors member

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    #21
  22. Apple Ink macrumors 68000

    Apple Ink

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    #22
    OK... I know Im a bit behind the Camcorder stuff but.... do you have miniDV HD camcorders aswell:eek:... as in full 1080p res!
     
  23. bandaros macrumors member

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    #23
    Yeah - the popular Canon HV20/HV30 are miniDV HD cams that shoot full 1080 - looks crazy plugged into an HDTV.
     
  24. Apple Ink macrumors 68000

    Apple Ink

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    #24
    Course it will:D

    I knew about AVCHD along time but now that there are miniDV HD (on tapes I hope) as well, looks like I'll need to switch to the 'Saving' mode!:D
     
  25. CMD is me thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #25
    Agree. Darn near 3D! The Sony HC9 is just as good IMO. I shot with both side by side. A high end AVCHD will also give you similar results, but you need to drop a bit more cash.
     

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