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Hard Disc for a Camcorder?

Discussion in 'Camcorders, Action Cams & Video Editing Forum' started by Brian L, Aug 30, 2004.

  1. Brian L

    Brian L
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    All sorts of equipment from a Dictaphone to a Laptop to a DVD recorder use a hard disc to record to yet most Camcorders appear to use tape or a mini DVD. Are there any Camcorders that use a hard dsic and if not could someone explain to a non technocrat why?
     
  2. vonhosen

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  3. MarkE19

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    There are a few problems with a HDD for mobile units. Yes they have mainly been overcome for things like MP3 players but there are still a few things IMHO stopping them being put into a camcorder.

    A HDD should not be moved too much during recording as it could cause dropped framas (on a cam) etc. as the read/record heads need to be locked in place during any violent movement to prevent a head crash. An MP3 player is normally only used for playback on the move so not too much of a problem.
    HDD create a lot of heat.
    HDD use a lot of power and will drain batteries very quickly.
    Tapes are quick and easy to swap when full. a HDD on a cam is likely to be internal and therefore not swappable. Even if it was they would be heavy to carry arround as spares.
    Video eats away at disk space. 1Gb for every 4 minutes recorded at full quality AVI. Thats 14Gb per hour approx.
    A DV tape costs from approx £3 each, but a 15Gb HDD would cost a lot more.

    The above are just a few things I've come up with off the top of my head and are all just my opinion and not necessarily fact.

    Mark.
     
  4. Brian L

    Brian L
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    Many thanks for the replies which certainly made sense. The great thing about forums such as this is that non-technocrats such as myself can learn. When I started to think about moving into the world of DVD I found a magazine called, "DVD Buyer" which is now extinct. It was a wealth of information on the different types of DVD player and recorders. Does anyone have any idea if there is any other such magazine out there because although other magazines such as computer or home cinema magazines do offer reviews they try to cover so may other areas that the DVD player/recorder reviews are superficial.
     
  5. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    The problem with reviews in many mags is that they are not always too accurate due to advetising revenue from the makers of the DVD plaer etc to the mag. If the mag was to slate a company then they would be likely to pull all their advetising from that mag.
    IMO you are far better off asking questions in the relevant forum here. If somebody owns the player and thinks it is bad then they will more than likely be honest and tell you its bad - and why.

    Mark.
     
  6. El Indio

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    The basic DV camcorder hasn’t changed since it was introduced. Things have moved on, camcorders have not. All the manufactures care about is how cheap they can make them for (look at Sony’s down-grading of its models). They obviously envisage a time when they have to give them away.

    The problem for the manufactures is that they don’t want to invest in the wrong new technology, and the truth is, is that we are in a period of change.

    For instance, Mp4 is the new codec of choice, and allows high def recording in the same space as DV/Mpeg2. But real time hi-def MP4 encoding chips don’t exist yet.

    The designers are too attached to tape and disc (its what they know), but as you point out, Hard-Disc is the way to go. I think most people would choose a camera that could record, say, 4hrs of high quality hi-def, over a camera that has changeable media but is standard res.

    The other thing to note is that the latest photo cameras are adding video modes that rival existing camcorders (and these do take hard-drives via CFII !). Photo cameras have vastly more effort thrown at them (bigger market) so I would guess we will see hi-def on them first (in a consumer model). The other bonus is that still cameras tend to have much better CCDs and optics.

    Personally, I don’t see a bright future for the (consumer) camcorder. I would rather have one camera that takes excellent photo and video, rather than two cameras of vastly different quality.
     
  7. laser

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    I video quite a few weddings and digital camcorders can be a pain. Although picture quality is better than analogue, any tape problems, dirty heads, dirty camcorder mechanism will result in sound dropouts and/or high pitched squeaks with picture breakup consisting of pixelisation. Although regular cleaning and higher quality tapes minimse the problems you only need one picture dropout during a wedding ceremony when the couple say "I do" and you video is somewhat ruined.

    I would have thought that a HDD with a large buffer could perhaps minimise some of the above problems. Camcorders would be more expensive, perhaps, but without a tape mechanism camcorders maybe less complex??

    Tape is a poor choice of format for recording nowadays. Why else are we seeing DVD and HDD recorders. Surely camcorders are a prime contender for HDD technology. I don't think video size is such a problem when a small HDD stores 40GB+ which equates to 2 hours of uncompressed video. This is more than a mini DV tape.

    Perhaps the main reason for the no show of HDD camcorders is the market is reletively small when you campare it to say DVD/HDD recorders which may sell millions of units compared to 100,000s units for camcorders. Perhaps the manufacturers just can't make it pay.
     
  8. MarkE19

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    Sorry, but I really disagree with that statement for a couple of good reasons.

    1. Joe public are still happy with the quality they get from a VCR, and the vast majority of them are VHS and not even SVHS. Only a small percentage of people own a PVR or DVD recorder etc even with the massive advertising of Sky+.
    2. 4 hours of video is fine for use at home or even a weekend away, but most people will have at least a 1 week holiday and want to take their cam with them. 4 hours out of something like 1000+ hours of a weeks holiday for many users will be far too short.
    3. As much as I hate to admit this - Sony etc are probably doing the right thing passing on cams that are cheaper but with lower quality. This will cause more frequent upgrades and give more people with less money than most of us on here the chance to get on the bandwagon and start useing their own cam.
    4. If you're not a techie who spends all hours of the day & night on forums etc then the chances are you have never even heard of high definition etc. You will only know of DV cams because Uncle Joe at a relatives wedding was showing his palm sized, lightweight digital camcorder.

    The public at large are slow to take up with new ideas. Look at TiVo, when it launched in 2000 it was the first PVR in the UK. But nobody knew what a PVR was, so they didn't need or want one, especially when they cost £400 plus a monthly subscription or an additional £200 payment. But suddenly Dixons are selling them off for £99 and the word spreads and they sell like hot cakes.

    I don't say never, but not yet and not at a reasonable price that the average household will be willing to pay. But once it does start to catch on it will be 'the best thing since sliced bread' and prices will then drop like a stone.

    OK, thats enough rambling on from me. My shift ends in about 15 minutes and I can then get home to bed :boring:

    Mark.
     
  9. shoehorn

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    WOW! You must be tired Mark.... 1000 hours is almost 6 weeks! :zonked:
    Take 8 hours sleep into acount and it's nearer 9!
    (do you holiday with Big Brother?!?)

    More serously though, I must say that when I'm on hols for 2 weeks - I rarely get through 2 tapes (of an hour each).

    So I think 4 hours would be plenty for most..... it would mean videoing somthing like 1 minute in every waking hour over 2 weeks - or 2% of your waking holiday....... :lesson:
     
  10. Brian L

    Brian L
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    I wonder if it would be worth while asking a couple of the manufacturers to coment. In fact I will have a go, thats if I can find a way through their web pages to make contact with a human being.
     
  11. Roy Mallard

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    >>The basic DV camcorder hasn’t changed since it was introduced. Things have moved on, camcorders have not. All the manufactures care about is how cheap they can make them for (look at Sony’s down-grading of its models). They obviously envisage a time when they have to give them away.
    The miniDV format is around 9 years old, the first consumer affordable cams (i.e. not Sony VX's or Canon X's) are more around 6 years old so it isn't that old a format.

    At the consumer end you can buy a DV/D8 camera for £250 unheard of 3 years ago, you are finding (crap) features like mc stills creeping down in price and you are finding more and more with dv-in and av-in, this is all progress.

    Sony used to make great cams for amateurs with a more professional bent, up until 2002 only the very cheapest lacked things like manual focus rings, the image quality from a lowly trv 19 matched the quality of the TRV50, so if you could live without bluetooth and digital stills then you could save yerself £500.

    What sony have done is find out the features most users actually want at each end of the market, and in the process given a bigger distinction between the specificiations. This is a let down for people who want to control things manually, but haviong said that they've introduced the HC1000 at a good bit less than the TRV950.

    In my opinion tape is better for consumer users, several reasons why:

    An HDD would vastly increase the cost of the camera, solid state is not fast enough, you would need a rotating drive to sustain transfer speeds.

    An HDD would vastly increase the drain on the battery, therefore requiring a larger battery as standard (adding to the cost) and necessitating the purchase of an expensive second battery.

    As purchasers of big meory cards for digital stills cameras know: if your drive goes, you lose all your space on everything on it. On a 40GB drive this could be 3 hours footage.

    A DV tape can chew up and can usually be salvaged (product placement: by maxell tapes, they will do everything they can to retireve data from damaged cassettes, at a charge, but worth it), or worst case, you lose one hour of footage.

    If an HDD drive runs out of power and/or the Table Of Contents file is damaged you lose all your footage!.

    HDD does have some benefits: much quicker transfer of footage, DV by definition can not be any faster than real-time cpature. The Sony XDCAM system gets good reports, but I'd still trust DigiBeta or DVCPRO50 more for stability.

    >>>I video quite a few weddings and digital camcorders can be a pain. Although picture quality is better than analogue, any tape problems, dirty heads, dirty camcorder mechanism will result in sound dropouts and/or high pitched squeaks with picture breakup consisting of pixelisation. Although regular cleaning and higher quality tapes minimse the problems you only need one picture dropout during a wedding ceremony when the couple say "I do" and you video is somewhat ruined.

    Ok problems can occassionally occour. If you make a living from your camera then I presume you only ever use brand new tapes and have your heads wet cleaned evey 15hrs rec. The way you talk its like you've never had a creased S/VHS.

    >>The other thing to note is that the latest photo cameras are adding video modes that rival existing camcorders (and these do take hard-drives via CFII !). Photo cameras have vastly more effort thrown at them (bigger market) so I would guess we will see hi-def on them first (in a consumer model). The other bonus is that still cameras tend to have much better CCDs and optics.

    Which digital still cameras offer video modes to rival a camcorder?.
    There are none which let you change aperture or shutter in video mode, there are very few which let you zoom or focus in video mode and there are fewer which offer frame rates above 15fps and/or let you record continuously for more than 1 minute.

    Better CCD's and optics?. Ok I really really would love a 5mp ccd on a camcorder, in fact make it three.

    Where would I play it at full res?, on a tv set? guess again, through an LCD projector?, guess again, on a vdu?, nope.

    When these hi-res formats become widely available, then yes there will be a market and yes the manufacturers will need to keep up. At the moment why pay a fortune for resolution you are not going to benefit from?. Yes, HD will be worthwhile, but it has to be done properly before launching it on the conumer market (remember the bokeh pixelation from 1st generation DV cams?, shocking compared to todays standards) a prosumer HD cam at 5k (as sony have hinted at soon) will be a rubbish compromise.

    As much as I love my XM2 for portability and relative image quality, if I'm doing it right I use the DSR-570, and that gets sneered at by the DigiBeta boys.

    Better CCD's?. Check the small print, most hi-res digcams use CMOS censors as opposed to CCD's.

    Better optics?. The colour quality on a digital camera is going to be the same roughly as a single chip camcorder, there are no three ccd digital still cameras, so I disagree with you there.

    Better optics?. Par Example?. It's true that the lens on my Hassleblad will be better than the lens on the XM2, but for DV resolution why do I need a T* lens?. Its also easier to engineer a lens for a 3x zoom than a 20x zoom without creating barrelling and pincusioning (in fact on my 35mm gear I only ever use prime lenses).

    The problem with a high resolution camcorder is not the limitations of CCD design, its the processing power required. If you have a 1.3m pixel (approx square pixel type 16:9 resolution, higher for HD) this is going to give you a frame file size 3x that of a standard definition DV, which the camera has to read off the CCD (s) apply signal processing to 25 times every second.

    The fastest digital camera I've seen is the EOS 1DsII, about 7 grands worth, and even it has it's buffer memory limitations.

    All this technolog exsists in the broadcast sector, but it is still new (the BBC, the worlds biggest broadcaster, the benchmark broadcaster, for example are concentrating on getting all their output 16:9 and digital complient, and are going to struggle, even with the extended analogue switch off-date, they haven't given full-res HD any real consideration as a broadcast standard) so it will trickle down eventually.

    The biggest danger with HD and HDD is that people who can ill afford it invest in kit they don't need. In my corporate line I've been asked to quote for HD shoots, which I've gladly done (The Panasonic AJ-910 is a beautiful piece of kit to use) but people recoil when they hear the cost, especially when I explain that on their 42" plasma 16:9 screen (though standard definition) DVCAM or DCCPRO will look almost as good.

    Sorry for the ramble, but when I hear folk complain about the lack of value and low quality of the format i get a bit annoyed.

    You can buy a 3ccd cam for £600!, £600!!!! what do you want? blood?. When I start taking on media studies and TV production graduates as trainees who know what a degree kelvin and can explain the circle of confusion THEN I'll think yeah we could really use a better format.

    When (and I hate to paraphrase John Humpries but) the bulk of broadcasting output is not about househunters, airline staff and ITN NEWS FOOTAGE ESPECIALLY ON CHANNEL 4 SHOT BY ARTHRITIC BLIND MONKEYS (deep breath) THEN, I might think our wonderful artistic challenging british audiences, who percieve themselves to be so much smarter than american audiences (HBO gave us the Soprano's and Six Feet Under, so they have earned their HD, they deserve it, TOUCH OF FROST or JONATHON CREEK ABSOLUTELY DO NOT) might benefit from a higher resolution format.

    I'm fed up with uppity IOV members who think that taking early retirement from the pensions office and buying a JVC DV-550 gies them the right to 'work weekends' doing 'the occassional' wedding video REALLY REALLY BADLY, gives them the right to steal my livliehood from me, or media graduates begging mummy and daddy to buy them a PD170 so they can be a 'film-maker' and working for free because they have trust funds are PUTTING ME OUT OF BUSINESS, the only consolation is their WORK IS RUBBISH, the kick in teeth is that Punters are accepting it.

    I'm going to kick a cat and go for a lie down now. If anybody feels this is misdirected then tell your granny, write to your MP, spray paint obsecenities about me on bus shelters,whatever, but please don't bore (or dignify) me with a response. I don't care.
     
  12. klr10

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    I found hypnotherapy a great help.... :smoke:
     

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