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NTSC to PAL change

Discussion in 'Camcorders, Action Cams & Video Editing Forum' started by ayrshiredude, May 28, 2004.

  1. ayrshiredude

    ayrshiredude
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    Hi

    I seem to remember reading in one of the magazines a few years ago that you can buy a device that, amoung other things, would allow you to change an NTSC (US) digital camcorder to record in pal.

    Is this possible? A friend of mine was in the US and thought it would be a great idea to buy a camcorder there not realising the differences.

    Any help would be greatfully received.

    Thanks
     
  2. LV426

    LV426
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    You can't realistically change the camcorder itself - a US model will only record NTSC.

    What you can do is convert the NTSC signal, on playback, to PAL. But it is expensive. You need a digital standards converter, and they start at GBP225 (Lektropacks price) for a really basic item which will do the job, but will almost certainly degrade the image, visibly, in the process. Other models from this firm for domestic use are much more - GBP1500 >> GBP3000.

    Broadcast standard converters (which barely degrade the image) are GBP30k ish.

    Another option, depending on exactly why you want to convert, is to get an NTSC-compatible recorder (DVD or VHS) and copy your holiday footage to there, keeping it as NTSC.

    Or, use a PC to capture the footage and convert it. This, too, will probably degrade the image somewhat.

    In short (and I'm sorry to say this) it was an expensive mistake.
     
  3. ayrshiredude

    ayrshiredude
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    I seem to remember readin in one of the mags a few years ago that you could get a service module or something ( it looked like a keypad with a cable coiming out of it) and you plugged it into the camcorder. This allowed you to do things like change the zoom settings, enable the firewire input and I am sure it allowed you to change the standards setting as well. After all a DV camcorder is just recording a load of 1s and 0s so in theory you just tell it to record in pal.
     
  4. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    I really can't see it being as simple as that. For a start NTSC & PAL camcorders will move the tape at a different speed which I doubt would be changed by the software alone. Also I would not be surprised if the cams recording/playback heads were different as the 2 formats record at different resolutions, but I may be wrong here.

    The cheapest option I know for converting the standards is a program on the PC called 'Procoder' that comes in several versions which cost from around £50 up.

    Mark.
     
  5. rob@rar.org.uk

    rob@rar.org.uk
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    Yes this was possible on some camcorders, including some Sony camcorders. It was discovered by a guy was was (successfully) trying to enable the Firewire-in function, but he also found that you could change a number of parameters including setting PAL/NTSC, digital zoom, etc. However, if you are interested in standards conversion this hack won't help as there is no standards conversion function built into any camcorder.

    FYI, there is no difference in tape speed or the layout of camcorder heads between PAL and NTSC camcorders. It is only the way in which information is stored on the tape that differs; everything else is the same.

    Regards

    Rob
     
  6. LV426

    LV426
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    Oh...yes there is.

    Each pass of the rotating head drum across the tape corresponds exactly with one frame of video. Each pass of the heads across the tape needs to be separated from the last by an amount roughly corresponding to the width of the magnetic gap in the head.

    Head drums on multi-speed machines often contain several pairs of heads each pair of which is optimised for a given linear tape speed. Narrower heads for slower speeds.

    There are 30 frames per sec in NTSC; 25 in PAL. The head drum on an NTSC recorded passes across the tape 30 x per sec. On PAL it's 25.

    Therefore, all other tings being equal

    a) the rotational speed of the drum is 20% faster on NTSC than PAL
    b) the linear speed of the tape is faster on NTSC than PAL to preserve the spacing of the passes - for like-for-like recording quality (eg Standard play).

    (b) may not be exactly 20% as it's quite feasible that the magnetic gap on NTSC machines is somewhat different to that used on PAL - which may indicate a yet different still linear tape speed.

    This is why quoted tape lengths on US blank tapes don't ever correspond with the usable time you will get on a PAL recorder.
     
  7. Scotty306

    Scotty306
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    I've just ordered a Camcorder from the US, they are so much cheaper even including insured shipping.

    Surely all recent equipment in this country is NTSC compatible anyway?

    I don't see a reason to convert to PAL and risk degradation, i'm just going to leave it as NTSC. & Burn NTSC DVD's
     
  8. LV426

    LV426
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    Agreed. No good reason for most folk to worry about PAL conversion, unless the intention is to copy on to good ol' VHS.

    By the way, have you budgetted for import taxes due on arrival in the UK in arriving at your 'bargain' figure?

    Expect to pay (round figures) around 20% of the total package value, including shipping and insurance costs, plus an additional fee for handling it, to the shipper/courier.

    Some demand payment on delivery; others invoice you afterwards.
     
  9. Scotty306

    Scotty306
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    Well I'm going for the 'Gift Packaging' trick,
    But if that fails then it should still (just) come in cheaper than most online stores.

    It's a gamble, but i'm happy to take the risk.
     
  10. LV426

    LV426
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    And...even if they "fall for it"....gifts are only exempt up to GBP36.

    I wish you luck though.
     
  11. rob@rar.org.uk

    rob@rar.org.uk
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    Thanks for correcting me Nigel.

    Regards

    Rob
     
  12. TommyVecetti

    TommyVecetti
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    Sounds like you are talking about analogue tape based systems, rather than digital.
     
  13. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    Oh no we're not! DV tape does travel at a different speed depending on weather you are talking PAL or NTSC.

    Mark.
     
  14. melliott1963

    melliott1963
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    There's been talk of degredation in quality when converting from NTSC to PAL, but would I not be right in thinking that, even if you didn't convert the picture and just played it on an NTSC compatible tape deck, the quality of an NTSC recorded video would not be as good as a PAL recorded video as, whilst NTSC has a smoother frame rate (30 frames per second against 25 fps), the resolution is inferior (525 lines against 625 lines)? This is almost a 20% better resolution using PAL, so surely these 'bargain' US Camcorders (assuming you aren't hit with import duty etc) aren't quite the bargain they initially appear. I'd rather pay a bit extra and get a better quality.

    Or am I missing something here?
     
  15. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    No, you're not missing anything. Your figures are spot on.
    NTSC has always been an inferior system. But saying that, to many people there apears to be no difference. Some people are more likely to spot it than others.

    Personally I would never go for an NTSC camcorder in the UK. I have a PC for editing and always create my footage on DVD, so final format makes little difference from the playability point of view. Its just that for the small savings involved I think the possible hassles are just not worth it.

    Mark.
     

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