“HD” tape?

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    • #44107

      Is buying “HD” tape (MiniDV) necessary to shoot HD video? I never have, and shoot 720p. Occaisionally a client will have a problem, but that’s the exception to the rule. If HD tap isn’t necessary, what are the advantages? if necessary, why?


    • #184876

      Um, sorry, that would, of course, be “HD tape.”

    • #184877

      In theory, HD tape is packed dense to prevent a dropout that is a momentary freeze in the HDV mode.

    • #184878
      AvatarGrinner Hester

      No. HDV cassets are the exact same as miniDV, on the scope or on the screen. There is absolutly no reason to pay extra for them. I buy my stock at Sam’s. MiniDV. I have never shot DV with my camera.

    • #184879

      While I cannot say for certain based on firsthand knowledge, I have personally heard those who are experts in their fields (Douglas Spotted Eagle and John Rofrano) expound on the better quality of the tapes and the fact that they do use the Sony DVM HDV tapes (about $8-$9 each at B&H).

      Also, regardless of what tape you use, you should pretty much stick to the same brand each time, or at very least, stay with the same type of lubricant (wet or dry) as different brands use different types.

      Also, it is a good idea NOT to reuse tapes.

    • #184880

      Final Cut Studio has the ability to upgrade your SD footage to a bit higher quality, but why by an HD camcorder if you aren’t interested in HD?

      YES there is a definite difference in the quality of tape in an HD camcorder. I was shooting for our tv show, and accidentally put an SD tape in instead of an HD tape (we run with 5 camcorders of different quality for reality). The quality was no better than our SD camcorder quality.

    • #184881
      AvatarGrinner Hester

      for the record, FCP cannot increase the quality of the source. You can up rez it and twaek colors but it in no way adds information or reduces compression.

    • #184882


      Yeah you get more data input with HDV tape than standard MiniDV tape. However, as Grinner mentioned they are exactly the same size. To prevent dropouts on MiniDV or any other tape, keep your heads clean with regular maintenance and do your best to keep condensation out of the tape compartment. Once moisture gets in there you’re going to have drop outs whether you use HDV tape or not.

      I do recommend you use pro grade tape only for serious shooting. Panasonic pro MiniDV tape goes for about $2.75 to $3.50 at B&H. Other brands like Sony, JVC and Maxell are also in that neighborhood. HDV tape runs in the $6 – $9 range. I’m a 720p shooter like yourself and the footage comes out just fine on standard MiniDV tape. I’ve shot with HDV tape and it looked good but not an extra $3 – $6 per tape good.

    • #184883

      I think the previous posts do not completely address the HD vs SD tape issue. Digital recorders/players are not like their old analog (i.e.VHS) counterparts. Quality does not degrade gracefully, instead it is either good enough or it is not.

      The big deal with HD vs SD tape is dropouts or tiny gaps in the recordable layer of the tape where nothing is recorded. An HDV signal recorded on the cheapest SD tape will be indistiguishable for one recorded on the best HD tape as long as the SD tape has no gaps causing drop outs. That is a very important caveat because when you buy HDV tape you are buying fewer dropouts.

      Dropouts are particularly bad in the HDV world because the compression used is extremely fragile. That is, a tiny dropout that would go unnoticed in analog, may cause a few lines of pixelization in SD (MPEG 2) will cause one or more seconds of lost video in HDV. But, as long as you don’t get a droupout, SD tape will look exactly as good as HD tape.

      So, your decision as to which tape to buy shouldn’t be based on picture quality, but on the importance of the content. If missing a few seconds now and then is ok, don’t waste your money on expensive tapes. But, as in my case, I sell the video so I use the HDV tapes and two or three cameras. I can’t let $100 or so in tape savings ruin a multi thousand dollar shoot.

      As a benchmark, my experience is that with Sony tapes and Sony cameras I get maybe 5 very noticeable dropouts in 50 hours of recording HDV on SD tapes, maybe 1 dropout in 50 hours of HDV tape and no dropouts so far after over 100 hours on Digital Master tape. When I shot SD on SD tape, I don’t recall dropouts being a problem.

      OK, for the purists, there is the difference in signal to noise ratio between different types of tapes. But I did not mention this as it is no longer an issue with modern cameras and tapes.

      That’s my two cents worth,



    • #184884

      Thanks to all for your cogent input.

    • #184885

      OKAY, if you really want to get technical – this is how it works:

      Digital tape is produced in long rolls or “spools” about 10 – 20 ft across in length – yes this would make all the tape the same in theory – EXCEPT – It’s not. Manufacturing of said tape is produced in a clean room environment where the air particle tolerance is usually measured in microns (a unit of length equal to 1 millionth of a meter or .00039 of an inch) – Digital Master for example is cut from the center-most part of the spool where the least amount of particulate matter can settle on the product. Since particles cause “drop-outs” or “dropped frames” – this is why a higher price is charged – and gladly paid by professionals.<span style=”font-family: Microsoft Sans Serif;”><span style=”font-family: Arial; font-size: x-small;”> </span></span>

    • #184886


      Yep, that’s pretty technical. BTW, what was the info at the bottom you tried to post?

    • #184887
      AvatarGrinner Hester

      Sounds like a sales pitch. The difference in price is only because some actually pay it. It’s not unlike bottled water vs tap water… it’s the same stuff. It’s as easy as using and compairing the two, really.

      Like I said, I only purchased HDV tape int he beginning when I mistakenly thought I had to. Now that I know I don’t, well, I don’t. I simply lay down 1s and 0s on a tape that costs less and can be purchased at Sam’s. 😉 I get no more dropouts whatsoever than when buying tapes stock that costs much more.

    • #184888

      “The difference in price is only because some actually pay it.”


      I read you loud and clear on that one. I’ve used primarily Panasonic Professional Mini-DV tape since ’03 and the only drop-outs I’ve ever encountered were when I missed scheduled head cleanings or had dramatic temperature changes. Those instances happen very rarely. I do notice a miniscule difference between the pro grade tape and the consumer stuff, but it’s not enough to stop me from pulling an emergency pack off the shelf of the local ‘S-Mart’.

    • #184889

      Comp1 – no link – just some font stuff that showed up that wasn’t visible (remove if you want)

      Also – although reusing tapes is not recommended (by manufacturers) – I have had great success re-recording over a dozen times per tape on the Digital Master series Sony tapes with no loss of resolution. Apparently when recording SD on SD tapes ghosting or pixilation was appearing after 6 uses – maybe it has something to do with the huge amount of information I’m recording? (1080 24p) but I don’t know for sure.

      . . . of course I would recommend using a new tape when filming “one take only” type materiel – I reuse tapes (for example) when shooting models for promotional video and photography (I use frame grabs for portfolio photos) but, use new tapes when filming documentary material.

      BUT, on the other hand – you would only know if a tape doesn’t have a dropout when you record the entire tape and review? So I guess their are a lot of things to consider!

    • #184890

      @jkidder – No affiliation, I’m just an HDV aficionado (freak) as in HDV Video Professional – But I do enjoy their magazine. I’m involved in many different levels of using video and photography in every way from charity volunteer work to product development for HD screen manufacturers. I like the different aspects both magazines seem to cover, though – as they (Videomaker and HDVideoPro) are the first two I reach for.

      Video for me me is just a chance to enjoy both technology and artistry at the same time 🙂

      on of the aspects of this publication I especially like is the voice of the “do-it-yourself” independent filmmakers that will be appearing in future articles – ever wondered if you could make your own movie? Get ready to be inspired!

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