Mini DV(HDV), HDD, or Solid-State P2 ???

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    • #40617

      What is the best solution for shooting video now? Mini DV, Hard Drive Disk, or the Solid-State P2?
      And what HD camera is the best for around 2,000-3,000? Should I keep filming with Mini DV or Switch??
      I went to Best Buy a few days ago looking for a Mini DV Camera and they didn’t have any and the lady working that department told me I was old school and needed to up grade to what they had the HDD and Solid-State. I couldn’t believe that. My Canon GL2 was worth more than all of those there!(even tho i know the price of that cam is no longer the same but still). I’m not a professional but can someone please help me with some REAL answers.

    • #174169

      There are other flash memory options available – SxS and SDHC to name a couple.

    • #174170

      would SDHC be considered as Solid-State? or What? what is best?

    • #174171


      Your first mistake was going to Best Buy for a camera. Their job is to sell you something. Preferably something they’ll make a profit on. Mini DV tape is cheap so they aren’t going to make a profit on it unless you buy it in bulk which they don’t sell.

      I constantly answer this question for posters and the answers are the same; What do you plan on doing with the footage? How are you financing your equipment purchases? What is your current skill level technically and knowledge wise?

      If you are an amateur stay away from professional gear! The learning curve is high and unless you plan on dedicating a tremendous amount of time, money and effort to learning how to properly utilize pro gear fuggeddaboutit! On the other hand I strongly recommend miniDV for amateurs. Tape is cheap, easy to store and archive and digitizing footage will teach you how to pick out usable shots and patience while editing.

      Next, I say go with flash media if you cannot find an tape based HDV rig. The advantages of flash media are speed of transfer to your computer, you can carry more flash media cards than tapes in a smaller area than tape and the cards are reusable. The disadvantages are; flash cards are much more expensive than tape, to be practical you’ll need at least 2-4 of at least 16GB or greater for a day’s worth of shooting, you’ll need an ‘offloading device’ such as a Nexto or something similar to download a full card in the field, you’ll need both NLE software and a computer capable of pushing AVCHD format video without bogging down thus eliminating any speed advantage by going solid-state. All that gets expensive. Last but not least, you’ll have to constantly invest in multiple external hard drives and or DVD/Blu-Ray discs and burners to archive your raw footage and completed projects and that too gets expensive.

      The main thing that should decide what type of equipment you’ll need is; What do you plan to do with the footage? If you are not doing broadcast TV, Theatrical or serious Internet Series work and getting paid to do so, stay away from P2 or SxS based technology. Though it is high-quality gear, if you’re not getting paid for your work, the expense and the learning curve to use it is not justified unless you want to be that guy who has a race car but doesn’t have the skill to drive it.

      So before you start the countdown for your head to blow up about ‘What camera should I buy?’, postpone the launch by first asking yourself the above questions. As Birdcat implied, there are any number of different options available, but your skill level and whether you are working as a professional will determine what you really need (not what you want!)

    • #174172

      The question “what is best?” is highly subjective.

      I would make a list of “must have” features (like # of chips, mic options, lens requirements, etc…) and get the most of your must haves within your budget.

      The functional differences between P2, SxS and SDHC are minimal (more cost than anything else) – I would be choosing between tape, hard disk or flash memory (P2, SxS, SDHC, others).

      The best thing about flash or hard drive is the speed of post taping capture – Tapes require real time capture after use HOWEVER they are a great media when you need to have source backup.

      It all depends on your requirements and budget.

    • #174173

      “The best thing about flash or hard drive is the speed of post taping capture”

      hmm…i sorta disagree. many people don’t realize that flash memory’s equivalent to a tape back up is backing up the original file structure that the camera records to the flash card.

      For example P2 cameras don’t record .mov files to the P2 card for FCP, nor do they record .omf files for Avid. Instead, it’s some proprietary file structure that NLEs read and converts into whatever file it is they need. If I were to only save the .mov files for FCP, I can no longer use that same footage in Avid.

      In order to maintain compatibility with other NLEs, the editor must back up the original file structure of the card BEFORE transferring the footage into their NLE and then erasing the card, and this process offsets the whole “flash is faster than tape” myth.

      But if he has no reason to maintain compatibility with other NLEs, then he doesn’t really need to back up the original contents. But if you ask me, you may never know when you will need use your footage in a different NLE in the future. MANY workflows start with Avid and finish with FCP and vise versa. Or maybe you’re gonna sell some stock footage and the editors purchasing it aren’t use the same NLE as you.

      just something to think about. you guys pretty much hit the nail on the head with everything else though.

    • #174174

      “P2 cameras don’t record .mov files to the P2 card for FCP, nor do they
      record .omf files for Avid. Instead, it’s some proprietary file
      structure that NLEs read and converts into whatever file it is they

      Same thing goes for portable hard drive units like the one’s made by Focus Enhancements. You have to pick out the ‘flavor’ you want and that’s the format it will record in. Now they do have some ‘generic flavors’ like AVI 1 or 2 and Quicktime which can be pulled into many NLE’s cross-platform, but most times you’re better off picking one flavor your NLE is partial to and sticking with it.

      Again, that and what Rob mentioned goes back to the ‘learning curve’ aspect. Apparently you have done some shooting in DV and DV is simple compared to the different flavors of HD. Until you’ve gotten a grip on the basics of shooting, you can still put out some amazing stuff on DV. If it’s properly lit, exposed, focused and framed unless your or your clients require HD, nobody’s going to care that it wasn’t. Eventually, you will have to make the move to HD, but by then you should have a firm grip on your own abilities and have done proper research on the subject. And as Birdcat said, your requirements and budget will decide everything else.

    • #174175

      I’m still shooting quite a bit of Mini-DV for my projects, mostly because I’ve yet to find decent replacements for my XL1&XL2’s at a price point I’m willing to pay. Since I mostly produce training videos that will be posted to the web and distributed on DVD, shooting SD won’t be an issue for a while yet. Having that master tape sitting safe in a drawer and not having my only copy on a hard disk stil gives me pause, even with RAID backups.

      Myself, I’d take a look at XDCAM like a Sony EX1. I kind of like the idea of being able to take the SxS card, pop it into the Express slot and getting down to work. The other thing is that you can use an adapter and HDSC cards which will continue to drop in price. Just some thoughts on the subject. Hard drive cameras are good, I’ve got a couple of HD7’s. I just think of this…trashing a tape loses an put in a new one and go again. Crash that hard drive and the day is over.

    • #174176

      “Since I mostly produce training videos that will be posted to the web
      and distributed on DVD, shooting SD won’t be an issue for a while yet.”


      To snag Rob’s line, ‘you hit the nail on the head’. It all depends on your output. I have client’s who specifically ask for HD but most couldn’t tell the diff between HD and SD widescreen. Since they’re looking at it on DVD anyway…. But quiet as it’s been kept, tape is still a viable and reliable production option. It’s just camera manufacturers want you to buy their latest stuff, not what you need for your particular workflow.

      Again though, the EX1 for all intents is a pro camera. SxS is a pro format and though it’s a lot less expensive than P2 media, it still ain’t cheap. But you’re right about those hard drive cameras. The drive goes and it’s a paperweight or a $1k projectile. I do like solid-state tech, but unless you’re prepared for all the backups you’re going to have to make, it may not be worth it. Funny thing is, it’s a good idea to back up a final product to tape too!

    • #174177

      I would prefer solid state for my MiniDV cams (Sony VX2100’s) but there is nothing out there except Focus products which don’t seem to be compatible with my stuff. If I could afford new cams, I would definitely go to solid state. I wish I wish.

      Clicking my heals together 3 times.

    • #174178

      Ya know what’s actually a pretty good solution IF you could afford it? A Sony EX1 and the Convergent Design Nano Flash.

      The new EX1s have HD-SDI out, so you can bypass the in-camera compression and send it to the Nano Flash. The video still get compressed in the Nano with Long GOP compression, but it’s at a higher bit rate and you can record to CF cards instead of SxS

      It works with SD cameras that has SD-SDI out as well.

      Not cheap, but not as expensive either. (And still probably too advanced if the original poster is a beginner)

    • #174179

      OK I am missing something on this solid state issue. My Z7U records AVI files, for SD, and M2T files for HD, both of which I can drag from the SD card to my RAID then driectly to my Vegas timeline. There is no conversion and no waiting. You can edit 1 minutes after you pop the card in the reader. When I captured taped it would be hour(s) later.

    • #174180

      Wow lots of information here. I do have an i idea now of what I want do. I work with FCP Studio 3 with a Canon GL2. I now work for someone now(after a few years of doing this as a hobby) and HE is willing to spend the money on some Cameras for recording him for a TV program. He eventually wants to start a Local TV show for One Hour. So i know i must get rid of my GL2. Thanks EVERYONE for all this input.

    • #174181


      There really aren’t any ‘issues’ long as your NLE software supports your camera’s output. Fortunately for you, you’re using an all Sony pipeline so there shouldn’t be any probs. Now say like the scenario Rob mentioned with Panasonic’s P2 setup you have a proprietary format that depends on third-party support, then the ‘issues’ with begin to arise.

      I’ve used both solid-state and tape since ’06 when I incorporated what was then called ‘DV Rack’ during controlled shoots using a laptop. The thing I liked about it the most other than speed of access, was I automatically had a solid back up on tape in case anything went wrong with the hard drive the digital footage was on. I keep a copy of ‘On Location’ on a laptop field editor and use portable hard drives like Focus Enhancements makes as needed. Ultimately, all the footage ends up digital but at least with a tape back up, I’d be happy to ‘suffer’ the ‘hours’ of redigitizing to recover lost footage.


      Yeah, if you’re going to be working on a show for broadcast it is time to ‘level up’ on your rigs. Once again though, I suggest you move up to a ‘prosumer’ level camera. Image quality will be more than enough for local tv, the expense won’t be as much for what you’d pay for pro gear. You could spend the leftover cash from your budget on support items you’ll need like extra batteries, tripod, camera bag, filters or perhaps lighting? If you’ve got the budget, think about two cameras with minimal kits or one camera with a solid kit. Also, look at cameras that can do both DV and HD. Having that capability can be very useful. Yeah, I know guys, “just shoot it in HD and down res it.” True, but if the gig doesn’t require HD, why bother?

      Anyway, here are some good choices for prosumer cams that won’t blow your head up with the learning curve.|0

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