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Digital Video Cameras: Tape Or Disc?

Digital Video Cameras: Tape Or Disc?

This Video is designed to help you choose whether you want to use tape or disk when filming with your Digital Video Camera. Depending on which Digital Video Camera you buy, you'll have to way up the pros and cons of both formats.

Step 1: Which format?

There are several formats available for the modern digital camcorder. Some use tapes, others use discs and an increasing number seemingly use nothing!

Step 2: Mini-DV

Mini-DV is by far the most common format. These small tapes are cheap, easy to store and reasonably priced. Each tape typically holds 60 minutes worth of footage and is generally easy to transfer to your computer, vhs or DVD. This is important as most people can't play mini-DV tapes on their home entertainment systems!
There is a wide range of software available for editing mini-DV footage, and the way in which mini-DV is recorded allows for a great deal of control during the editing process. For this reason mini-DV is currently regarded as the best format for editing on your home computer.

Step 3: DVD

Another increasingly popular format is DVD. With this format you must finalise the discs after recording on them or you won't be able to watch your footage on any other DVD machines. The advantage with these models is that theoretically you can take the finalised disc out and watch it straight away on a DVD player, but as we will see it is not quite that simple. Editing on this format is not as precise as mini-DV, but as many people do not intensively edit their home footage this needn't be an overly important consideration.

Each DVD normally holds about 20 minutes of video at the highest quality setting. Double-sided discs can hold twice as much. All you have to do is flip the disc over once you've finished one side.

Step 4: DVD discs

Another factor you need to take into account with DVD camcorders, is which DVDs you use. There are 5 types of DVD that are used by most DVD camcorders: DVD minus R, DVD plus R, DVD minus RW, DVD plus RW and DVD RAM.

The plus or minus refers to compatibility with DVD players. Some models will play both plus and minus DVDs but many only play one so it is very important to find out which type your home player can use.

DVD Rs are read only DVDs. This means that they can only be recorded on once. On the plus side however, these discs play on all but the oldest of home DVD players.

RW stands for Read-Write. These DVD's can be recorded on several times, but they will not play on older home DVD players.

RAM stands for Random Access Memory. These DVD's record in a completely different way to normal DVDs and so will not play on almost any Home DVD player. However they too can be repeatedly erased and re-recorded.

Most DVD camcorders work with more than one type of DVD, but it is worth checking which ones each individual camcorder uses, and whether or not these are compatible with your home DVD player. As the newer DVD players become more common, these compatibility issues should become less of a problem.

Step 5: Hard Disk Drive Recorders

HDD stands for Hard Disk Drive. These cameras do not need tapes or discs as they record directly onto the cameras memory. Thanks to this their design is often more smaller and more unusual. Hard disc recorders usually have up to 30gigabytes of memory which provides 7 hours high quality footage. HDD camcorders save files which can then be deleted, moved and transferred. This allows the user great flexibility when creating play lists of favourite clips to show other people.
These cameras are being seen as camcorders for the IPOD generation. However, this does make these cameras fairly computer dependant. If you're running out of memory it can be annoying to have to download video on to your computer instead of simply buying a new tape or disc. Transferring footage from an HDD camcorder will generally need a USB 2.0 port as a minimum requirement on you computer.

Step 6: Card Cams

These digital video cameras record the video to removable cards, as used in many digital still cameras. The amount of video depends on the memory si