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Digital Video Forum Discuss camcorders, HD video, HD DSLRs, video editing, DV software, and video techniques. Your DV forum moderator is Skyman.
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  1. #1
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    MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    I have a few questions regarding MiniDV versus DVD camcorder. From my understanding, MiniDV uses M-JPEG format and DVD uses MPEG-2 format, which has compression, resulting in poor video quality. My first questions is: if I eventually transfer and burn the data from MiniDV tape to DVD-R disc, is the data on DVD-R MPEG-2 format anyway? If so, the final video quality is the same. The only advantage of using MiniDV as an intermediate step is for editting. Is it right?

    Second, I have a panasonic DVD recoder with HDD. When I copy movies recordered on hard disk drive to DVD-R with high quality format (XP mode), I can record about an hour. So my question is why the DVD-R used in camcorder can only record less than 30 mins of high quality video? Is the DVD-R in DVD camcorder different than the regular 4.7GB DVD-R disc? If I use DVD-R in a DVD camcorder directly, can I still edit the video before finalizing the disc? Or I have to use DVD-RAM/DVD-RW in order to edit?

    Thanks much for your help.

    Brian

  2. #2
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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Mini DV records video in its own uncompressed format. On a computer this is an avi file not an mpeg (note that mpeg refers to motion jpeg and that mpeg 1-4 refer to different compression standards) if you save the files into a format that a dvd player will be able to play then yes you are dropping the final quality back to that of a dvd camcorder. having said this when editing a mini dv camera records the video at a higher frames per second rate than a dvd camera and so gives you finer control over editing. so the basic improvement is in control and quality the trade off is in convenience.

    A DVD camcorder doesn't actually use a dvd disc (the cameras would be to big) they use a mini dvd format that utilises a smaller disc, hence the reduction in recording time. these discs will play back in most dvd players though as unlike an LP both cd's and dvd's start playing from the inside of the disc.

    you can always edit the video although in camera editing can only be carried out whilst you are recording not after the fact (regardless of whether the camera has a -r or rw disc in it) or have another camera connected and are transfering the footage from one camera to another and editing it as you transfer. so from a practical perspective it is far simpler to transfer your video footage to your computer for editing wether using a mini dv camera or a mini dvd camera.

    In short if you plan to do ANY editing at all then a mini dv camera is going to suit your needs better, although if you don't think you will want to edit footage and simply want to watch back your home movies a mini dvd camera will save you time.

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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Thanks a lot Skyman. It helps a lot. Based on your reply, I decided to get a MiniDV camcorder.

    Brian

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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Skyman, your reply is a comfort to a man who has just bought his DVD handycam.

    I note from your reply that the final MPEG2 quality resulting from the editing of a mini DV or a DVD would be the same. However, when you read other reviews they slang the DVD so harshly that it appears a DVD handycam is a total waste.

    The movies captured in a DVD handycam is downloaded as an MPEG2 file to the computer. To the best of my knowledge, Pinnacle does not edit MPEG2 files. Do you know of softwares that can be used for editing MPEG2.

    Also, a standard disc records only 20 to 30 minutes. Are there better quality discs (like double sided) which can record for 1 to 1.5 hrs like the DV tapes.

    Chris

    Quote Originally Posted by Skyman
    Mini DV records video in its own uncompressed format. On a computer this is an avi file not an mpeg (note that mpeg refers to motion jpeg and that mpeg 1-4 refer to different compression standards) if you save the files into a format that a dvd player will be able to play then yes you are dropping the final quality back to that of a dvd camcorder. having said this when editing a mini dv camera records the video at a higher frames per second rate than a dvd camera and so gives you finer control over editing. so the basic improvement is in control and quality the trade off is in convenience.

    A DVD camcorder doesn't actually use a dvd disc (the cameras would be to big) they use a mini dvd format that utilises a smaller disc, hence the reduction in recording time. these discs will play back in most dvd players though as unlike an LP both cd's and dvd's start playing from the inside of the disc.

    you can always edit the video although in camera editing can only be carried out whilst you are recording not after the fact (regardless of whether the camera has a -r or rw disc in it) or have another camera connected and are transfering the footage from one camera to another and editing it as you transfer. so from a practical perspective it is far simpler to transfer your video footage to your computer for editing wether using a mini dv camera or a mini dvd camera.

    In short if you plan to do ANY editing at all then a mini dv camera is going to suit your needs better, although if you don't think you will want to edit footage and simply want to watch back your home movies a mini dvd camera will save you time.

  5. #5
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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Quote Originally Posted by Cynandre
    Skyman, your reply is a comfort to a man who has just bought his DVD handycam.

    I note from your reply that the final MPEG2 quality resulting from the editing of a mini DV or a DVD would be the same. However, when you read other reviews they slang the DVD so harshly that it appears a DVD handycam is a total waste.

    The movies captured in a DVD handycam is downloaded as an MPEG2 file to the computer. To the best of my knowledge, Pinnacle does not edit MPEG2 files. Do you know of softwares that can be used for editing MPEG2.

    Also, a standard disc records only 20 to 30 minutes. Are there better quality discs (like double sided) which can record for 1 to 1.5 hrs like the DV tapes.

    Chris
    Most people who rubbish DVD do not understand that mini DV is not for everyone or are justifying a camera that doesn't really suit there needs totally. In the scheme of things the argument is a bit silly as the future for video cameras will be solid state memory cards like those used in digital still cameras. (The CEO of Sandisk the world leader in card technology - annoucned this one about 18 months ago and they already have broadcast cameras with hard drives rather than tapes, saving video as an avi file.) and many hybrid video cameras do not use tape or dvd. basically to edit video from the mpeg2 it needs to be converted to an avi file first. there are plenty of programs out there that can do this, DVD-AVi is a program i have used in the past although i don't do very much of this so there will no doubt be a myriad of posts shortly with better transfer methods. As for the longer mini dvd's i have not seen anything but this doesn't mean they don't exist.

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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Skyman, thanks for your reply. I would like to hear from others about the MPEG2 to AVI conversion software(s) available.

    I have been advised that Ulead VideoStudio Ver 9 captures video from a DVD camcorder but the website www.ulead.com does not provide details. Would welcome comments from others who may have used this software.

    Also, just found out that a 2.8 GB 80mm DVD -R disc is available for a hefty price of $60 that allows 60 min recording. Whereas a 1.4 GB DVD -R is only $10. But there are moments when you cannot stop to change disc at 1/2 hr.

    Chris

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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    I just had this same issue after purchasing a DVD cam. The Ulead Studio Ver. 9 can open up the VOB files that the DVD cams put out. i successfully did this. Not sure if it's translating to AVI. I only know you can capture those files, edit, and export however you like.

    Another software called "Power Director 5" can do this too, but i haven't tried it.

    My only question is -- if you translate to AVI or quicktime to edit -- are you then getting the same or similar quality as a mini-DV cam? Does this mean you are undoing the compression? Or once it's compressed to MPEG-2 have you lost that extra detail that the DV compression keeps?

    Any opinions on the hard drive cams? They compress to mpeg-2 -- so i imagine it's the same as the DVD cams. Sure would be nice if the quality was good. No chaning cartridges or discs (the half-hour mini DVD discs are a drag). I imagine you could hook to your computer to edit, then output how you like. I wish I had a better handle on how different the quality is. The JVC Everio has 1330k CCD pixels (vs. 1,000 for mini-DV cams) if I interpret correctly. Just don't know if you can uncompress in such a way that you end up with pre-compressed quality for editing.

    Thoughts?

  8. #8
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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Quote Originally Posted by shweri
    I
    My only question is -- if you translate to AVI or quicktime to edit -- are you then getting the same or similar quality as a mini-DV cam? Does this mean you are undoing the compression? Or once it's compressed to MPEG-2 have you lost that extra detail that the DV compression keeps?

    Any opinions on the hard drive cams? They compress to mpeg-2 -- so i imagine it's the same as the DVD cams. Sure would be nice if the quality was good. No chaning cartridges or discs (the half-hour mini DVD discs are a drag). I imagine you could hook to your computer to edit, then output how you like. I wish I had a better handle on how different the quality is. The JVC Everio has 1330k CCD pixels (vs. 1,000 for mini-DV cams) if I interpret correctly. Just don't know if you can uncompress in such a way that you end up with pre-compressed quality for editing.

    Thoughts?
    ok an avi file is a series of still images (for simplicities sake i am ignoring interlacing) the number depends on your local video format but in the 25-30 frames per second range so a minute of avi footage has up to 1800 discrete pictures. many of these pictures are very similar to the proceeding frame, so with mpeg compression, not every picture is saved, but only every 20th frame (for example) each suspecuent frame will now only show the amount of change from the reference frame. in this way a shot with little movement will be much smaller than a shot with a lot of movement but overall quite good compression can be achieved. in theory then converting the video back to avi involves not uncompressing the video but rendering or "drawing" the changes back into each discreet frame and saving it as an avi file. in this way, what is lost in the compression process can never be completely returned. at the moment the only good hard drive cams i am aware of are broadcast cameras that save avi files not mpeg and are desinged to be conected directly to broadcast editing systems. this save editors lots of time, logging and capturing the footage to their edit suits but subsequently does not come cheap. i am sure that in terms of the consumer market as more software packages will be able to edit directly the mpeg video but bear in mind that with an mpeg file you are mostly able to edit accurately to only 4/6 of a second whilst an avi file will give to 1/25th - 1/30th depending on your video footage. anyone who is serious about editing will know that 4/6 of a second simply doesn't give you enough control!

  9. #9
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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Thank you so much for taking the time to explain that. I've been researching all over the Web, and felt like I was getting 7/8ths of the picture (so to speak!). What I wasn't understanding or finding was what happens when you uncompress something. And so whether if the right uncompression software would make a difference and thus make the DV vs. MPEG2 quality less of an issue. But now I get it.

    I did have one other question -- when you open a MPEG2 using software that can edit it, then export again as MPEG2 -- does it compess yet again? Meaning even more frame loss? That was the other part I didn't get.

    Thanks again!

  10. #10
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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Quote Originally Posted by shweri
    I did have one other question -- when you open a MPEG2 using software that can edit it, then export again as MPEG2 -- does it compess yet again? Meaning even more frame loss? That was the other part I didn't get.
    In theory it is not really recompressed but rather rendered as a complete avi file then compressed. the end result is much the same, that is a general reduction in quality however you may or may not have the same source frames for compression so the areas where quality is lost may change. over time continual recompression will result in a noticable reduction of image quality but most people would not be able to pic it unless they had the original to compare to until they get to about the 4th generation (that is 4 compress/uncompress cycles). if you think you might need to do this, the way to avoid the quality loss is to save an avi file of the video and then use that to work with until you are satisfied that you are happy with the finished product.

  11. #11
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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Skyman, Your explanation is excellent.

    Shwerri, saw your comment about half hour disc (1.4 GB). I just spotted a one hour 2.8 GB DVD RW disc retailed at $16 per disc (Australian dollars) - good value.

    Shwerri, question for you. Ulead software did not read a DVD -R disc without finalising. What about a DVD RW disc, have you tried this format on Ulead 9.

    Chris

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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    I have a question.
    I want to measure specific production times at the manufacturing plant where I work, and I suggested using a video camera. I've edited with Mini DV footage at home before, so it'd be quite simple doing it with a MiniDV cam. Basically what I'd do is shoot some 5 to 20 mins of production with a tripod, then transfer to a computer with firewire, and open up the video with an editing suite, I use Premiere at home. With Premiere I can scrub through the video and find exactly what point a task begins and ends with a precision of 1/30th of a second. And voila, I can calculate my efficiencies once I have the length of time determined.

    But I've been asked if perhaps a DVD camcorder would suit the needs for this project better.

    I hesitated at the begin, but then thought about it. I've never used a DVD cam, so I really don't know what it's like editing DVD cam footage. Obviously the quality of the image doesn't matter that much, because I'll just be shooting the video, transfering to the computer, finding the production times, then deleting the video. What I mainly want are the times.
    Now, I understand that transferring video from a DVD cam takes less time, I wonder how much less. This is important, because it would be the main advantage for my purposes, since I'd be transferring alot of time each day, perhaps even 2 hours of video a day.

    I remember trying to edit MPEG video with premiere years ago, and the video would look like garbage while scrubbing through the timeline, all the similar frames would just go black. When it comes to filming production procedures, minute changes may happen, such as fastening two parts with screws or reaching for material, so perhaps if I scrubbed through MPEG or MPEG2 or MPEG4 videos, I may not be able to see everything that goes on. Where as with a MiniDV, I barely ever get dropped frames, and then everything else is totally scrubbable, I can determine exactly when something starts and ends.

    So my questions are the following:
    1. How long does it take to transfer DVD cam video to a computer? And how is this done?
    2. Can I simply pop in a DVD disc that was used for shooting with a DVD camcorder, into a computer dvd drive, and browse the video files? What format are they? VOB? Can I simply copy those files to my hard drive and open them with Premiere?
    3. What is it like editing with video shot with a DVD camera? Is it scrubbable? Will I lose frames?
    Bottom line, will I be able to determine the exact time when an event starts and ends to the accuracy of at least 1/3 of a second (1/30th would be perfect though)

  13. #13
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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Quote Originally Posted by santiago
    I have a question.
    I want to measure specific production times at the manufacturing plant where I work, and I suggested using a video camera. I've edited with Mini DV footage at home before, so it'd be quite simple doing it with a MiniDV cam. Basically what I'd do is shoot some 5 to 20 mins of production with a tripod, then transfer to a computer with firewire, and open up the video with an editing suite, I use Premiere at home. With Premiere I can scrub through the video and find exactly what point a task begins and ends with a precision of 1/30th of a second. And voila, I can calculate my efficiencies once I have the length of time determined.

    But I've been asked if perhaps a DVD camcorder would suit the needs for this project better.

    I hesitated at the begin, but then thought about it. I've never used a DVD cam, so I really don't know what it's like editing DVD cam footage. Obviously the quality of the image doesn't matter that much, because I'll just be shooting the video, transfering to the computer, finding the production times, then deleting the video. What I mainly want are the times.
    Now, I understand that transferring video from a DVD cam takes less time, I wonder how much less. This is important, because it would be the main advantage for my purposes, since I'd be transferring alot of time each day, perhaps even 2 hours of video a day.

    I remember trying to edit MPEG video with premiere years ago, and the video would look like garbage while scrubbing through the timeline, all the similar frames would just go black. When it comes to filming production procedures, minute changes may happen, such as fastening two parts with screws or reaching for material, so perhaps if I scrubbed through MPEG or MPEG2 or MPEG4 videos, I may not be able to see everything that goes on. Where as with a MiniDV, I barely ever get dropped frames, and then everything else is totally scrubbable, I can determine exactly when something starts and ends.

    So my questions are the following:
    1. How long does it take to transfer DVD cam video to a computer? And how is this done?
    2. Can I simply pop in a DVD disc that was used for shooting with a DVD camcorder, into a computer dvd drive, and browse the video files? What format are they? VOB? Can I simply copy those files to my hard drive and open them with Premiere?
    3. What is it like editing with video shot with a DVD camera? Is it scrubbable? Will I lose frames?
    Bottom line, will I be able to determine the exact time when an event starts and ends to the accuracy of at least 1/3 of a second (1/30th would be perfect though)
    if you are going to use the process you described above (utilising the timcode to determine the length of a task) then i think mini dv is the better option. a dvd camera records video as an mpeg file which would not be ideal for the task you describe. the only other thing i can suggest is setting up a clock or stopwatch somewhere in the shot so you have that timing as well. good luck.

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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Another question, is the video recorded with a DVD camcorder of the same quality as the video from digital cameras? I have a digital camera I just bought, it can take 640 x 480 videos, using MPEG compression I believe. It's the Sony DSC-H1. I haven't tried shooting video with it yet, but according to what you are saying, a digital camera would be just as good as a DVD camcorder. I am almost convinced that the company should purchase a MiniDV camcorder, but I am curious to know just exactly how much quality is lost witht the MPEG codec. That way, I can simply say that if they want to purchase a DVD camcorder, they may very well be better off using a digital camera, for a similar they would have 5 Mega-pixel photo shooting, plus half decent video. In that way they might think it over again and go for the MiniDV.
    On the other hand, I'm still not completely sure, since I still don't know what it's like to edit video shot with a DVD cam. Perhaps if I knew what settings the codec is set to in the DVD camera, I could take any MiniDV shot video, compress to that same setting and format, and experiment with that video, and see how it goes.

    Thanks for the quick reply Skycam, my appologies for bringing up these weird questions.

  15. #15
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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Simply put, the Mini DVD camcorder takes the same information from the chip and squashes it into a smaller space, using MPEG-2 compression. You will not have the same detail and color depth, (intensity and hue) that you will have with the same information recorded in MiniDV. I would rather have the highest quality video available to work with and then compress it to whatever playback format you need. The video quality of the best digital still camerra is still not up to MiniDV standards. It compresses the image even more than MiniDVD and also is known to drop frames. Stick with the separate cameras for now.
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  16. #16
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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    MJS, it seems that the last couple of posts to this thread haven't taken the time to read the explanations of the differences between mini dv, mini dvd and mpeg cameras. I think maybe we should work on a sticky that outlines these differences.

  17. #17
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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Great idea. PM some of your thoughts to me, I'll add mine to yours and edit and send it back, when finished, I'll sticky it as a basic terminology post, or something along that line.
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    I need Help

    Hey I am going to buy my first video camera and i was just wondering if someone could answer some of my questions. I want to buy a video camera which i will only use for filming skateboarding. This mwans there is a lot of movement and sun and i will do a lot of editing. Could anyone reccomend or help me make my choice.

    Jonathan

  19. #19
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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Thanks to anindyanuri for suggesting the video forum's first ever sticky! re reading the thread it does cover the differences between mini dv and dvd fairly well. I am hoping people will be able to add to this information about HD Cameras, as I have yet to make the jump so i haven't really had a chance to play with them.

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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    I don't have yet a harddisk camera but I think it is more recommended. Am I right?

  21. #21
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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    I was refering to Hi Definition as opposed to Hard Disk Drive (HDD) cameras. for my money most hdd cameras record in compressed mpeg formats and are therefore still inferior to avi tape based formats. there are exceptions but they are mostly in the broadcast relm.

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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Quote Originally Posted by andy3
    I don't have yet a harddisk camera but I think it is more recommended. Am I right?
    We bought my wife's mom a Hitachi DVD-HDD camera. It's pretty easy to use. She uses it just like any other camera and when it is time to empty the camera, we move all the video to mini DVDs. The camera has more internal features that I would like to know of but I may have to. It took many disk to empty the drive. Next time, I may have to use the menu to be more selective in what to archive to DVD and may also have to use LP to get more per disk. It was cool to throw the mini DVD into our home DVD player and watch it right away. It was just like the good old days of VHS. I don't like using the video camera for playback....I think it shortens the mechanism lifespan.

    I haven't looked at over all cost. Do miniDVDs cost more than miniDV per minute?
    Canon 5D MKII & Canon 7D

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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Hey. It's my dad's birthday soon, and we're planning to buy him a camcorder for his birthday. We have a budget of around 150-200 (GBP), which means we can get a mid-level miniDV camcorder or a bottom-of-the-range DVD camcorder. Which would you recommend?

    We have a DVD recorder in the house, so theoretically it should be easy enough to record from the miniDV to a DVD anyway, but I think recording from a scart input is blocked as an anti-copy thing. Otherwise, I know he has a DVD burner in his computer and has burnt video to DVDs before.

    So, I guess the questions I need help with are:
    1. What's the difference in recording time between miniDV and DVD? I know DVDs are only 20-30 minutes, but what can you get on a tape?
    2. How easy is it to convert what you have on a miniDV to a format which you cam burn onto a DVD for viewing without using the camcorder or giving away or for mum to be able to watch etc?
    3. What interfaces do you need to get video from your miniDV tape onto your computer? Is there a way of extracting the AVI-ish file or do you need a TV card or will a camera with a USB-port do it? If you need some sort of analogue video interface (like using software to capture a video input as it plays), does this affect the quality of the video?

    Cheers,
    Rob x

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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    Also, there's one DVD/HDD combo camera that's just about within our budget, at a stretch. Is it worth it, or are we better spending the money on a straight DVD camcorder that has better reviews? What difference does having the HDD make?

    Rob x

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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    as stated above if you plan on doing editing, then the mini dv gives higher quality than hdd or dvd. to answer your questions though:
    1. mini dvd is like you said up to 30 mins, mini dv is up to an hour
    2. you may need some software (such as nero or toast etc) but the process itself is as simple as copying a cd
    3. the transfer of mini dv to the computer requires a firewire port. they can be purchased very cheaply these days (less than $20) if you don't have one. the process is known as capturing and programs like windows movie maker, studio 8 or i movie make it very easy

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