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miniDV or HDV tape for an HDV camcorder?

HDV camcorders record to inexpensive miniDV tape. You can get special HDV-graded tapes, but they can cost several times more than miniDV tapes. Since the recording uses digital data, the image quality will be identical regardless of the media quality.Think of a still image or word processing file copied to different types of media – hard drive, CD, floppy, USB thumb drive – the data is the same regardless of the media used. It’s the same with digital tape – the only benefit of using HDV tape is that you lessen the chance of getting dropouts in the recording, so you are paying for reliability.Most HDV camera users will opt for a “Premium” grade of miniDV tape, which makes them feel more comfortable, while halving the cost of HDV tape. This seems to be a good compromise for many users.Unlike a miniDV dropout that may last a frame or two, HDV dropouts are typically 15 frames or more due to the Long-GOP file structure used. Video frames are compressed together in groups of 15 frames, so if a speck of dust on the tape causes a glitch, it can wipe out that entire 15-frame block of images. A bad dropout may last a second or two, so that is something to consider.I’ve had excellent results recording HDV to miniDV tapes, with dropouts being rare. I typically run multiple cameras for events and have the option of switching camera angles during editing if there were an issue. Whether to use miniDV or HDV is a personal decision that you will have to base on your own experience, considering the nature of the footage you are shooting, budget, and other factors.If you are doing a corporate video and the CEO is flying in special just for you to videotape his message to the shareholders, then jetting off again, you can’t really ask for a reshoot later. Individual circumstances will dictate your choices.As an aside, I recently read a forum posting where the user inadvertently shot some video in miniDV mode (standard definition) using their HDV camera. They were using HDV tape and wondered if an HDV video could be salvaged from the miniDV recording. The answer is NO – since the camera was in miniDV mode, a standard definition video was recorded and that is that. There is software that can “upscale” SD video to HD resolution with some enhancement, but the quality will never equal that of native HD video.

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miniDV or HDV tape for an HDV camcorder?