Playing HD miniDV tapes on other devices

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JEvandenberg
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Playing HD miniDV tapes on other devices

Postby JEvandenberg » 02 May 2013 10:28

I have a large 50+ collection of miniDV tapes filmed with a Canon Vixia HV30. The camcorder was, sadly, stolen recently in a burglary. I intend buying a replacement, but I’m faced with difficult choices that I hope fellow forum members can offer advice on:

(1) It seems that the use of miniDV tapes is becoming a thing of the past. This being so, I want to buy a camcorder that uses a newer technology. Advice on what to consider is plentiful, so no problem here.

(2) The real problem relates to my miniDV tape collection, for I wish to continue being able to (a) watch these via an HDMI cable connected to the TV and (b) connect and download to a PC for editing purposes. I therefore I need a device that can do these things. The question is what device? Buying another Canon miniDV tape camcorder would obviously suffice, but this seems like overkill to me, since the camera would only ever be used as a player - lens quality, for example, would be irrelevant. Assuming that the only device that can do both (a) and (b) is a tape based camcorder, the question becomes what camcorder? Does one have to get a camcorder closely related to the original Canon HV30 to play tapes filmed with a Canon HV30, or will any HD miniDV camcorder be able to do the job? Then there is also the question of quality. If one can get a (cheaper) substitute camcorder that does the job, will the playback quality or the transfer to PC quality be diminished in any way? Or is the quality captured entirely by, and is inherent in, the original filming device – a Canon HV30 in my case? In other words, will a tape shot with a high quality camcorder look just as good when played back on a different cheap (but compatible) camcorder?

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Stephan
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Re: Playing HD miniDV tapes on other devices

Postby Stephan » 02 May 2013 21:53

Hi,

HDMI is fully digital, and so is the Firewire interface that you use to capture HDV video onto your computer. The digital bit stream that gets transferred onto those is fully & faithfully inherent to the original quality that your HV30 was able to record. So you will get equal playback quality regardless of the camcorder that you use for playback, provided that it's an HDV camcorder.

Now, there might be a small risk of cross-brand compatibility, i.e. do HDV tapes - that were recorded on Canon - would correctly playback on Sony for instance. Well, they *should* with no issue I think. But I recall people rarely did that (people tend to stick to a brand), so if you can avoid that risk and get another Canon HDV, just try & be on the safe side. HDV playback can be glitchy when frames get dropped out.

Hope this helps.

By the way, funny coincidence. I'm currently addressing that anguish of being stuck with dozens of tapes that we weren't able to edit "yet" ;-) so I'm capturing all of them before my last tape-based camcorder will fail me. I feel silly using a 3000 EUR HDR-FX7 as a mere VCR, but the newest compact camcorders are better performers now. So I understand how you feel about getting a cam only for the purpose of a VCR, but we don't seem to have any choice - do we? Time to move on :-)

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Re: Playing HD miniDV tapes on other devices

Postby acgold7 » 03 May 2013 05:31

JEvandenberg wrote: Assuming that the only device that can do both (a) and (b) is a tape based camcorder,

Not a good assumption. Sony makes a very nice little HDV deck, the HD700, that does both but is not a camcorder.

JEvandenberg wrote: will any HD miniDV camcorder be able to do the job? ?

Sort of. Canon and Sony use the same HDV standard so they should be interchangeable, although it's probably best to stick with the brand the tape was originally shot with. JVC HDV is a different flavor and will not work at all.
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Re: Playing HD miniDV tapes on other devices

Postby steve » 03 May 2013 09:02

JEvandenberg wrote: will any HD miniDV camcorder be able to do the job? ?

acgold7 wrote: Sort of. Canon and Sony use the same HDV standard so they should be interchangeable, although it's probably best to stick with the brand the tape was originally shot with. JVC HDV is a different flavor and will not work at all.

In addition to that, if you acquire a used DV/HDV camcorder, you won't know what brand or type of tape has been run through the mechanism, so to avoid any problems with tape lubricant incompatibility, it would be good advice to run a cleaning tape and if possible, manually clean the tape guides.

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Stephan
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Re: Playing HD miniDV tapes on other devices

Postby Stephan » 03 May 2013 23:34

By the way, Steve, would you know where to obtain the good old DVM-12CLD Sony cleaning tape on this side of the ocean? It seems to be discontinued just about everywhere I look, or only available with a couple of potentially disreputable niche sellers. I don't want to risk a generic cleaning tape, only to find it stuck in the tape feed mechanism. Thanks!

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Re: Playing HD miniDV tapes on other devices

Postby steve » 04 May 2013 01:19

Stephan,
I'm afraid I don't. I'm still using the 4min. cleaner that came with my FX1E. As I exclusively use Sony 'Excellence' tapes, my camcorders rarely need cleaning.
Have you tried a dealer like CVP. They may have some old stock at the back of a shelf?
Steve

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Stephan
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Re: Playing HD miniDV tapes on other devices

Postby Stephan » 04 May 2013 11:15

Yes, I checked them first: Sony DVM12CLD (DVM-12CLD) Mini DV Head Cleaner and it's marked Discontinued!

I found a different reference (DVM4CLD2 ?!) closer to me with a relatively reputable seller: Cassette de nettoyage mini dv sony 4 min DVM4CLD2, I think I'll order that one or pay them a visit. I'm not sure they really manage their stock, it might be out of stock too.

JEvandenberg
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Re: Playing HD miniDV tapes on other devices

Postby JEvandenberg » 06 May 2013 13:31

Thanks for the responses to my original post. The suggestion of trying out the Sony HD700 as a miniDV tape player sounded promising until I saw the price - it's more than $1000! Contrast this with the $600 price tag on a new Canon Vixia HV40. It's beginning to look like I'm going to have to get another HV40.


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