Should I attempt to use same model camera as original footage to transfer--or would using a better quality DV player or camera improve the quality.
Also I purchased a Toshiba dvr 620 with 1080p upconversion. Any opinions on the quality of dvd's burned with this device? I need to do a lot of editing, probably with iMovie, but I could purchase Final Cut Pro if it is advisable and user friendly.
My project also involves digitizing beta video tapes, s-vhs, Hi-8, mini DV, and mini dvds, as well as recent avchd dvds already burned from my Sony vrd-mc5 originally shot on my Sony sr-11.
At this point, being a newbie, pretty daunting. I really want to preserve the original "source". After reading the various threads on this site, looks like
many issues come into play.
Maybe my editing should be restricted to smaller projects confined to same source footage. Though it would be fun to span larger timeframe--first child born in 1979, (the sony betamax kid), through four more kids and above mentioned formats, to the current four grandkids using avchd.
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A DV camera's footage is DV, and is best saved in it's native (DV) format to preserve the existing quality. To do so, one must use the DV / iLink / IEEE1394 / Firewire interface & cable, plugged into an accompanying port on your computer. Simple as that, and transfer is literally just that: transferring the stream from tape into file on the harddrive.
However, a problem you face is that your Macbook Pro likely does NOT have a Firewire 400 interface (port), but instead has Firewire800 and/or Thunderbolt, and probably also USB. So unless you choose to find an add-on firewire400 card that works with the machine, you would have to use a different computer (Windows PCs are more readily suited for this, even now with DV on the wane), or a service, or a different method of transfer (DV->Analog->Digital ->USB->PC, for example) which would entail a loss of quality.
The analog material in your other media could be transferred either via the (analog passthrough capability of the) DV cam (and so, into a DV-quality file), or you could use an additional capture device/card that could capture in a less compressed (losslessly, or even uncompressed) format, in order to retain even more quality than DV. It would still be SD resolution, however, as that's the best those can do. Doing analog at all also assumes that you still have decent equipment with which to play them back. Many times, if your sources are limited, a service would be better.
DVDs are best transferred as files, copied as they are (MPEG2 VOBs) and used directly. Same with AVCHD discs.
Remember, the LEAST amount & number of conversions & modifications, along with the best available bitrate using the most efficient appropriate codec will yield the best quality.
FireWire to thunderbolt adapters do allow for camera control, so that's your best bet for the DV material. For the other stuff, you can do the DV pass through as cornucopia suggested, or get a good capture I/O box from AJA or Blackmagic. If you're going to spend the money on those, you may as well go FCPX, it's far more capable than iMovie.