I'm looking for a MiniDV camcorder that I can use mostly as a capture device - and by that I mean one capable of both recording its inputs directly to tape, or being used as a pass-through. I know some were made with built-in TBCs for this very reason, but I don't know which. Would it make a big difference? The main requirements are:
- Firewire in and out
- Composite in and out
- S-video in and out
I'm in PAL land, if that makes any difference.
Can anyone help? Many thanks in advance for your recommendations.
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Last edited by Mr Chris; 15th May 2016 at 14:55.
Sadly, here in the UK there were relatively few DV camcorders which had analogue inputs, and allowed pass through recording. Especially the later models (all to do with EU taxes of course!)
So you're likely to be looking for a pretty ancient secondhand camcorder to obtain the features you want.
Be careful though. Apart from the obvious mechanical tape transport problems that can often accompany older DV cameras, you also need to check that the on board Firewire port is not damaged.
Although DV Firewire ports are supposed to be 'hot swappable', in reality they can be rather fragile, when it comes to getting 'fried'. And of course a DV camcorder without a working Firewire port is not much use!
Those models you see offered on Ebay can often have useless Firewire ports... which somethimes gets conveniently forgotten in the description....
On a more positive note, you might get lucky of course!
But using a DV camcorder just for capture is pretty uncommon these days. If you are keen on capturing to DV, then one of the Canopus (Grass Valley) DV converters might be more suitable. The ADVC110 is the only remaining current model AFAIK, and is not cheap --- but the ADVC55, ADVC50 or ADVC100 can still be found secondhand quite easily.
These devices are also quite easy to resell after you''ve completed your project, so they can work out cost effectively.
I've used my ADVC50 for over 10 years without problems, although these days I tend to use a much cheaper EZCap116 device. A genuine one though - there are a lot of fakes!
Although it can be a bit of a fiddle to get the best out of that type of device at first, the end results are on a par with DV capture, quality wise.
As far as timebase correction goes, I personally use the frame synchroniser in my old Panasonic DVD recorder, but there are other options which I'm sure some of our experts can recommend.....
I don't mean to be negative, but buying a secondhand DV camcorder these days, specifically for capturing is probably a bit risky, and probably not the best option, IMHO.....
Thank you very much indeed for the advice. I'm asking because I need a replacement for my old Panasonic NV-GS50B, which recently died. That did everything I require, with the exception of the TBC. (At least, I don't think it had a TBC. If it did, it wasn't a very good one.)
Again, any recommendations appreciated.
A Panasonic NV-GS70, NV-GS200 and NV-GS500 will do it, as i had all of these cams, and i used them mostly as a pass thru unit when converting VHS tapes to Digital Video format (DV Avi) before reconverting to Mpeg2 program stream.
They all have AV in/out jack, but they do not have any TBC built in tho, as i was using a DataVideo TBC1000 connected between the Panasonic VHS player and the Camcorder, and although it worked, it could not always improve the quality of the video from the VHS tape because many of them were pretty old and not in good condition.
After i gave up DV cams, i continued converting VHS tapes for a lot of people, so i bought a Canopus ADVC300 which did a similar thing as the TBC1000 and the DV cam, but it was not cheap to buy.
Last edited by derflapinn; 3rd Jul 2016 at 03:43.
Reading up, there's just one minor point that I don't think is cause for alarm, but as you've actually used these camcorders... The manuals contain this line:
"To DV-output analog video signals sent from other equipment, set [DV OUT] on the [AV IN/OUT SETUP] Sub-Menu to [ON]. (Normally, keep the [DV OUT] set to [OFF]. If it is set to [ON], the quality of the image may be disturbed."
Am I reading that incorrectly, or is it suggesting that enabling pass-through mode can cause the picture quality to be "disturbed"? It's not exactly a deal-breaker, but I'm just wondering what in the world it means.
The TBC1000 was a useful device with the camera for pass thru, and many people back then actually thought that digitizing VHS video would improve the video quality from what it was on the VHS tape, sadly this was not the case, but it certainly did do a much better job than using some of those cheap Dongle converters that were around back in those days, which never even have built in TBC, and TBC is definately something that you should have for this type of work.
The Canopus ADVC300 was bought and used after i sold my DV cams and moved to HD Video with a TM700, it was a single decice that connected to the VHR recorder and the computer, and it did a great job, and it saved me having to use a camera and TBC, and a whole lot of cables that just made it a nightmare.
The first thing you need to know about camcorders is that there are three main types available. The thing that distinguishes one camcorder from another is the way they save the videos you record.
The first type, and currently the most popular is miniDV. These camcorders record videos by storing data onto a small cassette. The advantages of miniDV camcorders are that you can record your videos in an uncompressed format, therefore giving you higher quality videos (because video quality goes down as it is compressed). Also, you can usually find blank miniDV cassettes with ease at local stores when you away from home and need more space to save those precious memories.
The second type is the DVD camcorder. These camcorders record videos by storing data onto mini DVDs. One of the main advantages of DVD camcorders is the fact that you can take the mini DVD disc out and play it on almost any DVD player. Also, just like the miniDV cassettes, the small DVDs that these camcorders record on are becoming widely available so you won't have to worry about not having enough memory while you are way from home.
And last but not least, there are the HDD (Hard Drive) camcorders. These cams record directly onto an internal hard drive, giving you a lot more storage space than a miniDV cassette or DVD disc would. Typically, these types of camcorders have a memory slot available in addition to the hard drive, allowing you to buy a memory card if you were run out of storage space. Remember that the data on the camcorder's hard drive can be transferred over to your computer and deleted off of the camcorder if you need to free up memory.
If this is helpful for you?
Thank you both - that's certainly food for thought.
@Frankli0015: I'm definitely going for MiniDV, and am looking for specific recommendations.
@derflapinn: I also sometimes go to tape, so this is a good insight. Now to try to find someone selling either of those TBCs at a sensible price!