HDD Or MiniDV?

With the season being just around the corner, I’d really like to get something to film with. The question is: should I go with a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) camcorder, or stick with MiniDV? Just in case anyone doesn’t know, with a HDD camcorder the data is written straight to a disk, so there are no “tapes” involved. MiniDV tapes are those small tapes that the vast majority of digital camcorders use.

I found this quick comparison on a forum:

In terms of pros and cons of HDD camcorder vs. miniDV (tape):
  • Pro: Can shoot for hours without need to change tape.
  • Pro: Copying files to PC is faster than with tape
  • Pro: Can do basic editing on the camcorder itself.
  • Con: Quality for your pound is not quite as good as DV.
  • Con: If you are on a trip and fill the HDD, you have to offload it somehow. With tape you can always buy more tapes.
  • Con: What do you archive your footage to? (Tape provides you with an archive).

To me, the convinience of not needing tapes is a big plus point. You don’t have to worry about running out of film when you’re on the hill. If you take some footage that you don’t like I assuming that it is quite easy to delete it straight from the camcorder. This will save time later at the pc when you’re sifting through your video. Quite a few people these days have laptops, so if there’s one in your group you can off load data to it while you’re away. The setup just seems more simple.

What about the quality? Well normally with these types of things I prefer to go for what ever gives the best image quality/sound quality. But looking at it realistically, most of the video that I take is ending up on the web, here on this site. I’m pretty sure that compressing video for the web imposes a much bigger restriction on the image quality than the move from miniDV to HDD. So I’m not sure this is an issue for me.

Will it skip? That’s the big question for me. Will writing to the camera’s hard drive be effected if you’re filming while moving around – if you’re filming while snowboarding? That would be a problem…

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