The DV format is completely digital, and because of this fact the picture quality is improved for a number of reasons.
The recording on the tape, is our subject for a moment, how that signal is recorded.
Analog - or old time video signals - are a very complicated mix of - black and white, color, and audio. The video is not one signal but many cycling signals, (think sine-waves) and is delicate when compared to the digital signal, (think dots and dashes, or series of numbers) The old time video signal is prone to interference from every electrical source and wire around you, including the Sun. The Digital tape will also be subject to the same sources but far less so.
The analog tapes (VHS -etc-) do not lose information on the tapes over time, they add information. This is the reason the picture quality degrades over time. As more and more electromagnetic signals pass through the tape, the video on that tape is buried and the new signals begin to show on your television screen (as snow or other bad signals)>
The new DIGITAL (DV - DVC - DV-PRO) videotapes, are completely different, the tape is recorded digitally. This means you have a long series of off-on signals, these off on signals are numbers, and these numbers are the picture, the audio, and much more information. This exact numbering system of the computer does not change or leave room for miss-interpretation or confusion as does the analog signal.
I realize this is a simplistic way to explain the difference, but is a true generalization of the way the ANALOG AND DIGITAL signals work.
We see that we have a more reliable tape with digital, one that will be read the same every time. With this type of reading, the tape can describe-tell more than the analog, this results in the ability to provide the information for five times more color information, also it will have timecode, time of day, and tape time used and remaining.
Ok you're sold on DV, now which camera is the best. HARD TO ANSWER THAT ONE, but here is what makes a good camera.
One. The size of the CCD (charge coupled device)- the chip the camera has which reads the picture. The larger the CCD the better the picture. The common camcorders have 1/3-inch chips. These are really small. The better Camcorders have 1/2-inch CDD chips, and the best have 2/3-inch chips.
Two. The internal computer of the camcorder, no they are not all the same, unfortunately there is no way to test them. However the features which are offered in terms of - exposure - shutter speed - white balance - digital effects (controls) indicate the complexity and ability of the camcorder. You must have hands-on testing - view the menus and check all the controls on the camera you are considering. The greater the number of controls the better the computer.
You should actually record some footage - on one tape - on different cameras - and view the resulting picture. View that picture on a common home television not the expensive monitors the sellers have available. The expensive monitors will show everything as great - the cheap home televisions will show what you and your friends will see at home.
three. The LENS, the lens of the camera is ultimately the most important factor for all camcorders. The CANON, JVC, SONY, cameras that offer interchangeable glass lens are the best. The rest of them with the cheaper plastic lens will fall behind in resolution and clarity of the picture.
A glass lens, will allow more light into the camera, and because it is a quality, individually made item, and focus' the light better. The Glass lens will be larger than the plastic one, again allowing more light into the camera.
Those are the primary differences; the actual construction of the camera itself is a thought you should keep in mind. The door can measure the strength of the case and its construction, to the tape compartment. If this door is strong, and fits well, you have a good indication of the rest of the case. This is a measure of the over all construction. A well constructed case, is an indication of the quality of the camera.
With the new DV format cameras, the worst camera is still great. Your work will be "Broadcast" quality for the network television stations, and the DV format is good enough to copy to film for the movie theatre. "The Blair Witch" movie is an example of a movie made from the mini-DV tapes.
If you will pay attention to the lighting and the audio, your inexpensive $600 mini-DV camera will produce as good a picture as the most expensive $30,000 camera. Just an aside here, but the television broadcasting companies just have not got the idea yet, and still insist on the huge model's, where they could use smaller units. The big cameras do have better control and lens yet under most conditions the point is moot. The long distance photography and adverse conditions do require the best.
GOOD NEWS - the $5000 DV cameras, (JVC and Sony) are equal to the $30,000 cameras the professionals use. Does $5000 sound like a lot of money, it is and it isn't, for the non-profit, church, business, or school this should not be a major thing. The need for this level of camera should be considered, with the idea in mind that, you could buy three excellent inexpensive cameras for the same price.
The video cameras are also excellent still cameras. I am actually amused by the fact the companies have a photo function, or that they add a special chip or card to take photos.
Why? Every frame of the digital video is a photograph, when the tape is paused on a single frame. The in-camera photo functions simply write that one frame over and over for approximately 4 seconds. You can print these on your color printer and will find it very useful to have the ability to freeze a frame for a photo, or a still video picture when editing.
The video still 'single frame' pictures are of high enough quality to use on web pages, news-paper photographs, flyers, and other print mediums. This gives you a wide range of choices, as there are 30 pictures every second on the tape. You will learn a lot about your ability to shoot video when you begin to use stills. If you have learned to use the camera correctly you will have many choices. When you freeze a frame, you will be able to analyze the framing and the lighting qualities; here is where you will see how good your eye was.
I have spoken of the technique of, using a tripod, and, framing a good picture in which you have your action. In the long run you will have your best success if you treat your video in this manner. The page on camera operation discusses this and other techniques. But this one type of shot will serve you better than any other.
These pictures are not as good as the mega-pixel digital photo cameras, and you should not consider them for high quality photo work.
THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT - make sure you are putting the tape in correctly - if you accidentally put the tape in backward, or upside down, and try to close the door - you will probably ruin your camera. Every Digital Camera is vulnerable to stupidity.
When you are loading the camera - never get in a hurry - put the tape in carefully - gently close the mechanism - let it cycle and load and then close the door. Never ever rush, you may miss a shot - but sorry.
If you have a Digital camera, and you see one edge of the screen with strange things happening, you have a tracking problem. Hopefully you have the warranty and can send the camera back for repair. In all probability they will simply remove the tape transport assembly - heads and all - and give you new ones. The heads on the DV cameras are tiny, and the tape is small, this means they are delicate. So take care to be gentle when loading and unloading the camera.
BUY A GOOD TAPE ERASER IF YOU PLAN ON TAPING OVER - RE-USING DV TAPES. A curious thing happens sometimes when you reuse a tape. The new picture will have 'BARS' of two different pictures - the new one and the old one. I think this is a tracking problem with the recorders, and the old signal is not being erased, and the new signal is recorded just slightly to the side of the old one.
Make sure there is a - ieee1394 - Firewire - socket on the camera. If you don't have one you will have to have a special docking station to feed the video to the computer, or another camera.
Buy at least 3 batteries and have them charged at all time. You will find if you are out shooting all day, one battery will not last the day.
Some cameras come with universal DC voltage in connections. Those that do will allow you to use a motorcycle battery, and adapter. This will allow you to shoot for long hours with no worry of running out of power.
A diaper bag makes one of the best camera bags. They are waterproof, have a lot of pockets, and are large enough to hold all your gear.
Always carry your power supply, an extension cord with you and a two-prong adapter for your cord. You should include Duct Tape or Gaffers Tape to tape the cords to the wall, and floor for the protection of the public and so you will not loose power because someone knocked the plug out of the wall.
Large Plastic Garbage bags, have at least two with you, one for your equipment and one for you to use as a rain coat.
A few smaller bags to cover the camera and hold other equipment are also a good idea. You cannot always stop shooting just because it is raining. So you will have to improvise on the spot. Thin saran wrap is clear enough to cover the lens, and the heavier bags can be taped to protect the camera. 'More uses for the duct tape.'
If you use extra on-camera lights - use one that has its own battery - these lights will drain your camera battery faster than anything will.
Refer to the sports page for the contents of the home-videographers camera bag. I have listed a good comprehensive list of equipment there.
You can use inexpensive mikes, mixers, lights and other additional equipment to start, and as the need happens you can buy better and more expensive equipment.
The CAT has VHS, SVHS, AND DV CAMERAS AVAILABLE FOR CHECK OUT. The cameras in the Mini-DV format are the Sony VX-1000 and the Canon Ultura. Of these two cameras the Sony is the best.
Sony VX-1000 - is a three-chip camera, and has a marginally better set of controls and effects available to the user. There is also an audio input box attached to the camera - this give you two microphone inputs to the camera- this allows you to use the XLR cables and better microphones and control the levels. The camera is an older unit - approximately 4 years. It was handed down from the government channel when they upgraded to the Sony DV-PRO camera.
On the back of the camera are a number of buttons which give you shutter speed, white balance and digital effects menus for you to use in controlling the camera.
SONY VX 700
I have used the VX 700 for 6 years, this camera has been a real workhorse, reliable and has good features. This is the first of Sonys consumer DV camcorders. I really can say it has been the best consumer camera I have used. I think that Sony missed the point when they shifted to the VX-1000.
The VX-700 is a one chip camera and the VX-1000 a three chip camera.
The VX-700 has a dissolve DVE - that freeze's the last frame and transitions with a dissolve to the new moving video. I have found this is the most useful incamera effect, The wipes and dissolves to and from black while cute seldom find any applications in the field. I have used the dissolve well in a number of field incamera editing situations. One of my favorites, was the Documentation of the 'Washington County Historical Society, High Tea . This event brought together a large collection of fine silver services and table settings from all over our community. I used the dissolve between shots, ant the shots were all planned short pans or zooms. The concept of going (camera movement) from one good picture to another and dissolving to the next one. Not all cameras have this Dissolve freature, check and see if the camera you are purchasing has this feature, you will really use it.
The Canon Ultura - is a consumer level DV camera. This camera costs approximately $600 dollars at the store. I have one of these cameras and use it to do - THE CATS EYE ON SPORTS - the camera is overall a good one for this purpose.
ANALYSIS OF THE ULTURA
THIS CAMERA IS NO LONGER MADE
1. AUDIO this camera audio input really doesn't work well. You may have hum and feedback when using, hardwire, wireless, radios, or phone interfaces.
2. The picture is not as good as the Sony VX-700 camera, which i previously used, and wore out. I produced over 600 two-hour programs with the VX-700.
The Canon does not have many transitions and those default to black and transition to your picture. There are some interesting art, sepia and b/w, DVE's
The shutter speed control - is excellent - giving you a series of steps from 1/25 to 1/5000 of a second.
The auto focus is not fast and does not focus until you end your zoom. When you are shooting use the manual focus feature, when possible. For sports you will remain in focus through the game, because - being high and far away from the field - your focus on the distant objects will allow the camera to stay in focus when you zoom to the near sideline.
The Auto white balance - seems to work well, the over all color for this camera seems to tend toward the red, which means the field will look more brown than green. The skin color does come out well.
The color saturation comparison between the two cameras - Sony and cannon - the Sony will give you the most accurate color, and the cannon will tend to be over saturated and be in the red side of the spectrum. Over all either camera is good, but if you are shooting a projects stick to one camera for all of the shots or the color will shift on you.
I have made some very good videos with this camera.
SONY VX-1000, This is a 3 chip camera. With a 3-chip camera the light entering the camera enters a prism which splits the light into 3 different paths, that light strikes each of the chips and is read by the camera as red, blue, or green. These colors are blended and converted to become the colors we view as red, blue, and yellow on the television screen.
The fact the light is divided and read by three different chips give you a better color resolution, that combined with the fact that the DV cameras have 5 times the color bandwidth of regular analogue format, makes this the best color cameras ever to exist. The drawback is this camera does not have the low light capability of a one-chip camera.
This Sony camera has its own set of DVE and they are different from the VX-700. Over all this is a wonderful camera, but old; the Government channel has heavily used the camera for the past 5 years. It performs with a reasonable reliability.
VIDEONICS has my vote for professionally performing editing equipment, at reasonable prices. They are constantly re-inventing themselfs and improving their products. I own the MX-1 video mixer, Edit Suite, and Titlemaker 2000, and this equipment has performed flawlessly for 5 years. Although I have not used the new additions, I do, without hesitation, encourage you to consider their equipment. They are really forerunners in the field, and I am sure their new DV products will serve your needs well. Your being able to connect the DV camera directly to the switcher will allow you excellent real time editing. This switcher can be connected to your computer and on-line computer editing becomes possible. You should expect Videonics to produce a new DV titlers soon as well.