Digital video cameras

My JVC digital video camera record on mini DV tapes. Why tape? It seems so analog. Why not something solid state? A mini CD-RW or an IBM mini disk?

That little tape stores about 10GB, IIRC. That’s the same capacity of a double-sided DVD-RAM disk. CD-R is only 0.7 GB. There are some video cameras like this that use 8cm DVD-RAM disks, but those only hold about 2.8 GB. You sacrifice recording time and/or quality for convenience. (Nobody will deny that disks are more convenient than tapes)

Tapes are pretty amazing things. A little cartridge can hold many square feet of surface area. Even with a simple, low-density data recording mechanism you can record a lot of data. And magnetic read/write heads are much simpler and cheaper than optical devices. Tapes are still used for data backups.

Also on a camera (as with backups,) random-access capability is not very important. It’s not like a computer hard disk where you want to be able to access any piece of data instantly. You just record data sequentially. It makes more sense to use a simple tape to record the data, then when you get back, dump it onto a DVD disk or hard drive.

But, yet, it’s digital. It’s a huge string of 1’s and 0’s. It’s as digital as you can get. It’s as digital as CD’s and/or solid-state memory. What’s the problem?

For DV, it’s about 13gb/hour for NTSC, 15.5gb/hour for PAL.

There have been cameras that record to internal hard drives for quite a while now, but they’re generally extremely expensive and targeted towards professionals shooting HD format, not NTSC or PAL DV.

Tape is cheap. A 20gb exchangable data unit in your camera would be very expensive (ok, at least it’d be much more expensive than tape, which is dirt cheap ) How many expensive exchangable hard drive packs ($100? More?) do you want to buy, vs. a $15 mini-DV tape?. Do you really want to pay $500(?) more for a ‘less analog’ camera that provides no increase in capability?

At NAB 2001 there was a vendor who’d presented an external hard disk pack that would hook up to any DV camera and you would do a shoot while recording to the pack instead of to tape. Afterwards you’d plug the pack into your PC and it would appear as a hard disk loaded with .mov or .avi files. I’m darned if I can find vendor now, though – this may have been a scheme that didn’t flesh out.

There is a dvd (or was it cd?) recordable digital video camera, I think, which records on dvds &
if you want such a beast you have to pay
the price, $1500+

Therefore, those cassettes make things quite a bit cheaper.but you do need to change them often.