Digicam Video Quality vs. Camcorders, Camcorder Image Quality vs Digicams

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Richard Lee, Aug 22, 2004.

  1. Richard Lee

    Richard Lee Guest

    Recent high end digital cameras are capable of 640x480 @30fps which is
    pretty amazing since those parameters are equivalent to camcorders.

    Has anyone compared the video quality from a digicam (640, 30fps) vs
    camcorder under various environments? How about the audio?

    Many newer camcorders are capable of taking >1Mpixels stills.

    Granted these camcorders don't have the resolution for stills as real
    digital cameras but if one limits the still shots to 2-3 Mpix which is
    the limit these days, how do the shots compare to a digicam under
    various environments?

    All digital, tapeless (ie. uses memory card) convergent devices such
    as the Fisher C1 and a couple of Panasonics that shoot MPEG4 video
    with sound and take stills produces inferrior quality images according
    to reviews and costs are about the same as either the above. In other
    words, it is (for the time being) the worst of all worlds. Thus it
    would seem to make sense getting either a digital camera with video
    capability or camcorder with ability to take stills.
    Richard Lee, Aug 22, 2004
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  2. Since I have some recent experience with the items you mention, I'll

    A. My Canon S1 IS is one of those digital still cameras with a high-grade
    video mode (640x480, 30FPS, progressive scan). While the video quality is
    stunning, it's not a practical replacement for a decent digital camcorder.
    The first weakness is the sound. It's a single channel of only moderate
    quality. The second weakness is that only a little over four minutes fills a
    512MB CF card. While this does not make this kind of video recording
    useless, it's not the most practical.

    B. I recently sold my Panasonic PV-GS200 DV camcorder, and have a PV-GS400
    on order. The PV-GS200 takes 2.3MP stills, and the PV-GS400 takes 4.1MP
    stills. Since I only have used the PV-GS200, I'll talk about that. The
    stills were not great. Their quality was inferior to my Canon S1 IS. Yes,
    the Canon is a 3.2MP camera. What I am talking about was the quality of the
    color and the general clarity of the images. In general, I felt the images
    were inferior to the Canon S100 (2.1MP) I used to have too. And this is from
    a camcorder that costs about $800. The video quality from the PV-GS200 is a
    different story - top notch.

    C. I have owned a Panasonic SV-AV10 and SV-AV30 tapeless multi-cams that
    shot stills and MPEG4 video. I currently have a Panasonic SV-AV100, which is
    unique as it has a real 10X optical zoom lens with an image stabilizer. It
    shots MPEG4, VGA grade stills and DVD grade MPEG2 with DVD grade stereo
    sound. The stills and MPEG4 video are pretty much what you talk about,
    however, the DVD grade MPEG2 video is quite good. And it is the same quality
    as standard DVD. In fact, I can author a DVD from the MPEG2 files directly
    from the camera with virtually no change in quality.

    Even when my PV-GS400 shows up, I'll not be turning in my digital still
    cameras. In spite of the good reviews for the PV-GS400 stills, I'm sure they
    won't outdo my Canon S1 IS, or my Canon S400, or my good old Olympus E-10.
    They all have their place and purpose due to their size, weight, lens
    quality and ease of use.

    David Sommers, Aug 22, 2004
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  3. Richard Lee

    Matt Ion Guest

    Standard DV (DVCPro/DVCam) is a 50Mbit/s stream (yes, 50 megabits PER
    SECOND); consumer-level MiniDV is half that. Actual storage space required
    will vary depending on how compressable the stream is (DV *is* a compressed
    format) but expect anywhere from 30GB to 60GB for an hour of MiniDV video.

    Wrong - these editors (MOST editors, in fact) will use any compatible codec
    you install - from uncompressed AVI to DivX to MPEG-4 to Quicktime. FCP was
    the first to handle DV *natively*.
    Matt Ion, Aug 22, 2004
  4. Richard Lee

    Matt Ion Guest

    I haven't actually studied the technology, so I can't comment
    authoritatively, but my educated guess would be that both cameras are using
    a lot of interpolation to arrive at anything above about 337.5kpixels, since
    that's the maximum resolution required for DV video (720x480). Even if
    they're doubling the sensor resolution for quality, that's still only 1.3MP.
    There's not much point to going any higher in in a video camera EXCEPT to
    give it betters stills ability.
    Matt Ion, Aug 22, 2004
  5. Richard Lee

    Matt Ion Guest

    Hmm, NOW you tell me. After all those projects I've done in Premiere, FCP
    and Vegas, combining VCD (MPEG-1), AVI of various formats including DivX,
    DV, DVD clips (MPEG-2), and assorted stills... now you're saying what I did
    is next to impossible?
    Matt Ion, Aug 22, 2004
  6. Those numbers don't work out. 25 Mbit/s x 3600 s/hr is 90 Gb/hour, or
    11.25 Gbyte/hr. If you're getting 30-60 GB on disk, then you're not
    storing the raw mini-DV data, but something less compressed.
    That may make sense for editing (you want to be able to play back in
    real time, possibly using a software codec) but doesn't represent what
    the tape drive in the camera has to deal with.

    Dave Martindale, Aug 22, 2004
  7. Richard Lee

    Matt Ion Guest

    True, I'm only going by how much space it took me to dump off a 60-minute
    MiniDV tape... it filled a 30GB drive and took a little bit more to get the
    whole tape off.
    Matt Ion, Aug 22, 2004
  8. Richard Lee

    Richard Lee Guest

    The Canon S1 IS seems to be what I'm looking for (image stabillized,
    very high quality stills and movies, zoom while shooting video, etc.
    even a remote!) . Except it's got one fault: its movie length is
    limited to 1 GB or 60 minutes, I assume whichever comes frist. The S1
    + 4 GB Microdrive (the current highest capacity) would be great if
    recording is limited only by the memory capacity.

    How much MPEG2 recording time are you getting in practice on an SD
    card with that Panasonic SV-AV100? According to your description,
    this product has its merits as an MPEG2 camcorder but hightest SD
    capacity is 1GB. Nice thing about this one is that it has IS and

    Undoudtedly the S1 produces better stills. But in your opinion, which
    one is a better looking/sounding movie, the AVI produced by the S1 or
    the MPEG2 by the AV100 at the same resolutoin and frame rate? Uh, is
    that MPEG2 fixed only at 640x480 @30fps?

    I checked into that Panasonic PV-GS400. It's large form factor is not
    appealing. Plus, I like the already-computer ready file types of
    movies from the other two.
    Richard Lee, Aug 22, 2004
  9. Richard Lee

    Richard Lee Guest

    Better features than competing Sony digicams that have VGA movies +
    sound @30fps. All the Sonys except the DSC-F828 are limiited to using
    the waaay expensive Memrory Stick Pro.
    Richard Lee, Aug 22, 2004
  10. When you say "dump off", do you mean load the tape into an editor? It's
    possible the editor is converting the video to a less-compressed format
    that's easier to decode and display in real time.

    Dave Martindale, Aug 22, 2004
  11. I do have a 1GB SD card for my SV-AV100. And it is of the highest speed
    available to be able to record MPEG2 video. I get 22 minutes of DVD grade
    MPEG2 video on that 1GB SD card. Overall, I think the picture and sound from
    the SV-AV100 is better than what my S1 IS produces. In part it's because I
    only have standard, albeit good quality, TV sets in my house. They are
    interlaced video, as are all standard American TV sets. Therefore, the
    progressive scan video from the S1 IS is wasted. If I had an HDTV set with
    480p, I might think differently. And the sound from the S1 IS is pretty lame
    compared to the SV-AV100 under any circumstance. The Panasonic PV-GS400 is a
    good-sized camera; way bigger than any of the others you've talked about.

    And just like 1GB SD cards that are fast have only been around for a short
    time, I expect by next year to see 4GB SD cards that are fast enough for
    high-grade MPEG2.


    David Sommers, Aug 23, 2004
  12. Richard Lee

    Richard Lee Guest

    Apparently the battery life on the AV100 is about 30 minutes so that
    22 min is just about the limit anyways.
    Well, unless the battery in the "AV200" (or whatever will be the
    successor) matches the recording time capacity, those 4GB cards won't
    do much good. If you are getting 22 min with 1 GB, then 4GB should
    hold 88 minutes or about 1½ hours.

    Richard Lee, Aug 23, 2004
  13. Yes, the battery life on the SV-AV100 is about 34 minutes. It's easy enough
    to carry an extra battery, if I need to.

    I will expect the "SV-AV200" to have a battery life necessary to handle at
    least a 2GB SD card. When you think about it, could you have guessed five
    years ago that an SV-AV100 would exist, 34 minute battery life and all? I
    trust that Panasonic engineers will come through for us consumers.

    David Sommers, Aug 23, 2004
  14. It's getting better - I just picked up a Sandisk 256MB MSP for $39.99 after
    rebate at Fry's...

    Bill Sheppard, Aug 23, 2004
  15. Richard Lee

    Big Bill Guest

    Figure it out...
    One hour from a digital video camera is over 13 GB; how many GB is
    that same hour from a still camera?
    That extra file size is quality.

    Bill Funk
    Change "g" to "a"
    Big Bill, Aug 23, 2004
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