Hard Drive Camcorders and Durability?

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by Justin, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. Justin

    Justin Guest

    My question is how durable are HDD camcorders these days? I have a
    Canon HFM300 as my main camcorder and a Panasonic HDC-SD10K as my
    "action cam" - the one I take when I think I'm going to be roughhousing
    or generally screwing around. I got it off eBay for a really good
    price. Both are SD cards and AVCHD. I have a friend from college who
    has int he ten years since college become a journalist. He worked for a
    few of the big names and now free lances.
    In my 10+ years of information tech experience, I wouldn't want to rely
    on big moving part to store data actively. I was taught to keep my
    laptops still when they were on and the hard drive is spinning. Before
    I move across the room with my Macbook, I close the lid, let it power
    down and them move my sorry ass. How can the HDs in a camcorder be any
    different? The only problem is, when you're recording you're moving
    around, and in his case he may have to move his journalistic ass quickly
    to get out of harms way.
    My suggestion is to get something like my HDC-SD10K, get a UV filter for
    lens protection, and carry a bunch of 32GB SDHC cards in his pocket.

    FWIW, I'm in the US, in case that matters as to what kind of products
    are available.

    Am I correct in assuming that a hard drive based cam will crap out if
    its hit or jerked around while recording/accessing data?
    Justin, Aug 2, 2011
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  2. Justin

    Peter Guest

    My experience of hard disks, from personal use, and from work where
    most PCs are running 24/7, is that if you run them 24/7 they run for
    many years. I have never had one fail outright *during* operation,
    though they sometimes start to get noisy, and then you do a rapid
    backup and swap it :)

    I have had many HD failures though, which always occurred at switch-on
    (or switch-off; you obviously can't tell ;)). Hard drives run fairly
    warm and thermal *cycling* is the #1 enemy of electronics (I am an
    electronics design engineer, since the 1970s).

    A number of HDs have failed in laptops.

    So I would not expect a HD cam to last too many years.

    You are better off with a flash memory cam. It won't have the large
    capacity but you cannot leave data on either type of cam indefinitely
    anyway, so you still need a process for getting it iff and archiving
    it appropriately. Only the DV tape cams (which almost nobody makaes
    anymore; I have just sold my HC1E on Ebay for $525 and it went in 15
    minutes) produce content which is already "archived"; the tapes last a
    few decades.

    I have just bought a Canon Legria G10 - a superb camcorder with great
    image quality, lots of manual controls, etc.

    Amusingly, however, I have fitted a 128GB high-spec ($600) SATA flash
    drive to my work PC and it lasted exactly 12 months, before apparently
    wearing out in one spot (the windoze registry file). That's a pretty
    poor record and a HD would never do that. I am replacing it with a
    250GB one (same price) because the performance of these is so great
    compared to HDs, but it is not a great example of a technology
    advance. A flash memory cam should be OK because you are not recording
    to the same spot all the time, whereas windoze is constantly hammering
    the registry file(s) on the active boot volume.
    Peter, Aug 3, 2011
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  3. Justin

    Mxsmanic Guest

    I believe the drives are memory buffered so that data will not necessarily be
    lost in the event of minor shocks. For major shocks, I think there is a
    mechanism to protect from head crashes that may stop recording or playback.

    I have the same misgivings about hard drives, but then again, for a while
    there were tiny minidrives in use before solid-state flash took over, and I
    heard they were pretty sturdy.

    In any case, a hard drive is probably no worse than a spinning helical tape
    Mxsmanic, Aug 5, 2011
  4. Justin

    Steve King Guest

    A few years ago I needed some shots in a client's research lab. I hired a
    local crew to shoot some 720P scenes. They were using a FireStore hard
    drive. All went well until we had to capture a test run of a huge burner,
    the type that would go into a steel making blast furnace. I had brought a
    couple of microphones that I knew would handle the 120 db plus sound levels.
    With in-ear foamy thingys and over ear sound muffs we were ready. After
    about a 60 second test run of the burner, we checked the recording. Nothing
    there! Garbage! Random pixels. Turns out the low freqency sound of the
    burner was vibrating the FireStore such that the head was just bouncing
    around. We were shooting with a Panasonic HVX200A. I said, let's shoot to a
    P2 card. They said, "We don't carry P2 cards anymore." The HVX200 also
    shoots standard definition on tape. I said, "Let's go to tape." They said,
    "We don't carry tape anymore." We didn't get the shot.

    Steve King
    Steve King, Aug 5, 2011
  5. Justin

    Mark F Guest

    The problem with spinning drives is the heads can crash destroying all
    of the data.

    The major problem with SSD is that a minor error in the metadata can
    cause all of the data to effectively be lost. The solution to this
    is to change the recorded format so that every "cluster" (may not be
    file system cluster) has control information so that it is easy to put
    everything in order. SSD wins for vibration tolerance and high
    speed archiving.

    A minor problem with a tape causes a minor amount of data to be
    lost. Another problem is that copying can only be done real time
    or a small number of times faster.

    Tapes probably in practice retain data longer than disks that need
    to spin, since if they are not used for 10 years disks probably
    are not useable, but tapes are likely to last 20-40 years without
    being used.

    I think that solid state stuff that hasn't rewritten much
    will retain memory for 10-20 years, but 20-40 years.

    .. I think tapes are still the best, but solid state would win
    if the recorded data format were changed to include sequence
    Mark F, Aug 5, 2011
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