Question about getting a Basic Mini-DV Deck.

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by Shadowhawk, Sep 2, 2004.

  1. Shadowhawk

    Shadowhawk Guest

    I'm looking for a DV Deck, but I don't need all the editing features, I just
    need something that will play Mini DV tape into my computer, instead of having
    to use my camera.

    I've been looking at the JVC SR-VS30U ($800), and the JVC HR-DVS3 ($700), and
    while they seem pretty basic, it seems like i should be able to find something
    a little cheaper without the S-VHS deck built in.

    Any suggestions? Thanks!


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    Shadowhawk, Sep 2, 2004
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  2. Shadowhawk

    Mike Kujbida Guest

    Buy another camcorder (bottom of the line no-frills model) and use it only
    for this purpose. It'll be a lot cheaper than buying a dedicated deck.

    Mike Kujbida, Sep 2, 2004
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  3. Shadowhawk

    Ryan Boni Guest

    I'd pretty much agree with Mike, get another camcorder. Panasonic used to
    make an okay mini-DV deck, the AG-DV1000 that sold for about $1000, and its
    bigger brother the AG-DV2000 (which is a great deck because it seems to be
    liked by just about every software package/capture card combination out
    there--the same can't be said for a lot of decks and camcorders). But, of
    course, Panasonic likes to get rid of decent niche equipment models at the
    drop of a hat, to be replaced with bland, middle of the road replacements.
    The only relatively inexpensive choices outside of the dual decks are the
    Panasonic AG-DVC2500 & the JVC BR-DV3000U decks (which are actually the
    exact same deck with different names on them), but they're selling for about
    $1500 a piece.


    Ryan Boni
    Public Access Director
    Peters Township Community Television
    McMurray, PA
    Ryan Boni, Sep 7, 2004
  4. Shadowhawk

    Jim Gunn Guest

    If you want a really inexpensive mini-DV deck (say under $1000) , your
    only real option is a mini-DV camcorder, which also could double as a
    backup camera. Otherwise, for more money (around $1700) you can get
    something with more feaures, like the Sony DSR-11 which can acquire
    from DVCAM and master to DVCAM tapes for full length programs (longer
    than 63 minutes).
    Jim Gunn, Sep 8, 2004
  5. The JVC HR-DVS3 is as cheap a DV VCR as you can get. I've had one
    for 4 months, and it has performed solidly in all functions. I've seen
    no glitches in its recordings and it plays back my camcorder tapes from
    a Sony, just fine, even on LP.
    The S-VHS deck is a bonus. If you want to make a distribution copy
    of your DV footage on VHS or S-VHS, it transfers internally. For
    desktop use, it's better than having to fiddle with power and A/V
    connections with a camcorder everytime you use it and probably is a lot
    more durable. The remote controler is more sophisticated and effective
    than anything you'd get with a camcorder. It has two S-Video outputs
    and two inputs.

    It doesn't display timecode frame numbers (just hours, minutes and
    seconds) on the front panel or onscreen through an analog output, but it
    does preserve frame numbers, embedded in a FireWire output, that can be
    called up by another DV VCR or computer, that has the ability to put
    them on display.

    Steve McDonald
    Steve McDonald, Sep 9, 2004
  6. Shadowhawk

    Shadowhawk Guest

    I've been borrowing a Sony DSR-11, and I love it, but don't have the $1,700 to
    buy one of my own right now. I've read some things about the Sony DVWalkmans
    being a good alternative.

    B&H PhotoVideo has been of little help. I spoken with 3 salesmen, and have
    gotten 3 different answers. One says "go with a cheap mini dv cam." Another
    says "go with one of the cheaper JVC decks", and the person who said he was
    head of the audio/video dept. said, "sony is the only brand to go with, the
    others wont work as well with firewire. The DSR-11 is the only choice".

    Why doesn' someone just make a $500 Mini DV player? It just seems like a no


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    Shadowhawk, Sep 26, 2004
  7. Shadowhawk

    Ed Anson Guest

    That seems to be the conventional wisdom, and it's what I'm doing right
    now. But I have a concern:

    Although this approach will do a fine job of reading and writing DV
    tapes, what about the quality of its analog output? I have my doubts
    about the quality of the video and sound output from mine, but don't
    have anything to compare it with. This bothers me, because I base color
    and sound decisions on that output. OTOH I'm reluctant to pay the price
    for a good deck, especially since I don't have the data to know whether
    it is any better.
    Ed Anson, Sep 26, 2004
  8. Shadowhawk

    gothika Guest

    They couldn't get much for just a player, most wouldn't want it if you
    couldn't burn back to it after editing.
    If they put an inexpensive standalone portable recorder on the market
    many in the "budget" end of the market wouldn't be forced to purchase
    dv camcorders. You could simply pick up a used 3chip eng/field camera
    and cable it to the inexpensive recorder thereby achieving broadcast
    quality digital for a fraction of the cost.( I had the oportunity to
    piick up a DXC 3000 the other day for just 200 buck US and it was in
    near new condition.)
    You pick up a deal like that and marry it to a small inexpensive dv
    recorder(500 buck or so) and you wouldn't be shelling out the
    2,800-5,00 they want you to be spending on a camera.
    It's all about the profit.(and forcing the little guy to go broke
    trying to get started.)

    I have a setup using a 3chip camera and a s-vhs recorder that does
    respectable work, not digital but very close.
    A bear to lug compared to minidv but do have more control over my
    settings especially color.(I've used it in conjuction with my dv cams
    and the customer couldn't tell one form the other on the final dvd.)
    gothika, Sep 26, 2004
  9. They do exist. They are called: cheapest mini-dv cam you can buy ;-)
    Seriously, just buy the cheapest mini-dv cam you can find and use that
    as a deck. And, you can always use it as a crash-cam or for when you
    need to shoot in hostile environments. And if it's worn, it will be
    cheaper buying a new one (and no doubt the prices will have dropped
    again), than replacing the heads (and give the old one to your
    children, grandchildren, neighbour's children to play with). It's what
    it is coming to nowadays.
    It's like when I print, I only print letters, nothing fancy, but it
    has come to a stage where it's cheaper for me to buy a new printer,
    than buying inkt-cartridges. Funny world we live in.


    Martin Heffels, Sep 26, 2004
  10. Shadowhawk

    WMAS 1960 Guest

    This is going to be a fairly lengthy response. much not directly related but
    still usefull, I hope. So much that I thought of during my writing of this.

    Depending on the nature and volume of work you do, I might agree with getting
    another camcorder. That is what I recently did. I don't know that I would go
    bottom of the line though. Get something reasonable and durable but remember
    you don't need the camera and it's features as much as you need another
    recorder. Make sure that the camera you select does support recording from an
    outside source. Many camcorders don't do that and it will make your investment
    that much better.

    I do some professional work where I tape events for parents, students,
    schools..... I invested a great deal in some good video equipment for taping
    these events. Because of their expense and importance, I don't want to put too
    much time or wear on the cameras themselves. Between my brother and I we spent
    about $2000 for a Canon GL-1 and almost $4000 for an XL-1. That is a lot to
    put a ton of time on them editing and logging and capturing....

    To save the stress and wear my brother bought a SONY miniDV Walkman to log and
    capture his video into Final Cut Pro. It wasn't real long before the load on
    that machine took it's toll and it kind of wore out on us. I had just taken on
    a job taping sports for a local High School where I would make simple VHS dubs
    for coaches from my miniDV masters. I had been getting tired of plugging the
    camera into a S-VHS machine all the time to make the single VHS dubs that I
    would need. When the S-VHS machine I was using, which was already about 10
    years old, fried I decided to buy a JVC SR-VS30U dual deck. I think I paid
    about $1400 for that. It is fully compatable with our MAC computer and Final
    Cut Pro. That was great in that I could just take my miniDV tapes and put them
    in one side and do the dubs to the other. We could also capture our video
    through it and it was working great until It has started to act up a little
    after about 2.5 years. Between my brother and his Hockey tapes and my Video
    Yearbooks and other sports it got an enormous amount of use. I would guess
    more than 200 miniDV tapes have been logged and captured or copied through it.
    I am hoping it just needs a good cleaning. Sent an email to Tech Service at
    JVC about 3 weeks ago but never got a reply.

    The JVC still works OK but is prone to some glitches etc. that are not good for
    the more serious projects we do. As it became somewhat unreliable my brother
    then bought a SONY DV deck that will play mini and full size tapes. I am not
    familiar with the model but it is expensive. And it works great.

    Now we have have been able to isolate a few different set ups. They allow us
    more multi-tasking and efficiency. First is the SONY DV recorder on the MAC.
    Being the highest end machine and more professional quality it is more suitable
    to the demanding stresses of searching and logging and capturing.... Then
    there is my SR-VS30 that I still have hooked up to a dubbing rack through a
    distribution amp into 3 JVC 5901U S-VHS recorders and a JVC 9800U. That
    allows me to make 5 VHS/S-VHS dubbs simultaneously. I can now be dubbing
    copies while editing another project. Before if one of us was editing we
    couldn't dub or do anything until the deck was free.
    But, all that might be more than you need or can afford for your situation.
    Thus, a smaller camcorder could be really good to get you started so you can
    build a more comprehensive studio. Or, it can be a good compliment for other
    projects. Here is where my purchase of SONY Handicam comes in. For
    projected projects last spring and this fall it was discussed that some parents
    and the coaches that I tape for might prefer DVDs rather than VHS. Many of the
    coaching staffs are phasing out their VHS equipment and requesting DVD-R. Also
    more and more parents are demanding the DVDs as VHS is really dropping by the
    wayside. So, I went out and bought a Panasonic DMR-E100H, DVD recorder to be
    able to make some DVD-R dubs for those who demand them. Since I can't take
    the SONY or JVC machines off their systems and move them around easilly, I
    decided to also buy a SONY miniDV Handicam along with the DVD recorder. I
    don't recall the model but it was a middle of the road one. About $600 if I
    recall correctly. I also decided with an upcoming vacation I wouldn't want to
    take the larger Canon Camcorders with me. They would attract more attention
    and would be a real hassle at airports or wandering the streets in Las Vegas.
    The smaller palm sized camera seemed to make more sense. I bought it along
    with the DVD-Recorder with the thought that I could use it to simply Dub
    finished programs onto the DVD recorders 120 Gig Hard drive. No Searching,
    REW, FF etc. The camcorder seems plenty durable and reliable and capable to
    do simple work like that. I don't know for sure that I would want to do a lot
    of searching around on it though. But the beauty of it is that it isn't that
    expensive of a camera and can serve a lot of good use in conjunction with an
    overall set of production systems. Then, if I have to replace it, I can
    hopefully get plenty of usefull benefit out of it before hand.

    It frees up the more expensive equipment for the more demanding and rugged
    uses. It prevents having to use the cameras for high wear tasks. It is very
    practical for projects where larger equipment would be too obtrusive etc. And
    in decent lighting it gives a really nice picture. Also, the model I got has
    nightvision on it. I can shoot in total darkenss if necessary. It gives a
    grainy and greenish picture though. Sort of like Ollie North on assignment in
    Afghanistan or Iraq. It is also highly portable and can be used to back up
    many other areas. And it allows me to make dubs of one project on DVD while I
    can do another on VHS...

    Then there is another benefit that it provided last spring. I had agreed to
    videotape a friends wedding. We were going to do 2 cameras with the GL-1 and
    the XL-1. During a sports shoot a couple weeks before the recorder part of the
    XL-1 got messed up and was unusable. Video recorded on the camera seemed
    scrambled. We were in a bind as we werent charging our friend for the taping
    and couldn't rent other equipment. Also, there wasn't enough time to send the
    XL-1 out for service and have it back in time. So, I did a few tests to try
    and work around the problem. I worked it all out and come time for the
    wedding, I hooked the Handicam up to the XL-1 via Firewire and it pretty much
    worked fine. Problem was without a tape in the XL-1 the camera would auto
    shut off after 3 minutes. So, I put a tape in the XL-1 (knowing it would be
    bad) and put another in the Handicam. We put the XL-1 in a permenently mounted
    position on a tripod on the altar and used the GL-1 for more portable movable
    situations. I taped the entire wedding with the Handicam tethered by Firewire
    to the XL-1 and hanging on the tripod. The video from the Handicam was
    stunning. The Handicam was now proving to be one of the more practical
    investments that we made. I am thinking that for any sensitive or highly
    demanding project it might make sense to hook such a camera into your main
    camera for a backup tape. JUST IN CASE. After the Lacrosse game where the
    XL-1 originally messed up I am now really sensitive to not having a backup.
    Especially when it is something more critical. I had gotten home from the game
    and put the tapes in to dub them and found that they were garbage. I taped
    some Kindergarteners a few days earlier and everything came out fine. All of a
    sudden I get garbage. Only way to know anything was wrong was through tape
    playback. Now the possibility of it happening again scares the Cr** out of me.

    For the future, I am looking to this December when a device is supposed to be
    released that is a HD recorder. About the size of an IPOD it can be hooked up
    to a camera via firewire and can hold, I think it was, 6 hours of recording.
    The problem with using the miniDV camcorder for the backup, as I did with the
    wedding, is the cost of tapes. With a lot of my projects the money I make is
    limited and tight enough. To have to double your expenses with tapes that you
    may not need is hard to deal with and seems a waste. But for high value
    projects or stuff that is critically important it seems the thing to do. CYA
    if you know what I mean. With a HD the good thing is the fact that you don't
    use any consumable expensive tapes. Also logging and capturing is supposed to
    be more efficient and quicker since everything is already captured on a HD
    (hard drive). When I am done with a project and I have confirmed that the
    tapes are fine, I can archive the tapes and reuse the hard drive for the next
    project. If the tapes are bad, I can dub new ones from the HD and reuse it. At
    that rate I can afford to have a backup copy of everything I do.
    WMAS 1960, Sep 26, 2004
  11. Shadowhawk

    gothika Guest

    The point we're trying to make you're excellent advice aside is,
    wouldn't it be better if they took the money it cost to make the
    camera side of the mini dv camcorder and put it into the tape side
    thereby making an inexpensive fair to good quality mini dv deck?

    Many of us are offended by the hideous waste of this "Funny" world we
    live in. Doubly so when it's perpetrated in the name of profit or
    market control.
    gothika, Sep 29, 2004
  12. The JVC dual-deck HR-DVS3U, with DV and S-VHS VCR functions, has
    worked well for me. It faultlessly plays back all DV recordings made on
    other VCRs and camcorders, either in SP or LP mode. Anything I record
    on it will play back just fine on every other DV recorder I've tried. I
    always use Sony Excellence cassettes, however. It cost $700. and is the
    least expensive DV VCR. It doesn't display time-code frame numbers on
    its front panel or on an analog output, just hours, minutes and seconds.
    But, the time-code frame numbers are preserved in its recordings or
    embedded in its FireWire output.

    The S-VHS side of the HR-DVS3U is a bonus and it functions very
    well. It seems to be the equivalent of their most expensive S-VHS VCR.
    You can dub from one side to the other, internally. There's a pro
    version of it available for a few hundred dollars more, that has DVCAM
    playback capability, but it doesn't have the TV tuner and program timer
    included in the HR-DVS3U.

    I also have a Sony GV-D1000, a mini-DV VCR, also called a Video
    Walkman. It cost $1,000. and also does everything I need, including the
    playback of DVCAM recordings. It takes power from a plug-in AC adaptor
    or runs on camcorder batteries, for which it has a built-in charger. It
    has a USB port and a Memory-Stick slot and can capture J-PEG still
    pictures from its own tapes or from external sources.
    It will also generate M-PEG movies and store them on a Memory-Stick and
    send them out on USB or on an analog signal.

    I prefer to have these solid, stackable VCR units, that are
    connected to my editing system fulltime, rather than use extra
    camcorders that need constant plugging/unplugging and clutter up my
    video desk. It's worth a bit more money to me, to have them and I'm
    sure they will give me more service-life for VCR functions, than the
    grade of camcorders that would be cheaper.

    Steve McDonald
    Steve McDonald, Sep 29, 2004
  13. Shadowhawk

    WMAS 1960 Guest

    Personally, I don't really look at it as a total waste. I think it was in this
    thread that I pointed out how I use a SONY Handicam (TRV-22) in conjunction
    with my set up. As a " Basic Mini-DV Deck", it fulfills a lot of needs. The
    fact that it has camera capabilities in addition is an added benefit to me and
    provides that much more value. Add to that the fact that it will record an
    external source through firewire etc. and it becomes that much more useful for
    the $600 cost. I don't know that I would use it for hardcore editing and
    searching like you would use for Logging and Capturing but to simply dub a
    recording either as a source or record deck, hook to another miniDV camcorder
    for a backup recording of an important project or as an inexpensive and small
    discrete camera for some projects it is very valuable. Add to all this the
    fact that if it breaks it is affordable enough to replace and with its
    usefulness it should provide an abundance of use for the cost making it a very
    cost effective investment.

    There are decks like you suggest. They are the SONY Walkman type decks. I
    seem to recall for about $1000 you can get a player recorder with a 4" video

    Sony GVD-1000 Mini DV VCR Video Walkman With 4" LCD Screen, Analog and Firewire
    In/Output, Memory Stick Slot

    You put all your money into the deck, connections and the screen and not into
    the camera. But then you limit some of your usefulness and versitility of it
    as you can't shoot with it. Not to put it down, it has it's use and the LCD
    monitor can be useful too if that is an important feature to you. My
    understanding though, and I am open for correction here, the tape mechanism in
    this deck is probably identical to the mechanism in many of the Handicams. I
    have some experience with older and similar models to the one described above
    and can tell you it didn't hold up very well to the riggors of non-linear
    editing. It wasn't long before we wore out the Walkman. So, some would
    choose to save the money and buy the camera and use Firewire for connections
    with other Digital gear as they don't need to spend the extra for a monitor or
    some of the other connections. It is a personal value decision if you ask me.

    If you are looking for something to start out with, as a deck hooked up to a
    computer, as a backup or a source for dubbing. I would highly recommend using
    a camcorder. If it wears out, you can afford to replace a couple of them if
    you are making money along the way. One bit of advice here. Put some money
    asside as you go along, knowing that you WILL need to replace it. Hopefully
    you can put enough asside to upgrade along the way. I would plan to work
    towards getting a more durable and proffessional grade deck at some point. Like
    the SONY DSR-25 which we now have. We use that as our workhorse on the PowerMAC
    for editing with Final Cut Pro. It is EXPENSIVE at over $3000. But,
    keeping a cheap, (THROW DOWN(???)), did someone call it, camcorder on hand is
    not a bad investment.
    WMAS 1960, Sep 29, 2004
  14. I've only been using my Sony GV-D1000 mini-DV VCR for 4 months, but
    have had a similar model for 3 1/2 years. It's the GV-D200, a Digital8
    mini-VCR. I've used it extensively, both on my editing desk and as a
    portable VCR. It has shown no signs of wear yet. All the GVD models
    are built solidly, even though they weigh less than 2 lbs.

    I always buy 4 or 5-year extended warranties on my gear, so I'm
    covered if any of them have troubles. Over the years, I've gotten 5
    times as much value in repair work, as the warranties cost me. Some of
    the extended warranty companies offer coverage for professional use, at
    only slightly higher rates.

    The 5-year extended warranty on my $1,000. GV-D1000 cost $100.
    It's worth the price, just for the peace of mind, knowing that I won't
    be the one paying repair bills on it. I can feel free to ride it long
    and hard and if it wears out anytime before May of 2009, it either gets
    re-built or replaced at no cost to me.

    Steve McDonald
    Steve McDonald, Sep 30, 2004
  15. I agree with you. Fortunatly some steps are being taken to reduce some
    of the toxic waste, e.g. from 2006, in Europe all new electronic
    equipment can only use solder without lead (Pb) in it. But then there
    is still a lot of waste. On the other hand, governments should make
    laws to prohibit such ridiculous things as "buying new is cheaper than


    Martin Heffels, Sep 30, 2004
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