HD Camcorders: do you really need HD MiniDV tapes?

Ever since I bought my Canon HV10, I had assumed that you needed to use the HD branded mini-dv tapes if you wanted to get uncompromised HD -quality recording. This was probably down to the guy in the shop telling me that I needed HD tapes (in order to sell me some) and I’d never really questioned it until a recent trip when I needed more tapes and I couldn’t find any “HD quality” tapes… which prompted some research.  To give you an idea of price difference, the “premium” sony mini dv tape costs about £3 and the “HD” tape costs about £14.

It turns out that you don’t *really* need “HD quality” tapes, they are just higher quality tapes that may have fewer frame dropouts than lower quality tapes, but your actual recording quality is the same. I guess it comes down to how important your shoot is, whether or not you can afford a few frame dropouts to happen in a year. Personally, I’ll probably use the cheaper tapes most of the time as I always shoot more footage than I actually need, so a dropout (which I’ve never had) is not the end of the world. On the other hand, a part of me thinks it’s silly to spend £600 on a camcorder and then concern yourself with saving £10 per tape (although the marketing and branding folks at the manufacturers probably realise this, hence the steep price in the first place – “reassuringly expensive”)

Here are some links to what others have said about this…




If you have any practical experience with this issue I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

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