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Objection to full Hi-Vision video cameras

3, 24. 2008

   The season of Japanese apricot and cherry blossoms has come. It's also the season for the entrance and commencement ceremonies at schools. Rather than the pupils and students who are either entering or leaving schools, however, it's always the parents who look full of vigour with digital video cameras (camcorders) in hands. This author would like to discuss about video cameras which now seem to be a "seasonal must" item.

Nobody can deny flash memory is better.

Hitachi DZ-BD9H -- typical example of big and heavy machine fitted with many storage media.  Retail priced at about 150,000 yen
Hitachi DZ-BD9H -- typical example of big and heavy machine fitted with many storage media. Retail priced at about 150,000 yen

   A characteristic of a video camera is it can be equipped with different types of storage medium. There are wide varieties of combinations of the medium, such as an input flash memory and various types of memory cards, and various DVD's. Last year, a camera fitted with Blu-ray was introduced.

   Taking a look at portable digital products of late, it is noticed that flash memory (+memory card) holds the unshakable position in the production of musical players and other such products. This is because the products using the flash memory have many more good points than those using HDD or DVD in that they are small and light, quick to start, and durable. The choice of memory device should be the most significant part of the manufacturing of such a product as video cameras.

   In the meantime, video cameras fitted with HDD's which have high storage capacity would be an alternative to be considered for the manufacturing of video cameras used for long-time recording of Hi-Vision images. There are many hybrids of HDD with flash memory and DVD. The DZ-BD9H which was put out by Hitachi in February of this year is designed to use the three memory devices in addition to 60GB HDD -- DVD, Blu-ray and SD card. It can use just about every thing for storing video, though it weighs 630g. It sacrifices the portability.

The "latest recording standards" are difficult to follow.

   In the previous article that touched on the HDD&DVD Recorder, the new recording standard "AVCREC" that uses the H.264 CODEC, which has an excellent compressing rate, was introduced as an attention-getting function of the season. According to Matsushita Electric, the AVCREC makes it possible to extend the recording time in Hi-Vision by up to four times.

   The fact is that video cameras are also increasingly fitted with the "AVCHD," which is similar to the AVCREC. The major difference between the two is whether or not they are fitted with the copyright protection function for recording digital TV, and the AVCHD for video cameras has not the protection function. Rather than that, it would not be wrong to say that the two are almost indistinguishable from each other. Although the function is similar between the HDD/DVD recorders and video cameras, however, there is something that has to be addressed.

   The HDD/DVD recorders are used mainly to record and play the works of other people. They are lonely Monroeistic digital products of which the performance is limited to themselves and which (forcibly) limit the chance of handing over the copy of recording to a third party. The importance of compatibility, therefore, is relatively negligible.

   In case of video cameras, on the other hand, there is the possibility of being used in networks. The objects recorded are usually children growing up, what are seen or done during travels, hobbies or group activities, and in most of cases recorders are the persons who have the copyright. It is likely that what are recorded given to parents, friends or others in DVD discs or are re-played again and again in many occasions.

   Even if AVCHD is burned to DVD discs, however, there are not many compatible playing machines, and re-play software that is compatible is limited to play it on a personal computer. Looking at video cameras from their characteristics, how they are used, their network involving other recorders and machines, many weak points are noticed about the AVCHD. Different from the self-completing HDD/DVD recorders, the new standard is not so useful for video cameras.

Are Hi-Vision, full-format video cameras really needed?

Sanyo DMX-HD1000.  It records for about 43 minutes in full Hi-Vision with 4GB SDHC
Sanyo DMX-HD1000. It records for about 43 minutes in full Hi-Vision with 4GB SDHC

   Among the video cameras that record images in the same way as the digital cameras, compact digital cameras are most popular. As for the video cameras, expensive, weighty and large-sized ones have always been in the main stream.

   Recent commercials gives the impression that recording of images would be outdated unless the recording is in full Hi-Vision (HD). One wonders, however, if the recording of images -- those of children at ceremonies of school starting or at athletic meetings where most of the images that can be seen are mostly children's heads -- must be in (full) Hi-Vision now.

   As a certain electronics maker suggest imposingly, it may be a duty of parents to "take pictures of children in high-definition vision" (although it must be that the quality of images recorded by video cameras can not be decided by the definition as that of pictures taken by digital cameras can not be measured by the number of pixels).

   Full Hi-Vision is not bad. But there is no intention to sacrifice everything else for it. This author refuses to have expensive came that is big and heavy because it is fitted with HDD, and moreover to buy expensive Blu-ray recorder (which only a small number people own now) and discs.

   This author rather wishes that wider variety of video cameras that light and compact like digital cameras would become available at reasonable prices.

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