Camcorders - tape or DVD?

My wife wants our only Christmas gift to be Camcorder. So I’m doing some research and am torn between getting a tape based camcorder vs. a DVD based camcorder. These are the advantages (which may be wrong)…


  • Batteries last longer.
  • Editing and overwriting possible.
  • Media is cheaper.


  • Can be played on DVD player immidiately.
  • Better video quality.
  • Easier to get media on computer.

If you have a camcorder, can you chime in on how you like yours? Thanks!

I have a DV camera that I bought about 3 years ago and unless you either have kids or are planning on making home pornos you’ll quickly forget about it.

The one I bought was a DV camera by JVC and its pretty nice and all that it uses tapes but the quality is very nice. It has a firewire port so I can hook it right in to my PC and DL the video on to it pretty fast.

All in all though what a waste. My Ex wouldnt even let me shoot a porno with it.

I will be taking video of our pond, our fish (indoor and outdoor), all family holidays, our cat, and various projects from around the house. Since it uses tapes, how can you get a full tape into DVD? Can you do that through the computer, or would it take like a bajillion Gig for an hours worth of high quality video?

You know I dont remember off hand but I think its pretty much the same for DV video as DVD video like 1gig an hourish.

I just imported the video in to windows movie maker and went from there.

I haven’t kept up on DVD based camcorders but I would assume the video quality would not be nearly as good as DV (tape). 5 minutes of DV equals approximately 1GB, so a 4.7GB DVD would require quite a bit of compression (probably MPEG2?). I wouldn’t want to edit MPEG2 on my PC and re-compress for DVD, as I imagine there would be a lot of digital artifacts.

Then again, for family video and gonzo’s, maybe the quality is fine, particularly if you don’t plan on doing much post-editing.

The other issue is that aren’t DVD camcorders only in their first or second generation? There might be a few kinks to work out.

DV tape is better video quality than DVD, because it’s not compressed. (Until after you edit it and record it to DVD.)

If you just want to shoot and watch, get DVD.

If you plan to edit your videos v at all, go for DV. Better quality, and you can leave it uncompressed until you’re finished editing it. With DVD, you end up compressing multiple times, which makes the video quality even worse.

Editing on DV is a snap. If you DO just want to transfer to DVD, you just transfer the video to your PC over firewire, and then load the video into your DVD burning app. Of course, you can chop the boring stuff, add titles, etc. very easily.

The tape units typically have a firewire or USB port that lets you play back the video as a video-in feed on your PC. From there, you can just encode it into whatever format you like and handle the editing. In either situation you’ll be faced with the same challenge. While the DVD will just connect to the PC, you’ll still have to dump it to a file to edit it, and then re-encode it back out. I have no experience with a DVD unit, but I’d inquire if skipping/corruption is an issue when trying to record and move around.


There’s really no contest. Do NOT get a disk based camcorder.

Mini-DV is the standard for a reason. As people have mentioned, DVD has all sorts of awful quality tradeoffs, and you will want to edit, even if it’s just something as simple as titling before you burn it to DVD.

I just started playing with this after the honeymoon- miniDV is great, the quality is nice and hooking it up to a PC is easy as hell and much faster than I expected.

I have no experience w/ the DVd ones, but as a newbie to any home video type crap (only worked w/ film and production vid before this) it is a good format.

I just started playing with this after the honeymoon

After? Thats weak thats how some of the best porn is made!

Late as usual but lemme just toss in my vote for Mini DV… Macs now ship with iMovie and iDVD and you can litteraly edit, add music tracs and menus in about 15 minutes…naturally it takes an hour to dl an hour of tape and about 2 more to get it on a dvd but that is all done in the background…and it looks pretty dang nice on a TV.

edit- I just got XP Media edition so that is next to try but I hear is is basically as easy as the Mac to burn DVD’s from tapes… I hope.

Thanks a ton everyone. You helped me from making a big mistake.

Editing, hooking the cam up to the pc for the first time, not using the camera.