Probably buying another MiniDV Camcorder
A while ago I wrote about the death of my last camcorder, and that I was wondering what to replace it with. With Christmas impending I am going out and getting a replacement – most likely the Canon HV 40. This is a high definition camcorder which uses MiniDV as its media. MiniDV is now extremely rare in consumer level camcorders. However, MiniDV seem to be standard in high end video recording, so there is likely a fair degree of life left in the medium yet. It seemed the most likely to be appropriate for long term storage of the original medium – with some people suggesting unused Flash memory may go “off” after comparatively short (36 months) periods of non-use.
There is another factor, which is that the compression used for other formats (AHCHD – an implementation of H.264) is much more aggressive (albeit smarter). It is also apparently much more closed, with editing tools only having become available in the last year or so. Aggressive, closed compression makes me nervous that if anything goes wrong with part of the file/medium, a disproportionate amount of the recording may be lost. I am also concerned that the recording format may be unreadable after a time (eg 10 years, and that I won’t realise until after it’s too late).
Unfortunately, HDV also uses compression (MPEG-2). However, this is much more well known and more widely implemented, being used for DVDs. Further, the camcorder outputs through a hardware interface, and I have more faith in that interface being continued to be supported long term – compare HDD and flash drive storage in which raw data is transferred over USB, or potentially by the flash drive being inserted into the computer. My point being that the data transfer in these later cases is abstracted as a generic data transfer over a generic interface, rather than an output of audio/video over an interface designed for it.
I guess finally there is also the issue of failure modes. In some cases compressed files and/or filesystems can fail catastrophically, with the whole, or a large part of the medium being rendered unreadable. I felt Mini-DVs were not likely to suffer this failure mode (although I have had a tape not record because a problem with the transport…)
I am leaning towards HD rather than SD, on the assumption that more definition is by definition better and that processing HD will only be painful for the immediate future. I may end up investing in lots of HDD storage though…