Help with Which Video Media (Dead Camcorder)
About five or so years ago we bought a Mini-DV digital camcorder. About a month or so ago it died (accompanied by that characteristic smell of electronics burning). I’m now left with 3 or so hours of MiniDV tape which I have not uploaded to computer and many more hours of archival tape which I can’t access (although for these I do have a virtual backup).
Now, given that these are family videos I have an interest in being able to access them in the future.
My immediate problem was the 3 hours of tapes which I currently can’t read. I initially thought about buying another MiniDV camcorder – but they are now very hard to come by (unless you want to buy a high definition device, and, in that case, they seem to be the preferred option). I then thought I should ask around to try to borrow one for a weekend, upload those three tapes and then return them. However now I am coming back around to the idea that, as family video, the expected lifetime of these videos ought to be measured in decades (millennia if they become valuable historical records!). Therefore it would be better to have a mini dv camcorder to access the original tapes rather than borrow one.
This implicitly assumes that magnetic tape will have greater longevity than a hard disk or flash disk. Is that a fair assumption? (my experience with recorded CDs is not good for backups about 5 years old)
Moreover, hard disk and flash disk camcorders all seem to use lossy encoding to store the videos, so I’m a bit leery of using them. Finally, I think I need to anticipate that my children/grandchildren may have super high definition playback devices so maybe I should be investing in a high definition MiniDV camcorder now. That would at least solve my problem of recovery of the last 3 hours of tape, and recovery of archives in the future, but would also be quite expensive. I need to find an answer promptly if I want to record Christmas this year.
Has anyone else tackled these problems?
[update (8 Nov 09)]: Charles reports Mini DV has better image quality than the other options. Googling around on the web gives me MTBF rates for hard drives at 3-5 years (!!) (apparently this is made up of a small number of drives that fail very early, and a larger number that last much longer), Mini DV at a couple of decades (if it’s fast forwarded+rewound every 6 months/12 months), DVD at 100 years – although I think they’re kidding themselves, I would give DVD, esp. home burnt DVD, less than 7 years. While people comment on Mini DV failing on multiple recording on the same medium, my usage mode is to record once per medium.