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Sony's HDV 1080i Consumer Camcorder 223

An anonymous reader writes "Sony has just announced a high-definition video camcorder that records in 1080i. A site was just created with a lot of information about the camcorder. The camcorder uses the HDV spec which records to standard MiniDV tapes. It includes 3 CCDs and along with the announcement it appears Apple and Adobe are now supporting the HDV standard. The camcorder carries a steep price at $3,700 though. See the original press release as well, though it doesn't contain much information."
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Sony's HDV 1080i Consumer Camcorder

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  • by gevmage ( 213603 ) * on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @11:34AM (#10177396) Homepage
    It will be competing in the super-high-end consumer market through the professional market. It's similar to the Canon XL1 [expresscameras.com] series, which go for similar prices, with similar characteristics (high end digital video, everything manual, etc.).
    • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @11:47AM (#10177552)
      "It's similar to the Canon XL1"

      Uh, aside from the minor fact that the XL1 records 720x480 SDTV resolution while the Sony records 1920x1080 HDTV resolution!
      • by nattt ( 568106 ) on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @12:09PM (#10177761)
        Actually, the Sony records at 960x1080 - and then stretches the image back out to 16x9 aspect ratio for viewing.

        • by mm0mm ( 687212 ) on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @12:37PM (#10178216)
          Sony's Press release [sony.com] says:
          The HDR-FX1 Handycam® camcorder records and plays back high definition video with 1080 interlaced lines of resolution - the highest resolution (1440 pixels x 1080 lines) of any consumer camcorder available.
          So the maximum resolution you can get with this camera is 1440 x 1080, which still doubles the lines of current DV resolution in both x/y axes, and quadruples the number of pixels.

          Squeezed 16:9 is not that unusual, considering the price of the camera. If you want native 16:9 resolution, you might want to get this one [sony.com] instead of the new camera.

          • HDCAM (not SR) records 1440 x 1080 rez downsampled from the 1920 x 1080 on the CCD. This camera takes that one step further and the CCD only has 960 x 1080, making it hardly any higher resolution than the 1280 x 720 720p resolution. Halving the horizontal rez is really taking it too far.
          • And most of the Pro tape formats for HD use horizontal compression as well, including DVCPRO-HD and DVCAM. The hyper-expensive D5 ($50,000 for a low-end deck, let alone a camera) is the only shipping format that is square pixel HD. HDCAM-SR will be as well.

            HD for distribution, like on the WMV DVD-ROM titles, also typically use 1440 wide anamorphic as well, to reduce decode CPU load. Although this will be less of an issue with Windows Media Player 10 out, which can offload a fair amount of decode onto a hig
        • And the XL1 uses half-resolution CCDs and 'pixel shift' to approximate full resolution. So they're about even.
    • That's what I was thinking, too, especially when I saw the 3 CDD mention. It's hard to tell how much of the price is due to high-end frills that have nothing to do with HD, and how much due to the HD tech. It will be interesting to see what price point they reach once they add HD to more mundane single CCD camcorders, the Wal-Mart specials.
      • I dont think people really care about what they make that much. Without a HD player which can play HD in a disc, where can they store their video clips to? Just divx/xvid clips in HD which is only viewable through computer?

        is there's no disc replacing dvd to promote HD, the future of HD isnt that clear yet.

        for example, NBC broadcasts olympics HD signal of previous day's stuff, instead of the current day's stuff on the non-HD channel. :( that just makes me sad, very very sad
  • by Bog Standard ( 743863 ) * on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @11:38AM (#10177449)
    I wonder how much storage space is on it, and how long it will take to transfer onto a PC/Editing system given 1080i's bandwidth requirements?
    • AFAIR HDV is MPEG-2 recording at about 3.6MB/sec, so you'll get a similar amount of recording time to DV on the same tape, but with the artifacts from MPEG-2.
    • IIRC the bandwidth for this cam is 25Mbps, well below 1394's peak of 400..

      I suppose it's limited to the speed of the tape reader...

      Still, considering how long transitions, wipes, and other effects will take to render even on a 2xCPU G5, importing speeds will be the least of your worries ;)

      (BTW, AFAICR the standard digital cinema projection size is 1280x1024.. This cam will beat that, and with post processing the results should look pretty damn good.. Hopefully prosumer 3D modeling pkgs will keep up too
  • JVC did it first... (Score:4, Informative)

    by JawzX ( 3756 ) on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @11:39AM (#10177470) Homepage Journal
    I beleive the JVC GR-HD1US has been avialble for more than a year now, and at a slightly lower price than the Sony. Sony seems to have been spending a lot of (well considered) money on the PlayStation 2&3 platform and ignoring the "consumer electronics" feild for a while now. They just aren't up to snuff compared to Panasonic, JVC, Zenith and the other giants.
    • by otis wildflower ( 4889 ) on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @11:44AM (#10177522) Homepage
      I beleive the JVC GR-HD1US has been avialble for more than a year now, and at a slightly lower price than the Sony. Sony seems to have been spending a lot of (well considered) money on the PlayStation 2&3 platform and ignoring the "consumer electronics" feild for a while now. They just aren't up to snuff compared to Panasonic, JVC, Zenith and the other giants.

      The JVC:

      doesn't support 1080i (argue as you may the merits of 720p vs 1080i, the generally accepted wisdom is that progressive is better for shooting sports events and interlaced higher res is better for drama)

      doesn't support OS X

      doesn't have a Zeiss lens

      has only 1 CCD

      has a 4x3 CCD, not 16x9

      The JVC doesn't compare. And this from someone who actively avoids Sony stuff unless it's the best in class (as the 200 DVD changer was in its time).

      • To use the JVC with OS X and FCP you can use www.lumiereHD.com software - works great, and Apple support it.

        The fact that the CCD on the JVC is 4x3 is irrelevent as it has more than enough pixels for them to take a 720p centre crop out of it. It's a hybrid CCD with enough resolution for widesceeen 1280x720 and 720x480 SD. However, it is one chip, and the image looks like crap as it's over-sharpened.

        The Sony camera is 1080i, but only 960 horizontal pixels, which get stretched to make a 16x9 aspect ratio, s
      • I had the JVC on loan. It wasn't very good; one problem is that all of the camera's special features (titles, fades, in-camera edits) didn't work in HD mode. It wasn't even 720p/60 it was 720p/30 or equivalent to 720i, if there was such a thing!

        doesn't support OS X

        I think you mean OS-X doesn't support the JVC! What is it with you Mac folks that tries to spin everything wrong?

    • Well, AFAIK the JVC only supports 720p, not 1080i...
      Which is quite a difference
  • Screw Porn (HAHAHA). Throw caution to the DCMA and BOOTLEG, BOOTLEG, BOOTLEG. Now all I need is 3700$, some milk duds, and a rear seat.
  • -I get a piece of brand new tech for 500 dollars.

    -I get a digital camera that uses the X3 sensor and has a true 8MP CCD, not this 1.5MP x 3 garbage that you see.
  • Why does anyone still make interlaced devices? I thought everyone agreed that progressive scan was better. Wouldn't they be better off with 540p than 1080i? It seems to me that it would be easier to make the device, and similar or better quality.

    Am I missing something?
    • Am I missing something?

      Cost. Look at the bandwidth requirements of 1080p, 'til recently satisfying that on a consumer screen was pretty much more than anyone was willing to pay, given the dearth of HD programming. The cost balance was forged at the beginning of ATSC deliberations.

      Hell, try driving UT2004 at 1920x1080 on your widescreen computer monitor with less than a Geforce FX5900!

      I submit that if you use a progressive computer monitor and deinterlace 1080i it'll look OK, but I also submit that ve
  • 1080i = 540p (Score:2, Interesting)

    by augustz ( 18082 )
    It is really surprising that we have interlaced standards in the HDTV specs.

    Basically, 1080i = 540 lines / refresh.
    720p has 720 lines per refresh.

    The problem with interlacing is that it introduces or exacerbates certain visual artifacts. This is one of the reasons some of the networks are sticking with 720p for their HDTV broadcasts.

    Whether this interlaced standard is a carryover from the consumer electronics folks or not, I would stick with 720p until something nicer comes out. Be interesting to know th
    • I predict that Blu-ray and HD DVD will support 1080p, which will drive TVs to support it, and then people will want 1080p camcorders. There's more to HDTV than ATSC.
    • Re:1080i = 540p (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AGTiny ( 104967 ) on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @12:09PM (#10177770)
      1080p is there but the bandwidth to broadcast this just isn't there. Some 1080p displays are starting to come out.

      You can't really say 1080i = 540p. You are right that 1080i is 2 540 fields interlaced, but those are FIELDS, i.e. offset horizontal lines. Combined they do produce 1080 lines of resolution. Native 540p is basically just NTSC, and 1080i can easily said to be amazingly higher quality than NTSC. Most people can also spot the difference between 720p and 1080i too. I can tell when watching ABC/ESPN 720p football compared to CBS/HDNet 1080i football. I don't have a native 720p display though, to be fair, and 1080i does have more motion artifacts. It's generally agreed that 720p is best for fast-moving sports, and 1080i for slow shots, documentaries, 35mm film transfers, etc.
      • Re:1080i = 540p (Score:2, Interesting)

        Some 1080p displays are starting to come out.

        How much $$$? I'm sorry, Costco has spoiled me, I want >50" 1080p for less than $4000...

        You can't really say 1080i = 540p.

        Close enough for mouthbreathers ;)

        Seriously, if you get your hands on a 1080p (like a 23-24" WUXGA screen) display and preprocess 1080i, it should be OK... A good line processor should be able to buffer enough to compensate for jitter, and that kind of thing is getting built into PC vidcards nowadays...

        It's generally agreed that
    • It is really surprising that we have interlaced standards in the HDTV specs.

      Not really, when you consider who came up with all the specs for DTV in the first place. No one in the broadcast industry wanted to eliminate interlace and change to progressive originally. Just like when the digital cameras for filming movies came out, the movie makers wouldn't use them until they supported 24fps instead of only 30fps. The reasons for support don't usually make sense other than it is what the people are comf
    • One thing I forgot before. Having the signal interlaced also allows them to double the frame rate. So it is a tradeoff between more lines and higher frame rates. There are reasone for both and it all depends on the application.
    • I like 1080i much better than 720P. It's hard to notice artifacts in 1080i with the better resolution. In fact, I'd like to skip 720P and go right to 1440i.
  • by tsangc ( 177574 ) on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @11:58AM (#10177660)
    ...that HDV's recorded bitrate is still 25Mbit/sec. While you might think that is a lot compared to terrestrial HDTV's 18Mbit stream, in fact, it's very little. In production you generally want to record MORE in acquisition than distribution.

    The defacto HD production format, HDCAM, records something like 140-180MBit/sec, the uncompressed signal is something like 996MBit/sec.

    The most likely market for this camera will be indie filmmakers, documentaries, and industrial/corporate promotional use. The price makes complete sense--and most of the market buying VX2100's and XL1's will probably look seriously at this.

    Most broadcast/network HD will still be HDCAM, DVCPRO HD (off the popular Panasonic Varicam) or 35mm transfer.

    • HD is 1.5 Gigabits/second uncompressed. HDCAM records at ~2 to 1 compression.
    • We do video between labs for overflow (more students than a lab can hold). Thing is, normal DV cams just don't have the resolution to capture the professor and screens without looking totally blurry. This would go a long way to fixing that. It still wouldn't give a crystal clear image, but much better than what we have now.

      At $4,000, it would be an actual viable option, though expensive. A DVPro unit is just out of the question, no way we are paying $50,000 just to get clear video between two labs.

      I'm ju
      • We do video between labs for overflow (more students than a lab can hold). Thing is, normal DV cams just don't have the resolution to capture the professor and screens without looking totally blurry. This would go a long way to fixing that. It still wouldn't give a crystal clear image, but much better than what we have now.

        The problem is how you'd link it to the projector, and what the native resolution and quality of the projector is.

        The projector either needs a Firewire transceiver and the HDV codec

  • Either the article info is wrong, or I misunderstand HDTV resolutions. According to the article, there are three CCDs:

    Each CCD measures 960 x 1080 pixels.

    1080 is supposed to be the vertical resolution, with horizontal at 1920. This is less than half the horizontal resolution.

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @12:06PM (#10177743)
      "1080 is supposed to be the vertical resolution, with horizontal at 1920. This is less than half the horizontal resolution."

      Most likely they offset one CCD by half a pixel, which is a common technique in video cameras to improve resolution with small CCDs. That way they can get a good approximation to the full 1920x1080 luminance signal by mixing the signals from the three CCDs... the chroma signal is probably only being recorded at half resolution anyway, so it's less important.
      • More likely they're recording to tape at 960x1080 to save bandwidth as they don't have much, even with the MPEG2 compression. They should have gone MPEG4 like HDCAM SR, but I doubt they want to errode their pro sales.

  • Final Cut Pro HD has been out for what, five months now? And even before that some form of HD has been supported in Final Cut Pro. I am not familiar with the earlier versions of it, but some of the FCP books I have all discuss editing it.

    It is cool to see a 1080i camera out there though. Give it a few weeks and there will be a consumer affordable model.

    For now I will stick with my Canon Optura Xi.
  • Very nice (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hypharse ( 633766 ) on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @12:02PM (#10177700)
    I for one welcome our new hi-def amateur porn overlords.

    On a serious note. I have been thinking about things like this for a while. It's not exactly a highly original thought, but more and more of high end hardware/software/electronics/mechanics are becoming available to the normal joe. This has been widely known and considered with apache/linux/mysql/php/etc., but it is happening in many realms other than software.

    I think that we are stepping into a creative boon as a result of this. When only large profit-intensive, single-minded corporations have access to these types of materials you don't see much creativity in how they are used. However, you stick that power with a vast majority of the public and you are going to have some incredibly original and creative ideas. I am looking forward to the creativity too....Doggy style is so 20th century.

    • Re:Very nice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tsangc ( 177574 ) on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @12:28PM (#10178097)
      think that we are stepping into a creative boon as a result of this.

      The idealist in me wants to agree, but realistically, what we'll see is more crap:

      -More angsty rich kids making "indie films" that make no damned sense.

      -More HD/DVD wedding videos filled with tacky transition effects and shaky handheld underlit shots.

      -More slanted special interest group propaganda, filled with hate, revisionism or evangelism.

      Now, all of you are probably sharpening your keyboards, saying "who are you to judge"? If publishing a book, presenting a scientific paper, writing a screenplay twenty years ago had one merit, it was the fact you had to get it through some sort of editorial process. Someone did judge, and usually it was someone in the know. You couldn't spout hate on digital video and expect it broadcast on community cable. You couldn't make up pseudo science and have it published to an audience because real scientists would review your paper. But today, there is no review. You're free to host PDFs of your cracknut theories of science, or stream videos of you in your bedsheet over your head burning people at the stake.

      Part of me wants to believe that the result of today's technologies (desktop publishing, digital video, the web) means that stories that are underrepresented will be told, that we'll all benefit, but for the time being, I suspect all we'll get is more trash.

    • More anti-corporate crap. You probably buy your coffee at Starbucks and wipe your ass with Charmin.
  • is whether Sony has managed to solve the compression problems of getting an HD signal on a dv tape. Footage from the GR-HD1 has nasty compression artifacts which has preculded anybody from getting too excited about using it.

    My money's on no, but it's still cool to see companies working at getting these products to market. The next few years are gonna be exciting for filmmakers as desktop HD comes online.
  • Given the sinking cost on digital still cameras (2mp CCDs are considered outdated it seems, 5mp is the new hotness)... it isn't surprising that HD camcorders are showing up.

    My questions are more about the loss in compression, and how it interacts with existing editing suites? Standard 400mbps firewire? When your capturing from firewire on a host, and it tries to render the live video stream, is Premiere going to blow up? (Well, Premiere blows up on it's own constantly without wierd hardware (Premiere XP
  • by TheSync ( 5291 ) on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @01:19PM (#10178799) Journal
    I've shot with the JVC HDV camera, and my impression of it is that the resolution is excellent (as is to be expected), but the real quality differentiator between it and a "real HD" camera is the quality of color and image delivered by the whole system, not just a high resolution imaging chip.

    This is not suprising - I have always found the image and color quality of DV cameras to be much lower than even medium-end pro cameras (such as the elderly SVHS Panasonic Supercam). The prosumer cameras do not have $3,000 lenses. They do not have the amazing amount of color DSP going on as the pro cameras.

    But at the same time, HDV cameras are better than nothing, and certainly good for "riskier" shots where a $100,000 HDCAM camera being lost would be a problem. You just can't skydive with a full-size camera, for instance...

    One other issue is that 25 Mbps is really limiting for MPEG-2 HD (heh, so is 19.4 Mbps, but that is another topic).

    If you are into a lot of action with lots of uncorrelated motion vectors, you might be better off with upconverted DV, as 25 Mbps is fine for inraframe coded DV.
  • People often observe that the HDTV standards specify 1080i, 720p, and 480p, but there is actually more to it than this. The ATSC standard specifies these resolutions at 60Hz (where Hz here measures refreshes per second, which is the same thing as frames per second for progressive scan, twice the frame rate for interlacing), but it also specifies lower frame rates. In particular the standard actually specifies 1080 line progressive scan at 30fps (because that has the same bitrate as 1080i at 60Hz) and also a
    • Lots of people in the independent film industry really want 24fps progressive (usually referred to as 24p), because video shot this way can be blown up onto 35mm film and shown in a cinema, and can ideally provide film quality for a much lower cost than actual film (and which can be digitally edited etc etc much more easily than stuff shot on film.

      Ok first off lots of people in the Indie film industry are full of crap. Most of the winners at the past festivals have been on DVD and NOT FILM. More and mor
  • What this discussion doesn't tell you is how perfectly acceptable (I would say fscking GREAT) regular mini-DV is right now.

    Yes, I know, lots of people want high-res, high-def, high frame rates, gorgeous colors, minimal artefacts etc. Some of those even NEED those things.

    However, if you are reading this discussion and you don't have experience with what "plain, vanilla" mini-DV can do, then just don't worry about new fancy-pants cameras for now.

    Instead, get a mini-DV camera and a Mac (especially) or a PC.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser