Digital Video or DV

When I refer to Digital Video I could be talking about any number of video formats that store image and audio information in a digital form. Generally it’s Digital Video whether it’s on a DV tape, DVD or a file on disk.

DV is a specific Digital Video format based on DV tape – where the conversion between analog and digital information is done inside the camera. Most of us know this as miniDV in our pro-sumer cameras. For a longer discussion of this check out What is DV?

What about DVC and DVCAM you ask?

DVCPRO was created by Panasonic in 1995, followed one year later by Sony’s DVCAM. The formats sound alike and they basically use the same video and audio encoding format as the consumer DV format. But they have subtle and not-so-subtle differences in speed, makeup and track pitch of the tapes being used. Of course, they also cost significantly more than the consumer models. To “differentiate” the products even more, Sony invented some hurdles which can prevent copying from DV to DVCAM via Firewire.

Let’s have a breakdown.

  • DV usually refers to miniDV
  • DVCAM prints the same DV bitstream to a larger, more featured tape stock
  • DVCPro uses a robust tape stock and supports a high-quality mode – DVCPro 50 which digitizes at twice the data rate as DV
  • DVCPro HD uses DVCPro tape stock to record a compressed 720:1080 pixel “hi-def” frame at 14 Mbytes/sec
  • HDV uses the same miniDV tape stock to record compressed digital video with 1080:1440 frame sizes at a standard DV data rate

Confused yet? well, if not Digital formats compared will do it to you.