In this article, you will expect an explanation about the following features of an HD Camera:
- What is Interlaced/progressive?
- What are SD, HD, PAL, NTSC?
- What are DV, DVCAM, HDV, DVCPRO?
- What is Y:Cb:Cr for?
- What is the different between CCD and CMOS?
- What is 4:3/16:9?
- What is there to know about lenses?
- What are audio inputs?
- What are the input/output?
Looks like we have a lot to cover, we should be getting started by now!
When you are starting your own video production, one of the most critical equipment you will have to invest in is an HD (High Definition) Camera. This article discusses the things you will want to consider before buying or if you already have bought one, this should guide you in knowing more about your equipment. While you are on your post production stage, it’s quite frustrating to realize that your footages don’t go well as expected. Sometimes the frames are bigger, the color is not that rich, color keying is not that smooth, and a lot of different things you haven’t any clue. Finally, after arguing and blaming your video editor, you came to a conclusion that the camera was to blame! You just overlooked some of the critical features of you camera. Let’s discuss them here one by one.
Interlaced or Progressive
Interlaced and progressive simply tells you how the picture is refreshed on screen. Progressive is easier to understand, one frame comes after the other, that’s it! But with interlaced the frame comes in parts. Imagine the cathode ray scanning the screen line by line. In progressive, the lines are done sequentially without skipping. It’s not a lot of hard work but a Russian inventor figured out a way to skip the odd and even lines without much loss of quality thus reducing the bandwidth to half. The disadvantage of course is the flickering you see on your standard television. Go ahead, look closely at your TV screens and you will notice two bands. This is how interlacing work.
Thus, you will see 1080p, 720p, 576i in your HD camera. But you might ask what the numbers stand for. 1080, 720, and a lot more variation on different cams, stand for the vertical scan lines. So if you see 1080p, it means that the camera will record in progressive mode with 1080 vertical scan lines. And the higher scan lines there are the more quality you can capture for editing purposes.
A lot of HD cameras have different modes. So when buying one, consider which mode would go well with your projects.
SD, HD, NTSC, PAL
SD stands for Standard Definition, an old video viewing, storage, and transmission systems when color TV was introduced. It has a 4:3 aspect ratio and 480 interlaced scanning lines. This is pretty much the lowest you can go in terms of quality, anything lower than this would probably better on a computer screen rather than a television.
HD stands for High Definition, any video that has a higher resolution than SD is considered HD but the most common that you will see are 1280x720px (720i) or 1920x1080px (1080i/1080p) in 16:9 aspect ratio. This is what they use in film making and it makes the difference when editing as well. You will most likely notice, just by looking at the quality, if the footage was shot in an SD or HD camera.
NTSC stands for National Television System Committee that runs at a frame rate of 30fps (frames per second) or 29.97fps to be exact. This is widely used in Japan, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Burma, and some Pacific islands.
PAL stands for Phase Alternating Line that runs at a frame rate of 25fps and more widely used around the world than NTSC.
SD and HD is concerned more of the quality of a single frame as HD have more pixels to store into compared to SD, while NTSC and PAL are more concerned on how fluid the frames go together as the more frames there are the more fluid the video would look like. But in NTSC and PAL, you should just concern yourself on which country it is used and not to mind about the other details. There isn’t much of a difference in the frame rate anyway so nobody will see a difference. However, PAL is more superior as it answers most problems that NTSC has.
DV, HDV, DVCAM, DVCPRO
DV stands for Digital Video, a type of video recording system that works by using digital rather than analog video signal. This has become the standard for home and semi-professional users as well as independent filmmakers because of its quality compared to analog.
HDV stands for High-Definition Video, a type of video recording and playback. It is far more superior than DV which is at 480i, thus acceptable to professional editing production. The two major versions of HDV are HDV 720p and HDV 1080i.
DVCAM stands for Digital Video Camera, a professional variation of DV which is 50% faster having 50% wider track, thus reducing the chances of dropout errors. One of the features of this format is its ability to lock audio. You will notice that recording DV on several generations will cause the audio to off-sync, in DVCAM, this does not happen.
DVCPRO stands for Digital Video Cassette Professional, developed by Panasonic specifically for Electronic News Gathering. It has a greater track compared to DVCAM and uses a different type of tape.