Difference Between DVCam and MiniDV Tapes

Updated 3/31/2011 by SuperMediaStore Staff

DV (also called Mini DV) was developed by a consortium of 10 companies as a "consumer" digital video format. There are now over 60 companies in the DVC consortium, including Sony, Panasonic, JVC, Philips, and other similar names you've heard before. In other words, 60 and 80min for the Mini DV and uses 10 micron tracks in SP recording mode.
dv tape, dvcam tapes, blank dv cam tape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the same time, Sony brought out its professional version, named DVCAM. Sony's professional DVCAM format, although similar to Mini DV, runs 50% faster. In addition, Sony's DVCAM professional format increases the track pitch to 15 microns (at the loss of recording time) to improve tape interchange and increase the robustness and reliability of insert editing. Consequently, DVCAM is a professional solution which includes better audio sync features; as well being higher reliability (it runs the tape faster and saves more error correction to the tape). The tapes themselves are also of a higher grade.



Why are DVCAMs better than Mini DVs?
There are three main factors, such as lower dropout rate, tighter width specifications, and maximum picture and sound stability. DVCAM tape has a 50% lower dropout rate and a 4-5x improvement in error rate margin. The chart below clearly shows that the dropout rate of DVCAM is significantly lower than that of the Mini DV.


   

DVCAM and Mini DV tapes have a width of 6.35 mm (1/4"). The more uniform the tape width, the better the record/playback stability and compatibility between recorders. DVCAM width is held to a tighter tolerance to offer a higher level of reliability and compatibility. DVCAM uses an ultra-accurate slitting machine to assure correct tape width.


Friction increases between tape and recorder heads after repeated passes on the tape. DVCAM tape has a significantly lower friction coefficient than Mini DV. For the professional, this means greater recorded signal longevity, higher reliability, increased durability and overall improved performance.


Therefore, there is a difference when you use DVCAM tape. As a professional, you and your customers deserve to have the best and most reliable end result the format can provide. When quality videography is at stake, use the tape that was designed for professionals.
On the practical side, DVCAM format is only "better" than Mini DV if you are editing material between decks. If you are using a computer and a non-linear editing (NLE) solution, the differences are practically irrelevant. Additionally, DVCAM recording onto DV tape is the most reliable, standard DV onto DV-CAM tape is pretty good, and standard DV onto standard DV tapes you probably run the risk of drop-out. In sum, below are two tables to outline the digital format comparison table and compatibility for Mini DV and DVCAM tapes.


Format

Bit Rate

Resolution & Sampling

Compression

Tape Width

Tape Speed

Tape Type

Mini DV  25Mb/sec 720x480,4:1:1(NTSC)
720x576, 4:2:0 (PAL)
5:1 1/4" 18.812 mm/sec. ME
DVCAM 25Mb/sec 720x480,4:1:1(NTSC)
720x576, 4:2:0 (PAL)
5:1 1/4" 28.193 mm/sec. MP

Format Format Compatibility
Mini DV Record DV, Can Be Played Back on DV, DVCAM & DVCPRO
DVCAM Record DVCAM, Playback of DV, Played Back on DVCPRO