Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Guide to SD and HD Video Formats

It seems every year brings a few more video formats.  It was so much easier to keep track of things when it was just BetaMax and VHS!  This is a short rundown on most of the formats you might run into.  For more detailed info check out our FAQ page at www.infinitevideo.com

Standard Definition Formats (SD)

VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS: These are the older analogue formats that used the full size half inch VHS tape.  VHS-C was that little fat casette that you had to put in an adapter to play in your VCR.

8mm, Hi-8, Digital8:  These are the narrow tapes (hence the name 8mm) used by Sony around the same time as VHS.  Digital8 was the last incarnation and was a, Surprise! digital format.

MiniDV:  MiniDV is the small digital tape format used in DV home camcorders and DV professional cameras.

DVCam and DVCPro:  These are the big brothers of MiniDV used more in the professional arena.  DVCPro is made exclusively by Panasonic equipment.

DVCPro 50:  A higher quality version of DVCPro.

Betacam SP:  Betacam SP is an analogue Broadcast Quality format that was the longtime standard for TV stations, news, and high-quality video.

Digital S, DVCPro 50, Digital Betacam:  These digital formats are the high end of the broadcast market. They achieve better video quality than all the previously listed formats.

High Definition Formats (HD)

HDV:  An HD format based on MiniDV.  It uses the same tape as MiniDV, but records in an MPEG format instead allowing it to record an HD image.

AVCHD:  A solid state format used by many cameras that record direct to a hard drive or flash card.  These cameras use an MPEG4 or H.264 format to record in.  AVCHD is used in home camcorders and professional cameras.

P2:  A solid state format used with some professional Panasonic cameras.

SxS:  A solid state format used with some professional Sony cameras.

DVCPro 100, XDCam, Varicam, HDCam, HDCam SR:  These are all high end formats used in broadcast and films.  Most are tape based, some are solid state, (the XDCam records onto disc) and have various types of compression formats.

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