4 Replies Latest reply on Oct 15, 2009 10:36 AM by Jim_Simon

    BetaCam SP and Firewire

    pebalsamo Level 2

      If I take a BetaCam SP deck and hook it up to a Conopus external box and take firewire from there to my computer is there a loss of quality?  I am thinking so but I really do not know the particulars....  If I do it this way what kind of sequence settings would I use to work with?  Would it just be NTSC DV?




        • 1. Re: BetaCam SP and Firewire
          Colin Brougham Level 6

          Technically, yes, there would be a quality loss because you're going from an "uncompressed" analog source to a 25mbps, 5:1 compressed intraframe digital video stream. This can be minimized as much as possible by using component out of the Beta deck--though I'm not sure what Canopus box you're working with, so you might not have that capability. The ADVC-100/300 don't have component in, so you're limited to composite (ick) or S-video (slightly less ick). Combine those factors, and technically you'll be incurring a quality loss. Practically, though--that's for you to decide.


          I capture SP tapes through a Blackmagic Designs DeckLink SP card, using component. However, I use DV as the codec that I capture to--for my purposes, I'm satisfied with the quality. When I'm ready to online this project, I'll go to uncompressed, but for most of what I'm doing, DV is sufficient. The shooter for this project uses a once-top-of-the-line Betacam camcorder, with about a $24,000 hunk of glass on the front. Even capturing to DV, it beats the pants off of what I've seen from most DV camcorders--and I'm talking full-size DV camcorders like the DSR-570. It's amazing what a difference good glass makes. That's just another thing to consider.


          EDIT: Oh, yes... if you capture this way, just use a standard NTSC DV preset. The files you're ending up with are no different than those that come from a miniDV camera.

          • 2. Re: BetaCam SP and Firewire
            pebalsamo Level 2

            Thank you very much Colin for taking the time to explain it.


            I am using the Canopus ADVC 300 so my best option is S-Video.  I have another one of these around here so I will look and see if it is the same model...


            Thanks again...



            • 3. Re: BetaCam SP and Firewire
              Jim_Simon Level 9

              Technically, yes, there would be a quality loss


              Here's what Adam Wilt has to say on that subject.


              "DV formats are typically reckoned to be equal to or slightly better than Betacam SP in terms of picture quality (however, DV holds up better over repeated play cycles, where BetaSP shows noticeable dropout)."


              On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is just barely video and 10 is as good as it gets, I would arrogantly rate assorted formats as follows:


              D-5 (10-bit                uncompressed digital)10
              D-1 (8-bit                uncompressed digital)9.9
              Digital Betacam,                Ampex DCT9.7
              D-9 (Digital-S),                DVCPRO509.6
              DV, DVCAM,                D-7 (DVCPRO)9
              MII, Betacam                SP8.9
              1" Type C8.7
              3/4" SP6.5
              3/4", Hi8,                SVHS5
              Video 8, Betamax4
              EIAJ Type 1,                Fisher-Price Pixelvision1




              Notice how DV is slightly above Beta.  This suggests that the compression is mild enough that it won't introduce additional degradation.  Now admittedly, that is just his opinion.  But having started out with Beta, and moved over to DV, I don't find much about that opinion to criticize myself.


              (On a side note, AVC-I is supposed to be comparable to D-5, which is why I really want a full raster, 3CCD affordable HD camera from Panny.)

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              • 4. Re: BetaCam SP and Firewire
                Colin Brougham Level 6

                You're welcome.


                The only outboard A/D converters (i.e. on the desktop and not in the computer) I found that would accept an RGB/YUV input were in the thousands of dollars. Canopus (now Grass Valley) makes them, and DataVideo had a couple too. It's cheaper, though maybe not as convenient, to but an add-on card for your computer. Old DeckLink cards can be had on eBay for pennies on the dollar--though I should note that the old PCI varieties don't work with 64-bit operating systems. Caveat emptor...