Quantcast Camcorder CCD pixel count on Hi8/Digital8 cameras? - digitalFAQ Forum
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  #1  
01-24-2020, 10:11 AM
HBB360 HBB360 is offline
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Hello,
I've been looking at different Digital8 and Hi8 camcorders online, viewing the specifications in all of their manuals and I've noticed something strange but I'm unsure if I understand it correctly.
The manuals for most of these list two things when it comes to the CCD - the size, which is simple enough to understand, and the pixel count, that's the one confusing me.
They list two numbers, the first one is a large number and underneath they list the "effective" pixel count which is usually 100k or so lower.

I've got two questions when it comes to pixel count :

1. What does the effective number mean, why is it different from the first number?

2. On most of these cams, the pixel count is usually less than the number of pixels in a 720x576 frame, does that mean these are lower resolutions than their respective standards?

720x576 is for capture, but even if we use something like 720x400 (400 being the number of lines for Hi8), we get 288k which is more than most of the newer Hi8 CCD pixel counts (the older ones like my now broken CCD-TRV77E do have larger numbers). If we use the 520 lines that the brochure for the DCR-TRV840 mentions for Digital8, we get around 370k - the only CCD with a larger pixel count is the TRV840's (it's a megapixel model with a HAD CCD).

If my reasoning is correct and these do indeed have less pixels than their standards, I'd also like to know if this is visible in picture quality. I need to know as I'm looking at two Digital8 models - a DCR-TRV840 and 330E and I'm wondering which one is the better buy.
I'd take the 840 any day but it's an NTSC model so I could only use it with the iLink output and it wouldn't play back my analog tapes, but if the quality of the 330 which has 290K effective pixels (so around 80K less than 520 line Digital8) is noticeably worse I'm willing to make the sacrifice as I'm looking for best picture quality when recording tapes in Digital8.
It's also important to note that the 840 is being sold for around $25 whereas the 330 is going for 65! I may be able to talk the guy down to 50 but not much more.

I'm not sure if my wording is understandable so feel free to ask for clarifications!
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  #2  
01-24-2020, 10:32 AM
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The CCD affects shooting, not playback.

What you're seeing is the long version of what I've said for years: consumer digital camcorders are all fairly lousy, and will never actually resolve the maximum pixels of the format. For DV, it was 720x480, for HD it's 720p/1080p, etc. Pixels are just a palette for the image data, which rarely resolves 1:1 even on pro models. It's not even just about the CCD/CMOS, but the glass, sensor, size of the sensor, type of sensor, manufacturer of sensor, pixel/color co-sites, algorithms/codecs, etc.

It's why I often state that you can capture DV via analog means (camera > TBC > capture card), and generally not see any difference in image quality. So no fussing with Firewire, no fighting WinDV when it splits or clips footage, etc.

Most consumer camcorders are like an old 35mm point-and-shoot or modern cell phones. Whereas pro cameras are the SLRs and dSLRs. Sensor quality is the main advantage, followed by optics.

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  #3  
01-24-2020, 12:20 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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Simply because CCD chips back then were pretty expensive and manufacturers use less pixel count to cut costs the resulted quality is a blurry picture, Thank god no need for them now, a cellphone can capture 4K with better low light performance. As Lordsmurf said you don't need the camera's CCD for capturing.
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  #4  
01-24-2020, 01:09 PM
HBB360 HBB360 is offline
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I know, but I've been hit by nostalgia recently and I want to shoot an upcoming trip entirely on tape, so It'd be nice to know if the picture quality is noticeably different between the two CCDs.
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01-24-2020, 04:06 PM
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Can I also say, it's really unfair how the US/NTSC market got all of these cool devices back in the late '90s/early '00s. I mean you guys got D-Theater whereas we're stuck with STD D-VHS here in Europe at most and this series of camcorders with actual (almost) 1/4inch CCDs with nice high resolutions and other cool features only came out as NTSC units.

For the camcorders it shouldn't matter as they all use DV but the A/V and S-Video isn't going to work on most TVs and they won't apply TBC/DNR to analog PAL tapes when playing them back (if they even can play back PAL 8/Hi8 tapes).

I don't know what would've been the reasoning within these companies for this but I'm dumbfounded, if anything Europe is a higher end market than the states (maybe not Japan but still). I'm sure the high-end decks and cams would've been very popular in the rich countries of the EU block.
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01-25-2020, 11:32 AM
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Why would you want to shoot on tape? And are you considering Hi8 or digital8? The last tape based camera I have is a Sony Z5u which is HD, and worked flawlessly, but I finally made the switch from tape. I used Hi8 for almost 10 years and I'm currently struggling with capturing the footage (head clogs, head alignment, deinterlacing, resizing the image, etc) and squeezing every last drop of quality I can from the inferior format. Transfering a premium quality SD card and enjoying the 2 or 4k footage is so much better. You can always make it look like Hi8 later if you want
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  #7  
01-25-2020, 02:34 PM
HBB360 HBB360 is offline
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Yeah, you can always shoot with modern gear and make it look like Hi8 but I just like how primitive and clunky analog video is, most of my life has been with digital HD video and I love experiencing analog because it's just so fun! I don't really mind the inferior quality because I just enjoy the experience of shooting on the format.

Also, unless you get a proper video camera with multiple SD cards you can't really get your entire trip on video, whereas with a pretty cheap old Handycam you can have the whole experience in it's entirety which I always enjoy putting on the TV when we have dinner with family/guests and the fact that we get to see so much more of the trip compared to if we were shooting on our phones outweighs the low video quality.

As for now, I was initially considering Hi8. This whole thread started after I broke my CCD-TRV77E while trying to put in a less-worn head drum from another model. They ended up being incompatible and I broke the mechanism in the disassembly and some more while assembling it.

I keep beating myself up over it and realise it's really dumb as the 77E is a really nice high-end Hi8 machine and I was only able to find newer ones with low CCD pixel counts online. I found the Digital8 840 and am now thinking of getting that and shooting DV, even though it's NTSC it doesn't really matter as my TV accepts NTSC signals fine and I can dub it over firewire onto D-VHS or even on PC with WinDV even though that's not the point of shooting in Digital8 for me.
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  #8  
02-02-2020, 12:47 PM
cbehr91 cbehr91 is offline
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Think of effective pixel count as the actual number of pixels being used to form an image. But more doesn't necessarily mean better. It's a whole process like video capture. Echoing LS, the senor size, type (CCD vs CMOS), and lens type and quality all come into play (and economics all tie into that...all cameras, period, are/were built to a price point.)

I'll also ask: Why shoot on tape? Why shoot SD? Especially a vacation when you may experience things you never will again, wouldn't you want your memories to be the highest quality? Any smartphone takes better video than a 20-year-old SD camcorder. There is just a niche/hipster thing going on with analog video I'll never understand because I lived the analog days and I never want to go back.
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