Not THOSE kind of home movies!
January 17, 2006 4:51 AM   Subscribe

PAL v. NTSC Re:Mini DV. I need help choosing a new video camera, but have some concerns about my future.

I'm from the US (the old US, not the new one) and am living in the UK. I have reason to be buying a video camera but need to make sure that I can watch my home movies either in the UK on PAL TVs or in the US on NTSC TVs when I move back there.
I am most interested in the MiniDV format or the newer HDR models. How much is the PAL/NTSC format going to come into play? Am I better off buying in the UK to play in the UK and US or vice versa? Is it even an issue?

Are the cameras actually encoding the video differently or does the encoding occur when the DV signal is sent to the TV?

Any suggestions on specific models that might make this a non-issue? Also, are the HDR cameras worth the extra dough? My justification is that eventually I will own an HDTV (or the technological equiv. of the future).
Don't tell my wife I said that.
posted by medium format to Technology (6 answers total)
I'm from US and now in UK and was in a similar situation when buying a camera. I ended up buying an NTSC camera in the US as most UK televisions are able to play NTSC but I don't think most US televisions are able to play PAL. So, my movies are now NTSC, I can watch them here and I know they'll still work if I ever move back to the US.

Sorry, I don't have any recommendations though. I bought mine years ago.
posted by gfrobe at 6:16 AM on January 17, 2006

As far as I'm aware, HD is HD. It's not subject to the same weirdness that NTSC and PAL are.

If you can afford it, I'd say that going down the HDR path would be a better idea with the future in mind. You can put your videos on DVD for now, and archive the source files for a few years until HD-DVD, or Blu-Ray win the "format wars", at which point you could re-author things in HD.
posted by jcruden at 7:06 AM on January 17, 2006

i believe PAL plays back NTSC better than NTSC plays back PAL. That said, digital is digital the world around.

Your new camera should have a Firewire cable that will allow you to suck the footage into your computer and burn a DVD that will work everywhere. Tape is good for capturing and archiving, leave the playback to cheaper technology.

The only exception to this rule is quality. You won't get true HD playback in DVD right now, but you will get true HD stored on your computer and on tape so if you want to show your movies on your 380" TV in 2025, you'll have no quality loss.
posted by ransom at 8:36 AM on January 17, 2006

Just poking around I saw this Sony HVR-Z1, which claims it would record in NTSC or PAL. But I couldn't find it on the US Sony site.

This looks like what you might want.
posted by shino-boy at 9:35 AM on January 17, 2006

If you're talking about DV (not HD, by the way...), digital is not digital. HDR stands for "High Dynamic Range," by the way (unless you really meant "HD") ...

The format specifies different sampling rates and number of pixels:

720x480, 4:1:1 (NTSC)
720x576, 4:2:0 (PAL)

More info about than you care to know here.

My recommendation depends on what you want to do with it. If you're going to suck it into a computer and edit it, I'd go for PAL (more resolution). You can always transcode down into NTSC.
posted by jpburns at 2:13 PM on January 17, 2006

pal/ntsc is a serious problem, converting (of the framerate) has to be done (and is very lossy)

normally european pal tvs will play ntsc/pal while american ntsc tvs often not play pal

most cameras/camcorders come in actually technically identical pal and ntsc versions, choose the one that allows you to use the camera with less hassle
posted by suni at 2:27 PM on January 17, 2006

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