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 Sony HD camcorder 
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Post Sony HD camcorder
Sony HD camcorder
by: Kenny Hemphill

The Sony HD camcorder, the Handycam HDR-FX1 is being marketed by the company as ‘world's first HDV 1080i consumer camcorder’. But at $3,700, it’s price tag is stretching the consumer label somewhat.

However, there’s no doubt the the industry sees HD video as a consumer format and prices will come down over the next couple of years. This Sony HD camcorder is just the start of what is sure to be an avalanche of HD camcorders from electronics companies over the next few months.

So, does this mean we can all look forward to shooting Hollywood-quality home movies in the future? Not quite. Although its true that some Hollywood fetaures, such as George Lucas’ ‘Star Wars: Attack of the Clones’ are being shot in high definition video, its not the same high definition as is shot and recorded by these camcorders.

If you look again at that Sony quote, you’ll see the important label, 1080i. If you’re familiar with HDTV, you’ll know that 1080 refers to 1080 lines of vertical resolution and the ‘i’ means the video is interlaced. 1080i is one of the two most common HDTV formats, the other being 720p (720 lines, progressive scan).

Hollywood HD movies are shot on another format, 1080p. This is higher quality than the other two, as it mixes the higher resolution with the better-quality progressive scan picture.

There is another important difference too. Hollywood HD is uncompressed, whereas the video shot by cameras like this Sony HD camcorder is compressed as MPEG-2. This compression inevitably lowers the quality of the video stored on the camera’s DV tape. However, it’s necessary because the HDR-FX1 connects to a computer using a FireWire cable and FireWire, whether it is the 400 or 800 variety, doesn’t have the bandwidth to transfer uncompressed HD footage. Even if it did, the sheer size of the files would make it impractical because of the large amoount of hard disk space needed to store it and the processing power needed to edit it.

Another fly in th HD ointment is that, currently, very few applications are able to edit the footage from this Sony HD camcorder. However, that looks set to change,as Apple has already announced that the next version of its Final Cut Express and iMovie applications, due at the end of January, will be able to edit HD.

HD video will eventually become a common consumer format, when prices come down and editing software is able to work with it. However, until a compression format is found that can squeeze the data contained in HD without noticeably reducing the quality, there will be little benefit over current DV format camcorders.

About The Author

Kenny Hemphill is the editor and publisher of The HDTV Tuner,

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This article was posted by permission.

Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:47 am
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