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scubanut75

hi-8 versus digital

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I currently have a sony hi-8 video camera and I'm looking into purchasing an underwater housing. However, I was wondering if it would be better to purchase an all out digital camera and housing or can I get by using an Ikelite housing that fits my hi-8 camera. Responses would be appreciated from anyone with experience. Thanks!

 

Ryan

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Which Hi-8 camcorder is it?

 

There is a MAJOR difference in video quality between a Hi-8 camcorder and, say, a TRV-33. I own both - the difference is STUNNING. On my 60" HDTV monitor the Hi-8, quite frankly, blows rocks through a hose compared to the MiniDV.

 

If the Hi-8 camcorder has a LANC port, and you buy a housing that is "universal", then you might go that way - this way when you get unhappy with the Hi-8 system you don't lose the investment in the housing! This means NOT an Ikelite (or any other mechanical) housing, by the way....

 

Otherwise, buy the full digital setup. Among other things the editing capabilities are far better. While you can upconvert to digital and solve that problem, you can't fix the quality deficiency.

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Thanks....

 

Can you explain the difference between "universal" and mechanical. I own a Sony DCR-TRV-820.

 

The reason I'm purchasing the equipment is

 

A) I love to SCUBA dive and I want to document my adventures

 

B) I teach a marine biology class to high school students and we've been going on a field trip to Grand Cayman the past few years and I want to start to give the kids a tape to remember their trip.

 

Any help :( would be greatly appreciated. I will need to edit the video; we have the capability here at school as long as the video is in a digital format. That is why I was wondering what the difference between Hi-8 and a purely digital system.

 

I've been searching the web for weeks and I've become more confused and scared :blink: about purchasing a system.

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It's my understanding that the TRV820 is a Digital8 system which means that it works just like DV as far as the video format is concerned. You should be able to edit your results fine with this camera. It would not be wise to invest in an underwater rig for a Hi8 camera at this point, but that is not the case for you.

 

Most Sony camcorders respond to a basic set of electronic commands through a plugin jack. This allows a housing manufacturer to make a universal housing for cameras such as yours without adapting mechanical controls to fit a particular camera. I am not very familiar with these personally but I believe USVH is a good source for this type of housing and may be able to help you.

 

Ikelite offers housings with mechanical controls and can most likely also support your camera. Ike is a regular reader/contributor here and has always been responsive to questions directed to him and his company. I would recommend you check Ikelite out as well. Finally, you may be able to find a used complete rig that may make better financial sense. A new housing for a unique model may cost more than a complete used setup.

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The problem with Ike - or any other mechanical housing - is that its a one-shot show. That is, the housing won't fit your NEXT camera.

 

Now this is somewhat of a problem with still cameras, but one you HAVE to eat as there is no "common" control available for electronic controls.

 

But its a HUGE problem with digital camcorders, as they seem to change models every second week, and if you have a flood, you could be left with a housing and no camera for it, unable to find another one of the same model, and be SOL.

 

The truly ugly thing would be if you had the camera and housing insured, got paid off for the camera on the insurance, and now had an "orphan" housing that you ended up EATING. There may be ways around this with various insurance carriers (DEPP and DAN, for example) that involve scheduling both items as "one", so the entire SET is condemned, but I have no idea if they'll let you do that or not.

 

It also has a lot to do with the magnitude of the loss. The Ike housing for my Oly5050, for example, was only $500. No biggie there. Plus, there are so many of those things out there that if I DO flood or damage it I can probably get another - on eBAY if necessary - for many years to come.

 

That might not be true for a specific model of camcorder. I see none of my Hi-8 camcorders on eBAY, for example, but a couple of DOZEN of my Nikon digital still camera from the same year of purchase.

 

This risk probably rises exponentially as you buy a nicer and nicer camera. For example, finding a used PDX-10 might be a lot harder than finding a used TRV-38.

 

This is a big part of why I ordered a USVH housing. Worst case is that I will have to buy plastics - Warren has said he'll re-fit the plastics (the housing case itself) for a few hundred bucks if for some reason I get forced out of the model I own today down the road (or want to move up.) The vast majority of my investment is thus protected in the housing - which is a good thing! Also, I might be able to buy a different camera that will do what I want, and still fit in the original housing (as long as the lens port lines up, and it fits, it'll be ok.)

 

Beware the "half-electronic" housings that have MOST controls electronic but still rely on some mechanical controls - they lock you in just like the full-mechanical ones do, and have as their only "plus" having all the common functions on the grip.

 

If I'm going to pay for an electronic housing, I want the interchangability. That is REAL value to me - and worth some extra coin, as it "future proofs" things to the best of my ability.

 

LANC, by the way, is a Sony and Cannon thing, and not everything you might want is available through it. Nor do all Sony cameras have a LANC port - the latest "screw job" by Sony is that this year's Digital-8 cameras (only two now in the line) BOTH have had the LANC jack removed! The good news is that essentially all if not all of their "PC-format" cameras (the TRV-33/22/etc series, and the PC series) have it, as, of course, do their "prosumer" models.

 

That's the trade-off.

 

BTW, don't get the idea from this that I don't like my Ike housing for my Oly camera. I DO like it - a LOT. However, IMHO the limitations of having the controls all over the place, which is not a big deal for a still camera, is a VERY big deal for a video camcorder, where you may have to manipulate focus and zoom DURING a shot. That doesn't come into play with a still camera.

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Could anyone please identify some good and reputable places to by a used digital set-up. I've contacted USVH for option I. But I'm clueless as to where to begin looking for a used set-up. Thanks!!!

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They're hard to find.

 

A USVH + TRV33 + Nightrider lights went out on eBAY last week...

 

Mechanical housings turn up all the time there, probably from people who either flooded them or damaged the camera in some other way (e.g. dropped it!) and now have an orphan.

 

I rarely see electronic housings on eBAY, but it does happen.....

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That’s not correct as to your comment about focusing and zooming a digital camera housing.

Many housings are set up so you can manual zoom and focus, especially DSLR housings.

 

It’s has been my personal experience in the past 17 years making video housings that mechanical controls are much more reliable than electronic controls.

 

Marc

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