Shooting: Digital

There are many options available when looking at shooting with digital or electronic equipment from older videotape models to new Digital Video cameras (DV). DV is affordable and regularly used for domestic purposes. There are also high quality DV, Digibeta and High Definition (HD/Hi-Def) cameras which can be hired from many companies and are widely used for television and cinema.

Currently there is an ongoing discussion about High Definition video and Digibeta in the film and television industry around the possible benefits of each. Both formats are being pushed for high end productions. It is difficult to compare digital video or HD to film as they are very different formats and need to be treated as such. Some areas of the industry are trying to push HD as the way forward for shooting drama and some countries have invested heavily in development of equipment, but there are some strong arguments against it. For example, the costs on HD post-production are often much higher than on DV or film.

Tape Formats:

DV / Digital Video (domestic and professional)

Video tape format primarily designed for the consumer market that records a 4:1:1 standard definition signal with a 5:1 compression ratio for a total bitrate of 25Mb/s. DV cassettes come in 2 sizes, Standard and Mini.

Mini DV

Digital video without a stable time code.


Digital video with a stable time code.


Betacam (professional use)

Sony’s half-inch Betacam (plus the SP and Digital advancements) was the industry standard tape format for broadcast and the use of pure data formats (saving directly to a hard disc).


Original half-inch video tape developed by Sony.

Betacam SP

Advanced half-inch video tape.

Digital Betacam / Digibeta

Half-inch video tape digital format.


High Definition (domestic and professional use)

Video format consisting of either 720 active lines of progressive video or 1080 active lines of either progressive or interlaced video.


High Definition


A High Definition videotape format developed by Sony.


Format which uses DV tapes for recording and playback of High Definition video.


Directory button - blue [original]

Details of both camera hire companies and tape stock suppliers can be found via the Film London Directory

Camera hire generally comes under the following two categories: Wet hire (hire with camera operator); or Dry hire (camera only). See: 'Camera and Grip Equipment' or 'Film/Video Stock and Laboratories'.

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