OT: Canon HV30 is DEAD (Heads). What Corder to Buy

Soniclight wrote on 6/8/2014, 1:27 AM
As some of you know, I've had an HV30 (bought in 2008) and while I don't use it to the extent you pros use your corders, I've realized it's in terminal condition. Changing tapes, cleaning head does not solve the problem of... camera records, but I can't play anything back on it (be it tape in it or other older ones) or Vidcap through VP10. In short, heads are shot/misaligned. Repair bill seems a waste of money for miniDV is out, might as well get something new. So...

I paid about USD $500 for it back then and would pay up or below that for something comprable. Intrigued by the Go-Pro Black Edition which is roughly USD $400 -- but when I first looked into the Go-Pro a couple of years ago via discussions here, they had (or still have?) the "fish-eye" effect/distortion. Not something I want.

I still do low-light (interior) and the Go-Pro do say they have that setting.

I would much welcome your feedback on the Go-Pro and/or any other corder that could at least do what the HV30 could within that price range.


~ Philip

PS: As some know, HV's were Firewire transfer to computer. Are today's USB 2.0/3.0 as interfaces as good or better? My mobo has at least one USB 3.0 input. As my HV30 I assume most consumer-prosumer corders have miniHDMI out.


farss wrote on 6/8/2014, 2:07 AM
GoPro is a great camera for what it is but it isn't what you need for what you do.

USB is easier than firewire but both are digital so there's no "as good" involved. Both are just a way of transferring digital data from one device to another.

videoITguy wrote on 6/8/2014, 10:42 AM
Don't be looking for any USB2 solutions in digital file transfer -especially direct camera transfer - for some particular technical reasons- this is just not a good solution to camera file transfer

USB 3.0 and 3.1 are very good digital file transfer solutions - but no camera was ever made with that later tech aboard.

What you find in new cameras is all about memory transfer - which means that you record to a digital media (stick, CF card, etc.) - then remove the media and place inside the connection of your PC.
Soniclight wrote on 6/8/2014, 3:20 PM
Thanks for replies.

I get the interface thing and since most people don't have problems transferring, be it USB or by mem stick, whatever I would get would have what is needed. What I'm more interested obviously is what camcorder to buy.

After I submitted a cursory repair ticket to Canon whereby they said they don't service the HVs anymore, they suggested I call them to find and alternative. So I will do that for there are a couple of within-price range Canons that may be what I need. I also want to be able to use me Canon WD-h43 0.7v wide angle lens on whatever I buy, so it should have a 43 mm. thread. I know there are converter rings, but don't those kind of mess things up since the lens is further away from the camcorder's own lens?

I may be totally wrong on the converter ring issue, hence the question.

One of camcorders I'm vaguely considering is the Canon HF R500 which goes for MSRP USD $299. Which is very popular in the same way the HV10/20/30/40s were in their day. Price seems really low but technology has advanced since the HV days, so maybe I'll get more or less the same quality at lower price, tapeless, of course.

It's among the Canon line of consumer corders. I'd love to get the VIXIA HF G20 (newest is G30), but B&H sells it for USD $999, a bit too steep a price for me. Some of the similar numbered models only really differ by what they have as internal memory (or lack thereof, i.e. needing card).

And last, a question coming from someone totally out of the loop since I've only used a miniDV camcorder: do these and others have internal hard drives that act as tape would -- or was that a passing fad? Again, pardon the ignorance, I'm just trying to catch up here... :)

Oh, and if anyone has a second or third good quality corder in mint condition that they'd like to sell, let me know. (Figured I'd ask).

farss wrote on 6/8/2014, 4:05 PM
[I]" do these and others have internal hard drives that act as tape would -- or was that a passing fad?"[/I]

None of them have an internal spinning HDD.
Some have internal flash memory e.g. the Sony NX30 has 96GB of it.

As for the USB2/3 thing; the readers for high end cards now have USB3 or Thunderbolt interfaces. That makes sense given the card's higher read / write speed.

One thing to keep in mind when going tapeless is you'll find yourself spending a bit more on HDDs for backups. Offsetting that is the money saved on buying tapes.

GeeBax wrote on 6/8/2014, 6:03 PM
Cameras from a few years ago did have built-in hard drives, but not these days with high capacity cards making the cameras smaller. Even if your mobo does not have a card reader built-in, they are very cheap to buy and are faster than USB anyway. You might want to change cards out on location so USB becomes a moot point anyway.

I would not be too concerned about the storage part of the camera, with current models it will most likely be adequate for what you want, I would focus on the camera itself.

Questions to ask about the camera are:

1/ Do you need good in-camera audio?
2/ Is a good zoom lens important?
3/ Does the camera have a decent VF? I often find the flip out screen is unusable in outside conditions.
4/ Does the lens have optical stabilisation? Do you want OIS?
5/ What resolution do you want to shoot in, and does the camera support it?
6/ How good is the low light performance, and is this important to you.

There are many more, but that is a start.


riredale wrote on 6/8/2014, 8:41 PM
If you loved the HV30 and wouldn't go for any other device it it weren't for the heads, why not buy another one on eBay? You can probably get a very decent one for less than $100.

If you are a tinkerer you could even buy a drum assembly (or the whole drive system, for that matter) and a service manual. But I've worked on my Sony camcorders and can vouch that it's not for a person who's all thumbs.
richard-amirault wrote on 6/8/2014, 9:49 PM
I understand your desire to get a camcorder that will use your existing wide angle adaptor ... however ... unless you are very lucky in finding one with the same thread size ... I suggest buying the best camcorder you can and replacing the wide angle adaptor with whatever fits the new camcorder.

I had/have a MiniDV Cannon GL2 and purchased Cannon's wide angle adaptor for it .. loved it ... but when I upgraded to a HD camera it didn't fit .. so I bought Cannon's adaptor for *that* camera rather than try to adapt what I already had. Maybe you can sell that old adaptor and get some money for it.
Soniclight wrote on 6/8/2014, 9:49 PM
Thank you all again for further, detailed replies. Got other things going on and so cannot reply to specific points for a day or so. Just wanted to acknowledge your taking the time to respond.

~ Philip
PeterDuke wrote on 6/9/2014, 12:35 AM
Many people use cameras these days that record to memory card, and transfer their recordings by taking the card out and placing it directly into a PC card reader, because the transfer is much quicker than via USB.

Whether the camera has hard disk or cards only, they (usually?) have a file system in which the file system is based on 32 bits and therefore the file size is limited to 2 GB or 4 GB, depending on whether signed or unsigned arithmetic is used. Long recordings that would exceed this limit are therefore segmented into chunks no larger than the limit.

You are then faced with the problem of joining these chunks back together again. AVCHD recordings seem to be analogous to the VOB files in a DVD in that they are formed by arbitrarily cutting the file up without regard to the file contents. If the chunks are used without first concatenating them, the resulting scene will have dropouts at the joins.

There are many ways to achieve this, but you need to make sure that your workflow achieves this.

My camera has a hard disk, so removing the card is not an option for me. I could however mount my camera via USB and copy the files using Windows Explorer, but I would then have the problem of joining the chunks of long scenes back together again.

My camera is a Sony, and it came with PMB (Picture, Motion Browser) software which transfers files via USB from camera to a database (which I don't use) on the computer, and in the process, the fragmented scenes are joined back into single files, one per scene. As a useful byproduct, the files are renamed to shooting time and date, a very handy feature for me. The transfer does take quite a while, unfortunately.

Someone on this forum had a camera that recorded to MP4 rather than AVCHD. Simply concatenating the 2/4 GB chunks was not appropriate in that case.

Check to see what transfer software comes with your camera and consider whether it is the best for your workflow and needs.
flyingski wrote on 6/9/2014, 11:55 AM
Philip, nothing in the published specs for the R500 indicates it even has threads and as near as I can tell from internet pictures it does not so you couldn't mount your WD H-43. However your HV-30 with the wide adapter gave you a 30.5 mm (35 mm equivalent) lens and the R500 has a 32.5 mm at it's widest setting. Quite likely you wouldn't notice the difference.

I have an HV-30, + the WD H-43 and always figured I gave up at least one f-stop and the edges of the video were pretty soft. The HV-30 is resting comfortably in retirement since I now shoot almost entirely with a DSLR. I use a Canon M500 for b-roll if necessary and that model accepts the wide adapter. It seems the big difference in the M series and the R series is the lens. For $249 the R500 looks like an inexpensive way to go tapeless. I'd suggest selling the WDH-43 and using the proceeds to buy memory cards. Good luck with your search for a new camera.
Soniclight wrote on 6/9/2014, 5:00 PM

Again, thank you for even further detailed responses -- they are and will be useful to me. And/but -- for now -- I somehow got the HV30 to work again (record and playback). I gently went into the area of the head and kind of at random jiggled a couple of parts. Maybe the drum or whatever it is called was stuck or something.

For how long it will work, who knows, but keeping my fingers crossed. Usually when stuff like this starts happening, eventually there is the cross-over into R.I.P. status. My patient is still alive for now. :)

Well, not perfectly: there were more m2t files than what should have been, but everything was there. That chopping up alone probably not a good sign for longevity. One day at a time...

~ Philip
mdindestin wrote on 6/9/2014, 8:18 PM
I had an HV20 and now an HV30 that is relegated to a back-up tripod cam, just in case.

I encourage you to explore a DSLR. There's really nothing like it for the money.

A Canon t2i is a great cam that can be had for just a couple of hundred on ebay. Put your money in glass, not a body.

Install the free magic lantern software and, once you've learned to grade, the free cinestyle software, buy the so called nifty-fifty lens for a hundred bucks and you, sir, are in business.

MarkHolmes wrote on 6/9/2014, 11:22 PM
I'll second the recommendation for a DSLR - I used HV20s, HV30s, then HV40s for my event videography. Looking for something with a better image that shot to SD cards led me to the Panasonic Lumix cameras. I've been shooting on GH2s, now 2 GH3s, for a couple years now and love them.
With the release of the 4K GH4, GH3s have dropped in price to a grand, $900 when you catch them on sale.
They shoot continuously for as long as you like (unlike other DSLRs), the AVCHD files play well in Vegas, and with the GH3s, battery life is never a problem - they shoot over 3 hours per battery. With cheap adaptors, you can put just about any lens ever made on them, and the Micro Four Thirds lens lineup is affordable and high quality.
I love them - fantastic stills and video cameras.
Soniclight wrote on 6/10/2014, 1:49 AM
Thanks for DSLR suggestions. I'm considering it, though from the little I know, the auto-focus for video recording on them is totally different (contrast not phase based) and harder to deal with -- so do-overs until one gets it right.

Also, from what I've heard, DSLR footage is harder to edit in an NLE -- takes up far more CPU/RAM and/or other issues of which I am ignorant. As some of you veterans here now from me over the years, I use quite a bit of fx since my stuff is usually in the artsy visual style category. I don't want my preview to go at snail pace...

At least that's what the Canon guy told me when he was suggesting a T3i factory refurbished as part of the 15% price reduction through their Customer Loyalty program the would offer me for that and the below mentioned option camcorders (I return my HV30 to them is part of the deal for e-recycling).

They've offered me some good deals on corders in my price range, but only one - the RF M50 has thread for me to use my Canon WD-h43 0.7x wide angle lens (I don't really want ot lose the investment in that). That corder would cost me about USD $510 tax included. The other corder offered, the RF42 would be about USD $465 -- but no lens thread. Both still steep for me at my current budget. The newer RF500 would be cheaper. All of them use the touted Canon CMOS Pro chips, so image quality should be good.

Important decision to make, so I'm not going to rush it.
Soniclight wrote on 6/10/2014, 1:54 AM
PS: On the RF500 - Missed the above comment by flyingski

"Philip, nothing in the published specs for the R500 indicates it even has threads and as near as I can tell from internet pictures it does not so you couldn't mount your WD H-43. However your HV-30 with the wide adapter gave you a 30.5 mm (35 mm equivalent) lens and the R500 has a 32.5 mm at it's widest setting. Quite likely you wouldn't notice the difference."

So you're saying that the internal ability of the RF500 would bring me pretty close to the HV30 + WD H-43. In short, not much of a WD loss? Does that mean that the RF500 is always on that WD setting or a menu choice? I only want to use WD with outside shots such as landscape, scenery stuff. Inside, WD distorts stuff... :)

Again, pardon my being so behind the curve on newer technologies.
mdindestin wrote on 6/10/2014, 6:59 AM
Once the footage has been shot, it is so much easier to transfer and edit the footage from a DSLR.

I haven't noticed any difference in the HV30 m2t files versus the mov files from my DSLRs. I tend to think the opposite in that the m2t files don't edit as nicely.

I have an older computer running VP11 that does fine.

A DSLR will record true 24 fps progressive. I dread when I use the HV30 because I have to capture in real time via firewire. Then I have to remove pulldown and convert to Cineform and all that just to get mediocre footage.

If you're artsy, you will love the bokeh from putting that nifty fifty lens at 1.8 on occasion. As for focusing, it is a challenge. Magic Lantern has plenty of aids to help with that. You eventually get good at manual focusing with a $40 viewfinder. Or stop the lends down to f/8 or more and the depth of field opens up so that almost everything is in focus. Anyway, for what it's worth.
flyingski wrote on 6/10/2014, 9:31 AM
The RF500 zoom just covers a wider range than your HV-30. It's all through the zoom rocker, no menu involved. BestBxx stocks the camera so perhaps you could check it out and compare it side by side with your HV-30 while it's still working.
Terje wrote on 6/23/2014, 11:48 PM
My recommendation would be to wait for the Panasonic FZ1000 and see what that has in store for us. 4K video, 120 fps 1080p slow motion etc and so forth.

We do not know what it will be, but if it shares some of the video quality with the GH4 (it won't match it) that should be a fantastic alternative. At $899 it isn't in GoPro price territory, but it isn't really expensive either.