One of the problems of tape-based camcorders like 8mm (Video8, Hi8, and Digital8) and MiniDV is the lack of direct connectivity with computers for video editing.
Additional accessories like video capture cards and Firewire ports are required to convert the AV signals to digital.
DVD camcorders addressed this problem. DVDs, being digital, are directly accessible by computers. Of course you would need a DVD drive on your computer.
There are two types of DVD camcorders that use MiniDVD discs.
The first DVD Camcorder type is one that supports DVD-R and DVD-RW discs.
The second type is one that supports DVD-RAM, DVD-R, and DVD-RW discs.
We will be talking about the DVD-RAM camcorder.
A DVD-RAM camcorder is a variant of the DVD camcorder. In fact, the first generation of DVD camcorders supported only DVD-RAM discs.
The Hitachi DZ-MV100E DVD-RAM camcorder is the world’s first DVD camcorder.
A DVD-RAM camcorder uses an 8-cm version of the DVD-RAM disc.
The disc is housed in a plastic cartridge.
A full-size DVD-RAM disc has a storage capacity of 9.4 GB.
A camcorder DVD-RAM is usually a double-sided disc. It can store 1.4 GB per side. So, the total storage capacity is 2.8 GB.
You may store up to 30 minutes of video per side.
Advantages of a DVD-RAM Camcorder
A DVD-RAM disc is much like a hard disk. Every time you press the Record button on a DVD-RAM camcorder, the recording is saved as a separate file. This allows for easy reviewing and deleting of recorded files.
A DVD-/+RW camcorder records in a linear fashion, similar to a tape recorder. You would have to rewind and fast-forward to review and delete recorded footage.
Long-Life Disc Storage
DVD-RAM discs are housed in cartridges. As such, there’s no room for contact with the disc, which could lead to a deterioration in video quality.
In other words, there’s protection against fingerprints and dirt
With a tape-based camcorder, you have to worry about tapes breaking and getting tangled.
A DVD-RAM camcorder is much easier to operate compared to a tape-based camcorder.
You don’t have to worry about new recordings overwriting existing ones. New recordings are added on, instead of replacing existing ones.
You don’t have to rewind or fast-forward to view what you’ve recorded. You can instantly preview any recordings you’ve made.
You don’t have to search for storage space before starting recording. The camcorder has an intelligent mode that does it for you.
Playing back your recordings is also a breeze. When done with shooting your video, just hit the Play button. The camcorder will play any recordings that haven’t been viewed yet.
You can also easily browse through your recordings to play your preferred ones.
Also, you don’t read to finalize the disc before playing it back on a computer.
DVD-RAM Camcorder Disadvantages
You can’t playback DVD-RAM discs on a standard DVD player or computer DVD drive. You would need a DVD-RAM Recorder or a computer with a DVD-RAM drive.
A major drawback of DVD-RAM camcorders is that video is encoded in the MPEG-2 format. Not all video editors support this format. As it’s a highly-compressed format, editing is slower. It takes a long time to decompress MPEG-2 during editing.
So, to edit footage from a DVD-RAM camcorder, you may have to use software that comes bundled with it.
Burning to Standard DVD
If you have a playback problem with the DVD-RAM disc, then you may transfer footage to a computer via the USB 2.0 port. Once the footage is on the computer, you may use a free DVD burner program to burn the footage to a standard DVD.
You can then play back the DVD through a DVD player or any computer with a DVD drive.
It’s also cheaper to reproduce your DVD-RAM recordings via a standard DVD.
Now that you have an understanding of how a DVD-RAM camcorder works, let’s look at some DVD-RAM camcorder models.
DVD-RAM camcorders are no longer manufactured. There are used units available for sale online, though. Most of them are Hitachi and Panasonic, models.
Hitachi DZ-MV780A DVD-RAM Camcorder
This camcorder records video in 480p quality.
Weighing about 0.45kg, it allows for recording in 16:9 mode using DVD-RAM and DVD-R discs.
Zoom capability is 10x optical and 240x digital zoom.
This DVD-RAM camcorder model comes with a 2.5-inch LCD monitor to preview and play your shots.
It supports SD/MMC cards for still images recorded at 1280 x 960 resolution.
With DVD-RAM, you can record from 40 to 120 minutes of MPEG-2 video on a double-sided disc.
Also included is the DVDCAM software program. It will allow you to transfer video footage to your computer. You also get to burn mini DVD-R discs in-camera. This would come in handy if you don’t have a DVD writer on your computer.
Check out the Hitachi DZ-MV780A DVD-RAM camcorder.
Panasonic VDR-D100 DVD-RAM Camcorder
This Panasonic model comes with USB connectivity. Useful for transferring video footage to a computer that doesn’t come with a DVD drive.
Useful for shooting are its anti-shake, time-lapse, and low-light features.
The 2.5-inch LCD screen allows you to preview and play your shots.
For low-light shooting, you may use the LCD screen as a light source.
The built-in microphone allows you to record video in Dolby Digital stereo.
Check out the Panasonic VDR-D100 DVD-RAM camcorder.