Can you please explain the difference between the Sony DVCAM w/IC Chip, w/o the IC Chip, and the Digital Master?

Certain DVCAM cameras have a feature called "Clip Link" that utilizes the IC chip to store small still frames of footage for easier retrieval during editing. Each record start and stop writes in an image and its associated time code to the chip. Also, the camera operator can mark a scene as "good" or "bad" with the push of a button. Special editing equipment like Sony's ES-7 editing system can read the still frames to give a quick overview of what's on the tape.

Most people don't use this feature or have cameras without Clip Link. That's why Sony made their "No Chip" DVCAM tapes. They are considerably cheaper and significantly outsell the chip versions.

As an aside, the same IC chip technology is used in Sony's AIT data backup tape and is critical to its performance. AIT uses the chip to store a record of where data is located on the tape. When data needs to be recovered, the chip tells the backup unit exactly where on the tape the data is located. The drive can then shuttle at high speed to the precise location on the tape and begin the restore procedure.

Digital Master DVCAM tape is best suited for editing and is typically used (as the name implies) as a Master tape. It holds up very well in a multi-pass editing situation where the tape is repeatedly shuttled back and forth and recorded upon. It also has the lowest dropout rate of all the DVCAM tapes. All Digital Master DVCAM tapes have an IC chip.

Can I use DVCAM tapes in my consumer MiniDV camcorders?

Yes, you can use DVCAM tapes in your Mini DV camcorder however, the quality of the tape will be different. But, make note that most cameras only fit the smaller DVCAM tapes.

What's the best way to dub from one DVCAM tape to another DVCAM tape?

There are a few different methods to achieve a DVCAM to DVCAM dub.

The easiest method would require two DVCAM decks such as the Sony DSR-25 or the Sony DSR-1500A. You can link the two decks together using a FireWire cable, play your tape back on one machine and record on the other. You can also achieve this method using a DVCAM camera as your playback machine and record using one of the above mentioned decks. (Theoretically you could use two cameras, one for playback and one for recording, assuming they support an input signal via FireWire.)

The second, and more time-consuming way to make a dub would involve dumping your footage into a computer with video editing software and then play the video back from the computer into an attached DVCAM deck or camera. This will take twice as long since you have to play the video back two separate times.

Unfortunately, we're not aware of an all-in-one solution in the form of a single deck with two VTRs.

Can DVCAM tape record in both PAL cameras and NTSC cameras?

DVCAM tape can be used in both PAL and NTSC equipment. If you record in PAL you can only play it back with PAL equipment and vice versa with NTSC.

You can also re-record over your PAL information with NTSC.