Sony DSR-11

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Sony DSR-11
Video editors looking for a good DV deck aren't short of choice these days. Sony's MiniDV Walkman decks have proven to be immensely successful, and we expect the Digital8 equivalents to prove just as popular. Panasonic's NV-DV2000 was another winner when we reviewed it in October 2000. All these machines are easily found in good camcorder shops, and sell at reasonable prices.
Slightly less commonplace is Sony's professional range of DVCAM devices. The DSR-11 is Sony Professional's entry-level machine, costing around the same price as a good three-CCD camcorder. As a format, DVCAM is very similar to the less costly consumer MiniDV. Both use the same method of compression, with video running at 3.6MBytes per second. The formats also use the same kind of tape. However, DVCAM uses more tape than DV, scanning at a faster speed. A 60-minute MiniDV tape will last only 40 minutes when used to make a DVCAM recording. The faster scanning speed has advantages in helping prevent audio and video dropouts, but won't result in a better picture. In addition, DVCAM has a tighter sync lock between audio and video. As we've never seen audio sync slip in DV recordings, we don't really regard this as a great reason to buy DVCAM over DV. Professional DVCAM cassettes are available, and will work with DV devices too. These tapes tend to be more robust than their consumer MiniDV counterparts.
We first heard of the DSR-11 at the end of 2000, and were instantly intrigued by its price and claimed versatility for the DV editor. The machine records and plays back DV and DVCAM video, accepting MiniDV tapes (as used in most camcorders) and longer full-sized cassettes. What's more, it has the ability to be switched from PAL to NTSC - a very attractive feature for those preparing videos for both sides of the Pond.
Despite our misgivings regarding the machine's lack of display panel, and annoying dependency on the remote control, we have to admit to liking the DSR-11. For those working purely with MiniDV, and making short movies, this machine may not be the right choice, however. Sony DV Walkman decks are far cheaper, and the Panasonic DV2000 has the blessing of having a lower price-tag and more AV sockets than you're ever likely to need. In terms of connectivity, the DSR-11 is quite basic, but it truly shines in its potential as a deck for video mastering, and as part of a DIY duplication setup for PAL and NTSC copying. Its support of two world standards, two formats and full-size DV tapes make it worth every penny of its street price for those looking for a reliable, robust, all-purpose machine.

More in the June 2001 issue of Computer Video Magazine

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Reviewed in June's issue:
Matrox Marvel G450 eTV
ATI All-In-Wonder Radeon
Sony DSR-11
Panasonic AG-DVC15

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