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Cameras and Formats

Our friends and sponsors at VA Digital Hire provided us the following helpful information about television production cameras and formats.

HD Digital Video Formats

This is the current crop of HD formats in use today. As with the SD formats, below we list comparisons of resolutions and compression, as well as the various frame sizes and frame rates that are possible. In addition, one of the main areas of confusion lately is that most of these formats do not record a "true" (full raster) 16 x 9 frame size. Most formats use a type of anamorphic compression to reduce the bandwidth of the video, recording the widescreen video into a more square-like frame. On display, these formats are "un-squeezed" to display a proper 16 x 9 dimension. But on capture into various editing systems, the formats may be captured "natively", which means that the video is captured at its squeezed frame size. This is perfectly natural- the video is now the same in the computer as it is on tape. No extra information is lost in the process. Use the information below to confirm the frame sizes of the formats you are working with. The downside of anamorphic 16 x 9 is a loss of some horizontal resolution.



XDCAM HD422 products record and play back high-definition videos with 1920 x 1080 and 1280 x 720 resolutions using MPEG HD422 compression, which employs MPEG-2 4:2:2P@HL compression technology. Data rates of up to 50 Mb/s are used for recording, providing the highest picture quality in the XDCAM series while keeping the data size as low as possible to easily transfer and transmit. Moreover, the MPEG HD422 codec is based on industry standard MPEG compression, offering high compatibility with many other devices such as nonlinear editing systems.


MPEG HD422 (MPEG-2 4:2:2P@HL)1920 x 1080 4:2:2

59.94i, 50i,29.97P, 25P, 23.98P*4

1280 x 720

59.94P, 50P, 23.98P(Pull-down)

MPEG HD (MPEG-2 MP@HL) 1440 x 1080 4:2:0

59.94i, 50i, 29.97P, 25P, 23.98P*4

1280 x 720 4 4:2:0

59.94P, 50P, 23.98P(Pull-down)


Red One, capable of recording at resolutions up to 4096 horizontal by 2304 vertical pixels, directly to flash or hard disk storage. It features a single Super 35-sized CMOS sensor and a cinematography industry standard PL mount.


Sensor 12 Megapixel Mysterium

Physical Size 24.4mm x 13.7mm (Super35mm)

Active Pixel Array 4520 (h) x 2540 (v)

Full Pixel Array 4900 (h) x 2580 (v)

Dynamic Range > 66dB

Depth of Field Equivalent to 35mm Cine Lenses

(S16mm with windowed sensor)

Acquisition Formats 4K (16:9, 2:1, and Anamorphic 2:1)
3K (16:9, 2:1, and Anamorphic 2:1)
2K (16:9, 2:1, and Anamorphic 2:1)

Delivery Formats* 4K RGB
1920 ƒƒƒƒƒƒƒƒƒƒƒ—1080 progressive, RGB or 4:2:2
1280 ƒƒƒƒƒƒƒƒƒƒƒ—720 progressive, RGB or 4:2:2

Project Frame Rates 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30 fps 4K

plus 50, 59.94 and 60 fps 3K (windowed)
plus 75 and 120 fps 2K (windowed)

Video Preview HD-SDI and HDMI preview including Look Around 1280×720 progressive, 1280×720 progressive, 4:2:2

Digital Media FireWire 800/400, USB-2 and e-SATA interfaces

RED DRIVE: (RAID) hard disk drive (320GB)

REDFLASH: flash memory drive (64 GB) (CF) Compact Flash Module

REDCODE: 12 bit RAW 4K, 3K and 2K (windowed sensor)

30 fps 4K
“ 60 fps 3K
120 fps 2K Audio 4 channel uncompressed,

24 bit, 48KHz



HD version of Digital BETACAM, used in conjunction with the original Sony CineAlta HDW-F900 camera. One of the more notable aspects of this format was that it was the first HD format to truly break into mainstream filmmaking, used to shoot Star Wars Episode I. It has become one of the most common high end mastering and delivery formats. A newer, higher resolution version of this format now exists: HDCAM SR, listed afterwards.


1080 formats records at 1440 x 1080

1080i, 1080p

23.98, 24, 25, 29.97 fps


3:1:1 chroma sampling

8 or 10-bit

DCT compression at 7:1 (intrafield)

144 MB/sec (bit rate)

4 audio channels


Newer flavour of HDCAM with multiple improvements including the capability to record uncompressed colour resolution and a full 16 x 9 frame size of 1920 x 1080. Used in conjunction with the Sony CineAlta HDW-F950 camera and the Sony F23/F35 CineAlta camera. A field tape deck called the SRW1 is dock able, in other words, can be mounted on a camera similar to film magazines, which frees up the camera from being tethered to a connected deck.


1920 x 1080 (full frame 16 x 9)

Square pixel

1080p, 1080i

23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 59.94 (in 720p) fps

4:4:4 RGB recording

Optional- 4:2:2 component recording


MPEG-4 Studio Profile compression (at 4:1 for 4:4:4 recording)

Intrafield compression for interlaced video

Intraframe compression for progressive video

440 MB/sec (bit rate)

12 audio channels




Developed by Panasonic. Similar compression type to DV 25 but uses a higher bit rate up to 100 MB/sec, depending on the specific HD format being recorded. Highly popular format because of its lower bit rates, and incredible resolution considering how highly compressed the format is. Native recording format for the Panasonic Varicam or the newer camcorder style HD cameras from Panasonic including the AG-HVX202. Although similar data rates as HDV, it does not suffer from the same motion artefacts as HDV as DVCPRO HD does not use temporal compression like HDV. Although Panasonic is moving away from cameras that record to tape, DVCPRO HD is still found on many DVCPRO HD decks for camera recording or post mastering.


1080 formats record at 1280 x 1080

720 formats record at 960 x 720

1080p at 23.98, 24, 25 fps

1080i at 25, 29.97, 30 fps

720p at 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 59.94, 60 fps


4:2:2 chroma sampling


DCT compression at approx. 7:1 (intraframe)

Up to100 Mbit/sec bit rates

8 audio channels



HD D5:

Developed by Panasonic, HD video is recorded using standard D5 videotapes. Supports multiple HD resolutions, frame rates and frame sizes. Unlike SD recording, HD recording is spatially compressed. The format has become one of the most common high end mastering and delivery formats.


1920 x 1080 (full frame 16 x 9)

1280 x 720 (full frame 16 x 9)

Square pixel

1080i and 1080p, 720p

23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30 fps

Component signal

4:2:2 chroma sampling

8 or 10-bit

DCT compression at 4:1 (intrafield)

235 MB/sec (bit rate)

4 audio channels


Current adopters of this format include Sony, JVC and Canon. Used for recording HD video on DV videotape. Uses MPEG-2 Long-GOP recording (temporal compression).

Due to the nature of the compression used, this format can suffer from motion artefacts, especially with fast moving or complex subject matter.


1080 formats records at 1440 x 1080

720 formats record at 1280 x 720

1080i, 1080p, 720p

Depending on format, support for 23.98, 25, 29.97 fps

4:2:0 chroma sampling


MPEG-2 Long-GOP compression (interframe)

Up to 25 Mbit/sec for 1080 formats

Various compression ratios depending on the exact format

2 audio channels