Wayne Norman - Jib/Owner Operator - 888-449-2963 (888-44-WAYNE)

8GB P2 High Performance Card


P2 Card Facts and Recording Time
The P2 Card is the future of Television Production.  It eliminates the costly and delicate Videotape Format, replacing it with an easy to use and rugged recording technology that is more acclimated to computer transfer and most importantly is not subject to drop out.

P2 Card Versus Videotape

The debate is on.  

Videotape or the new P2 Memory card technology .  I will be honest,  I am biased toward the P2 Card.  For me the thought of a mechanical process of recording versus an electronic means leaves no doubt as to which is superior for most, but not all applications.

If you are shooting a project in HD, and you will be starting and stopping the camera quite a bit, such as shooting a feature, commercial, music video or film short, then the P2 Card offers tremendous advantages.

The biggest problem with videotape is that it is a mechanical process, one that is subject to incredible stress and potential faults.  The only failures I have personally experienced in the field were always related to videotape, especially head clogs and defective tape stock.

As the tape width gets smaller, and the amount of information to be recorded increases, the videotape recorder engineers had to develop sophisticated processes to increase the write speed of the head across the videotape and find ways of compressing the video so it can fit.  Quite honestly, since Digibeta, all video formats use compression as the most important means of recording a large amount of data.  But with the advent of High Definition the uncompressed Bandwidth increased from 3.58 MHz to almost 30 MHz.  There is no way that the mechanical recording process of videotape can record a signal that large without being several inches wide.  

By using modern compression and new digital technology the engineers have been able to greatly increase the amount of information recorded.  But the reality is, the signal is always compressed, whether it be 1/2 Inch, mini-DV, or DVC Pro tape.  

Also, smaller width videotape is more prone to drop out, because a small amount of lost oxide can represent an enormous loss of compressed data, most often recoverable through dropout compensation, but it can become a significant problem if the videotape is mistreated through extremely high or low temperatures, humidity, or shock.

Most people feel that videotape offers a sense of security, but the reality is it's liability is far greater, especially as the amount of data increases, and the width of tape decreases.  It essentially means that a single piece of oxide represents much more data than it used to , and if that oxide element were to fall off the Mylar backing, it can cause significant lose of data, resulting in a major, potentially unrecoverable video hit.


P2 Advantages and Disadvantages compared to Videotape for 1080/24P and 1080/30P 

P2  8GB Advantages Videotape Disadvatages

Not subject to Dropout

Videotape is subject to dropout

Transfer to editing hard drive much quicker

Slow process of digitizing video from tape to hard Drive

P2 is hot swappable and can, in theory, allow continuous recording forever.

Videotapes take time to change, and production must shut down while tapes are changed

Instant on for faster acquisition and playback

Videotape heads must spool up before they begin recording, and when the heads are in standby are subject to excessive wear and clogs

Can withstand severe shock, vibration, temperature, and humidity changes

Videotape is greatly effected by high humidity, low and high temperatures, severe vibration, Gyroscopic precession, and shock

Not subject to head clogs

Videotape, temperature and humidity can cause head clogs that may reduce the quality and durability of the recording.

Once the P2 Card has been used once you have determined if it has any defects, and should be reliable for tens of thousands of recordings

Videotape is subject to defective manufacturing, sometimes not realized until after the shoot is over

P2 uses less compression technology so artifacts are less than videotape 

Videotape uses very large compression technology to fit on small width videotape

No Mechanical process, so no chance of Jam

Videotape is subject to Jams

1080/24P and 1080/30P are recorded in those formats

1080/24P and 1080/30P are recorded in 1080i formats and converted to 24P and 30P during transfer

No Loading Mechanism, so no chance of damage to the recording

Videotape can get caught in the loading mechanism and be creased, permanently damaging the recording.

P2 Card Recording Times

All Times indicated are based on the 8GB P2 Card

Recording Mode

P2 Card Recording Time

480/60i 16 Minutes
480/24P 16 Minutes
480/30P 16 Minutes
480/24pA 16 Minutes
720P/12fps N/A
720P/18fps N/A
720P/20fps N/A
720P/22fps N/A
720P/24fps 19 Minutes
720P/26fps N/A
720P/30fps 16 Minutes
720P/32fps N/A
720P/32fps N/A
720P/36fps N/A
720P/48fps N/A
720P/60fps 8 Minutes
1080/60i 8 Minutes
1080/24P 8 Minutes
1080/24pA 8 Minutes
1080/30P 8 Minutes
The DV formats tabulated:  
Format specifications and current equipment capabilities
suppliers consortium of 60 manufacturers including Sony, Panasonic, JVC, Canon, Sharp. Sony Panasonic; also Philips, Ikegami, Hitachi. Sony
intended market segment(s) consumer (although JVC makes a dockable DV VTR for the pro/industrial market) professional / industrial professional / industrial / ENG / EFP / broadcast consumer (Video8 & Hi8 replacement)
who's actually buying the stuff consumer / professional / industrial / ENG / EFP professional / industrial / ENG / EFP professional / industrial / ENG / EFP / broadcast consumers
tape type ME (Metal Evaporate) ME (Metal Evaporate) MP (Metal Particle) ME, MP (uses Video8, Hi8 tapes)
track pitch 10 microns (SP) 
6.7 microns (LP)
15 microns 18 microns ???
track width 10 microns (SP) 
6.7 microns (LP)
15 microns (10 microns on some early gear) 18 microns ???
tape speed 18.81 mm/sec 28.215 mm/sec 33.82 mm/sec 28.6 mm/sec (estimated)
cassettes & max. loads miniDV: 80/120 min (SP/LP) 
std: 3.0/4.6 hrs (SP/LP) 
(4.6/6.9 hrs possible using DVCAM 184 min tape)
miniDV: 40 min. 

std: 184 min.

small: 63 min. (note: small is larger than miniDV cassette) 
std: 123 min./184 min.**
Video8, Hi8 standard 120 minute tape: 60 min.
max. camera load 80/120 min. (SP/LP) 184 minutes 63 minutes (AJ-D700/810); 
123 min. (AJ-D200/210); 
184 min. (AJ-D215)**
60 min.
compression 5:1 DVC-format DCT, intra-frame; 25 Mbps video data rate 5:1 DVC-format DCT, intra-frame; 25 Mbps video data rate 5:1 DVC-format DCT, intra-frame; 25 Mbps video data rate 5:1 DVC-format DCT, intra-frame; 25 Mbps video data rate
resolution & sampling 720x480, 4:1:1 (NTSC) 
720x576, 4:2:0 (PAL)
720x480, 4:1:1 (NTSC) 
720x576, 4:2:0 (PAL)
720x480, 4:1:1 (NTSC) 
720x576, 4:1:1 (PAL)
720x480, 4:1:1 (NTSC) 
720x576, 4:2:0 (PAL)
audio recording 
(see "locked vs unlocked"  below)
2 ch @ 48 kHz, 16 bits; 
4 ch @ 32 kHz, 12 bits; 
will accept 2 ch @ 44.1 kHz, 16 bits via 1394 I/O; unlocked (but can record locked audio via 1394)
2 ch @ 48 kHz, 16 bits; 
4 ch @ 32 kHz, 12 bits; 
will accept 2 ch @ 44.1 kHz, 16 bits via 1394 I/O; locked (but some VTRs can be made to record unlocked via 1394)
2 ch @ 48 kHz, 16 bits; locked, plus one analog audio cue track; plays back 32 kHz, 12 bits and presumably 44.1 kHz, 16 bits. 2 ch @ 48 kHz, 16 bits; 
4 ch @ 32 kHz, 12 bits; 
will accept 2 ch @ 44.1 kHz, 16 bits via 1394 I/O; unlocked (but can record locked audio via 1394)
These tapes can play back in... DV, DVCAM, & DVCPRO VTRs DV*, DVCAM, & DVCPRO* VTRs DVCPRO VTRs; DSR-2000 DVCAM VTR Digital8 camcorders
These VTRs can play back... DV & DVCAM* tapes DV & DVCAM tapes (DVCPRO in the DSR-2000; Oct '99) DV, DVCAM*, & DVCPRO tapes Video8, Hi8, Digital8 tapes
IEEE-1394 I/O 
(a.k.a. "FireWire" or "i.link")
Sony & Canon camcorders and VTRs; newer JVC camcorders (output only) DSR-V10, DSR-20, DSR-30, DSR-40, 
DSR-200/200a, DSR-500, DSR-2000, DRV-1000
AJ-D210/215 camcorders and AJ-D230 VTRs with optional adapter. yes
SMPTE 259M SDI (serial digital interface) no DSR-60/80/85/2000 VTRs with adapter AJ-D750/650/640 VTRs with adapter no
4X digital I/O no DSR-85 VTR AG-D780 VTR; NewsByte NLE with onboard VTR no
Analog component I/O no DSR-40/60/80/85/2000 VTRs only AJ-D750/650/640 VTRs no
Y/C & composite I/O yes (DRV-100 & many camcorders: output only) yes (DRV-1000: output only) yes (no Y/C on AJ-D750) yes
Edit control LANC & IEEE-1394  (Sony, Canon); 
Panasonic 5-pin (Panasonic); J-LIP (JVC)
LANC & IEEE-1394 (DSR-V10, DSR-20/30, DSR-200/200a); 
RS-232 (DSR-20); 
RS-422 (DSR-40/60/80/85/2000)
RS-232 (AJ-D230/640/650/750); 
RS-422 (AJ-D640/650/750) 


Format Sync. tip frequency (MHz) Peak white frequency (MHz) Total FM deviation (MHz) Luminance resolution (TV-Lines) Implied Bandwidth (MHz) S/N ratio (Luminance)
VHS 3.4 4.4 1.0 240 3.0
SVHS 5.4 7.0 1.6 400 5.0 46 dB (pro)
(Beta 1) 3.5 4.8 1.3 250 3.1
SuperBeta 4.4 5.6 1.2 285 3.5
ED Beta 6.8 9.3 2.5 500 6.3
Betacam SP 2.0 330 4.1 46.50 dB
Betamax 260 3.2 40 dB
U-Matic 250 3.1 46 dB
U-Matic SP 330 4.1 46 dB
DV Formats 500 6.3
Hi8 400 5.0 45 dB
Typical NTSC Broadcast 330 4.1
DVD Video 500 6.3

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