SP and LP refer to the speed with which the tape moves over the tape heads. SP moves the tape at 18.812mm/sec and LP moves it a 12.56mm/sec. LP can give you a longer recording time. SP makes your recordings more secure, because more tape has to be damaged to make your image irretrievable or unaesthetic. In short, you have a risk of higher dropouts in LP mode.
Both SP and LP record exactly the same signal and video information. They are of identical video quality in every regard.
Allow me to relate another anecdote:
In that Babylon 5 project I mentioned earlier, my final recordings were made onto Panasonic 33EB tapes in LP mode. I have over 100 tapes, each with one edited episode of Babylon 5. None of them, NOT ONE, has a dropout. Even after repeated viewings for some.
The above has led me to a hypothesis: slower tape speeds may in fact help eliminate dropouts on DV media. It goes without saying that this could easily be a statistical anomaly. I certainly do not have a sufficiently large sample size to draw concrete conclusions, but I do have dropouts on SP mode. How might this work ? The slower tape may have less difficulty remaining in contact with the heads despite motion, tape path faults or tape irregularities. Remember: This hypothesis is just that, and is in contradiction of standard video engineering wisdom. I have not proven anything yet and my observations could be a statistical anomaly, also known as "dumb luck." If you have an important event to record USE SP MODE.
There is one cautionary note: A lot of cameras and decks have trouble reading tapes recorded in LP modes on other recorders. This has to do with the extremely small size of the MiniDV tape and the specific pitch created by the heads and transport in LP mode. If you have to transport your tapes from one deck to another it is advised that you use only SP mode until you have had a chance to test the interchangeability of LP mode recordings on all your decks and cameras. If you only use one camera you should be OK. Just make sure to buy the next camera before the current unit breaks...so you can transfer your tapes to the new camera via firewire if need be to preserve your footage.
Last update: 08:45 PM Saturday, April 29, 2006