Camera Hacker

Video Transfer from Digital Camera to Camcorder

On a recent trip, up the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway 1 along the California coast, I started shooting videos with my Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P92 digital camera. This camera has the luxury of shooting high-resolution MPEG Movie VX videos at 640x480 pixels.

In the last few years, I have concentrated on shooting pictures and no videos. Therefore I brought neither my camcorder nor my notebook PC. Maybe it is the awesome waves of the ocean, the playful nature of the sea lions, the fierce flight of the seagulls, or the convenient video capturing mode on the Sony DSC-P92 digital camera that prompted me to shoot videos this time around.

The videos ate up my Memory Sticks very quickly. I started buying a new SanDisk 256 MB Memory Stick at every town that had an electronic store, such as Best Buy or Circuit City. At the time of this writing, price of a 256 MB Memory Sticks was about $110 for Sony and around $90 for SanDisk. Two days and three new Memory Sticks later, I realized that the cost is beginning to approach the cost of a MiniDV camcorder. I purchased a Panasonic PV-GS50S MiniDV camcorder promptly at the town of San Luis Obispo.

With three to four Memory Sticks that are full of video, it was hard to find memory space for photographs. I did not want to spend another hundred dollars to add another Memory Stick to my collection. It would be nice to be able to reclaim the Memory Sticks storage space by moving the videos onto MiniDV tapes. An one-hour MiniDV tape can hold 5 Memory Sticks worth of MPEG movies.

It turned out that the Sony DSC-P92 camera has video-out capability and that the Panasonic PV-GS50S camcorder has video-in capability. It would be a direct transfer if I had the right cables; I did not. I had just purchased the Panasonic PV-GS50S and it had included its video cable. But I had left the Sony DSC-P92 video cable at home. So I decided to jury-rig my own transfer cable.

Both Sony DSC-P92 digital camera and the Panasonic PV-GS50S digital camcorder had 3.5mm connector jacks for video input and output. At Monterey, I purchased the follow equipment:

  1. Belkin "Y" Audio Cable - Mini-Stereo Plug to RCA Plugs
  2. GE "Y" Adapter - 1 RCA plug to 2 RCA jacks
  3. RCA Type Jacks Dual Coupler

The Belkin "Y" Audio Cable had a 3.5mm mini-stereo plug at one end and two RCA plugs for left and right audio channels at the other end. Normally this cabled is used for audio, but, at that instance, I wanted to use it to split the video and audio channels coming out of the Sony DSC-P92 camera. On this trip, I did not have the instruction manual for the digital camera with me, so I did not know whether the Sony DSC-P92's video-out had two audio channels or one. But it did not matter, because all of the videos I shot had used the built-in mic; the left and right audio channel would have the same audio signal.

I found out, later, that the Sony DSC-P92 had a monaural (MONO) A/V out jack; single audio channel. The Belkin "Y" Audio Cable would be the equivalent replacement A/V connecting cable for this digital camera.

The RCA Type Jacks Dual Coupler is just a pair of RCA female-to-female converter. This piece of accessory is used to connect the digital camera video cable to the digital camcorder video cable.

Since the video cable of the Panasonic PV-GS50S camcorder has three RCA connectors (video, left and right audio), I used the GE "Y" Adapter to merge the left and right audio channels into one. This way, the audio from the digital camera is recorded on both audio channels on the camcorder.

This set-up worked quite well. I was afraid that maybe Panasonic and Sony used different pins on the 3.5mm jack for video and audio. Apparently they are the same. After this experiment, I figured that these video cables and be used on different consumer electronic products interchangeably. I would not be surprised that all of the consumer electronic manufacturers followed a standard for these video cables.

This set-up could also be used for the reverse transfer of the videos on a camcorder to a digital camera.

If the video cables for the digital camera and the digital camcorder have the same number of RCA plugs at the end, all you need is enough RCA couplers to connect the two cables together. In this case, it does not even matter if the manufacturer changes the pin-out on the video input and output jacks.

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