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Help - HDV tape import problem - Sony HC-3 broken - Questions/Warning

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My Sony HC-3 HD camcorder has just failed. I've had it just over 3 years. I really don't enjoy video editing much, and despite maybe shooting 20-30 tapes of HD footage of my young children, I'd only got round to importing a handful over Firewire, but

My Sony HC-3 HD camcorder has just failed. I've had it just over 3 years.
I really don't enjoy video editing much, and despite maybe shooting 20-30 tapes of HD footage of my young children, I'd only got round to importing a handful over Firewire, but was lulled into a false sense of security perhaps by treating the tapes as my film negatives (new tape each time).
The camcorder behaved a bit erratically a few weeks ago when inserting a tape, then the other day it gave an error, I ejected the tape and had a constant C32:11 error flashing. Lots of user reports on the web, no idea what the real issue is, but any suggested fixes didn't work.
Essentially I cannot close the tape transport compartment with or without a tape - it won't accept a tape and return to record/play position.
Almost feels as though something isn't clicking/catching when you push the tape in.
Anyhow, I thought if worst comes to worst I'll just buy Sony's latest model - then the realisation they'd discontinued consumer HDV tape camcorders. Not a happy bunny.
I've sent camcorder to local Sony repair center and am awaiting outcome.
Now my questions are:
1 - Is there any way of simply reading the tape data using an SD camcorder if I ever needed to ? - There are programs that use them to archive data so I guess in theory it must be possible just to read the data, unless it's stored in an SD compliant file format rather than just data.
2 - is 1080i HDV (1440x1080 res) as captured by the Sony HC3 a cross-vendor format or Sony specific - (if 1 is impossible) could I if needed say pick up a Canon HDV camcorder and use that to import my video?
3 - are we to assume now that DV/HDV is dead as a consumer format despite it's better image quality compared to hard drive/memory card video codecs.
Hopefully Sony will repair my camcorder for a fixed rate charge - if they can't or won't what are my options for importing the video I've got on tape?
There are bound to be companies who'll do this for a fee if worst comes to worst, but I feel a bit annoyed with Sony for dropping support for the format after buying an expensive camcorder only a few years ago.
Even if it can be repaired, I'm not sure I'll want to continue using it if there's a risk of future failure and inability to import old tapes. Frankly I'm glad I've used the video function on my Canon 5D II a lot in the last year or so for quick video clips even if many are transiently OOF.
Yes, my fault for not importing the tapes immediately after shooting, but I'd assumed that I would be able to import the data well into the future evene if it meant a new device.

The replay answer
Jeremy Hansen wrote:
HDV is not dead!!! Heavens, the pros laugh at AVCHD and hard drive based cameras. When you shoot on HDV tape, you have a backup.
Sony do still manufacture HDV pro camcorders of course - it's the early adopter consumer they've left in the lurch.
One of my original reasons for using tape was this automatic backup - silly of me not to routinely import tapes to Mac of course.
To answer your questions:
1. No, you can't read it with an SD camera. you are correct that it is just 12GB of data, but no software really knows how to go back and forth, so to speak. In case you care, there was an app years ago (I forget which) that could use a Dv camera as a 12GB backup drive. But practically, no.
Shame really seeing as it's just data - I'd used the Firewire SDK kit DVHSCap app to pull off 12-13GB m2ts files in the past which I felt would be ok for computer archival, unedited direct playback on PS3 and fairly quick to convert to AIC as needed for future editing purposes using a utility.
I did wonder if DVHSCap might be able to pull the data from an SD camcorder, but maybe the tape just would not play.
2. HDV is HDV. If you had problems, pros would advise you to import with the same camera, or at least same brand. But, usually there are no problems. There shouldn't be, but occasionally there are.
I was hoping this was the case, great.
3. Image quality is NOT better with hard drive based camcorders. In fact, most use a higher rate of compression than HDV. What is the advantage? A tape-based camera takes an hour to import and hour. Hard drive cams go faster. Some look great, but there is no advantage over HDV.
Yes, the only advantage of HD/card based camcorders is simpler import faster than real time, and I'd always been concerned with HD camcorders you'd have too many eggs in one basket if the HD failed in between imports to computer.
I own an HC-3, and you have to realize it was an early camera in the high-def market. I don't use it often (except as a secondary) because of its optics.
I've always found it produced pretty acceptable results - constantly amazed that 3-4 year old products get regarded as obsolete by manufacturers who just want you to buy the latest gadget.
Here is my advice:
Get a Canon HDV camera. Use it to import your tapes, and enjoy its superior optics and color quality. Opinion? Yes, but I believe it.
I may consider that if repair fails - any model recommendations that would trounce the Sony?

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