Digital Video Camera: SP and LP Recording Explained

Digital video camcorders that use tapes allow you to choose between SP and LP recording. SP stands for standard play and LP stands for long play. Videos recording in SP tend to be of a higher quality than those shot in LP. So why would anyone want to shoot in LP if the quality is lower?

Long Play

Remember that LP stands for "long play." If you're using a 60-minute tape, then you can only shoot 60 minutes of video in SP. But if you choose to shoot in LP then you can get 90 minutes out of the tape. Although the quality is lower, there isn't really much of a difference. If you're shooting a short video to send to film festivals then you should choose SP. But if you're recording your child's hour and fifteen minute dance recital then you can get away with LP. You're family won't notice the difference and you'll save tape stock.


Some cameras and tapes allow you to shoot in SLP. This stands for "super long play," and will give you about 2 to 3 hours of tape to shoot on. Video recorded in this setting does tend to be considerably lower in quality than video shot in SP.

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