Church installation. We have the camcorder mounted 12' above the floor and I have to use a ladder to get to the camera to take out the SD card and then replace it after I have downloaded the video for edit and publishing. I use an HDMI cable to a view a remote monitor in the sound booth. Is there a way I don't have to get the ladder out each time I need to download? Is the output to the HDMI the same as the output to the SD card?
As long as the HDMI output is configured properly, it should be the same as what is recorded. I'm not sure about that particular model, but most higher end video cameras support clean HDMI or SDI output. A clean output means it is free of any of the on screen displays. They may also be capable of outputting different resolutions between the HDMI/SDI outputs and the recording.
As long as the HDMI output is configured to match the settings of the recording, then it should be the same signal. Since it is digital, as long as the signal isn't dropping bits of data entirely, there won't be the traditional type of quality loss from analog transmissions, but you'll want to make sure the HDMI run isn't longer than necessary.
We use Canon HFG-10 and -30 cameras connected via a Blackmagic HDMI to SDI transcoder to a Blackmagic Hyperdeck. We have other equipment in the middle, but for a single camera setup this gets the job done. Any deck capable of recording HDMI could be used.
The uncompressed video is visually indistinguishable from the output of a broadcast camera.