When deciding which camcorder to buy, the format is an
important factor. The format determines what media you will use. The following table summarizes the basic formats
for the consumer camcorder market. VHS camcorders are not sold anymore and 8mm has been replaced by Hi8 and Digital8 which are now out of date.
MiniDV was the most popular until newer formats came along. The newer formats include
mini DVD, although this format has faded recently, hard disk drive models (HDD up to 120GB) and High-Definition models, both disk-based and flash-memory card based. Memory card capacity goes from 1GB to 16GB and more.
3.80 mm tape
||8 cm disc
||up to 1080
60, 120 min.
||4.00 - 18.00
||up to 40 hrs
||up to 5.5hrs 8GB
||10.00 - 80.00
See Camcorder Media
last few decades, videotape has progressed through no
less than 20 different (and incompatible) formats. Although
this may be one of the prices we have to pay for
progress, it has also added confusion to the video
For camcorder use, the VHS format is obsolete as the
size and bulk of the camera is cumbersome for most
people. VHS-C is smaller but still records at 250
lines of resolution. Sony's analog 8mm and Hi-8mm
camcorders are still popular but the newer
digital camcorders, using even smaller videocassettes
(MiniDV or DVC) and recording at almost 500 lines
resolution, have become more popular.
based camcorder has also become popular in recent
years. They have the same 500 line resolution and
record on 8cm DVD. Sony, Panasonic and Hitachi have
been the main producers of DVD camcorders for consumers.
With the advent of HDTV with 1080 lines of resolution,
several camcorders with High-Definition recording
capability have been released. Called HDV and using a
MiniDV videotape cassette, these camcorders are at the very
top of consumer video quality. The newest formats include the disk-based (up to 120GB) and the flash card based camcorders. These can record in standard definition or even high definition. The flash memory card camcorders have no moving parts to wear out like tape or disk and can record hours of video on a thumb-sized chip.
What's available today:
The following is a list of the
basic consumer camcorder formats and their features. Keep in mind,
these video formats are for the most part (except Sony 8mm) physically and
technologically incompatible, meaning you cannot record or
play one format on another type camera.
(The professional formats are discussed here.)
1.) VHS - half inch wide
tape in full size cassette, today, virtually obsolete in
consumer camcorders but still used in home VCRs.
VHS camcorders make it possible for you to immediately
watch the tape on your home VCR, not worrying about
adapters or wires, you just pop the tape from the camcorder and into the VCR.
A standard T-120 VHS tape has a
recording time of 2 hrs (8 hrs. is possible today), and the resolution is about 250 lines.
VHS is an analog format and therefore does not have any of the
features that you get with a digital format.
2.) S-VHS - tapes can only be played by attaching the camcorder to
your VCR or by using an S-VHS VCR, as they are not
compatible with standard VCRs. The camcorder has a
maximum recording time of 2 hours. The S stands for
super, as the resolution jumps from the VHS standard
of 250 lines to around 400 lines.
3.) VHS-C - smaller version
of VHS, camcorders are still available but fading in favor of
digital models. This camcorder uses VHS tapes that are smaller than the
standard VHS size, and can be played in your home VCR by
putting it in an adaptor. The maximum recording time
is 90 minutes in EP mode, and the resolution is the same as
regular size VHS tapes at 250 lines.
Camcorder VHS-C format by Panasonic
To compete with the smaller tape size of
8mm, VHS-C was created. The "C" stands for "Compact" and,
although the tape width and the hub of the tape spool is the
same size as VHS, the rest of the tape case is smaller.
Adaptors are available which allow you to use a VHS-C tape in
a standard, full-size VHS videotape machine.
4.) S-VHS-C - JVC improved their system when they
created "S-VHS-C." The "S" stands for "Super" and indeed it is
a massive improvement over VHS. Although S-VHS-C is the exact
same size as VHS-C tape, S-VHS-C delivers about 400 lines of
resolution. Almost double the quality of standard VHS-C tape.
S-VHS-C is also "backwards compatible" with VHS-C, meaning
that any S-VHS-C videotape player can also play back standard
VHS-C tapes. However, VHS-C can NOT record or play back
5.) 8mm - 8mm
camcorders are more compact than VHS. The tapes
are incompatible with home VCRs and you have to wire
the camcorder to your television to watch them. 8mm
can record for up to 2 hours in SP mode or 4 hours in
LP mode, and they have a
resolution of 270 lines. Sony Corp. released 8mm - not to
be confused with 8mm film. 8mm videotape has slightly better
resolution than VHS, however, the tape itself is only about the
size of a standard audio cassette. The convenience of such a
small physical size made the format very appealing.
Camcorder 8mm format by Sony
camcorders use 8mm tapes, and have to be played back
by hooking up the camcorder to the television. The
tapes have a maximum recording time of 2 hours. Hi-8
is about the same resolution as S-VHS, around
400 lines. Sony bettered their 8mm format by
creating Hi8 or High-Band 8mm which has 400 lines of
resolution on a tape which looks physically identical to 8mm.
Again, Hi8 is backwards compatible with 8mm and any Hi8
machine can play 8mm tapes. However, 8mm can NOT play or
record Hi8. Hi8 became a very popular format and Hitachi, Canon, Sony and Sharp all
had Hi8 cameras available. Sony was still producing Hi8mm camcorders up to 2005 and they worked well.
Camcorder Hi-8 format by Sony
7.) Digital8 - The
digital8 format records images digitally, and use
regular 8MM (Hi8) cassettes. These tapes are incompatible
with the standard VHS VCR and require you to play them
through the camcorder onto your TV. The camcorder can
record up to 1 hour of digital information, and has a
resolution of up to 500 lines.
In March of 1999, Sony released the
Digital8 format, which is basically an 8mm camera with digital
capabilities. The advantage to it is that you can record
digitally and even play back your old analog 8mm or Hi8 tapes.
8.) MiniDV - The MiniDV
format has a wide selection for retail camcorder sale and is
very popular due to the small size and digital capabilities.
camcorders record images digitally, and use much smaller
tapes compared to VHS or 8mm. The tapes must be played back
through the camcorder or to your TV. Their maximum recording
time is up to 2 hours. These digital camcorders have higher resolution, starting at
500 lines which is excellent resolution giving you
sharp, clear video. These camcorders are loaded with extra new
features, like stereo audio, which are not available on older
DV was called DVC (Digital Video
Cassette) and uses a 1/4 inch (6.35mm) metal evaporate tape.
The video is the same quality as D-1, D-5, or Digital Betacam
video -- 720 pixels per scanline. In late 1995, Sony released
two DV cameras and Panasonic released one. DV tapes are about
one tenth the size of standard VHS tapes and deliver over
twice the resolution - 500 lines. DV is also purely digital, not analog like VHS.
uses tape, it is digitally recorded, providing the sort of
improvement you have when you compare a CD or DVD over a VHS
tape or a vinyl record album. DV records its audio digitally
as well, in 16-bit digital - the same as a CD. When you copy a
DV tape, it is an exact clone of the original too.
Using the i.Link (IEEE 1394) cable, you can transfer your digital
video from your MiniDV camcorder tape to a DVD. Many MiniDV
camcorders have removable solid-state memory chips to record
still photos. Get prints of your photos just like a digital
SONY dcr-trv22 MiniDV Camcorder
9.) MicroMV - Sony's super small video tape format, see MicroMV
for more on this format.
MicroMV technology is unique. Be careful of
incompatibilities. Previous digital
formats, MiniDV and Digital8, used a compression scheme that
operated on each frame of video independently, essentially treating
each frame as a separate still image. The MicroMV MPEG-2 video on
the other hand, is not necessarily compatible across any previous
format or even different MPEG-2 systems. MPEG-2 works across 15
frames, retaining and compressing only the changed video information
on frames 2 through 15. This video standard won't work with all
i.Link ports. The audio recording technology is also unique. The
small size makes for physical portability like no other camcorder but the
cost was relatively high. (The MicroMV format is not being marketed
by Sony anymore.)
--Manufacturers: only Sony
10.) DVD - which includes
DVD-RAM, DVD-R, and DVD-RW, first introduced in 1997
by Hitachi, using 8cm optical disc media.
Uses 1.47GB single side and 2.9GB dual side mini discs as opposed
to the 4.7GB standard full size DVD disc.
About the same camera size as MiniDV camcorders with similar
technology. Ability to play DVD-R media in most DVD video players.
Has recording quality settings for HQ, SP and LP giving 20
min. to 60 min. recording time per side. Hitachi, Panasonic
and Sony have several DVD models.
See more on DVD, also DVD
11.) HDV - has 1080i
high definition video recording and playback. Uses HD DVC
Record all your memories in true high-definition video. The
HDR-FX1 is capable of recording and playing back both High
Definition and Standard Definition video recorded on standard
MiniDV cassettes. In 2006, Sony introduced a much smaller HDV
camcorder, the HDR-HC3, which gives you 1080 resolution in a
12.) HDD - has hard
disk drive built-in. Records video to hard
disk. Download to DVD.
13.) Flash Memory card - can have both internal and removable memory. 8GB capacity is common.
based on the type of tape or disc that the camcorder uses, and the
method of recording the information. The key distinctions among
them are their compatibility with a VCR, maximum recording time,
and picture resolution (measured in horizontal lines) as well as
Both Hi8 and Digital8 use the same Hi8 tape but since Digital8 records twice as
fast, only 90 min. can be recorded on each tape. Low-band formats have less
impressive picture and sound quality, which also does not
stand up well to multiple-generation duplication (making a
high-band model essential if editing and copying is an
important factor for you). Low-band picture resolution varies
from around 240 to 250 horizontal lines of resolution compared
to the 500 lines offered by many digital models.
Battery life is another
factor. Your recording time could be limited to the battery
charge (say on a long outing). It does not do any good to be
able to record for 2 hours per tape if your battery is only good
for 1 hour (unless you have extra batteries).
successful of all the home videotape formats has been VHS
(Video Home Service). Although the VHS format
has lasted more than 20 years and spawned hundreds of
thousands of video rental stores around the world,
things quickly started to change with the development
and VHS-C (or compact which uses the same tape, but in a
smaller cassette) cassettes are compatible with most domestic VCRs
and so can be played in any VHS VCR. This might sound the
ideal format to use because of this fact, but when you
consider that to edit your footage, it must be transferred to
the VCR via a set of connecting A/V leads, the convenience of
being able to put the tape into the VCR becomes somewhat
of the large size of VHS cassettes, VHS and VHS-C camcorders
are the biggest. Both formats offer mono soundtracks
with a maximum recording time of one hour in short play and
two hours in long play (VHS-C) or eight hours (VHS).
Unsurprisingly, VHS has become pretty much obsolete as a
format over the last few years and, although a few
manufacturers do still produce VHS-C cameras,
it would seem that this format is following a similar route to
its older brother.
Full-Size VHS: (Video Home
Uses Regular VHS tapes, just like a VHS VCR. One half inch tape
width. The recorded tape can
be played in a regular VHS VCR just like any other VHS tape. Video Resolution is 250 lines just like VHS VCR.
Tape Speeds of 2hrs (SP) and 6hrs (EP/LP) just like VHS VCR. Due to the size of VHS Tape, these camcorders must be shoulder
mounted during shooting. Sound quality is poor, audio is recorded in the same fashion as a
Manufacturers: Primarily Hitachi
(note: Panasonic has discontinued their line of Full-Size VHS
camcorders for the consumer market).
- Combines the playback
convenience of full-size VHS camcorders with the bonus of more
- One tape typically holds
about 40 minutes at SP speed.
- Using an adapter, VHS-C
cassettes can be played in a full-size VHS VCR.
- Records in mono sound.
- Resolution is about 250
Compact VHS (VHS-C)
Camcorder users who prefer to
insert their video tapes directly into their VCR may want to
consider using the VHS/C compact format. VHS/C is regular VHS video
tape wound into a smaller cartridge.
Since the cartridge is smaller, the
length of VHS/C tape is limited to a maximum of 45 minutes - though
longer times can be achieved using a long play mode, the quality
usually is poor compared to the faster (sp) speed. The compact tapes
are inserted into your VCR using a cassette adapter which comes with
each VHS/C camera. Once inserted, the tape plays just like any other
VHS tape you’ve ever used.
VHS-C uses a much smaller physical version of the VHS tape but still one half
inch tape width. Although compatible with the VHS tape format,
tapes must be placed into an
adapter in order to be
played back in a home VCR. The Camcorder can also be connected to a
VCR or TV via A/V cables and the tapes can then be copied onto a
regular VHS Tape if desired.
Video resolution is the same as regular VHS VCR, 250 lines. Tape speeds are SP(30min) and EP/SLP(90min). Since the cassette is much smaller than a regular VHS
cassette tape, the amount of tape available
in the cassette is much less, necessitating shorter recording times.
With smaller tapes, these camcorders can be much smaller, thus are
easily handheld, rather than shoulder mounted. The sound quality is the same as a Full Size VHS camcorder or non-HiFi
Manufacturers include, Panasonic,
This format is the same as VHS-C except that the resolution is
higher at 400 lines (which is 60% higher than VHS or VHS-C). This
necessitates the tape being played back by the camcorder or in a
S-VHS VCR (using the supplied adapter). These camcorders can both
play and record in standard VHS-C as well. However, a regular VHS-C
camcorder cannot play recorded SVHS-C tapes.
Manufacturers: primarily JVC
took a step forward in quality when S-VHS
(super VHS) was introduced. Some news operations
started using it as an acquisition
format that could be brought back to the
production facility and immediately dubbed
(copied) to a higher quality format for editing. This
minimized any subsequent loss in quality due to
reduce the size of camcorders a smaller version of the
VHS and S-VHS cassette is also available. VHS-C
("C" for compact) are a fraction of
the size of the standard VHS cassette. They were
designed to compete with the small 8mm format
(discussed below) that found favor with a large number
S-VHS equipment in news has some major advantages;
specifically, the equipment is easier to operate than
professional equipment, it's lighter in weight, and
it's far less expensive.
A quality S-VHS camcorder
costs one tenth as much as professional equipment. This is significant in
covering news in third-world countries where some
regimes have a habit of confiscating reporters' tapes
and equipment in an attempt to censor things they
don't want the rest of the world to know about.
Like all of the
videotape formats, VHS tapes have a record
lockout provision. Once you break off the
small plastic tab, machines will no
longer record on the tape. This makes it
possible to keep important material from being
You can restore the record option on a VHS tape
by wrapping a strong piece of tape over the tab
area, or otherwise filling in the hole created
when the original tab was removed. (This is a procedure that works, although not recommended by manufacturers.)
(or Super VHS to give it its proper name) was developed as a
superior format to VHS. Using advanced picture processing
techniques and advances in tape technology, S-VHS offers
considerably better picture quality than VHS and VHS-C but,
along with S-VHS-C suffers from the same fundamental frailties
as VHS, offering the same running times and necessity for
large camcorders. One other drawback is that S-VHS cannot be
played on a VHS VCR, you will need to buy an S-VHS deck to
watch your footage.
VHS-C, S-VHS-C takes the high concept behind S-VHS and shrinks
the format to a more manageable size. Improved recording
capabilities have produced a more highly specified generation
of camcorders. The choice is limited, though and the amount of
S-VHS-C camcorders is becoming less and less every year. S-VHS
is more commonly seen in the S-VHS-ET format these days. The
ET stands for expansion technology and refers to JVC's
technological advance which produces high-quality images
equivalent to S-VHS onto a regular VHS cassette.
Compact VHS (SVHS-C)
- Over 400 lines of
resolution on specially formulated VHS-C tape. (SVHS-C
camcorder can also record with reduced resolution using
standard VHS-C tapes.)
- Using an adapter, SVHS-C
cassettes can be played in a full size SVHS VCR. With a
couple of exceptions, however, SVHS-C recordings cannot be
played back in standard VHS VCRs.
- One tape typically holds
about 40 minutes at SP speed.
- To obtain optimal picture
playback, you should connect the camcorder to the S-video
input on your TV or SVHS VCR.
VHS, a full-size
format with resolution similar to that of HI-8, is virtually out of
the consumer camcorder market. The format still is a strong player
in the industrial market, but its future may be bleak with the
release of newer and better digital formats. This format is used for
videographers mostly for shooting and editing. The S stands for
super, as the resolution jumps from the VHS standard of 250 lines to
around 400 lines. Unfortunately, most VCR's will not play a super
VHS tape and has to be transferred to a regular VHS format in order
for it to be viewed on non-S-VHS machines.
uses a completely different tape system than the 0.5 inch VHS
format. As the name suggests 8mm uses tape that is 8mm wide,
making the cassettes (and so the camcorders) smaller and
lighter. Maximum running time is two hours in standard play
and four hours in long play. It is the superior FM audio
system (mono and stereo) that sets 8mm apart.
8mm cameras record sound using the hi-fi multiplexing technique
so even if they are equipped with mono sound, there is no
obvious deterioration of audio quality when recording in the
long play mode. Audio dubbing can also be employed on a VHS
copy of 8mm material if you have a suitable VCR with audio dub
this format is still going strong, it looks like
manufacturers may stop making 8mm camcorders in the near
future. Sony for one stopped at the beginning of 2001.
Betamax (not to be confused with Betacam) didn't survive, 8mm
video was introduced. The format in part tried to cash
in on the "8mm" designation that had long
been a household name in home movies. In fact, Eastman
Kodak was one of the originators of 8mm video.
reduced size of the 8mm cassette meant that camcorders
could be made even smaller than VHS camcorders, a
feature that attracted people who had grown weary of
dragging around their bulky, full-sized VHS camcorders
the time that S-VHS was introduced Sony introduced Hi8,
a higher quality version of 8mm. This is also used as
an acquisition format, and under optimum conditions
can produce high quality video.
mid-1999, Sony introduced Digital-8
for the consumer market. This format not only
represented a major improvement in quality, but the
digital approach made new camcorder features possible.
- Hi-fi mono or hi-fi stereo
recording provides improved audio over VHS-C.
- Tapes cannot play back
directly into a VHS VCR, even with an adapter.
- One tape holds up to 2
hours at SP speed.
- Connect the camcorder to a
TV or VCR for playback.
- Connect the camcorder to
your VCR to edit or copy tapes.
- Horizontal resolution is
about 250 lines.
Uses tape that is smaller than that of VHS or VHS-C. Tape width is
about one third inch. Tape can be
played back by connecting the camcorder via A/V cables to a VCR or
TV. Tapes can be transferred (copied) to a regular VHS tape.
Note: An 8mm tape cannot be placed in a regular VHS VCR for
playback, there is no 8mm adapter!
Video resolution is 250 lines, about the same as VHS or VHS-C
(although the color consistency on 8mm is slightly better).
Tape speed is typically 2hrs (SP) although Sony supports a 4hr
(LP) tape speed in their camcorders. Since the tapes are small (about the size of an audio cassette),
8mm camcorders are small units that are easily handheld.
Sound quality is good. Sound is recorded in the same fashion
as on a HiFi VCR.
often have many of the best features found in higher priced HI-8
units, including image stabilization, strong optical and digital
zooms and innovative special effects. Regular 8mm tapes are the
exact size and shape as their HI8 counterparts, but record video at
a lower resolution level, and therefore, are less expensive than
camcorders which product better image quality. 8mm can record for up
to 2 hours and has a resolution of 270 lines.
HI-8 and regular 8MM tapes cannot
be put into a standard VHS video recorder, a common misconception.
There are no adapters to achieve this. They must be transferred to
VHS in order to be viewed on a regular VCR.
VHS-C and full
size VHS record at a slightly lower resolution than 8MM. A
standard T-120 VHS tape has a recording time of 2 hrs, and the
resolution is 250 lines. Their appeal, or course, is the convenience
of easy playback. The large VHS camcorders are almost a thing of the
past at this point. There are still a few models available, but
their substantial size and weight make them a difficult sell against
smaller camcorders. VHS/C compact models, on the other hand, remain
a popular choice, offering many of the same key features as 8MM
camcorders, at an equally affordable price.
Manufacturers include; Canon, Sony,
the camcorder market from the same high resolution angle as
Super VHS, the Hi8 format uses the latest in metal evaporated
technology to offer better pictures than 8mm, making it by far
the most impressive analog format available.
low weight of both the camcorder and cassettes is important as
is the availability of long playing time. As with 8mm
cassettes, Hi8 tapes cannot be used in VHS VCRs (although
composite leads can be used to link up the camcorder to the
VCR for copying onto a VHS tape). The price of Hi8 machines
has fallen considerably recently, thanks to the ever growing
popularity and drop in prices of DV camcorders, and Hi8 looks
to be a very affordable format. This
trend looks increasingly likely to continue, but exactly how
long the format will stay around is very much in the
Hi8mm (High-band 8mm)
- It can reproduce images
significantly sharper than standard 8mm and VHS-C
camcorders — about 400 lines of resolution (up to 440
with Sony's XR extended resolution scheme).
- Your TV should have an
S-video input to take advantage of Hi8's improved
- Hi8 (evaporated metal
particle) videotape is required to take advantage of Hi8's
higher picture resolution, but all Hi8 camcorders can
record in the lower-quality 8mm format.
- Hi8 is not compatible with
a VHS VCR.
- One tape holds up to 2
hours at SP speed.
This format is the same as 8mm except that the resolution is about
60% higher at 400 lines. Once again, there is no adapter to play
these tapes in a regular VCR, however, all HI-8 camcorders can play
and record in the regular 8mm format. Regular 8mm camcorders cannot
play recorded HI8 tapes.
record their signal at about 400 lines of resolution, slightly less
than Mini DV, but substantially higher than 8mm or regular VHS
formats. Most often, HI-8 camcorders record sound in hi-fi stereo.
Slight quality loss is suffered when copying or editing from HI-8,
but a better than average image is maintained.
Tapes from HI-8 camcorders
generally must be played using the camera as the source, which means
the user often must connect cables to their television or VCR.
HI-8 tapes can be bought in 30, 60, and 120-minute lengths.
Manufacturers are Canon,
by Sony, Digital8 promises the same image and audio quality as
DV, but records the signal directly onto a Hi8 analog
camcorders feature a dual-speed head which also allows the
camcorder to play back analog recordings made on Hi8 or 8mm
camcorders (making this a perfect option for those that have a
lot of analog footage archived, but also want to get into
digital video). A 90 minute Hi8 cassette will give 60 minutes
of recording in Digital8 (there is no long play mode). Picture
resolution is claimed at around 500 horizontal lines and audio
is recorded in 16-bit PCM stereo (meaning no audio dub).
Because of the larger size of Hi8 cassettes compared to DV
tapes, Digital 8 camcorders are generally bigger than their DV
Digital8 (Sony exclusive format)
get studio-quality video with 500 lines
of resolution — 2x the resolution of
8mm and VHS-C.
perfect copies from one camcorder to
another with no loss in picture quality.
uses any 8mm or Hi8 videotape, although
Hi8 is recommended, and records up to 1
hour at SP speed.
back 8mm and Hi8 tapes recorded in
older, analog camcorders
This camcorder format takes advantage of existing
HI8 format and pushes it into the Digital realm. Uses either 8mm or HI8 tape. As of now the only way to play the
tape back is through the camcorder connected to a VCR or TV or by
Digitally playing the tape back by connecting the Camcorder to a
computer via its IEEE-1394 (Firewire) port (special hardware and
software required, not included with camcorder). These camcorders can also play back previously recorded analog 8mm
and HI8 tapes using the regular A/V connections, but at present
cannot convert the analog 8mm and HI8 recording for direct pass
through to a computer via the IEEE-1394 port. Video resolution approaches 500 lines, which is 20% higher than
HI8 or SVHS-C.
Tape speed of one hour is currently available, when using a 2hr
length HI8 or 8mm tape. Camcorders are the same physical size of 8mm and HI8 camcorders,
thus are easily handheld. Sound quality is excellent. The sound is recorded in either 12bit
or 16bit PCM Audio for almost CD quality sound. The Digital8 format also allows for still frame capture.
a format that is far superior to HI-8 or 8MM. Sony was the first to
introduce this format. It is backwardly compatible, meaning that the
Digital8 camcorders and VCR's will also play your 8MM and HI-8
tapes. You do not have to buy special tapes to record in Digital8. A
regular 8MM or HI-8 tape will record up to 60 minutes of digital
video and audio. Because of the design, using regular tapes is not a
problem, but it uses twice as much tape. A 2 hour HI-8 or 8MM tape
will record 60 minutes when done in the Digital mode and records up
to 500 lines of resolution.
Manufacturers: Currently only Sony.
Video, or Mini DV as it is often referred to, delivers the
very best picture quality (as many as 500 lines of horizontal
resolution) and has CD-quality PCM stereo sound with the
ability to perform audio dubbing.
camcorders use mini DV cassettes (about the same size as a box
of matches), which means that DV camcorders are among the
smallest camcorders in the world, shrinking in size as
can be transferred from DV camcorders in three different ways.
Firstly, as a composite analog signal via the composite A/V
leads (like any other analog camcorder). Secondly, as an
S-video analog signal and lastly as a DV signal. This method
involves the i.Link digital interface often referred to as
Firewire. When transferring footage from the cam to a DV VCR
or PC using this connection, there's no loss of quality of
sound or audio, one of the main reasons why DV is so popular.
DV camcorders have i.Link out (or DV out), but if you wish to
use a PC-based edit system then you'll need i.Link in (DV in)
camcorders are popular with
professionals and serious hobbyists as
well as consumers.
Mini DV models use superior-quality
camcorder itself can be quite small,
Mini DV tapes cost more than analog
up to 2 hours at SP speed.
is about 500 lines.
Uses extremely small 6.35mm tapes (one fourth inch, similar is size to DAT
Audio Tapes). Tapes are played back through the camcorder via A/V
connectors to a VCR or TV or to a computer, using the IEEE-1394 port
(extra hardware and software required).
Video resolution is 500 lines, which is 20% better than HI8 or SVHS-C.
There are typically two recording speeds SP and LP, which
allow 60min or 90min recording times.
Since the tape is so small, camcorders of extremely small size can
be manufactured, some are not much larger than a pack of cigarettes.
Sound quality is excellent. Audio can be recorded in either the
12bit or 16bit PCM format, which can produce almost CD quality
results. In the 12bit mode there is provision for in-camera audio
The MiniDV format also provides for still frame capture, with some
camcorders using Progressive Scan technology for more accuracy in
this mode of operation.
The MiniDV technology should take and maintain
crystal clear images because of the nature of a digital format.
Editing enthusiasts benefit from Mini DV as well, since copying
between two units is done with no quality loss. That means edited or
copied video looks and sounds every bit as good as the original
footage. Mini DV tapes are available in 30, 60, 63 and 80 minute
lengths. Digital camcorders have the highest resolution of all
the camcorders, starting at 500 lines.
For more information on Mini DV
DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD-RW
DVD-R has 1.47GB single sided optical disc for 30 min. of recording time.
DVD-RAM has 2.9GB dual sided optical disc for a
total of 60 min. recording time in fine quality mode (2 hrs standard
mode). Up to 2,000 still photos on DVD-RAM. No more tape rewinding
or fast forwarding as you can go directly to each scene. Digital
stereo sound. Cutting edge technology in the year
2000. (DVD-RAM does not
play on all DVD players)
Hard Disk Drive
Camcorder has built-in hard disk drive for recording. 60GB or 120GB is common. One disadvantage of hard disk is once the disk is full, you cannot record any more video without sacrificing existing video. You must download to a DVD or computer drive or online site. With tape, DVD or flash card based camcorder, you can insert another media and continue recording. Very popular 2008-2009.
Flash Memory Card
Camcorder can have built-in memory for recording and removable memory cards. 4GB, 8GB or 16GB is common. Costs for memory cards are coming down. Small size of cards allows storage of video without taking up space. Can easily download to DVD or online site. High Definition is available but be careful of incompatibilities. Becoming more and more popular 2009.
There are a wide
variety of choices in camcorder formats. If you are looking for the
most convenience, VHS-C, with its compactness and ability for its
tapes to be adapted for play in a regular VCR might be your best
choice if you are not looking for the latest technology.
If you travel a lot and length of
recording on each tape is important to you, then 8mm or HI8 may be
good choices. In addition, these camcorders are also compact and are
If you are upgrading from HI8 or
8mm and don't have a way to continue to playback your library of old
HI8 or 8mm tapes, you might be a good candidate for Digital8. This
format provides a means of playing back your older tapes, while
enabling you to enter the world of Digital Video.
Finally, if you need something that
is extremely compact, are into video editing, still photo capture,
have a high-powered computer, or just want the latest and greatest,
then jump to MiniDV.
camcorders are popular because they are small and many allow you
to play your disc in a DVD player. Scene access is much better
than tape since it is direct. See this
for more details.
There is NO 8mm/VHS adapter! 8mm tapes
cannot, under any circumstances, be played in a VHS VCR.
There are several reasons
that 8mm (or Hi8 and miniDV tapes) cannot be physically played
in a VHS VCR:
8mm (Hi8, miniDV) is a different format with different
technical characteristics than VHS. These formats were never
developed with the intention to be mechanically compatible
with VHS technology.
8mm/Hi8 tapes are 8mm wide (miniDV is 6mm wide), while VHS
tape is 1/2" wide, making it impossible for a VHS video
head to read the taped information correctly.
8mm/Hi8/miniDV tapes are recorded and played at different
speeds than VHS, so even if the tapes could physically fit
into a standard VHS VCR, the VCR still couldn't play back the
tapes at their correct speeds.
4. 8mm/Hi8/miniDV audio is recorded differently than VHS. 8mm/Hi8
audio is recorded in AFM HiFi mode, while miniDV audio is
recording in 12-Bit or 16-Bit PCM digital audio format. So,
even if the video could be played back in a VHS VCR, the audio
could not be read properly.
8mm/Hi8 video is of higher resolution than VHS and is recorded
in a different bandwidth length (miniDV video is recorded
digitally), so once again, a standard VCR still could not read
the information correctly, even if the tape could fit into a
The lack of mechanical
compatibility with VHS VCRs is actually the strength of the
aforementioned camcorder formats.
8mm/Hi8/miniDV tape has a longer recording length than the
VHS-C compatible VHS tape: In its standard SP speed, the
longest VHS-C tape is 40min, while miniDV is 1 hour, and
8mm/Hi8 is 2 hrs.
Not being mechanically compatible with VHS gives the 8mm/Hi/miniDV
formats the ability to achieve higher technical standards in
terms of video resolution and sound quality.
slight inconvenience of having to connect your 8mm/Hi8/miniDV
camcorder to your TV or VCR with cables to watch your video,
you have the advantage of newer technology that outpaces the
abilities of your VCR or a VHS-C camcorder.
However, even though 8mm/Hi8/miniDV
tape is not physically compatible with your VHS VCR, you still
have the ability to transfer and edit your camcorder videos to
VHS or DVD.
To transfer your 8mm/Hi8/miniDV
tape to a VCR, just plug the Audio/Video cables supplied with the camcorder to the AV outputs of the Camcorder
and then to the
AV inputs on either front or back of the VCR, switch the VCR
to AV-in, Line-in, or Aux in (depends on brand), put the tape
to be copied in the Camcorder, put a blank tape in the VCR,
press play on the Camcorder, press record on the VCR and you
will be able to copy your tape. You can transfer your
MiniDV video to DVD if you have a DVD recorder. Using a
IEEE-1394 (4-pin Sony iLink) cable from the camcorder to the
DVD recorder, you can transfer from tape to a standard DVD
Also, check the owner's manual
of either your Camcorder or VCR; there should be a page on
copying your tapes or copying from one VCR to another (which
is the same procedure). You can also watch your tape at the
same time it is being copied. In addition, if you own a
standalone DVD recorder, you can also copy your tapes to DVD
using the above process as you would with a VCR.
camcorder tapes gives you the opportunity to cut out those
boring parts and mistakes. You can send the polished copy to a
friend or relative or just keep it for your own viewing. In
fact, since 8mm/Hi8/miniDV are higher resolution formats than
VHS, you will make better tape copies onto VHS. Every time you
copy a tape you lose quality, the better quality the source
material, the better the copy.
Use this analogy: When you
buy a movie at your local video store and play it on your VCR
it looks much better than if you had taped that same movie off
The reason: the source of the tape is a direct copy of
a studio master, whereas that same master broadcast over cable
or the airwaves is degraded from TV transmission artifacts,
then by the time you copy the movie, you not only copy the
movie but any transmission defects along with it. Think of a
tape recorded in 8mm/Hi8/miniDV as similar to a copy from a
studio master and the tape copied from another VHS master as
being copied from lower resolution source material.
Now, if you are still craving
a way to play your 8mm/Hi8/miniDV tapes in some kind of
player, there are solutions, but they are not cheap. There are 8mm/Hi8/miniDV VCRs made by
Sony and Panasonic. In addition, JVC makes miniDV/S-VHS/VHS VCR Combos. See this
High Definition - Video recorded in HD may use a proprietary method such as AVCHD which is used by Sony. As such certain techniques may prove incompatible when trying to copy video to another media. Often a lower-resolution copy can be transfered that may be more compatible with other devices. Camcorders using AVCHD may prove more compatible if used with other Sony devices such as Sony Blu-ray players or Sony DVD burners. Always check before you buy and think about how you'll transfer video.