Quantcast Recommendations for digitizing VHS? - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
05-21-2022, 12:46 PM
MyRose MyRose is offline
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Hello,

Lately, I have been interested in digitizing old VHS and VHS-C tapes. Since I am a complete beginner, I just figured I would buy an Elgato Video Capture USB dongle to do that. But I have stumbled upon reviews where users say that the audio in longer videos can be out of sync, which led me to more research, which led me here. So, I hope you can help me with a budget-friendly option that will help me capture the tapes. I'm not too worried about quality, average quality is OK for me, I'd just like for the video and audio to be in sync, of course. Even capturing a TV screen would work for me.

The VCR I own is Sony SLV-SE500 and the camcorder I have is Sony CCD-TR550E PAL (which worked 10 years ago but won't turn on now, I suspect the battery is dead and I will get a replacement battery).

I have also stumbled upon this video on youtube, "Transfer VHS And Camcorder Tapes With An Elgato HD Capture Card" (don't know if links are allowed). The man in the video uses an AV2HDMI upscaler, the old Elgato Game Capture HD, and of course an AV RCA cable and HDMI cable. He records in OBS. Would that be an OK setup for my needs? I have also read on this forum that a Time Base Corrector would be preferable to have, and I assume my devices don't have a TBC built in. If I used this setup, could you recommend me a DVD recorder that could work as a TBC passthrough, if that's possible? I would get a new VCR with TBC, but there are literally none offered where I'm from.

I am open to any recommendations for setups and for video card recommendations. The most I could spend at the moment is around 150
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  #2  
05-22-2022, 03:15 PM
leeoverstreet leeoverstreet is offline
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Your best bet is to find a PAL DV camcorder with video pass through (takes the composite signal from your VCR and converts it to a "Firewire" digital output to a computer. I have a Panasonic DV camcorder from 2005 that does this nicely once you change a setting in the menu system. You'll also need a basic Firewire input card for your computer. A Firewire card is readily available for cheap on Amazon. There are plenty of DV camcorders that do Firewire pass through out in the world, with the usual caveats regarding eBay and other used equipment sites. But you should be able to obtain both for 150 Euros.

You'll play the tapes on the VCR, put the camcorder into pass through mode, then use virtually any DV capture software or editing software on your computer to capture the stream from Firewire. You should end up with a .avi video file in DV format, which is compatible with every bit of editing software in the world, and can easily be edited and/or converted to other formats for making DVDs or uploading to YouTube, etc. You could capture, edit, and export with something as fancy as the free Davinci Resolve, or you could use a simple capture utility (WinDV still exists) and then a converter like Handbrake.

Forget all the Elgato/OBS/upscaler/HDMI stuff.

This method is not IDEAL. A great improvement would be if you could afford to get a JVC or Panasonic S-VHS VCR with a line based time based corrector (TBC) and s-video output, but that's several hundred Euros. To further improve, you'd have to head down the rabbit hole of external frame TBCs, lossless codecs, 4:2:2 colorspace, etc. But by your question I can tell you don't want that. It's not fun. LOL! Although I do definitely recommend learning how to correctly export/convert your PAL .avi files to 50 frames per second .mp4 (or .m4v) files to maintain the correct fluid motion of analog television.

You only mention capturing VHS & VHS-C, so I'm assuming your broken 8mm camcorder is pretty well useless.
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  #3  
05-22-2022, 05:06 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyRose View Post
Hello,
Lately, I have been interested in digitizing old VHS and VHS-C tapes. Since I am a complete beginner, I just figured I would buy an Elgato Video Capture USB dongle to do that. But I have stumbled upon reviews where users say that the audio in longer videos can be out of sync, which led me to more research, which led me here.
Video conversion is not a simple task of buying random items, using random tapes/players, random OS, and expecting great results. Or any results. There are considerations to make (source formats, OS, some others) as well as standard needs (TBCs, quality capture cards).

Quote:
So, I hope you can help me with a budget-friendly option
What is the realistic number?
Where are you?

Quote:
Even capturing a TV screen would work for me.
That's not acceptable to anybody. You may say that now, but once you see what that looks like, no. Anybody that sees it will be very dissatisfied, and just not waste time watching the low quality.

Quote:
The VCR I own is Sony SLV-SE500 and the camcorder I have is Sony CCD-TR550E PAL (which worked 10 years ago but won't turn on now, I suspect the battery is dead and I will get a replacement battery).
You cannot capture from a camera using battery only anyway. You need the electric plug.

Quote:
I have also stumbled upon this video on youtube, "Transfer VHS And Camcorder Tapes With An Elgato HD Capture Card" (don't know if links are allowed). The man in the video uses an AV2HDMI upscaler, the old Elgato Game Capture HD, and of course an AV RCA cable and HDMI cable. He records in OBS. Would that be an OK setup for my needs?
That's a terrible method, and all that junk actually costs more than a better card. It also fails to address source, playback/player, TBC. Another worthless Youtube video.

Quote:
I have also read on this forum that a Time Base Corrector would be preferable to have, and I assume my devices don't have a TBC built in. If I used this setup, could you recommend me a DVD recorder that could work as a TBC passthrough, if that's possible? I would get a new VCR with TBC, but there are literally none offered where I'm from.
VCRshop.nl has the VCR you need/want, but...

Quote:
I am open to any recommendations for setups and for video card recommendations. The most I could spend at the moment is around 150
That's an overly low unrealistic budget. That will surely get the ES10/15 type passthrough recorder. But for card, probably not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by leeoverstreet View Post
Your best bet is to find a PAL DV camcorder with video pass through (takes the composite signal from your VCR and converts it to a "Firewire" digital output to a computer.
DV is a 1990s compression scheme, and not at all suggested. It has blocks, and it tampers with the image/color quality of the video. For PAL, it's minimally acceptable, but for NTSC it's usually unacceptable.

There are also other issues with DV passthrough, such as lost footage. There is a lag/delay between the actual video, and when recording stop/starts. You lose several minutes worth of footage on the average start/stop homemade camcorder tape.

DV was never intended as a conversion format.

The most damning aspect of DV is the cards (usually Canopus) tend to cost more than better cards, and is not justified whatsoever.

Quote:
can easily be edited and/or converted to other formats for making DVDs or uploading to YouTube, etc.
This incurs lateral colorspace conversions, and you lose quality from it. If editing/etc, you want to start high (4:2:2), then compress to final (usually 4:2:0). Not capture 4:1:1 (NTSC) or 4:2:0 (PAL), and convert. Note that PAL DV 4:2:0 is not the same as streaming or DVD 4:2:0, different axis.

Quote:
Forget all the Elgato/OBS/upscaler/HDMI stuff.
Yep.

Quote:
This method is not IDEAL. A great improvement would be if you could afford to get a JVC or Panasonic S-VHS VCR with a line based time based corrector (TBC) and s-video output, but that's several hundred Euros. To further improve, you'd have to head down the rabbit hole of external frame TBCs, lossless codecs, 4:2:2 colorspace, etc. But by your question I can tell you don't want that. It's not fun. LOL! Although I do definitely recommend learning how to correctly export/convert your PAL .avi files to 50 frames per second .mp4 (or .m4v) files to maintain the correct fluid motion of analog television.
... and you seem to know all this. Saved the best part for last, did you?

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  #4  
05-22-2022, 05:47 PM
leeoverstreet leeoverstreet is offline
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... and you seem to know all this. Saved the best part for last, did you?
HA! Yes, I was merely trying to give him his best shot at watchable footage for his budget, skill, and stated quality desires.
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  #5  
05-23-2022, 09:05 AM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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The main issue with using battery power for a camcorder during capture is the available reliable run time when on battery. This is especially problematic with camcorders that used NiMH and NiCD batteries. Using A/C mains power is more reliable and highly recommended.

One option that can result in "average" quality is to use a DVD recorder. For tapes in good condition this can give you a DVD you can watch at about the same quality as the tape played directly to a TV. It is not a good approach if you want to do restoration or editing of the video, it will not work for copy protected tapes, and may not prove reliable for tapes with poor recordings. But it saves time since the capture goes directly to playable media in one pass. And it may be within you budget.

In any case, save your original tapes in case you want to up your game and do a serious effort to maximize quality in the future. Many threads at this site go into details and provide lessons learned on better methods.
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  #6  
05-23-2022, 04:51 PM
MyRose MyRose is offline
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Hi everyone, thank you for all your help and suggestions, sadly I don't really have much time to reply to all messages, but I read them all and highly appreciate your help and expertise.
I am currently looking to up my budget a little and maybe invest in a SVHS recorder, could you recommend which one should I get from the ones listed below? Also can my Hi8 Camcorder (which I have found out actually works) be connected to them for eventual capturing?

SVHS options:
JVC HR-S9500E with TBC 140 Euro
JVC sa-s97gek (i think this is the model number, it's hard to read) 140 euro
blaupunkt rtv 950 - 40 Euro
Blaupunkt RTV-936 - 140 euro

I would also appreciate if you could give me recommendations for video capture cards that are around 150-200 Euros, so I could narrow down some options
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  #7  
05-23-2022, 07:06 PM
RobustReviews RobustReviews is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyRose View Post
Hi everyone, thank you for all your help and suggestions, sadly I don't really have much time to reply to all messages, but I read them all and highly appreciate your help and expertise.
I am currently looking to up my budget a little and maybe invest in a SVHS recorder, could you recommend which one should I get from the ones listed below? Also can my Hi8 Camcorder (which I have found out actually works) be connected to them for eventual capturing?

SVHS options:
JVC HR-S9500E with TBC 140 Euro
JVC sa-s97gek (i think this is the model number, it's hard to read) 140 euro
blaupunkt rtv 950 - 40 Euro
Blaupunkt RTV-936 - 140 euro

I would also appreciate if you could give me recommendations for video capture cards that are around 150-200 Euros, so I could narrow down some options
For PAL tapes I'd go with the Blaupunkt RTV 950, I have seen them in the wild and they're a rebadge of the Pansonic NV-FS200 which is a really fantastic machine.

Why Panasonic and Blaupunkt came together I have absolutely no idea, unless in the German market Blaupunkt branding carried more cachet. For 40 it's an absolute bargain if it's in working order.
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  #8  
05-24-2022, 05:52 PM
leeoverstreet leeoverstreet is offline
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From experience I can tell you that the JVC HR-S9500 (NTSC version) is excellent, especially with older camcorder tapes, but I can't speak to the PAL version.
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  #9  
05-25-2022, 02:59 AM
lollo2 lollo2 is online now
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I own a JVC HR-S9500MS (multistandard Pal, Secam, NTSC) and I confirm is an excellent machine

A channel on S-VHS / VHS capture and AviSynth restoration https://bit.ly/3mHWbkN
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  #10  
05-25-2022, 05:36 AM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leeoverstreet View Post
but I can't speak to the PAL version.
I have the HR-SS8500EH (difference with 9500 is in stuff that isn't relevant for playback.), and while it's a very good machine in general, I've found the TBC on the JVCs SVHS VCRs to be a bit hit and miss on unstable camcorder tapes, resulting in vertical jittering. Varies with the tape though. The TBC in the NV-HS1000 (aka Blaupunkt RTV-936) handles this more gently, haven't used the FS200/rtv 950 but I suspect it's similar.

If condition is equally good, the rtv 950 seems like the best bet given the price. (If you don't know if it's in good condition it's harder to say, the older panasonic/blaupunkt decks are gonna be more prone to aging issues than the newer JVC.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobustReviews View Post
Why Panasonic and Blaupunkt came together I have absolutely no idea, unless in the German market Blaupunkt branding carried more cachet. For 40€ it's an absolute bargain if it's in working order.
Yeah idk, not only is there blaupunkt in the german marked (and it seems a bit elsewhere too.), but there are also Loewe and Metz branded variants of the high end panasonics (those may have used some other manufacturer for cheaper models, not sure.) Maybe panasonic didn't have as good brand recognition. Seems there was a factory in germany that manufactured some of the european marked panasonic VCRs (and rebrands), many of the 90s and early 2000s ones at least are marked "made in Germany" or "made in Europe" so maybe it's related to that too.
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  #11  
05-26-2022, 02:49 AM
MyRose MyRose is offline
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Thank you everyone, I will go with the Blaupunkt one, it really is a good deal, the guy says it's in very good condition, and he's also selling an exact Blaupunkt faulty unit in the lot I'm buying, so even if none of them end up working, I'm hoping I can have at least one repaired
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  #12  
05-27-2022, 02:57 PM
leeoverstreet leeoverstreet is offline
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Report back results! :-)
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