Quantcast Best VCR for digitizing tapes? (within reason) - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
05-09-2018, 12:31 PM
mr19th mr19th is offline
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I've started transferring old VCR tapes to my computer and then converting them to DVDs or MP4 files. Until recently, most of them have been coming out good, but I have started running into some problems with static and audio. I'm not sure if it's because of the tapes, my computer connections or the VCR player itself. I think it's because of the VCR player, but am sort of lost where to go next. The audio seems to stay fine, but the video goes half static. Attached is just an image of what I'm watching and can't change. The other example is that the whole screen is covered with static.

First, let me explain my basic computer and programs:
  • Windows 7 Pro
  • 64-bit
  • Dazzle Video Capture USB v1.0 - connection of VCR to Computer
  • Pinnacle Studio 21 - program used to edit, crop, time... video
As for my VCR player, Sonic Blue DVR4200 with no remote, only basic controls on the front. I personally think it's a cheap VCR/DVD player, but have had it for a while and only paid $10 for it. Before, I've never understood all of the different features available and needed in VCR players when making copies.

So right now, I've gotten to the point where I'm trying to locate a good VCR player that can play all tapes and restore anything needed with the picture quality &/or sound. I attached one example of a tape. I'm not sure if it's the tracking because, as I said, I have no manual control of the tracking.

My main problem in this area is that I can't spend too much $$$. I've studied players mentioned in Lordsmurf's post and have found a few, but the backfire with most of them is no remote &/or not so sure if the VCR quality is good enough. Most say they turn on, but nothing about the actual playing of tapes.

Two or three months ago, I bought a Beta player on eBay. When it arrived, I found out it didn't work correctly, so I contacted the man that I bought it from and he had no problem with returns, but I would have to pay for the S&H return which was basically what I paid for it. So, I'm stuck with it and am waiting to see about getting it fixed.

After all of my explanations, where should I go to find a decent VCR player for my needs and what kind should I look for? The JVC's Lordsmurf mentioned looked good, but expensive. For the position that I'm in and what I'm doing, I'm only looking to pay $50-$150. Now, as time goes by, I will need to upgrade to a higher quality player, but I can only upgrade little by little. Example: 1st VCR=$10; 2nd VCR=$50-$150; 3rd VCR=$150-$300...

If tapes are continued to be brought it, I might be looking sooner than expected, but many of the tapes brought in are from video cameras - Hi8 tapes, VHS-C tapes,...

Anyway, any ideas or help?

Thanks for the help,
Sean McDonough aka mr19th


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  #2  
05-09-2018, 04:54 PM
ehbowen ehbowen is offline
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I purchased a trio of very good VCRs through the marketplace on this site and, although they were expensive, I would say that they were worth the purchase price. I know that doesn't help you out much now, but....

That said, I still love and use my Mitsubishis much of the time. I purchased an HS-HD2000U (which is on the list) new about ten years back and it still works great. Two months ago I found a matching unit advertised on eBay for $201 Buy-It-Now with free shipping. At that price I thought it would be worth having as a spare, even if it only had parts value.

EBay is always a crapshoot. While this wasn't a seven, it wasn't snake eyes either. The unit did arrive in working condition with a good picture and a suitable remote, although there's still an eject mechanism issue that I haven't repaired yet. The seller was an outfit with the tag of 'gromit0980'.

If you deal with a reputable seller or refurbisher such as Porter Electronics, TGrant Photo, or the folks in the marketplace here you will pay more but you will most likely get what you pay for. However, if you're willing to take a chance and roll the dice, then put in a search on eBay for the models of VCRs that you most want, save the search, and subscribe to it by email. Then you'll be notified right away if one does show up, and you can decide as to whether or not you want to take the chance on it. Of course, if it's listed as being "as is" and "no returns accepted"...don't bite unless you need another stock of questionable spare parts cluttering up the corner of your closet.
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  #3  
05-09-2018, 05:46 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Welcome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr19th View Post
I've started transferring old VCR tapes to my computer and then converting them to DVDs or MP4 files. .
Hopefully that MP4 is not direct, and only after processing a lossless capture (including a proper deinterlace; Yadif/Yadifmod at worst, QTGMC at best). Otherwise it's not going to be pretty, especially on non-phone size screens.

Quote:
Until recently, most of them have been coming out good, but I have started running into some problems with static and audio. I'm not sure if it's because of the tapes, my computer connections or the VCR player itself. I think it's because of the VCR player, but am sort of lost where to go next. The audio seems to stay fine, but the video goes half static.
It's likely a VCR issue. There's a lot of moving pieces in a VCR, and cheap/consumer decks also have inferior parts that wear out quickly (or were defective from the start). That always creates terrible image quality, and lots of analog artifacts (timing errors, tracking/alignmnet errors, etc). And that attached image appears to be exactly that issue.

Quote:
Dazzle Video Capture USB v1.0 - connection of VCR to Computer
Not a good device, both both aspect ratio and IRE/gamma/color issues from what I remember. That's a really old card, from early/mid 2000s. I don't recall if it's still USB 1.1, or is actually USB 2.0 yet.

Quote:
Pinnacle Studio 21 - program used to edit, crop, time... video
Pinnacle Studio is probably one of the worst video programs ever made, and consistently creates lousy quality video. Everything from poor re-encoding of the captures/input, to horrible deinterlace methods. It's one of the only methods to transfer MicroMV format (no, not DV!), and it's miserable every time I was forced to use it.

Quote:
As for my VCR player, Sonic Blue DVR4200 with no remote, only basic controls on the front. I personally think it's a cheap VCR/DVD player, but have had it for a while and only paid $10 for it. Before, I've never understood all of the different features available and needed in VCR players when making copies.
You're on a roll with terrible gear. That's rebadged GoVideo deck, and GoVideo was infamous in the video hobby in the 90s because it's the absolutely awful quality. Of all the VCRs I've ever used in 35 some years, GoVideo is the only brand that was consistent in products that had the timing errors from hell. It got to where many tape traders would blackball others, when it was discovered they used GoVideo decks. Because what you'd receive would be unwatchable garbage.

Quote:
My main problem in this area is that I can't spend too much $$$. I've studied players mentioned in Lordsmurf's post and have found a few, but the backfire with most of them is no remote &/or not so sure if the VCR quality is good enough. Most say they turn on, but nothing about the actual playing of tapes.
You know the old adage of "cheap, quality, fast, pick 2"
In video, it's "quality or cheap, pick 1". There is no fast. It either costs fair market rate, or it's got issues (usually major ones, not even repairable).

Quote:
Two or three months ago, I bought a Beta player on eBay. When it arrived, I found out it didn't work correctly, so I contacted the man that I bought it from and he had no problem with returns, but I would have to pay for the S&H return which was basically what I paid for it. So, I'm stuck with it and am waiting to see about getting it fixed.
Yep, that's often what happens. I've done the math already many times in many threads, but the odds of you getting a good VCR is about 15%. You really have to know what to look for (intimate knowledge of the decks), and you're always going to have to ask questions. Most sellers have no clue about them, and their idea of "works" is to see any image, or even just a power LED.

Quote:
I'm only looking to pay $50-$150.
That will likely never happen.

Quote:
3rd VCR=$150-$300...
This is where you need to be, at minimum, and on the high side.

Quote:
many of the tapes brought in
What do you mean by "brought in"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ehbowen View Post
That said, I still love and use my Mitsubishis much of the time. I purchased an HS-HD2000U (which is on the list) new about ten years back and it still works great. Two months ago I found a matching unit advertised on eBay for $201 Buy-It-Now with free shipping. At that price I thought it would be worth having as a spare, even if it only had parts value.While this wasn't a seven, it wasn't snake eyes either. The unit did arrive in working condition with a good picture and a suitable remote, although there's still an eject mechanism issue that I haven't repaired yet.
This still surprises me. A lot of those D-VHS decks, Mitsubishi especially, had some pretty well-known issues with internal mechanisms. Tracking was so-so (usually a B+ on my scale), and head wear seems to happen too fast. I've yet to see a D-VHS deck that performed as good as most JVC S-VHS and the AG-1980P.

Quote:
If you deal with a reputable seller or refurbisher such ... TGrant Photo, or the folks in the marketplace here
The reason is simply: We know about these VCRs. How to properly clean, troubleshoot, repair, refurb, etc. The eBay sellers are usually recyclers, estate sale buyers, storage locker buyers, school surplus auctions, etc. Neither you nor they have any idea as to the history of the decks. Their idea of "tested" and "works great" is that it turned on, maybe showed an image (even if that image was 100% tracking errors).

Video is simply not a hobby (or profession) where you can be cheap.

- Did my advice help you? Then become a Premium Member and support this site.
- For sale in the marketplace: TBCs, workflows, capture cards, VCRs
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  #4  
05-09-2018, 11:31 PM
ehbowen ehbowen is offline
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Think of it this way: If you're doing captures and preservation, would you rather have one really good VCR...or 2 or 3 crappy ones?
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