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sverice42 08-02-2019 03:55 PM

Digitising Video8 Hi8: original camcorder or Digital8 camcorder?
Hello Digital FAQ members,

First, I want to thank this forum for the helpful information I have found so far about digitising Hi8 tapes.

A couple of years ago I digitised 38 Hi8 tapes recorded with our Sony CCD-TR810E PAL (which is in good condition) using one of those cheap USB-converters. I did not really look into how to digitise Hi8 at all and well.. the result is that the videos look really bad. Therefore I want to to digitise the tapes again.

I have read about people using Digital8 camcorders and others using the original camcorder with a capture device. Is one method better than the other? I have got a budget of around 175 for equipment and sending the tapes to a third party is not an option because my family does not like that idea.

Thanks in advance for your help. :)

hodgey 08-03-2019 08:38 AM

The camera seems to be one of the newer models with TBC/DNR, granted an early one, so I would think that would give decent quality playback. Maybe the capture dongle you got was not so great? Which one was it?

dpalomaki 08-03-2019 02:47 PM

Realistically it will depend on the condition of the individual tapes and the condition of the specific camcorders/players used. The original camera might work best if it was out of alignment when recording and it has not changed since then. But short of that there is no hard fast rule.

A D8 player can give you the option of an analog capture via a quality capture card (most low cost dongles are not quality), or a firewire transfer in DV format with a properly equipped PC (the conversion to digital format being in the D8 player).

sverice42 08-04-2019 10:56 AM

Hi, I have done a little bit of testing but first I think I should give some more details about how I initially recorded the tapes a couply of years ago:

- the capture dongle I used is called the SilverCrest SVG 2.0 A2
- the software I used to capture the signal was CyberLink Powerdirector 9
- I used the composite cables, I know I should have used S-Video
- TBC and DNR were turned on (I just checked the manual and in the cameras settings these settings are set to on)

The captured videos look, as I said, pretty bad. This however, is not because of the tapes but because of me not correctly capturing the signal. I know this because today I have captured a little part of a tape using VirtualDub with the same capture dongle. Comparing the quality of this capture to the quality of the capture from a couple of years ago shows me that using VirtualDub I am getting a much better result even though I am using the same dongle. Everything looks sharper, less washed out and the colors look more vibrant.

While playing the tapes I don't really encounter any big problems. I think the tapes and camcorder have kept up pretty well throughout the years.

So I come back to my initial question: what equipment should I use to capture the tapes? The SilverCrest SVG 2.0 A2 in combination with VirtualDub give me quite decent results however I think that with other equipment I could get even better results.

Should I just look for a good capture device that converts the analog signal from my camcorder to a digital signal or would it be better to look for something like a D8 player? As an example I could hire the Sony EV-C2000e for 1 week for €112,50:

hodgey 08-04-2019 11:29 AM

Yeah, Capturing with Virtualdub over S-Video using a lossless codec (huffyuv, lagarith, utvideo) should already give you a decent quality boost over the original. Make sure to also adjust the video levels so you don't get any clipping (see the Virtualdub guide for details.

As for the capture device, if it's the one mentioned here, it should have decent image quality. The chipset is similar to the one used in the Diamond VC500. That said manufacturers have a habit of changing internal components without changing the name and outer shell.

As far as I know, all the newer Sony cameras with TBC/DNR and this mechanism give very similar results, though I'm not 100% sure when it comes to the earliest (before the Hi8 XR) ones like the one you have, as I haven't tested any of them. So I don't think a D8 camera would be noticeably better.

We got a EV-C2000e here. I find the Sony cameras to give a sharper/more detailed image, and they have much better dropout compensation. The C2000 also doesn't have a TBC, so the image will be very jittery if you put that straight into the capture card. In short I wouldn't recommend it over what you already have.

The high-end VCRs have some use for tapes that were recorded with broadcast cameras that supported digital PCM audio, and a few of them had a TBC function like the cameras, but for consumer tapes they don't offer anything over the cameras as far as I know, and the quality is arguably worse.

dpalomaki 08-04-2019 04:52 PM


...but for consumer tapes they don't offer anything over the cameras as far as I know,...
The following were consumer Hi8 models
The EV-C100 is very basic - nothing special and no DNR or TBC.
The EV-C2000 is a significant step up.

The EV-S7000 was good, with TBC and, 3-setting DNR.
Better (and faster) tape handling for one.
A real, usable, control panel and display.
Audio dub (PCM) and time code, (but not all supported it) and useful mostly for editing, not really needed for just capture playback.
Playback adjustments for Hue, Color, Sharpness, and Y/C delay.
Manual tracking adjustment if needed.

However, there is some indication that some models might suffer an issue with failing capacitors.

hodgey 08-04-2019 05:48 PM

Oh yeah, they can rewind tapes fast. That's the main thing I use the EV-C2000e we got for at the moment :rolleyes: There are convenience aspects of being a VCR rather than a camera where everything is crammed into a small box.

We've got an EV-C400 as well, same mech as the other C2000 but much simpler, lacking most of the editing stuff but the image quality was basically the same. Ours has damaged heads though I think, lots of black streaks on playback. I don't know if there's an NTSC equivialent.

I may have misremembered what I read about the TBC-equipped models, there seems to be some different opinions on them here on their quality compared to the cameras. Some people seems to have found them to over-process a bit. Though the difference isn't massive in any case, the cameras are pretty excellent. The lower end VCRs are not really ideal for capture, due to the lack of TBC. One would need something else to stabilize the image in the chain.

Sony had some different models for PAL and NTSC, I think the EV-S9000 would be the top of the line one for PAL. They're very expensive however.

sverice42 08-05-2019 10:08 AM


Originally Posted by hodgey (Post 63135)
As for the capture device, if it's the one mentioned here, it should have decent image quality.

Yes this is the capture dongle I used.

Today I connected the camcorder via S-Video to an old display (with S-Video). This gives me really good quality, everything is sharp, no jittering and the colors look natural (using the SilverCrest dongle the videos get a purple look?). I would say that the test with VirtualDub gives me about 70% of video quality compared to the analog image from the ‘S-Video display’. Anyway, if I understand this correctly it shows that the camcorder is able to send a good analog signal from the tapes.

Because the analog signal from the camcorder is good I’d think that it would be preferable to look for a way to convert this analog signal to a digital one using a better capture device than the SilverCrest instead of looking for a D8 player like the EV-S9000E. Correct me if I’m wrong.
By the way, the EV-S9000E is still an option as I can hire one for 1 week for €162,50 from here. Are there any other benefits from this player apart from practical benefits like being able to rewind the tapes faster?
I could ask the company that rents the EV-S9000E out if I could test some tapes with it (I could drive there).

At this point I am thinking as I explained that the best method to digitise the tapes is to use the original camcorder with a better capture device which converts the analog signal to a digital signal. I am interested in what you think.
Thanks a lot for helping me so far! I am starting to understand all of this a lot better! :D

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