Quantcast VHS-C Camcorder vs. adapter playback - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
01-04-2011, 11:38 PM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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Yes, I know this has been brought up before. Here is the situation I am facing. I have 3 TC-30 VHS-C tapes to transfer, and the age old question is coming up. Should I use an adapter and play it back in my JVC SVHS VCR for best quality, or just play it safe and use the camcorder? The camcorder is a JVC GR-AXM17U. It has a "TBC" built in, no clue what it actually does in terms of cleaning up playback (likely not as good as the DigiPure in the SVHS VCR). It of course only has composite video out, and mono audio out (not a problem seems to only record to the linear audio track).

Meanwhile, I borrowed a really nice mid-90s Panasonic VHS PlayPak adapter from a family member. Its motorized and the VHS-C tapes fit perfectly snug in the adapter. I've heard stories that the JVC SVHS units like to eat VHS-C tapes for lunch. I tried playing back a tape in the adapter for a few seconds and the JVC seems to have no problem playing it back in terms of tracking or tape transport (I confirmed that audio was linear while doing this). Are the tape eating problems caused by the turbo rewind on the VCR? If so, I can rewind in the camcorder.

Condition wise, the tapes are fairly recent. The earliest is from 2006. I have already captured all 3 tapes using the camcorder. Just wondering if I should do a second capture run off of the HR-S7800U.
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  #2  
01-05-2011, 08:52 AM
magillagorilla magillagorilla is offline
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My 2cents,
Try both and see which looks better. Use a test VHS-C tape or the very end of a tape just in case the adaptor is hungry.

I tried my VHS-C in an adaptor on a Pan AG-1980 and my JVC VHS-C camcorder (with TBC). I found the 1980 output to be softer and a good picture while the camcorder playback was crisp if not a bit harsh. I sided with the camcorder because you can soften the image in software where sharpening is not really possible.

I am also from the school of audio restoration where the original recording device usually trumps any other playback hardware (for analog).
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  #3  
01-05-2011, 03:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJRoadfan View Post
JVC GR-AXM17U
Without looking in the case on the bottom shelf, I either have this one, or one of the series. The M920U, maybe? It was S-VHS-C plus it took 1MP digital photos.

Quote:
It has a "TBC" built in, no clue what it actually does in terms of cleaning up playback
It does notthing. It's the type of TBC used to aid in dub recording and playback of a steady picture. It's really nothing more than a frame sync type TBC, made to correct the signal, similar to what a TBC-1000 or AVT-8710 is doing (but not as powerful, nor as accurate). It's not a TBC that cleans up image quality, as found in the JVC S-VHS VCR TBC+NR processing units.

Quote:
Meanwhile, I borrowed a really nice mid-90s Panasonic VHS PlayPak adapter from a family member. Its motorized and the VHS-C tapes fit perfectly snug in the adapter.
Very wise choice.

Quote:
I've heard stories that the JVC SVHS units like to eat VHS-C tapes for lunch. I tried playing back a tape in the adapter for a few seconds and the JVC seems to have no problem playing it back in terms of tracking or tape transport (I confirmed that audio was linear while doing this).
Yes, it's really quite bad and damaging. Like you, I've put in tapes that "played okay" but a few minutes later -- crunch, crunch, crunch. (And I could swear I heard the VCR burp.) I've lost personal footage that way. Well, maybe not "lost" entirely, but it was surely screwed up a good bit for a few minutes.

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Are the tape eating problems caused by the turbo rewind on the VCR? If so, I can rewind in the camcorder.
This is part of the issue, but I already tried this route. It's not just REW, but PLAY and anything else that involves the JVC transports. Those tapes do not move as easily nor as steadily as a normal VHS tape, and the JVC transport is not forgiving like the Panasonic AG-1980 is. The original camera is technically made to play those small tapes, but you may want to REW/FF multiple times in the camera to get them "unstuck" in any way, before trying to play. My own camera has also been known to eat tapes, and I suspect the mini transport is somewhat based on the larger ones.

Realize I say this having used more than one VCR and one camera. I've tried this on several dozens VCRs (about half of them various JVC models), and several VHS-C/S-VHS-C cameras. This is something that I can easily repeat, if I want to ruin a tape. In fact, I have a "blank" tape (dummy TV episode recording) that I use for testing.

EP mode recordings do worse than the SP, because alignment, tracking and speed become that much more important, and compound the issue. Hopefully you have SP mode recordings, which fair a bit better.

Quote:
Condition wise, the tapes are fairly recent.
That doesn't really mean much. Those tapes were manufactured probably a decade ago, so their true age is easily quite a bit older. In fact, they were aged when used, which can results in lesser-quality image.

Quote:
The earliest is from 2006. I have already captured all 3 tapes using the camcorder. Just wondering if I should do a second capture run off of the HR-S7800U.
If you're willing to lose the tapes -- go for it. You have your "safety net" capture (just be sure it's backed up!!!), so gamble for the better one. Sit by the VCR the whole time, don't start it and run off to eat pizza and watch a movie in the next room -- or you may come back to a mess, which can include a broken VCR. When a whole tape dumps itself in a VCR, it generally stresses out the transport, as it's trying to pull a non-moving tape around itself. And something eventually gives -- and it may be pieces of the VCR!

Quote:
Originally Posted by magillagorilla View Post
I tried my VHS-C in an adaptor on a Pan AG-1980 and my JVC VHS-C camcorder (with TBC). I found the 1980 output to be softer and a good picture while the camcorder playback was crisp if not a bit harsh. I sided with the camcorder
Very strange. Usually it's the Panasonic AG-1980P that's known for sharpening an image too much, as the "0" position on the slider is artificially sharpening the image. Did you look at tweaking this setting on the VCR? Maybe it was pushed to pure soft? It's hard to imagine a 1980 being softer than any VCR, consumer or pro. Maybe your camera had that "detail enhancer" built into it, as many consumer VHS VCRs did in the 1990s, which simply boosted the tape's grain, which gives illusion of sharpness and detail where none actually exists.

Quote:
I am also from the school of audio restoration where the original recording device usually trumps any other playback hardware (for analog).
This can be true, but it really depends on the hardware. All of my workflows, for example, also have the added benefit of audio mixers in the chain, between VCR and later digital capture/recording devices. Some of my old consumer VCRs are really quite lousy at audio, and the tapes recorded on those decks sound much better on the newer gear. Not to mention obvious benefits in picture quality.

On the odd case an old VCR (with lousy picture) sounds better, I'll capture the tape twice, and merge the best audio and best video in an editor -- either Adobe Premiere for AVI work, or Womble MPEG Video Wizard DVD for MPEG-2 work.

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  #4  
01-05-2011, 03:59 PM
magillagorilla magillagorilla is offline
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kpmedia,
You are probabely right about the AG-1080P being too sharp at times. I just remember (over a year ago) perferring the output of the original camcorder. Plus all of my decks at some point ate my VHS-C tapes in the adaptor, so maybe my decession to use the camcorder was sided. Though, the results from the camcorder are very good.

Audio cassettes are a different beast. They have no time code. Head alignments, deformations in the head, tape path, and playback speed are all nuances in audio cassette playback. Sometimes tapes recorded on a crappy cassette deck can only be played back well on that deck.

I used to keep the door off one of my Sony decks so I could adjust the head during playback with a jewler's screw driver.

All my cassettes have been digitized. When I am finished with my analog video I move on to my mountain of MiniDiscs ....................uggggg
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01-05-2011, 04:11 PM
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Quote:
Audio cassettes are a different beast.
I have a stack of them here on my desk. Grandma sounds manly and drunk on one of them, because the tape was obviously recorded on a recorder with dying batteries, or it was simply slower recording. I'll be altering the speed on this one. I archive the original, and then create a secondary restored version. Audio is small, I can do that. Dupe files don't take much room.

Similar, yet different.

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  #6  
01-05-2011, 04:47 PM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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I have decided to not go the VHS-C adapter route and just use the captures off of the camcorder. The tapes are not mine, and the owner and I agreed its best to not risk damaging the tapes. The tapes were thankfully all SP speed and the camcorder had no issues playing them back. I of course ran the video through my AVT-8710. Seems the best option for (S)VHS-C tapes would be to re-spool them into standard size VHS shells, but thats certainly a bit of work.

Makes me kinda glad that my family went 8mm. Yeah, so you have to connect the camcorder to the TV to view, but you have to do that with VHS-C most of the time anyway! As a bonus 8mm had longer tapes, automatic tracking, and better audio.
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  #7  
01-06-2011, 09:05 AM
magillagorilla magillagorilla is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kpmedia View Post
I have a stack of them here on my desk. Grandma sounds manly and drunk on one of them, because the tape was obviously recorded on a recorder with dying batteries, or it was simply slower recording. I'll be altering the speed on this one. I archive the original, and then create a secondary restored version. Audio is small, I can do that. Dupe files don't take much room.

Similar, yet different.
FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is your friend if you don't already use it. Not as effecient as APE but FLAC is indexed and can be played without transcodeing back to WAV. Would be nice if FLAC could be used in more video applications.
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  #8  
01-08-2011, 02:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJRoadfan View Post
Makes me kinda glad that my family went 8mm.
Indeed, that was a wise choice in hindsight. How lucky for you!

Unfortunately, my family chose the other path -- VHS, VHS-C and some S-VHS-C. Many of our tapes from that era have sustained issues. It wasn't until 2003 that we moved to DV, as the cameras dropped into the casual-priced ranges (under $1K for a moderately decent camcorder -- not fancy, but also not cheap low-grade junk).

Quote:
automatic tracking
That's not entirely accurate. VHS and 8mm-based formats don't have any similarity in what's considered "tracking". For VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS, and S-VHS-C formats, alignment and tracking are closely related. The machine records a signal at a set path, and tracking is a way to calibrate and playback along that aligned path. If alignment is off, you "track" it. For 8mm, such important data is embedded/interleaved into the video signal itself.

There's a good definition already quoted here on a previous post at http://www.digitalFAQ.com/forum/show...lems-1602.html
For convenience, here's a re-quote:
Quote:
Unlike VHS or Beta, the 8mm analog format had no separate linear control track. Instead, there is a low frequency Tracking Pilot signal interleaved on the video tracks. The plus side of this, is that the Control Pilot is integrally locked to the video tracks and thus no tracking control is provided or necessary. (as long as the tape hasn't been deformed). The downside to this scheme is that should the tape have sustained damaged for example in a mis-aligned deck, then the Pilot Tracking reference relative to the actual position on tape is lost, and proper tracking can never again be realized without specialized recovery techniques.
Quote:
and better audio.
That's really determined by the camera. I've seen excellent VHS cameras and crap 8mm cameras. It really depends on the hardware that was in use -- the format had little to no bearing on this.

Quote:
Seems the best option for (S)VHS-C tapes would be to re-spool them into standard size VHS shells, but thats certainly a bit of work.
Yes.

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  #9  
01-13-2011, 06:05 PM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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Just an update on this project. It is complete and the folks are thrilled with the end product. The DVDs weren't anything fancy. No menus on the discs, just chapters separating the events. Now I'm really comtemplating investing in either a decent SVHS-C camera or a Panasonic AG-1980P for VHS-C playback.

On a related note I did come across a SVHSC camcorder that records Hi-Fi stereo audio. It was an early 90s model from JVC called the GR-SZ1U. There is one up on ebay if anyone is interested. Odd that their late 90s/early 00s SVHS-C models didn't do Hi-Fi. Stereo seemed much more common on the Hi-8 competition.
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  #10  
01-26-2011, 08:20 AM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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Managed to pickup a brand new JVC GR-SXM260U on ebay for cheap. As a bonus, it comes with a C-P7U motorized adapter.
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