09-29-2023, 10:25 AM
DannyDorito DannyDorito is offline
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I know this is probably the most common question on this forum, but I've been trying to research options to digitize around 200 family VHS and VHS-C tapes, and I've gotten in a loop. I've got my sights set on a Panasonic deck (Most of the tapes are VHS-C), either the AG-1970 or 1980, and I've read the differences between them, but I'm really not sure which to go with. This project doesn't need the highest quality out of the tapes, but I'd like them to at least be decent, which my current cheapo VCR and elgato usb capture doesn't allow for. I've found ""working"" decks on eBay, but also have the two brain cells to know that eBay is usually a bad idea. What do I do here? If I had the money to blow on a TGrant refurb I would, but $1,600 for a project like this just isn't super feasible for me. The max I'd like to spend is $1000, even though I know I'll lose some quality. I've seen people mention Deter and his $500 refurbishments, so I guess buying a questionable eBay deck and sending it off is an option? I'm just a little overwhelmed and scared of making the wrong choice. Any help is greatly appreciated.
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09-30-2023, 12:14 AM
traal traal is offline
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You could do worse than a VCR with a built-in DVD recorder. You just won't get a chance to do much in the way of restoration such as fixing crushed blacks or hues that are too red or green.
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09-30-2023, 12:37 PM
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With 200 tapes, you don't want to screw around.

When people say things like "it doesn't need to be the best, just decent", they don't realize that those are same thing. A "decent" VHS is the "best" possible. VHS is very binary this way.

You get either:
- stable video, no distortion, no sound issues, no tracking issues
- unstable video, with distortions, with audio sync problems, often with tracking issues

You rarely only get a single problem, it's all or none in most cases.

So good or bad.
There's no grading like a comic book (mint, near mint, very fine, fine, very good, good, fair, poor).

In the 2020s, eBay has become a video gear dumping ground. All of the sellers are recyclers and estate sellers. Literally, they pull stuff from the trash, and list it on eBay. When they see lights, "it works!", which is ridiculous. Some actually put in a ratty old copy of Home Alone or TMNT, see any quality signal, and deem it to work. Most just blatantly lie about it being tested or working. Lots of SOBs on that site.

TGrant decks are not some holy grail of decks, seeing as how he doesn't replace all caps, thus the unit WILL break again WHEN (not if) more caps fail. I wish he'd quit doing lazy crappy refurbs. Deter has been replacing ALL caps in recent years.

Did you see the marketplace subforum here?

$1000 is a tight budget. Sometimes you need to break down costs, to realize the numbers don't work. For 200 tapes, you're allowing yourself $5 per tape to convert. The norm for crap work (folks wanting "beer money" on Facebook, Craigslist, etc) is $10 per tape. So you're giving yourself a budget that's lower than known-crappy work. If you're able to move it up to $1500, or even $2000, then things can far more viable for doing a decent job.

Remember, your own words: "decent".

Once you enter the realm of quality gear, then "best" mostly refers to the gear. Better gear, less problems. True, some gear gives advanced options (example = proc amp), to make the video perhaps better than what existed on the tape.

The lesser the gear, the higher the fail rate. "Fail rate" means that some tapes will not transfer well, or at all. It's a curve, not a line, so gear quickly drops off towards 0% success rate, when using junk like Easycaps and thrift store VCRs. When you have 200 tapes, the fail rate can get ugly with lesser gear, large stack of tapes that cannot be processed.

I try to work with all budgets, to make gear suggestions, but it can be difficult if you overly pinch dollars.

Remember: buy it, use it, resell it. It's not a sunk cost. Quality gear holds value, junk is your forever. So think longterm here. You can recoup funds later. If you were willing to lose $1000, perhaps you're willing to budget more, knowing that more can be recovered.

- 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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09-30-2023, 10:11 PM
DannyDorito DannyDorito is offline
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I saw the marketplace, just thought it was a little out of budget. That’s changing as I learn more. Certainly willing to sink a bit more if I can get it back at the end of the project. Responded to your PM so we can keep talking there, not sure what the usual etiquette is on this forum. Still my concern is the -C tapes and JVC VCRs with the workflows you have. Not educated enough on that side of things.
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