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  1. Hello everyone,

    I think I need some professional advice on this one.
    We have about 20 to 30 vcr tapes with personal memories which i would like to convert to digital media.
    The problem is that the VCR i am currently using (grundig vcr) is unable to correctly track the vcr tapes.
    These tapes have all been recored in a old JVC vcr, which has died some years ago.
    Since I enjoy video-editing and would like to do the conversion myself.
    However, since i am on a tight budget, i won't be able to buy some fancy gear in order to convert the tapes.
    I would just like to transfer the tapes as good as possible within my budget.

    At this moment i am able to buy a second-hand JVC vcr, however i am able to choose between 2 models, and i do not know which one to choose.
    - JVC HR-S 5950
    - JVC HR-S 6700

    I would like to get some advice on which one to choose, and if it's a good decision to buy one of these VCR's in order to convert my analog VCR tapes to new digital media.
    I hope that some of you might be of assistance and help me make the right decision.

    Thanks in advance,
    Nick

    ps.
    I hope i posted this in the right category, otherwise i'm sorry.
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  2. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Neither. Those are both still low-end units.
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  3. Member
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    It would be helpful to know what your budget is.
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  4. My budget would be around €100.
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  5. Member
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    If you are lucky you may found a S-VHS Panasonic vcr with TBC at 100 euros. Usually are over 100 euro. Other brand name which have a good name related with tracking issues is Sharp. I still recommend a Panasonic with TBC. Tracking may be just one problem, jitter and time base errors can also give you headache when you try to convert them in digital form.
    Anyway, try to borrow a vcr from friends and relatives.
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  6. Yes, i tried that, but none of my relatives still have vcr.
    Most of them are asking me to convert them.
    Any idea where i should look for a second-hand with TBC?
    I live in the Netherlands, and i already checked some on-line marketplaces, but no luck so far.
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  7. Member
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    ebay.de and only second hand. Some sellers are from Netherlads.
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  8. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    There are 4 grades of VCR:
    - Crap - most cheap consumer VCRs, image quality awful
    - Good - some consumer VHS VCRs, like Sharp, Panasonic and Sony, image still has noise, but better than most
    - Better - low-end S-VHS VCRs, filters some noise, but not all
    - Best - high-end S-VHS VCR, filters most noise, image output much better than tape, pulls everything it can from tape

    More at the article on Playback Hardware Suggestions (VCRs, TBCs, etc)

    For a high-end VCR, expect to pay $250-350 USD for a good condition unit, cheaper units come mostly by luck or with issues. These are only found used, not manufactured anymore.
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  9. Member
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    I am sorry to say that now that we are in 2010 I feel that you should expect any used VCR that you purchace to have some issues and if it does not than you can count that as a plus - but don't expect it, despite what the listing says about 'low use', 'mint codition' or 'bedroom use only'.

    I have been picking up some VCR's for family members and the difference between what the listing says and what you get could be funny if it was not my money that I was spending. In the past few months I have purcaced decks listed as almost new that had pinch rollers that were so worn that the deck must have seen at least 1000 hours. I have heads scrubbed raw by abrasive head cleaners, displays so dim as to be almost unreadable and high-end decks with worn heads.

    Really, it pains me to say this but buying a used VCR in 2010 is a crapshoot. You may get lucky, or you may just be wasting money that would pay for all your tapes to be done professionaly.
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    I had good luck with e-bay on a JVC HR-S7800U for about $100.00.
    You might want to have a look there.
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  11. Member NYC Film's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mediachimp View Post
    I had good luck with e-bay on a JVC HR-S7800U for about $100.00.
    You might want to have a look there.
    The JVC 7800 and the 7600 are in my opinion have basically the same picture quality as the 9000 series decks. There are size, cosmetic, and build quality differences. I have bought and seen many 7000 decks go for $60 to $90 ebay, and 9000 series decks go from $175 to $350.
    So if your in a budget I would recommend a 7600 or 7800 deck. I have 9000 and 7000 series decks, and I have put them to the Pepsi Challenge using variety of VHS tapes with various quality issues and I can't notice the difference. I know that the 9000 series have 4MB of frame memory and many do have dynamic drum, but unless you have stacks and stacks of really horrible 1st generation tapes recorded in SLP mode; you would be fine with a 7000 series deck. In my experience that has been the only situation where I have noticed slight differences between the 7000 and 9000 series decks. There are others on here that could speak from more experience.
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  12. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    The only 7600+/9600+ decks I've seen sell for $50-100 have been crap. Even $100-200 can be iffy.

    People that know what these machines are, and know the condition is good, will be demanding that $250+ for them. It's just really that easy.
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  13. Well thank you all for your advice,

    I am going to save some money to buy a good VCR for archiving and restoring my tapes.
    However, i think i am going to buy the 6700 to use as a regular vcr.

    I will keep you informed when i get the chance to buy a vcr with tbc.
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  14. Member
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    I bought a second-hand JVC HR-S7800U five years ago to replace our JVC deck that had been a reliable workhorse for the previous decade. It mostly was used for kids videos. The kids are older now, and the deck sees little use. Meanwhile, I want to get started converting 60+ hours of VHS-C camcorder tapes.

    I watched a few of the old tapes recently and was appalled at the image quality -- an overall softness to the image, with small blurry areas that sort of looked like a watercolor painting. I attributed this to the tapes and their age. But then I took a couple of those tapes to work and watched them on our low-end 4-head Quasar VCR there. The images looked like HDTV in comparison. I don't know what's wrong with our deck, but cleaning the heads didn't seem to fix it.

    So now I'm faced with the decision to repair or replace the deck. I have to believe repair won't be cheap. I'm leaning toward picking up a Mitsubishi HS-HD2000U with its TBC (regardless of the price), and then selling it again once the conversion project is done.

    Am I crazy? Or should I tough it out with the JVC HR-S7800U?
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    You might want to have your JVC tested by a repair facility just to make sure that it is, indeed the VCR that's bad. They have quality test tapes that they can run through it. Shouldn't cost much to have that done and then you"d be certain that you need a replacement.
    Either way it's going to cost bucks, that's for sure!
    Fred
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  16. Today i bought the VCR, i didn't expect much from it since it was (like you said) a low-end unit.
    However, it seems it solves all my problems, this is a still from the capture i just made:


    Now I would like to "improve" this video before burning it to DVD.
    I know how to use Virtualdub, does someone have some suggestions on what filters to use?
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  17. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by sparktone View Post
    I watched a few of the old tapes recently and was appalled at the image quality -- an overall softness to the image, with small blurry areas that sort of looked like a watercolor painting.
    Sounds like the unit is on "SOFT" mode, nothing more.
    Your other VCR, a low-end consumer player, probably over-sharpens the image -- a common issue in 90s VCRs. It adds grain and noise, which some people mistake for detail.
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  18. Member
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    Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    Originally Posted by sparktone View Post
    I watched a few of the old tapes recently and was appalled at the image quality -- an overall softness to the image, with small blurry areas that sort of looked like a watercolor painting.
    Sounds like the unit is on "SOFT" mode, nothing more.
    Your other VCR, a low-end consumer player, probably over-sharpens the image -- a common issue in 90s VCRs. It adds grain and noise, which some people mistake for detail.
    Thanks for the tip. The picture control was set to AUTO, but the picture was way too soft and smudgy. EDIT mode seems to be the best compromise setting and restores detail I expect to be visible. I'll use that for captures. Any other suggestions for capture settings on this particular JVC deck? Again, thanks for the observation. You likely saved me from spending money I didn't need to spend.
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    Never mind. I found your recommendations in a separate thread.

    This forum is a godsend. Wish I'd found it earlier; it would have saved me from chasing down several blind alleys.
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  20. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    EDIT disables the filters, so you're not really using the VCR very well.
    Are you watching this on a big 60" HDTV or something?
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  21. Member
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    A 34" HDTV, but the "smudginess" and lack of detail was very apparent on my 19" computer monitor, as well. So much so that I had real misgivings about capturing the image to DVD and was ready to drop a few hundred dollars on a different VCR. Tonight after reading your post I cycled through all of the the settings over and over whiile watching the same clip. The SOFT and AUTO settings were indistinguishable to my eyes. SHARP was unacceptably harsh. But, for example, when I viewed (in EDIT mode) a video of my father-in-law shot from 5 feet away, his beard showed contours and depth and actual hair. Maybe that's noise, but I wear prescription glasses to perceive such noise. On AUTO setting (or SOFT), the beard was just a white blur, with some smudgy gray areas on it. It was no contest.
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  22. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Be sure the TBC is on.
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    Originally Posted by sparktone View Post
    So now I'm faced with the decision to repair or replace the deck. I have to believe repair won't be cheap. I'm leaning toward picking up a Mitsubishi HS-HD2000U with its TBC (regardless of the price), and then selling it again once the conversion project is done.
    If price is not an issue and you're willing to wait for one to pop up on eBay, look for a JVC SR-W5U or SR-W7U deck. Make sure it has a return policy as these decks are heavy to ship and can be damaged (see posts by Orsetto). They seem to run anywhere from $650 - $800 on eBay, and there are a few websites that sell them for around $1200.

    I owned both a JVC HR-7600U and a JVC SR-V101US and found that their style of noise reduction tended to make tapes look a bit "mushy" in some cases. They tend to lead to great looking DVDs, especially with noisy sources, but for footage that is in better shape, I find the JVC SR-W5U deck maintains more of the original picture detail. On very noisy tapes I prefer to use the SR-V101US. It's my understanding that the Mitsubishi has about the same results, but I don't know that anyone has ever compared all three of these decks head to head on the same footage.

    It's not a huge difference on most tapes, but often times it's visible to my naked eye while watching in my 34" HDTV.

    I've done some side by side comparisons with frames captured from both the SR-V101US and the SR-W5U, and generally speaking, the SR-W5U maintains more detail while providing all the other nice JVC features. It's really a wonderful deck if you can find one in good condition and you don't have a ton of tapes to slog through, as I'm not sure JVC is able to repair it these days. I've had mine a couple of years now via another forum member, and I must say that it's been nothing but reliable.
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    Thanks for the recommendations. My tapes are in surprisingly good shape given their age. And aside from the issue with the soft picture, they play really well in the JVC deck. Maybe it helps that they were recorded in a JVC camcorder, and a fairly high-end prosumer camera, at that.
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  25. Member NYC Film's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by robjv1 View Post
    Originally Posted by sparktone View Post
    So now I'm faced with the decision to repair or replace the deck. I have to believe repair won't be cheap. I'm leaning toward picking up a Mitsubishi HS-HD2000U with its TBC (regardless of the price), and then selling it again once the conversion project is done.
    If price is not an issue and you're willing to wait for one to pop up on eBay, look for a JVC SR-W5U or SR-W7U deck. Make sure it has a return policy as these decks are heavy to ship and can be damaged (see posts by Orsetto). They seem to run anywhere from $650 - $800 on eBay, and there are a few websites that sell them for around $1200.
    That is definitely true with the SR-W5U and the SR-W7U. They are expensive to repair, and parts are hard to come by. Insurance and a return policy is absolutely necessary.
    I ran into a situation where I could have purchased a SR-W5U from a company that had one sitting on a shelf for a long time (which one of the workers called a hi-end Hi Fidelity VCR, great for surround sound systems). When they came back with a price the next day... well I realized they did some "Google searching" the night before and had read some "forums". The rental manager told me that the SR-W5U is a coveted machine for VHS transfers and they gave me a pretty high price (the only bad thing about this forum ) ... oh and no returns but I could test it there. So I decided to call a couple repair shops I have used in the past... to inquire about potential repair estimates that I might run into in the future. Both told me they couldn't give me estimates on any type of potential repair with out looking at it. The feedback I did get was that I would be charged a commercial equipment rate, and the parts run 2 to 3 times what my JVC 7000 and 9000 series decks cost (That is for the parts they could access). That made my decision to not purchase the deck very easy. Everyone's situation is different, do what suits you. Just keep this in mind if your new to VHS transferring, and before you drop $600 on a VCR.
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  26. Member
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    They are certainly a "gamblers" machine.

    I don't trust that JVC could repair it if it broke down (they were not able to repair my first deck). If you can get your hands on one (or two, with one serving as a backup) in good working condition, they are a dream though. They seem to hold up well, so just get a good one to start with.
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  27. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    NYC Film, I know you from somewhere. That's a familiar story. digitalFAQ, maybe?
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  28. Member NYC Film's Avatar
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    I am not a member of digital faq, and I only have been a member here for a short time. It wouldn't surprise me if others have had similar experiences. I am always bouncing around for production gear of all sorts over the years. I have had similar experiences with asking about gear that has been sitting around in warehouses, storage sales, and etc... and then they check ebay to see what they are going for and try to charge me "ebay" rate which is fine if the product is in similar condition (which usually isn't the case).
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  29. Originally Posted by nicknick View Post
    Today i bought the VCR, i didn't expect much from it since it was (like you said) a low-end unit.
    However, it seems it solves all my problems, this is a still from the capture i just made:


    Now I would like to "improve" this video before burning it to DVD.
    I know how to use Virtualdub, does someone have some suggestions on what filters to use?
    Since we went a bit off-topic here, i would like to ask again if somone does have any suggestions to improve this video?
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  30. Member 2Bdecided's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by nicknick View Post
    Since we went a bit off-topic here, i would like to ask again if somone does have any suggestions to improve this video?
    A video clip would be far more useful to help answer this question - it's not entirely clear what you're showing us here in this still. e.g. it looks like it's been badly deinterlaced, but displayed with TV (16-235) levels on a PC screen.

    It looks like you should increase the colour saturation and sharpen it a little, which is typical. Easily done in AVIsynth or VirtualDub.

    But post a clip if you want sensible answers.

    How are you capturing? DV? DVD-R? capture card?

    Cheers,
    David.
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