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  1. Hey all, new to the forums here and have a quick question.

    I wasn't sure if I should post it here, in the newbie section or somewhere else but here goes:

    A buddy of mine has an old Sony Handycam. Not sure what model or how old it is but he was using it like 14 or 15 years ago, so it is at least that old. I am guessing it is not even digital so maybe it's analog. He has some videos of me and my old band and I would love to get copies and have them on my computer. He had suggested at one point that he could try to get one of those contraptions that took it from his Handycam and converted it to a VHS tape for me which I thought would be better than nothing but thought there was probably a better way to get a higher quality version so I never took him up on it.

    When I followed up with him a few months ago he said I was welcome to come get the Handycam and mini tapes with the footage on them and try to get them converted myself. He informed me that he thinkks his Handycam is broke now since the play button wont work. So my question is, if I have the Handycam and the old tapes, whats the best way for me to transfer the video to my PC? I doubt it has firewire and probably not even a USB connection and even if it did, I may not be able to use the camera itself if it is broken so I may just have the tapes. Is there a piece of hardware or something I can buy that would let me transfer it to my PC and have the video and audio from it or do I need to find a working Handycam or does anyone have any other ideas?

    Suggestions?

    Thanks in advance!
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  2. This is not a complete answer to your questions.

    If the Handycam is working and has Firewire (Digital)

    You can just connect the handycam to the firewire port of your computer and use a program like WinDV to capture the video. You can use the WinDV's 'Device Control' feature to PLAY the video & then capture, even if the PLAY button on the handycam is not working.

    If the handycam is working and is an analog

    You need to use an analog-to-digital capture card (auch as ATI All In Wonder cards) or DV capture card (such as Canopus ADVC 110) to connect to your computer and capture the video. Input to the cards can be via composite RCA cables. Device control may not work with all analog handycams, so the non-functional PLAY button on the handycam may be a bottleneck. If device control works, then you are good.

    If the handycam is not at all working, then you may need to borrow someone else's similar handycam (that can play the same format of the tape).

    Do not capture the handycam tape onto a VHS. It will introduce a generation loss when you want to capture from the VHS into the computer later. Instead, capture it onto the computer directly.

    It is really diffcult to guess an answer without knowing the handycam's model number, what ports it has and the tape format.
    Last edited by nharikrishna; 26th Jul 2011 at 07:12.
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  3. Lets go back up a level before we start talking about stuff like buying a Canopus ADVC 110. If your footage is DV then a firewire transfer is quick and painless (assuming your computer is up to the task).

    If your tapes are analog:

    1. What is your budget?

    2. How many tapes are there?

    3. Is this a process you are going to repeat in the future?

    If you have a limited budget and you have less than 5-6 tapes and you don't intend to capture video after this, send them to a reliable service to get them transferred.

    Analog video capture is a quagmire of hardware and knowhow. It can also be a very expensive venture if you need a new PC, capture card, and a good playback deck. I don't mean to dissuade you from learning, I find it facinating. The equation for me was simple, I had about 50 analog tapes to transfer when I started. Hiring a service to transfer my footage was economically infeasible. But the learning curve was very high on the DIY front. I've been doing this for about 5 years and I'm still a cubscout compared to most people on this forum. In a world where I only have 2-3 tapes, and with a little hindsight, I would definately hire a service to do the job.

    If tinker time and money are less of a concern you can get lots of help here. People needs details like, as stated in the previous post, tape format or camera model, your PC hardware configuration, your restoration goals.

    Some hardware is cheap while some is expensive. In general the quality of your results will depend on the quality of your hardware.
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  4. Try Easycap on Amazon, it's like $8 comes with software.
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  5. Thanks for the replies all.

    The handycam is almost certainly analog with no firewire. I have a pretty decent machine but I don't think I even have a firewire connection on it.

    My Machine:
    Gateway FX6840
    Intel Core i7 860 @ 2.80GHz
    8 GB of Ram
    ATI Radeon HD 5770 video card with 4GB Memory
    running Windows 7 64-bit

    To answer your other questions:

    1) Budget doesn't matter too much since they are the only tapes I have so I would like to get the transferred in the best possible quality
    2) I am not sure how many tapes but I would guess 3 to 5
    3) I have an HD camcorder so I wont be repeating this process in the future that I can ever see

    It sounds like your advice is to send them away to a reliable service. Would I just go into a local camera / camcorder shop and have them do it or is there someplace better online that you would recommend?

    I might try that $8 or $14 Easycap thing, but with the mixed reviews and the price tag I cant imagine it producing anything I would be happy with but I could be wrong.

    thanks again for the posts
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  6. If the tapes are analog and if you are not planning to repeat this analog-to-digital excercise in the future, then your best bet is to give it out to a service to do it. Their equipment will be better than ours, since they are in that business.

    You can get this done in any of the local photo/video shops. or try something like www.digitalfaq.com.
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