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  1. Only $199 for a AG-A96 editing controller? What a steal! Wait until they find out that they can be had for $8 on ebay.
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  2. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jealousy91 View Post
    That example is not accurate. Something is wrong with one of the VCRs. The Panasonic probably has a bad caps issue, as the image is really muddy.
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  3. Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    Originally Posted by jealousy91 View Post
    That example is not accurate. Something is wrong with one of the VCRs. The Panasonic probably has a bad caps issue, as the image is really muddy.
    Eh, the vagaries of youTube make it hard to judge. Too muddy yes, but I don't think the blown-out JVC side is any more realistic: neither sample is acceptable. Both VCRs seem out of whack, or maybe the JVC's picture controls haven't been adjusted properly for animation. Weirdly, the side labeled AG1980 looks much MUCH more like the rather distinctive output of the earlier AG1970.

    In my experience with no less than nine AG1980s in various states of electronic decay, the failing caps issue typically does not result in the output going muddy like this example. More the opposite: color steadily drains away as the VCR ages, leading to a washed out near-pastel image. This desaturated output can be turned to advantage in some cases: one of my AG1980s has remained stable after reaching an apparent floor of low color some two years ago. This technically "poor" performance paradoxically works wonders with some over-saturated tapes not easily tamed by other means (I make lemonade out of lemons whenever possible). That particular AG1980 was an outlier, however: more commonly the caps get worse until you lose all color and/or you get dramatic failures like horrendous green color speckles in night scenes or completely unusable output marred by horizontal or diagonal noise bars.
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  4. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Youtube probably did screw it up even more, yes, definitely. Youtube likes to screw with color.

    Plus you're looking at 16-235 content on a computer screen. It may seem "wrong" when it's actually correct values. It's the 0-255 that's screwed up. It it looks "right" on a computer, it's wrong.

    And the the person may have screwed with it, too. Or used a POS capture card.

    I don't remember all the details.

    The AG-1980 color values can be tweaked, and it should be done when caps are replaced. I've seen washed out image, muddy image, and everything in between. Oversaturated image is easily fixed by a proc amp.
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  5. Mountains of gear vaporeon800's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    Eh, the vagaries of youTube make it hard to judge.
    For what it's worth, this sample was posted as a 59.94fps MJPEG on DigitalFAQ the same day that it was posted to YouTube. He said he used x264, but I guess he meant for the version uploaded to YT.
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  6. Thanks for that link, vaporeon800. There is much more info posted in the DigitalFaq thread concerning the hardware collection of the person who made that comparison clip, plus some insight from LordSmurf on possible complications from the apparent source material.

    Having looked at both links to the comparison sample, my opinion stands: it seems to me neither result could be called good. The AG1980 side is extremely peculiar: that very distinctive murk is the signature "house look" of the earlier AG1970 (the AG1980 typically skews lighter to begin with, and loses progressively more contrast as its caps age). I'm at quite a loss to explain the AG1980 sample, never seen anything like that before (and Lord knows I've been thru a wide swath of 1980s). The JVC sample looks equally bad, merely the other side of the coin (blown out across the frame, drained of color, edge noise). LordSmurf is likely correct in his conjecture that lingering Macrovision artifacts are partly to blame, and both VCRs may need reconditioning.

    Some of the ancillary gear owned by that poster seems questionable, and should be discarded immediately (the I.DEN pizza-box TBC is a notorious piece of garbage second hand: fine in its "pro" heyday, but they age more horribly than an AG1980 in a Florida crawlspace, and do nothing whatsoever to VHS besides making it look worse).
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  7. I've read through the thread and the way I've understood it is this: For mostly basic VHS movie tapes, a JVC model is the one to have (SR-W5U? HR-S9900?). And for mostly VHS video recordings, especially for certain damaged ones, a Panasonic AG-1980P is the one you want
    Last edited by jealousy91; 5th Mar 2016 at 08:49.
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  8. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jealousy91 View Post
    I've read through the thread and the way I've understood it is this: For mostly basic VHS movie tapes, a JVC model is the one to have (SR-W5U? HR-S9900?). And for mostly VHS video recordings, especially for certain damaged ones, a Panasonic AG-1980P is the one you want
    Probably not the SR-W5U. That one is special. And it's very hard to find anyway. The more common 7600+,8500+, 9500+ and SR series are suggested.

    The Panasonic is from EP, not necessarily more damaged tapes.
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  9. Originally Posted by jealousy91 View Post
    I've read through the thread and the way I've understood it is this: For mostly basic VHS movie tapes, a JVC model is the one to have (SR-W5U? HR-S9900?). And for mostly VHS video recordings, especially for certain damaged ones, a Panasonic AG-1980P is the one you want
    Bear in mind, unless owned by someone like LordSmurf, top-line VCRs age very poorly compared to more common VCRs (which can seem immortal). This thread began nearly seven years ago: 2009 might as well have been 1979 in terms of what you face now shopping for second hand high-end VCRs. The Panasonic and JVC svhs models are literal antiques: understand this, or you may lose a lot of time and money.

    The AG1980 is a unique, marvelous but infuriating VCR. When it was "younger" it was extremely popular as a digitizing deck in the early days of flaky PC video inputs and hypersensitive dvd recorders. It was fully the equal of any similar JVC in terms of video playback performance: some eagle eye OCD users dispute this but thats just personal preference, which can get extreme when it comes to video gear. Subjective impressions aside, the AG1980 has a more usable and flexible TBC / DNR design that is more compatible with a wider variety of tapes than the JVC system (mostly because the JVC TBC cannot be independently turned off while keeping DNR active). It also tracks LP/EP/SLP tapes notably better than most JVCs (JVC never really approved of slow speeds, and it shows in their VCR's grudging playback of anything not SP). Unfortunately the guts of the AG1980 are a joke: its the single most electronically-unreliable VCR ever mfd, by a huge margin. The combination of unreliable build quality, age, and popularity means most AG1980s today are dead, dying, abused, broken wrecks. Repairs are difficult and expensive. In its day it was something special, today not so much: proceed with caution.

    The top-line JVCs far outnumbered the AG1980: JVC made many model variations with TBC/DNR over many years compared to just the one Panasonic. So while the JVCs are equally old, and you still have to watch out for worn abused wrecks with a dozen prior owners, you have somewhat better odds of finding a functional example at a decent price. Like the AG1980, a malfunctioning old JVC is a huge headache in 2016: good repair techs are often five states away, requiring expensive and risky shipping on top of the service fees. When working properly, the JVC TBC/DNR can do wonders cleaning away color noise and other VHS grit, which is why people chase them down and pay big money for them. But the TBC/DNR is locked together, meaning it doesn't always suit every tape: the majority of tapes can benefit from DNR but many don't react well to TBC at all. Some of us find we need to turn it off for way more tapes than we expected, and a JVC with TBC/DNR disabled is no better than any $20 VCR from a pawn shop. Plus, they tend not to play slow-speed LP and EP/SLP that great, and hifi audio tracking can be twitchy. So, tricky VCRs to buy unless you know exactly what you're looking for and can afford to drop serious coin.

    Anyone just getting around now to digitizing a VHS collection is facing an uphill battle. None of the VCR recommendations from 2002-2009 realistically apply anymore: finding one in good shape is difficult and costly, finding a repair service even more so. I would avoid the AG1980 altogether unless you can afford several hundred $ to buy a fully guaranteed, restored one from a known AG1980 specialist. For JVC, I'd seek a newer DVHS instead of the older dodgier SVHS models. The TBC/DNR of the DVHS may be a hair less fancy than the older SVHS, but the newer mechanics and electronics make up for that. Mitsubishi's HS-HD2000U was a JVC DVHS knockoff and serves nearly as well, its advantage being the best reliability of any TBC/DNR vcr out there. The former ideal of owning both a Panasonic AG1980 and a similar JVC SVHS is no longer practical or affordable for most newcomers in 2016: you may need to compromise with a JVC or Mitsu DVHS as primary high-end VCR, and supplement with a couple "ordinary common model" Panasonic or Sharp VCRs for slow-speed tapes or tracking-impaired tapes.

    Re the legendary JVC WVHS models SR-W5U and SR-W7U: these are vanishingly rare, very expensive, and nearly impossible to get repaired. If lightning strikes and you do stumble upon one in perfect working order, they are indeed the finest VCRs ever made for digitizing VHS/SVHS. Video playback is impeccable, and their HiFi Audio tracking miraculous. But, they are a pipe dream for any but the most fanatical well-heeled enthusiasts. They're extraordinarily fragile: most suffer significant shipping damage in transit to new owners (damage that is not easily repaired). Risky.
    Last edited by orsetto; 7th Mar 2016 at 11:23.
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  10. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    All VCRs age pretty poorly, for one reason or another. Gravity affects them all (alignment, etc). And then you have all the bad caps on the Panasonic lines. Every brand, series, and model line (pro, consumer, prosumer) develops their own faults.

    JVC D-VHS has its uses, and its faults. It is a good choice.
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  11. Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    All VCRs age pretty poorly, for one reason or another.
    Yes they do.

    However, I have never seen one go out of alignment on its own; usually alignment problems are caused by something the user did, like inserting damaged cassettes, or forcing a jammed cassette in or out of the machine. My point in making this statement is to discourage anyone reading this from trying to "mess" with the alignment on your VCR. Don't do it.

    Bad caps can happen, although when the power supply goes down, the resulting problem is not subtle.

    The real killer, however, is rubber. Just like audio tape machines of all stripes (reel-to-reel, cassette, 8-track, etc.) and all turntables, VCRs use rubber belts and wheels that go stiff and hard over time (no jokes allowed ...). Twenty years seems to be the upper limit for most modern rubber parts. I've repaired MANY of all of these machines, and have only had re-capping help out once or twice. In all other cases, it was bad rubber.

    Fortunately, replacing the rubber parts is the easiest of all the repairs and, if done carefully, the one that is least likely to screw up your VCR.
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    For PAL regions, the Panasonic K deck machines are a safe bet (includes HS950, and HS1000 S-VHS along with the plain VHS machines) as they use the cast aluminium chassis. The components are long lived and I have never had one with bad caps. The only repair usually needed is the loading motor coupler (plastic part available for 60 pence). K deck ran from 1994 to 1999. After that came the Z deck.

    However as we know, any mechanical part can and will break if stressed. No one VCR is 100% certain to work 100% of the time, just one of those facts.
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