I'm using a Panasonic AG-1980 to capture some old VHS-C tapes and was wondering about that picture slider switch. Is it worth sliding it to max sharpness or better to just leave it in the middle "0" position? (I also have TCB turned on).
I'm just not sure if the "analog" sharpening in the VCR is better than digitally sharpening it afterwards.
What do you guys think?
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I think you should turn sharpening completely off.
I agree with manono: all VCR "enhancements" should always be turned off, and this definitely includes the sharpening slider.
I'd also try a few quick test captures with the internal TBC turned on, and then the same capture with it turned off. On my semi-pro Panasonic, the TBC almost always makes things worse.
Last edited by johnmeyer; 19th Nov 2016 at 17:57. Reason: minor edits.
Each Panasonic AG-1980 has its own unique performance curve based on their tendency toward random electronic deterioration with age, so there aren't any hard and fast rules that apply to this model anymore. Each owner will need to experiment: a lot.
But in general, its best to leave the picture slider at the middle detent position. This is as close as you can get to a neutral setting, there is always some residual processing going on within the AG-1980 that can never be fully dialed out. Next, check the position of the picture switch underneath the slider: this is more useful than the slider, and is worth experimenting with. I typically leave mine set at DETAIL for nearly all tapes, as my 1980s are a bit soft otherwise. NOR is supposed to be the normal compromise setting, I use that if a tape is especially grainy. The EDIT position ramps down the DNR significantly, usually not in a way that benefits most tapes: if you feel the need for a slight sharpness boost, use DETAIL instead. Despite its reputation for having the best built-in TBC of any prosumer VCR, I find I almost never need it., so it stays turned off most of the time. With some experience, you will know when a tape would benefit from the TBC- its great for old animation tapes, for example, and tapes that have fine horizontal interference patterns. Not so good for other things, and can be very unpredictable during night scenes. It might be worth remembering the AG-1980 TBC, and the VCR itself, was specifically optimized for editing camcorder footage of live events (the TBC's utility with TV recordings or commercial movie tapes is tricky).
I looked at the manual before I posted and missed the edit switch. I always set it to the "edit" position which turns off all processing. Here's the manual:
In general, I always think it best to disable all processing because you should be able to do a much better job with the infinitely more sophisticated digital algorithms in AVISynth plugins than the rather crude "enhancements" available in 1980s and 1990s consumer or prosumer analog electronics. However, as already suggested, you need to experiment with your unit. You should find that with the edit switch enabled, the picture will be noisier but there should be a little more detail.
Great advice... thanks for letting me know! I did decide to leave the picture slider in the middle position and the other switch to DETAIL. It never occurred to me to try with TBC turned off. I'll do some more tests. There's some pretty interesting avs plugins out there... lots fo experiment with.