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    Hello!

    Excuse me if this has been asked before, just point me to the appropriate thread. Also if this forum is not the correct one for this question, please move it to the appropriate section. I have an old Sony Hi8 camcorder (PAL model, I live in Greece) which was very good back in 1993. Since it has many features, I don't want to replace it with a new digital camcorder since it will have to be rather expensive to match this, so I thought of a simple solution...

    A bit of video history: Back in the 80's the first VHS cameras in Greece had separate camera and recording unit. The recording unit was a "portable" (well, smaller than the standard size, but still bulky and heavy) VHS video recorder that connected to the camera with plain RCA cables and recorded the video. Later in the 90's combined camera + recorder (camcorder) units where available.

    This gave me the idea to extend my old analog camera's life by doing the same thing, that is use the Hi8 camera without tape and feed the output to a small portable video recorder that can accept an analog video (and audio, of course) signal and record it in some digital format onto an SD or micro-SD card! This will allow me to use all my old camera's features but record in digital! Is there such devices? Searching through Google I came across some security DVRs that can record an analog video to digital format either manually or when motion detected. I suspect that their quality is not very good, and I could just shoot in analog Hi8 tape and convert to digital later using my computer. So I'm looking for a better solution than a typical security DVR. I want to record analog video and audio from RCA (composite). My camera also has S-VIDEO output which could give better signal, but this would be optional since RCA is more than enough if you have a decent source. Of course I'm looking for a device that can accept a PAL signal (if it also accepts NTSC and/or SECAM, I wouldn't mind, but PAL is mandatory) and have an acceptable quality of at least 640x480 resolution at 25fps. Even better if it can do 720x576 resolution at 25fps. I also want to be easy to use, just a plain start/stop button to capture the video, not messing with menus etc. Of course you may now think of a couple devices to tell me, but I would like to be as cheap as possible, otherwise I would just buy a new camera. So I'm looking preferably for something up to 100€.

    I'm looking forward for your recommendations.

    Thank you in advance.
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  2. Member Cornucopia's Avatar
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    IIWY, I'd buy myself some forward compatibility.
    Get an Atomos Ninja (~$300USD, not counting storage) and also get an Analog Composite-to-HDMI adapter (like this: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.amazon.com/Mini-Compo...WF6gM2Nov-CMQg )

    The Ninja supports SD & interlaced, but you'll be ready down the road when (not if) you want to expand into HD. Also about the highest quality you could get in a standalone, portable device, for that money.

    Scott
    Last edited by Cornucopia; 19th Oct 2017 at 19:26.
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    Thank you for your quick reply, but if I wanted to convert my analog tapes to digital, I can just connect the camera to the video in of my TV tuner. I am looking for a portable device that can convert from analog to digital and store in an SD or micro-SD card. I could use a laptop with a USB video grabber and capture in realtime, but this is not very practical when outdoors! So I want a small (but not very expensive) device to do that.

    Thanks
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    Save your money until you can afford to buy a new camera. No matter how cutting-edge your old Sony Hi8 camcorder was when you bought it or how much it cost originally, buying a new 100€ accessory for it that you won't use later on makes little sense. By today's standards, the picture quality from your old Sony Hi8 camcorder won't be great and there is no way to know how long it will continue running.

    No Hi-8 cameras were made after 2007. The camera is 10-year-old hardware at best, and 30-year-old hardware at worst. Can you buy a replacement battery pack for the camera now?
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    Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    Save your money until you can afford to buy a new camera. No matter how cutting-edge your old Sony Hi8 camcorder was when you bought it or how much it cost originally, buying a new 100€ accessory for it that you won't use later on makes little sense. By today's standards, the picture quality from your old Sony Hi8 camcorder won't be great and there is no way to know how long it will continue running.

    No Hi-8 cameras were made after 2007. The camera is 10-year-old hardware at best, and 30-year-old hardware at worst. Can you buy a replacement battery pack for the camera now?
    Well using it with Hi8 tape and recording at SP (standard quality) it has TV resolution of 400 lines (DV and DVD can do 500 lines, so it is fairly good, even by today standards. But when feeding the output directly to my TV tuner it can give the DVD standard 720x576 (576i) or even 768x576 if I choose custom resolution, exceeding the DVD quality. All I need to do is to de-interlace the video in post-processing and record it as progressive (576p, ED) on DVD to get the best possible result. So picture quality is as good as it gets for standard definition when capturing in real-time bypassing the tape. Yes, I already have replacement batteries and yes I can still find new batteries if necessary. Thank you for your reply, but please answer my question. Is there any gadget that can record analog video and audio in digital format on SD or micro SD card? Of course if this is going to cost as much as buying a new camera, it defies the purpose. So please recommend some devices but remember not to be too expensive. 100€ is just a suggestion, it could be 120-150€. But not tell me 200€, for example, otherwise I would rather buy an HD or 4K camera! Please do your best to answer my original question, I already know about the alternatives. Thank you again.

    PS: I could use a USB video grabber connected to my Windows tablet, but I doubt it will be fast enough to record 720x576 in real-time without too much frame drops. Besides this is not a very elegant solution, that's why I'm looking for a standalone device.
    Last edited by spapakons; 20th Oct 2017 at 15:26.
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    Originally Posted by spapakons View Post
    Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    Save your money until you can afford to buy a new camera. No matter how cutting-edge your old Sony Hi8 camcorder was when you bought it or how much it cost originally, buying a new 100€ accessory for it that you won't use later on makes little sense. By today's standards, the picture quality from your old Sony Hi8 camcorder won't be great and there is no way to know how long it will continue running.

    No Hi-8 cameras were made after 2007. The camera is 10-year-old hardware at best, and 30-year-old hardware at worst. Can you buy a replacement battery pack for the camera now?
    Well using it with Hi8 tape and recording at SP (standard quality) it has TV resolution of 400 lines (DV and DVD can do 500 lines, so it is fairly good, even by today standards. But when feeding the output directly to my TV tuner it can give the DVD standard 720x576 (576i) or even 768x576 if I choose custom resolution, exceeding the DVD quality. All I need to do is to de-interlace the video in post-processing and record it as progressive (576p, ED) on DVD to get the best possible result. So picture quality is as good as it gets for standard definition when capturing in real-time bypassing the tape. Yes, I already have replacement batteries and yes I can still find new batteries if necessary. Thank you for your reply, but please answer my question. Is there any gadget that can record analog video and audio in digital format on SD or micro SD card? Of course if this is going to cost as much as buying a new camera, it defies the purpose. So please recommend some devices but remember not to be too expensive. 100€ is just a suggestion, it could be 120-150€. But not tell me 200€, for example, otherwise I would rather buy an HD or 4K camera! Please do your best to answer my original question, I already know about the alternatives. Thank you again.

    PS: I could use a USB video grabber connected to my Windows tablet, but I doubt it will be fast enough to record 720x576 in real-time without too much frame drops. Besides this is not a very elegant solution, that's why I'm looking for a standalone device.
    The best possible quality available from your camera is less than the best possible quality available from full D1 (720x576) PAL DVD video, let alone from true 576p video. The amount detail visible in video is limited by what is present in the recording. Your camera records 400 lines of picture information. So, when the camera's analog video connections output 576 lines of picture information in its PAL signal, the 176 extra lines don't contain more picture information because that was never recorded in the original 400 lines.

    The Azichi PVR-40 portable video recorder is the only thing that I found that does analog to digital conversion. It is in your price range, but the specs are very sketchy and it includes a viewing screen, so it is probably crap. I strongly suspect that a good battery-powered portable video recorder of the sort you want will cost more than 120-150€ if new, assuming you can find one.
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 21st Oct 2017 at 00:18. Reason: clarity
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  7. Member Cornucopia's Avatar
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    When most of those analog cameras' (& vcrs') manufacturers boast(ed) # of lines, it was in reference to kell-factored horizontal resolving power. The actual # of vertical lines of resolving power in analog is ALWAYS the same: 525 (NTSC) and 625 (PAL/SECAM). This is a discreet, distinct, impirical quantity due to the nature of the scanning pattern. In digital pixel equivalents this becomes 480 or 486 active lines, or 576 active lines, respectively.

    So if that cam boasted "500" lines, it was 500 out of what would be 704 or 720 in digital. Not as good as you were expecting.
    It's consumer analog from 80s/90s for goodness sake! Did you really believe you had that great of a camera?

    Now, regarding portable recorders, you WILL NOT find what you are looking for with reasonable quality for <$100. And the only reason current cams can do SD/HD recording with SDcards is due to the great deal of compression applied. Example: many cams do 1080p30 HD at 25-65Mbps. In reality, an uncompressed signal of same rez, framerate, and color subsampling would be ~720Mbps so it is compressing it between 12-30:1 in realtime, with little to no inter-frame compression. Lots of quality reduction.
    A digital camera might hold up fairly to that crunching, but analog would have a harder time of it (regardless of bypassing the tape stage with its timebase errors, you still will have the extra A/D conversion, and the comb filtering for component recovery). A medium with such a limited bitbudget doesn't allow room for maintaining the highest quality possible from an antiquated, fragile (in the sense of image robustness) source.

    THAT is why I mentioned what I did originally. If it's not in your budget, that is understandable. But don't expect to find generous performance in a portable device when looking at bargain basement prices (and yes, when concerning media technology hardware, sub-100 is that).

    Scott
    Last edited by Cornucopia; 21st Oct 2017 at 12:08.
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    The Azichi PVR-40 seems good. Right now I have to go to work, but I'll search for some specs later. Never mind the quality of my camera, just recommend similar devices. As I said 100€ is a suggestion, obviously I'll have to give something more, but not too much I hope... If you know how to find the specs of Azichi PVR-40, do tell...
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    Scott, thanks for the information explaining that the number of lines given for cameras is similar to the horizontal resolution in digital video.

    In any case, the problem is the same. There is a good deal less picture information available from Hi-8 video than what is ideally available from full D1 (720x576) PAL DVD video.
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    Originally Posted by spapakons View Post
    The Azichi PVR-40 seems good. Right now I have to go to work, but I'll search for some specs later. Never mind the quality of my camera, just recommend similar devices. As I said 100€ is a suggestion, obviously I'll have to give something more, but not too much I hope... If you know how to find the specs of Azichi PVR-40, do tell...
    Find the Japanese product page and hope Google translate does a good job.

    I do not have a good feeling about this item. The most information I could find (in one of the ebay listings) is AVI video and MP3 audio. Since AVI is a container file format used for everything from MJPEG to XVid, that is no help at all.
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    Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    Originally Posted by spapakons View Post
    The Azichi PVR-40 seems good. Right now I have to go to work, but I'll search for some specs later. Never mind the quality of my camera, just recommend similar devices. As I said 100€ is a suggestion, obviously I'll have to give something more, but not too much I hope... If you know how to find the specs of Azichi PVR-40, do tell...
    Find the Japanese product page and hope Google translate does a good job.

    I do not have a good feeling about this item. The most information I could find (in one of the ebay listings) is AVI video and MP3 audio. Since AVI is a container file format used for everything from MJPEG to XVid, that is no help at all.
    If it is AVI it is most likely M-JPEG, that's the most common codec that commercial devices use, other could be AVC, but rather unlikely, it would save in MP4 format or similar. I'll search for it later... Thank you.
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    If you are going to go down that route, it is probably better to leverage an existing Android phone/tablet. Of course, you have to have a device that supports UVC (webcam vid) in and may have to root your device and will need to find an appropriate app. Then get one of those cvbs-to-usb converters (seemingly cheap these days, though possibly in all senses of the word).
    But all the bandwidth/quality stuff I mentioned still applies: you get out what you put in. No free lunch.

    Scott
    Last edited by Cornucopia; 21st Oct 2017 at 12:11.
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    I found specs for the Azichi PVR-40 on Amazon.jp, but no video codec was listed:

    Code:
    ■ Built-in storage: 8GB 
    ■ Supported media: microSD memory card (up to 32GB) 
    ■ Supported file formats: 
    · Movie: AVI · ASF · 3GP · MOV · MPG · MP4 (720P) 
    · Still picture: JPEG · BMP · PNG · GIF 
    · Audio: MP3 · WMA · WAV 
    · Recordable size: 720 Χ 576 30 fps 
    ■ Recording file format: Video format: AVI / Audio format: MP3 
    ■ Recording file format: WAV 
    ■ Maximum recording time: Up to about 48 Time (32 GB) 
    ■ Display: 4.3 inch TFT liquid crystal monitor 260 thousand colors 
    ■ Screen resolution: 480 Χ 272 
    ■ Speaker: Built-in speaker 1 W 8 Ω 
    ■ Microphone: Built-in 
    ■ Terminal / slot: AV input terminal · miniUSB terminal · microSD memory card slot AV output / earphone terminal 
    ■ Power consumption: maximum about 0.9 W
    ■ Operating condition: Temperature: 5 ℃ ~ 40 ℃ · Humidity: up to 85% (non-condensing) 
    ■ Dimensions: (W) of about 116 Χ (D) about 12.7 Χ (H) about 77 mm (excluding projections) 
    ■ weight: about 106G 
    ■ power 
    · AC adapter: AC100-240V ~ 50/60 Hz 
    - battery: built-in lithium polymer rechargeable battery (950MAh / 3.7V) 
    - charging time: about 2 hours (power off / AC power adapter charging) 
    , continuous Available time: Maximum about 4 hours 
    ※ It may change depending on usage situation and environment. 
    ■ Set Contents: Body · AV Cable · USB Cable · AC Power Adapter · Instruction Manual and Certificate 
    ■ Instructions 
    · Analog media playback equipment (VCR, cassette deck, etc.) is required for dubbing 
    · Maximum movie The number varies depending on the situation. 
    · Battery performance may differ depending on the storage period from the date of manufacture, usage situation etc. Battery life may be shorter than described. Please refer to this specification as a guide only. 
    · Depending on the type of file / recorded data / setting / size / format / recording status etc, operation / playback etc. may not be possible. 
    · Depending on the type of media / recording data / setting / size / format / recording state etc, operation / playback etc. may not be possible. 
    · SD card is sold separately.
    Reviews were not encouraging. Find something else.
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    Well, I found these specs too and my experience tells me the codec most likely is MJPEG in AVI container with MP3 audio. If the quality is acceptable (not too bad) then I don't mind since I'll edit the video anyway and produce a final MPG for DVD. When working with VHS tapes or capturing my Hi8 tapes, I use VirtualDub to capture in AVI with MJPEG and MP3 using very little compression. This capture is then processed in VirtualDub (it has really nice filters) and compressed to x264vfw (if I want to play elsewhere) or x265vfw for best quality while the audio is converted to AC3 (Dolby Digital) for convenience. This edited AVI is the "digital master" and is as good as it gets for the source video. From there I can use TMPGEnc (or AVS Converter or Nero Video or whatever else) to convert the video part in MPG (M2V file) in DVD quality. I avoid re-encoding the audio part. Instead I use AVI Demux to extract the audio part to an AC3 file. Once I have the video part in M2V and the audio in AC3 I can use IFOEDIT to create the final DVD files. This gives me the best possible quality than converting directly from AVI to DVD (AVS doesn't support AC3 audio and does not support custom bitrate either, Nero Video doesn't support custom bitrate... etc, so I prefer the IFOEDIT process). However, back in topic, thank you for your time, please let me know if you come across some other gadget.
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    Hello everyone!

    This gadget is almost what I'm looking for. Pity it records at only 640x480...

    https://www.sharperimage.com/si/view/product/Portable+Video+Recorder+and+Converter/203963
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    I also found this gadget and it supports both PAL and NTSC! I wonder if they ship in Greece... I hope the total cost will not be too high...

    https://www.kotulas.com/deals/electronics/audio-and-video/portable-video-recorder-and-converter
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    Honestly, I think that all the low-cost portable analog to digital recorders available today are designed for consumers who know nothing about video and will, therefore, be pleased with mediocre results. I think that you are likely to be disappointed.

    BTW, your to-DVD conversion process seems overly complicated to me. I suggest that you try AVStoDVD some time using a short MJPEG video and matching PCM audio to find out if it could meet your needs for conversion and authoring.
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    Even faster video-to-DVD converter is ConvertXtoDVD which I use when I want to create some cartoon DVDs for the kids and don't care about quality. I use the other complicated method I described because I want total control of the quality of the end result. Using some predefined bitrates the movie will either be close to 4GB (not fill the DVD so less than desired quality) or exceed the 4.37GB of a blank DVD in which case I'll have to use DVD Shrink to fit and reduce the quality. If I want the movie to be as close as possible to 4480MB (a blank DVD) I need to use custom bitrate. Nero Video supports custom bitrates (up to 8000 Kbps max, so it is not suitable for movies shorter than 70min) but the end movie size hardly corresponds to the bitrate chosen (it is usually shorter), so this it not ideal. TMPGEnc tends to give the expected size and hence more accurate. Once I have the movie quality I want, I use IFOEDIT which produces the DVD files without re-encoding and affecting the movie quality and size. Yes, it is complicated, but you cannot have it all.
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    Originally Posted by spapakons View Post
    Even faster video-to-DVD converter is ConvertXtoDVD which I use when I want to create some cartoon DVDs for the kids and don't care about quality. I use the other complicated method I described because I want total control of the quality of the end result. Using some predefined bitrates the movie will either be close to 4GB (not fill the DVD so less than desired quality) or exceed the 4.37GB of a blank DVD in which case I'll have to use DVD Shrink to fit and reduce the quality. If I want the movie to be as close as possible to 4480MB (a blank DVD) I need to use custom bitrate. Nero Video supports custom bitrates (up to 8000 Kbps max, so it is not suitable for movies shorter than 70min) but the end movie size hardly corresponds to the bitrate chosen (it is usually shorter), so this it not ideal. TMPGEnc tends to give the expected size and hence more accurate. Once I have the movie quality I want, I use IFOEDIT which produces the DVD files without re-encoding and affecting the movie quality and size. Yes, it is complicated, but you cannot have it all.
    Yes, you can have it all, or pretty close. I recommended AVStoDVD precisely because it allows setting MPEG-2 bitrates or setting a custom DVD size for output as well as a standard DVD size. You can add a little custom avisynth scripting too, if needed. MPEG-2 encoders are HCEnc (for VBR with or without two-pass encoding) and ffmpeg (for CBR). HCEnc is known as a good MPEG-2 encoder. If files are DVD-compliant, they won't be re-encoded unless you un-check that option. The authoring engine is MuxMan. (IFOEdit is less strict than Muxman and accepts some files that are very close but not quite to spec, which is the only reason I might use it now.) Note that I have a recent version of AVStoDVD installed (2.8.3) and can verify that VideoHelp's description of AVStoDVD is not up-to-date.
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 22nd Oct 2017 at 18:27.
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    In that case, I think I'll add AVStoDVD to my video tool collection and give it a try... Thanks for recommending. I use (indirectly) avisynth, HCEnc and MuxMan with MultiAVCHD when working with HD video. Al I have to do is convert the HD video to BD compliant format (either AVI with x264 and AC3 or MP4) and use MultiAVCHD to create an AVCHD-DVD (DVD containing BD compliant video that can play in any Blu Ray player).
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    I have also found these at Amazon. I have already contacted the respective shops for specs (if they support PAL) and I'm waiting for a reply. If you have a link of the specs, please reply...

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01AFBKSY6/ref=sxbs_sxwds-stvp_1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd...508876164&sr=1

    https://www.amazon.com/DigitNow-Converter-Transferring-Camcorder-etc-Digitize/dp/B06ZZ...recorder&psc=1
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    Those manufacturers don't know what their talking about. They claim that they are converting to uncompressed AVI and yet they quote a storage rate of 1GB/hour (both verbatim in their FAQ).
    That translates to ~2.2Mbps. Reasonable quality for SD if you assume strong h264 compression. But true uncompressed SD NTSC video is ~125Mbps for yuv4:2:0. That's a 60:1 discrepancy!
    Doesn't bode well for quality or mftr reliability.

    Scott
    Last edited by Cornucopia; 25th Oct 2017 at 07:05.
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    Not quite... I already found that they store in h264 (at least one of them) and Video2Digital also supports PAL. I just wait for other replies before I take my final decision on which to buy. I don't expect miracles, but it will be a good bargain if I can give my old camera a couple of years life more, before I gather the money to buy a new HD or 4K camera.
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    Originally Posted by spapakons View Post
    I don't expect miracles, but it will be a good bargain if I can give my old camera a couple of years life more, before I gather the money to buy a new HD or 4K camera.
    I'm not saying that you should avoid moving to 4K, but if your posted computer specs are accurate, keep in mind that 4K will require either a new computer or some expensive upgrades to your existing computer (quad-core CPU, more RAM, and new video card) as well as a new camera.
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    Yes, I know... Working with HD in my current computer takes 5-6 hours rendering per movie. 4K would require the whole day. Fortunately I don't have a 4K TV yet, or I would be tempted.
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    After having seen some devices that have similar specs, I finally ordered the DigitNow video to digital converter here: http://digitnow.us/Digitnow-Best-Video-To-Digital-Converter-Transferring-Device-To-Cap...ard_show1.html

    It supports both PAL and NTSC at 640x480 in AVI format (h264) and stereo audio. Of course it is not the same as using a miniDV camera, but I think is a good temporary solution to use my analog camera and capture in digital directly before I gather the money to buy a really good HD or better camera. I'm talking about some mid-range model that will have some advanced features, not a cheap point and shoot one which I consider a waste of money! It will take some days to ship from USA to Greece, I expect it after 10th of November. I will shoot some tests and let you know about how well it works. If I can I will also upload some samples in YouTube and give you the link to see for yourselves.

    Thank you everybody. I can't wait to get my hands on it!
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