I have a question that's sort of a camcorder question and sort of a video capture question.
A few years back, I did a big "capture all the old tapes to digital formats" project. The vast majority of my tapes were MiniDV and Digital8. These were pretty straightforward, because I just captured the DV data as DV.
But I also had a handful of Video8 or Hi8 tapes (maybe 10-15), and it's these where I'm starting to wonder if I did the best I could by the tapes.
My Digital8 camera was a DCR-TRV480, and it did Analog -> Digital conversion right in the camera. You could play a Video8 or Hi8 tape, and capture the DV data off the camera as if it had been a digital tape to begin with. I figured that was likely as good a quality as I could hope for, so that's what I did.
However, in the meantime I've come to the impression that DV is just not a great compression format-- though it was great for its time, it isn't something one would use voluntarily today.
That's made me wonder this. If I had had a Digital8/Hi8/Video8 camera with an S-Video output port, what if I'd gone from that S-Video output port, into a good quality modern capture card, and captured, say, uncompressed, or just captured at a high bitrate into some mainstream format? Would that capture actually be a better quality capture of a Hi8/Video8 tape, than doing the on-camera analog to digital passthrough and saving to DV?
In other words, for capturing Video8 or Hi8 to digital, what's the best practice? Is the method of getting a D8 camera and playing the tapes as DV, the best practice? Or can one get a better representation of the original signal by bypassing the on-camera digitizing, going out an S-Video port, and letting a modern computer do the digitizing into a newer compression format?
Or, maybe the quality bar is so low already for Hi8/Video8 that it hardly matters and I wouldn't notice a difference if I redid these captures.
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Yes the quality would be better to capture Analog on a capture card instead of DV. Especially if you are using NTSC as NTSC DV is worse, 4:1:1. My old thread I keep pointing to, https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/381533-Video8-Player-vs-Digital8-Camcorder-for-capturing-Video8
Your DCR-TRV480 should have a S-Video out and be perfect as a playback machine.
Last edited by KarMa; 11th Jun 2019 at 17:42.
Just following up on my previous post. I had searched the forums, I thought, pretty thoroughly, before posting. But after I did write the post, I suddenly got a lot of relevant posts under "Similar Threads" that I hadn't seen before.
After reading up some more, my general impression is that this general topic actually has been discussed before.
In this post in particular, user 'smrpix' recommends the D8 route. "Smrpix" essentially is saying that, under ideal conditions, and if all stars align, the S-Video result ought to be better. But, that the D8 route is a lot less trouble and gets "95%+" of the way there:
I'm not sure if there are more recent thoughts on this topic, but this is a relatively recent post (2015).
Is this pretty much the mainstream opinion on this topic? If "95%" is really a pretty good estimate of how close the D8 route gets to the optimally-implemented S-Video route, it's hard to justify going back for a redo. If it were more like 75%-90% it might be worth it. Of course quality is subjective so it's hard to put a number on these things!
Whoops-- thank you KarMa, I didn't see your reply before I posted mine.
I'll check out that thread-- thank you!
PS, the unfortunate thing is that my DCR-TRV480 actually does *not* have an S-Video port-- only composite.
I do also have a DCR-TR7000, which does have S-Video, but it also occasionally "ate" tapes. Which is why I ended up getting the DCR-TRV480 to do my big digitizing project. I do still have the DCR-TR7000 around, but I'd need to figure out how to get it repaired, or I'd have to hit up the secondhand market to try to find another D8 with S-Video.
Probably a rational approach would be to try using the DCR-TR7000 on some not so important footage, and see if I get enough of a quality bump to justify revisiting the other tapes.
One problem with using a DV camcorder is you usually have no proc amp controls. If brights are blown out (very common with DV) or darks are crushed (not common with DV) you can't recover them. I don't see the 4:1:1 chroma subsampling (a 720x480 DV capture has a 720x480 luma plane and 180x480 chroma planes) as being a huge issue with VHS/V8/Hi8 (which only have about 40 lines of chroma resolution horizontally) if you know how to deal with it. Consumer analog tape is a pretty noisy medium. If the camcorder has a sharpening filter that accentuates that noise you probably won't be able to disable it. And the DCT ringing artifacts from DV compression are still noticeable.