I just opened a box of 50 VHS tapes I'll be converting for a friend, and had a moment of panic when I realized they're VHS-C. In retrospect, I'm an idiot and the size of the box should have been a giveaway.
Right now the plan is to use a JVC C-P7U adapter in my AG-1980, but I've read that the VHS-C to VHS adapters are known for eating tapes. Is there a better option in 2019? Old threads have seen recommendations of getting a good JVC camcorder with a built-in TBC, and I've messaged the friend to ask if the original camcorder is still available. But while I wait to find out of it's available (and in good condition) I want to get an alternative in place. I see lots of JVC C-P7U adapters are still available new-in-box, but am not sure if a good VHS-C camcorder (that's clean, well-aligned, and functions properly) can realistically be found these days?
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Never the camcorder. VHS-C is a really craptastic format, and the cameras make for terrible players. The camera were barely good recorders!
Always get the Matsushita (JVC/Panasonic) based motorized adapter. There are a few rebadges/clones, but you need to be really careful. The JVC CP7U is what I use. What you don't want is a plastic POS from the likes or RCA, Memorex, etc.
And, of course, always use a quality VCR known to not eat VHS-C tapes.
C-P7U already on the way. Are there any other VHS-C playback devices I should consider having on hand to complement it? Thanks!
I second the JVC motorized one, I've had mine for years and never had a problem with it, Just don't leave the battery in it if not used for a while.
Funny you mention it, while deciding on the C-P7U I think it was right here at VH I read a post (for all I know, one you wrote) mentioning the battery! On that note, does anyone know whether or not it's okay to use rechargeables (like Eneloops) in that adapter? I don't know if rechargeable AAs were even available when the C-P7U was designed, and wonder if the voltage variance would impact it at all.
I use rechargeable on mine, Rechargeables are like 1.2V full charge while non rechargeables are about 1.5V new.
Lordsmurf, I read your forum but had to create a reply here. From you, albeit back a few years:
So which is it? And why did you 180 turn and change your opinion.
I already am digitizing my Hi8 tapes but have a few VHS-C PAL tapes from the 90s. If the camcorder route will work I rather just do this. Otherwise it will probably be cheaper to send the tapes in.
Am I reading this wrong? In both quotes he preferred using a camcorder over a VCR, Where is the contradiction?
Oh I see, you are referring to post #3.
Yet it's also a case of refining advice, be it due to changing factors/ecosystem, or just better information.
VHS-C is a fragile format. VHS had issues, but the "C" form-factor amplifies those. The tapes and cassettes are flimsy, unlike the Video8/Hi8 similar-sized tapes.
Cheap adapters eat tapes.
Even good adapters can eat tapes, if the VCR isn't cooperative.
And unfortunately, even most of the best JVC HR-S, and many SR-, are tape eaters. Consumer VHS VCRs are universally crap most times.
So back in 2008, date of the above referred post, I'd not yet extensively tested the AG-1980s yet for VHS-C playback. The cooperative JVC SR models were also still new or unavailable, and prohibitively expensive. The AG-1980 was also quite costly (still is, and getting worse), but I had those on loan for studio work. So the main choices were pro JVCs (eaters), VHS VCRs (yuck), and a couple of imperfect S-VHS-C cameras (also eaters, but less so at the time).
You must understand that back in 2008, I wasn't having a flawless experience, but a "least worst" experience. Reading my own reply, I can see the frustration (read between the lines) that I had with it. I did then, and still do, hate that format. Again, total PITA. It's often not easy to work with. I regret that our family chose VHS-C over the superior Video8/Hi8 formats. But in the 90s, I didn't know then what I know now. We just figured VHS-C with a VCR adapter was great. Thankfully, we didn't use it much, between late VHS use (semi-pro over-the-shoulder camera) well into the 90s, and early DV adoption.
It's now 2019. Stuff ages, advice changes with the times. VHS-C cameras are a PITA to repair, thus rarely happens. Remember, even unused, gravity takes a toll on tape equipment, which goes out of alignment with time. When VHS-C cameras lose alignment, bad things happen. When VCRs go out of alignment, the tapes mostly just have tracking issues until realigned. The pro AG-1980P decks have more requirements for alignment, and don't go out quite as easily (head wear and caps are the issue there, not often alignment).
Ideally a CP7U goes into the Panasonic AG-1980P, maybe 1970, or a few EOL JVC SRs.
For now, my advice stands. In 2029, perhaps I'll have to revise it again? A decade is a long time. Most of my advice is still as true today as it was 20 years ago, but some things have required adjustments. This was one of those. Not a huge refinement, but a refinement nonetheless.
Does that clarify for you?
I think,therefore i am a hamster.
Thanks. I asked because of my tapes and am still planning how to proceed.
Is the JVC adapter the same as the Panasonic? I wish to find a good reliable one at any cost.
Thanks if you can give insight into this very odd problem.
The JVC and Panasonic motorized adapters are near identical and the best ever made: if you're having difficulty with two different Panasonics in your Mitsu 448, the JVC is just as likely to fail. The JVC shell does have slightly different design elements like sculpted bottom and black flap vs the flat bottom and frosted flap of the Panasonic version: I don't think this is significant but you could try a JVC and find out. If your non-motorized adapter does work, and has given you no indication of jamming or eating tapes, you could just use that instead. Rules are rules, until they completely fail to apply to your situation: yes, the JVC/Panasonic motorized adapters are preferred if at all possible, BUT there are a number of recent-model late-90s-early-00s VCRs (including some Panasonics and JVCs as well as Mitsu) that don't handle those VHS-C adapters particularly well.
For whatever reason, the Mitsu 448/748 does not like the motorized adapter: perhaps the specific weight throws off a sensor, or the additional drag on the adapted tape during eject causes eject to fail. So your choices are: use another VCR that copes well with the motorized adapter, or use a non-motor adapter that the Mitsu tolerates better. I have two perfectly functional generic non-motor adapters that work in even the most finicky VCRs with the weakest loading systems. Do I worry they might one day eat a VHS-C tape? Sure, OTOH I've had these adapters since 1996 and haven't had a failure yet so I don't worry inordinately.
As others have posted, VHS-C was a clever but ultimately crappy hack format with no guarantees. Sooner or later, you can encounter jamming, snagging or edge damage with the camcorder itself, or any adapter (motor or manual) if a given VCR chooses that precise moment to choke on it. Very few VCRs were definitively "optimized" to accept VHS-C in an adapter, and the very last good VCRs mfrd at the turn of the millennium don't give it a second thought at all (by that time, MiniDV and 8mm camcorders had become far more popular). The Mitsubishi 448/449/748/749 tape transport is dead reliable, with some of the best video and HiFi tracking abilities available at any price, but it doesn't work so great with most VHS-C adapter shells. If it likes your non-motor shell, and that shell doesn't have a history of eating your tapes, just work that way. Otherwise, perhaps look for a Panasonic VCR known to be cooperative with most VHS-C adapters (Panasonic AG-1980, AG-1970, AG-2560, AG-1320, AG-1330).
Last edited by orsetto; 2nd Sep 2021 at 18:39.
Yep, you picked up the Mitsu 448 after we discussed it as a potential cure for some stubborn tracking issues you were having with some tapes. IIRC, it did in fact paly those problem tapes quite well for you? A good sturdy basic VCR that handles mistracking tapes extremely well: you should absolutely keep it, as finding one near new with just a few hours on it from someone you know was a hundred-to-one lucky break. I wouldn't get rid of it unless all/most of your project is VHS-C. Try the JVC adapter shell: they routinely sell for $25 on eBay (if it doesn't work any better than the Panasonic in your VCR you could always resell it). What percentage of your project involves VHS-C? If more than a dozen tapes, it might be best to invest in additional VCR that copes well with the heavier motorized adapters? Panasonic AG-1330 is typically $50 on ebay.
I can't recommend a specific non-motorized adapter shell, mine are ancient and while they work perfectly for me LS would likely vomit if he saw the branding: Leviton Pacific ElectriCord model C-5563-1/C-00. Metal base, plastic top, semi-auto loading (tape cover slides down, pop in the VHS-C tape, as you slide cover back over the tape a gear rack drives the loading arm into position). From what I can tell, this is similar to how most of the Maxell adapters operate. So before replacing your existing Maxell, I would test the hell out of it using the least important VHS-C tape you have (insert the C tape, load the adapter, insert in your Mitsu, play a few mins, rewind, eject adapter, remove the C tape from the adapter, then repeat several times over the course of a couple days). Examine the C tape under its flap: if there are no issues, no edge damage, no jamming, it should be safe to use the Maxell adapter with other C tapes. Just be very careful loading each one into the adapter (being sure the adapter opens the flap as the cover slides closed etc).
Last edited by orsetto; 2nd Sep 2021 at 21:04.
I strongly do not recommend this for those who aren't vhs veterans, but for the who are and are careful in their steps, here's a way to bypass the whole issue of adapters: Respool onto full size VHS tapes. May take a while (hour?), but I can attest it can be done. Afterwards, do a cycle of ff and rew to properly repack the tape prior to actual capture use.
Otherwise, I agree with LS & Orsetto's remarks.