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  1. Hello,

    I'm sorry for this post that may be redondant, I assure you that I read carefully this forum (not everything of course so I may have missed important things) and that I've been making reserches for the last 7 days before ending posting this message here, but there is just so many informations, that are sometimes saying very oposite things, and I'm still very lost.

    I have several family tapes recorded on VHS-C during the 90s that I want to capture on PC. These were my grandfather tapes and we don't have anything to read this tapes anymore, no one in my family even have a simple VCR. Around 10 years ago my grandfather paid to get some of these tapes transfered on DVD but I'm pretty sure that the quality of this transfer is not the best I could get from these tapes and there is still plenty that were not captured.

    I am working in audiovisual so I'm not a newbie when it comes to working on video and sound, but I'm a bit too young to have a real knowledge of the analog video signal. I don't even know if these tapes are in PAL or NTSC (or even maybe in SECAM as I live in France, as wikipedia says that VHS-C could support SECAM recording).

    To be clear, for now I have nothing at all, just the tapes and a pretty good PC. My goal would be to capture a lossless signal that could keep as many informations as possible to allow me to work on the video in post production to try to clean the signal as much as I can (and maybe try some AI assisted upscale but I'm not sure the technology is totally ready for that yet), I don't care at all about the size of the files. I care a little bit more about the cost af all this, if I could have a decent result with around 300 of gear it would be great but I can consider to put a bit more if it's needed.

    After my researches here are the options I'm thinking about for the moment, but I'm so lost that it would be very helpful to have your advices and your opinions about it.

    The VCR

    My researches conducted me to think about a S-VHS VCR with in built TBC. Most of the ones I could find would already cost around 300, but I can find some for less so it can still be an option.

    Passthrough device

    I obviously don't have the budget to buy a dedicated TBC. But I read that the DMR ES10 et ES15 can give good results because of the inbuilt TBC and there is currently some ES15 for a reasonable price on eBay, so if it's really helping to get a good signal I can think about this option too.

    But that's where I start to get lost. I read about people using the inbuilt TBC of their S-VHS VCR and sending this signal into a ES15, isn't a TBC supposed to work well only if it gets the dirty raw signal of the tape and not a signal that already passed through another TBC? Of course I understand that these inbuilt TBCs are not ideal so maybe it works a bit differently. Is it better to use a simple VCR to send the signal into a ES15? or to use a S-VHS VCR with TBC without ES15? or to use both?

    Capture card

    That is the most difficult point where I still have no idea on what I should get. As I said, my goal would be to record a lossless signal, so I don't really want to use a DV converter. I'm a bit affraid of the cheap usb converters that can be found on amazon.

    I first saw the blackmagic intensity pro 4k, it was fine for the price and it had everything I needed on the paper. But reviews made me really suspicious about this card as it seems that most of users experience a lot of frame drops during the capture. But I read the very interesting thread about droping frames of this forum and it gives very good solutions for that. So this card became an option again, but I would have liked to read about people who are happy and successful in their cpature of VHS with this card.

    I heard a little bit about other cards like the the magewell pro capture HDMI, but didn't found that many informations about it, just saw that someone on this forum said that blackmagic and magewell cards were overpriced, I can believe that but what are the alternatives exactly? It seems so strange to me that there is no great analogic capture cards for windows 10. So I guess for now the intensity pro 4k is still on the top of my list, but I'm very unsure about this choice and would love to have your opinion.

    Here I am in my thoughts for the moment. I'm very sorry if all these questions are very basic questions that you may answer too often but if some of you could guide me in my choices it would be very helpful!
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  2. aBigMeanie aedipuss's Avatar
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    it comes down to price of equipment vs. personal value. here in the northeast of the usa it's still only about $25/tape to have them transferred @ cvs/walmart/etc. not perfect but what vhs cam tapes have anything but out of focus memories anyway. it's not lost star wars footage.
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  3. It's around the same price in France, arround 20/tape, but I have 25 tapes (for the moment, we may find more in some months, long to explain), so it would cost 500 to have it transfered and for a quality that I can't control. As I said, some tapes were already transfered on DVD and some footage is deinterlace in a bad way, some is not, it's quite obvious that it was not the best capture possible.I perfectly know that these tapes have only a sentimental value and will never have any meaning outside of my family, but the sentimental value here is very strong, it was shot by grandfather who passed away two weeks ago, these tapes are very important for me and my family.
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  4. Member DB83's Avatar
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    Well you have one big problem even before you start. You must determine whether these tapes are PAL or SECAM. PAL vcrs will not handle SECAM and if you have a SECAM vcr and PAL tapes they also will not display correctly.


    Multi-standard vcrs can handle both and, possibly, later models in France. But the former is also likely to be beyond your current budget.


    Having solved that puzzle, not all capture devices support Secam. I do know that a Canopus ADVC 300 will accept a Secam signal and output a PAL DV. Again, not a cheap piece of equipment and you will require a PC with a firewire connection.


    So, frankly, you will be better served having them commercially transferred at a high quality - see what is offered - but not straight to DVD - and work from there.
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    Originally Posted by DB83 View Post
    PAL vcrs will not handle SECAM (...)
    You are not right, my Panasonic NV-HS930 handles SECAM:
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    [Attachment 57339 - Click to enlarge]
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  6. Originally Posted by DB83 View Post
    Well you have one big problem even before you start. You must determine whether these tapes are PAL or SECAM. PAL vcrs will not handle SECAM and if you have a SECAM vcr and PAL tapes they also will not display correctly.


    Multi-standard vcrs can handle both and, possibly, later models in France. But the former is also likely to be beyond your current budget.


    Having solved that puzzle, not all capture devices support Secam. I do know that a Canopus ADVC 300 will accept a Secam signal and output a PAL DV. Again, not a cheap piece of equipment and you will require a PC with a firewire connection.
    I found a JVC HR S9500MS for 100 in France (just didn't bought it yet because the owner doesn't want to send it and it's very far from me but I can ask to some friends in Paris if they can go to buy it for me) and the manual says that it can read PAL and SECAM VHS.

    But indeed I didn't considered about the capture card being able to read a SECAM signal if the tapes are in SECAM, that's a good point. I guess first thing I should do is to find any PAL VCR to try to read a tape to determine what is the signal of the tapes.

    I'm very open to consider a professional tranfer of the tapes if I'm sure I can get a good quality out of that, there is not a lot of companies doing that where I live, for what I saw it's mainly DVD or compressed video files but I can ask if they could consider to deliver lossless files if I give them hardrive.
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  7. Member DB83's Avatar
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    I have not checked but if memory serves MESECAM is NOT a broadcast standard. It existed for the Middle East (hence the ME part) for the broadcast standards of those countries to output PAL.


    That may well work for the OP if the vcr recognises pure SECAM and not some variant.


    I am leaning towards those tapes being SECAM since how would the creator play them when broadcast standards were still analogue.
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  8. Member dellsam34's Avatar
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    Most of 90's and 2000's French VCR's handle both SECAM and PAL without any problems, JVC's have the extension MS at the end of the model such as HR-S9600MS. Early models supported SECAM only a.k.a SECAM-L.

    Having a quality DIY transfer is not that easy, it requires a good VCR with line TBC and S-Video output and finding one in good working condition may cost you more than what you pay for having the tapes transferred (unless you can tackle basic VCR repair), add to that finding a good capture card/device that actually works with VHS signal and newer OS systems, Cheap chinses capture devices require an expensive TBC or some sort of signal processing for them to lock on the signal.

    In the other hand finding a good reputable service that does the job meticulously (capturing lossless, de-interlacing and encoding) for 25 euros is almost impossible, Most of them now do it with cheap VCR's and capture into mp4 on the fly, Some old school folks still use DV equipment.
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