I posted something similar before but maybe it's best to make this a new topic. I'm looking for feedback on the best analog to digital converter. This will be primarily for home recorded Hi8 and vhs tapes. By best, I mean preserves the analog signal most faithfully, warts and all without dropped frames or synch issues.
And I know many have said it isn't good for this but my new computer will be using Windows 10.
I don't want one with dongles that adds extra cable length like the elgato. Thoughts on these?
can't really tell the difference between these two, but the second one is here on amazon
Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle
So the Pinaccle seems to output a H.264 video file which I believe means it is not fully uncompressed. The Aver CE310B mentions that the capture format is converted to progressive scan, what if I want to leave my video interlaced like it originally is? Others have mentioned the Magewell Pro Capture HDMI but every picture I see of that appears to use coax inputs, not the composite and s-video I need. Same with the Black Magic H.264 Pro Recorder. Unless I'm missing something and they're designed to be used with another device between the vcr and capture card?
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Terratec Grabster - good form factor, but mediocre chips and device drivers. Its uncompressed so your at the mercy of USB 2.0. Delicate dance with VirtualDub.
Avermedia EzMaker or Dark Crystal - good driver support, but again you need fast hard drives to keep up with the uncompressed data rates, and they will be huge files until you figure out or decide to compress them. If you don't compress them then hauling around or storing those large drives for many years will be a burden on your real estate.. and an inventory nightmare. It makes them larger targets for people less careful about preservation to toss them in the dump. Long term smaller files can be duplicated or distributed to multiple locations and are more likely to survive far into the future.
The difference between the EzMaker brand and the Dark Crystal brand is basically the bundled software, basic capture and DVD creation or SDK with Plugins for things like Sony Vegas. But the hardware is pretty much the same.. in this day and age its all either PCIe or USB3.0
Blackmagic Intensity series (Thunderbolt or USB3.0) frustration in a pretty package. The Blackmagic devices are Professional capture devices with RAW inputs, and no Buffer outputs. You have to worry about time base correction and frame sync on your own.. the signal has to be pristine when presented to the Blackmagic device or it will refuse to capture. there is no bargaining pleading or begging with the Blackmagic Prima Donna's they're pretty for a reason.
Blackmagic does not make any time base correctors or frame sync devices its completely up to you to figure it out and support will give no guidance beyond.. your signal is awful.. clean it up. On the downlink side, it throws the audio video data into your computer and its up to you to provide a fast enough hard drive array.. they provide you with a benchmark speed test for your hard drive array for a reason.. if it not fast enough.. too bad.. go buy a RAID array. The cards won't buffer anything.. you can't cheat with software. (And) the files it produces are huge.. its raw uncompressed data.
The Vanilla Sunday plastic cases on the Shuttles are just pretty decorations for basically the same PCI cards attached to Thunderbolt or USB3.0 interfaces (and beware the USB3.0 versions they only work with 'specific' motherboards and 'specific' USB chipsets.. they are very exacting and demanding they absolutely won't work with a ton of USB3.0 ports on many computers).. there is just such a long checklist you have to go through with any Blackmagic product to make sure your "in compliance" with what (may) work with it.
Pinnacle Dazzle - totally different class of device.. its an old uncompressed bare bones capture device, cheapest you'll probably find new-ish.. but millions have been made and sold. The device drivers are "problematic" Windows 10 keeps blocking them and people have to keep figuring out how to make Windows 10 work with them.
The best all in one method for capturing was back in the days of the DVD recorder, but today thats become a hobbyst profession.
The next best is to to look at standalone capture devices, like the Avermedia ER310 or ER330. The ER310 will capture h.264 video direct to an NTFS formatted SSD you place in its undercarriage inside the box. The ER330 will capture h.264 or h.265 direct to an SD card or a file share on any NAS or Windows or Mac.. so no software device drivers or capture software to worry about. Even better they have remotes, but after you set the defaults.. you can just press the record button on their case to start and stop recording. The ER310 or ER330 have Component / HDMI or Composite / HDMI inputs.. but you can use them with an S-Video to HDMI converter which changes that over to something like 480i or 720p the deinterlace of the newer Gamer S-Video to HDMI converters is not Bob or Weave, but Motion Adaptive and getting quite good.
Now that's not the "best of the best" or the "best uncompressed" no compromise video you can capture.. but there are so many variables and tradeoffs it can drive you insane not to outsource it. But the Avermedia ER310 and ER330 are probably the best options for consumers today. If Component is acceptable use the ER310.. if you really don't care and want the convenience of Composite.. or your VCR only has Composite output anyway go with the ER330.
Divorcing yourself from any operating system and going with a standalone converter box is probably the most consistent and reliable method. The files these produce are compressed, but they will play on most anything today.
The older MPEG2 capture options range from Matrox Prosumer boxes (excellent) but difficult to find and understand, to the TV Tuner boxes and capture cards from the early oughts '00. These included a lot of signal clean up on their inputs, especially if they had external inputs intended for VHS signals. The absolutely best options are a DVD recorder that is still working, even if its DVD burner no longer works as long as its on the Isobuster list of approved and supported brands and models that it can copy the MPEG2 video direct from their hard drives.. but that's kind of a deep cut for a lot of people.. collecting DVD recorders requires special skills these days if you've never had one.
If your a Non Linear Editor wizard, or a VHS alchemist that can turn Base video into Cinematic gold.. there is, were and still are used professional gear from places like eBay.. but it will come at a high price.. in money, time and sweat equity in acquiring it, setting it up and learning how to use it with probably very old version of Windows or OSX.. for the vast majority.. if you start going down this path.. it might be best to find some one already infected with this bug and have it done for you.. then you won't be left holding the bag with all this gear after your done.. and you'll never have to sweat bullets over an auction bid on an arcane rando time base corrector that may or may not work.
Last edited by jwillis84; 15th Jun 2021 at 14:57.
When I aqcuired my setup, Analog to SDI capture devices were actually cheaper than consumer USB capture gadgets, Now they don't even last a day in online listings, The SDI adapters that go with it are still being made but still used by proffesionals for HD/4K aqcuisition, hence expensive.
SDI is a specialist interface just for professional video.. its the BetaMax of the video signal world, its quality is unquestionable and will probably never go away entirely.. but will forever not be the most popular option.
Its the current favorite for bridging everything in a studio, but costs can only go up as faster versions of SDI emerge.
I think of it as USB for video .. lol.