Hi folks - I’m about to start a project transferring old VHS tapes to digital.
These were low light films of live concerts so quality is not great, so I’m trying to do this without any additional loss in quality.
This forum is a great resource I’ve already learned a lot searching through your guides and archives!
My question is this: I have a DMR-EZ45V from back in the day - I was going to use this with a HDMI or Composite/s-video capture device (I have bought both to compare and will use what gives best results) to capture my old VHS content on my computer.
1. Does this cassette deck have a TBC, or is it worth me grabbing a DMR-10/15 off ebay?
2. Is it worth getting a different cassette deck or is this one decent? (Interpret ‘worth’ as - I’d be interested in opinions as to whether this is a low-end or decent deck … is there is a significant quality difference - are there any resources eg back-to-back comparisons to help me determine if it’d be ‘worth’ considering upgrading?
Hoping to preserve these memories so if there’s anything I need to know to make sure this is my ‘last’ attempt to digitise these tapes your thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!
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It's from the same generation as the DMR-ES15, so the digital part is probably related. As far as I know these combos send the internal vcr video through the internal digitizer on all of the video outputs besides one of the composite ones, which include the stabilization/tbc-like feature the panasonic dvd-recorders are known for. How it exactly compares to a ES10 or ES15 for stabilization I don't know for sure, but since it's from the same generation as the ES15 it may not be too different to one of those. It's essentially similar to using a standalone vcr and passing it through a standalone dvd-recorder, and I think it works similarly if you pass external video through it. Using the HDMI output will avoid an extra conversion to analog and back.
Just to clarify, the EZ line of Panasonic DVDRs are quite a bit different than the previous models, for one they are known to be a little buggy, this is mainly due to the way Panasonic incorporated the LSI silicon, prior models(other than the '05 ES-20 and combo ES-40v, which also used LSI) used Panasonic silicon. The '05 ES-10 is IMO the last of the first generation-built Panasonics, with the introduction of the '06 model Panasonics(including the ES-15) they were built quite a bit cheaper, weight-wise anyway. I have read the ES-10 does a good job of stabilizing VHS in passthrough and I've heard people mention the ES-15 but again even though a year apart, they are noticeably different. Whether this makes the ES-10 better for stabilizing or not I don't know, I've never really used them for that purpose. I do know I have many ES-15s that have bit the dust, mostly bad lasers where I only have one ES-10 that is no longer usable, probably a bad power supply as the '05 model year Panasonics were plagued by bad capacitors as was most '05 model year electronics, '05 and older Panasonics have very reliable lasers, not so much for the '06 and newer models.
I've been culling some of my old no longer working(for my purposes of recording to DVD) electronics and I've got 4 ES-15s and one ES-25(same but had HDMI output) in my pile to send to an electronics recycler, probably to be scrapped. They all have bad lasers, they all power up and would work just fine for a pass-thru device but I have no use for them. Wish I could find someone locally who'd be interested, I'd just give them away, probably not too interested in shipping and I doubt I'd fine someone in the MSP area who'd be interested. I hate just have them disposed of but they've gotta go.
Last edited by jjeff; 16th Jun 2021 at 17:07.
It isn't quite clear if you're asking about the older ES-45v or the newer EZ series like 47v/48v? There are some slight differences, mostly in reliability but also passthru performance.
The ES-45v internals are similar to but not exactly the same as the ES-15: those I've spoken with that owned a ES-45v say its analog "passthru" capabilities are closer to the ES-20 or EH50. IOW, decent but not the prize-winning killer capability of the ES-10 (or marginally lesser ES-15). The EZs are quite popular among the subset of VHS hobbyists who prefer the HDMI capture method, if that tells you anything. Whether this will be good enough for your so-so tapes of low light live concerts is something you'd need to test for yourself. Broadly speaking, if the tapes are crummy pictorially due to low light but otherwise working properly your 45v should suffice.
Check a couple of these tapes in normal playback to your TV: are there any strange issues like tearing or jumping? Is there a dramatic distortion or jump when the camera pans from dark to a bright spotlight part of the stage? If so, you may need the brute force extra strength of the ES-10. That also applies if these tapes were edited in any way (i.e., not the camera original but second-generation edited dubs).
Given the insane price increases on good second-hand "true" TBCs, people are talking up dvd recorder "passthru" as an alternative much more now than they did previously. Bear in mind, talk is cheap and too good to be true often is. This whole "passthru" business was set in motion fifteen years ago when it was discovered the Panasonic ES-10 had absolutely unique and astonishing ability to fix really bad VHS input. That is indeed true, but the ES-10 was a one-off show pony that Panasonic didn't fully carry on with in succeeding models (and other brands didn't even approach). All modern post-2005 dvd recorders have some degree of "TBC-like" pass thru ability, but none come near the ES-10 and some are more usable than others. Unpredictable interactions between assorted hookups of VCR, dvd recorder passthru and final capture device can make definitive recommendations of passthru recorders difficult (aside from the legendary Panasonic ES-10).
The ES-15 is similar to the ES-10 but reports range widely as to whether they perform on par. Panasonics sold after the ES-15 could differ significantly in pass thru capability: the ES-20 is thought to be near-useless while the EH-50 is pretty good. End-of-days models like the EZ series are somewhat similar to the EH for analog pass thru but are most often employed now for HDMI capture. HDMI capture keeps the VHS signal digital as it leaves the ES/EZ unit, while using the ES/EZ for analog passthru is subject to far more variables depending on the quirks of the secondary capture device you connect it to (some will be fine with the EZ, others are so pathetic they require an ES-10 or true full-scale TBC). These are things you can't know until you try with your own tapes.
Re the internal ES/EZ vcr: a lot depends on the overall condition of the unit. The VCR module is of no particular merit, its just an ordinary budget 4 head HiFi deck. When working perfectly, performance ranges from average to mediocre. But many of them do not work that great: they were a bit flimsy to begin with and quite a few have become defective. Really it hinges on what you're comparing to: versus a random consumer VCR, the internal ES/EZ vcr is quite similar, but vs a really good premium JVC, Panasonic or Mitsubishi dedicated SVHS it will fall short (esp if the dedicated VCR includes line TBC + DNR features: then there's no contest and the ES/EZ is out of the running). Note for tricky concert tapes you might want/need to try several different external VCRs patched thru the ES/EZ anyway: finding the most compatible VCR for the tapes (in terms of tracking etc) is the key factor.
Last edited by orsetto; 16th Jun 2021 at 18:25.
There is an EZ45 as well, it's from 2006. I think the EZ naming had something to do with tuner or where it was released rather than what generation it's from. Whether the video chips are closer to the 2006 ES/EH models or to later EZ ones I don't know though.
Many thanks for your thorough replies everyone!
You’ve given me a lot to consider. The unit I have *is* the EZ-45V btw.
ES-10 units are quite cheap in my corner of the world so I think I’m going to take a plunge and buy one - I’ll run experiments with different combinations with and without it with the different capture devices.
I will post my results on here in the hope that they might be useful to others once I’ve run them.
Thanks again for all your help so far!
Note AFAIK, EZ models outside the US still use/used Panasonic silicon whereas in N. America where Panasonics were mandated to have the digital tuner, Panasonic switched to LSI silicon, the rest of the world didn't have to worry about that.
I have no experience with non-N. America EZ Panasonics but do have several international EH Panasonics that do resemble the N. American EZ models in operation but have none of the bugs or quirks of the N. American EZ Panasonics. I believe my internationals have Panasonic silicon but don't know for sure.