Identify your video tapes

By | 12th August 2011

There are lots of different video tape formats. Some, such as VHS and Betamax were used in video cameras with separate recorders and later, full size camcorders. Smaller tapes enabled the manufacturers to make more compact camcorders.

Almost all video formats were developed over time with improvements in recording technology to give better quality images while retaining the same physical design of cassette housing. VHS evolved into Super VHS (SVHS). 8mm also known as Video 8 became Hi8 and then finally Digital 8.

The result of this is that it’s not always possible to tell exactly what recording format has been used on a videotape just by looking at the cassette. A good example of this is the humble VHS tape. Apart from the label the only visible difference between VHS and Super-VHS (S-VHS) was a very small hole in the underside of the housing (some enthusiasts drilled their own). Towards the end of S-VHS recorder production JVC introduced S-VHS ET, a modification of the S-VHS format, which allowed near-S-VHS quality recordings on standard VHS tapes.

The good news is that we can transfer home video from all common domestic video formats to either DVD or Blu-ray disc. Our customers don’t need to know exactly what format their tapes are recorded in. However, we thought it might be helpful to show the some of the most common video tape designs together with a brief description of what formats they could be used for.

We’ve kept to the most common formats and tried to avoid using any technical jargon. Each tape and description stays on screen for around 15 seconds – you can play it full screen up to HD quality on YouTube and pause it at any time for a closer look.

If you do have any questions or comments we’d love to hear from you.

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