Myth – Hi8 to VHS adapters

By | 16th September 2011

The myth

An adapter was available to convert Video 8, (also called 8mm) or Hi8 tapes to play in a VHS video recorder.

The truth

Video 8 and Hi8 are mechanically incompatible with VHS. There has never been a VHS adapter available for Video 8 or Hi8 camcorder tapes.

VHS-C tape shown with full size adapter

Why the confusion? 

Most people can recall seeing adapters being available to play camcorder tapes – which is true but the adapters were specifically designed for VHS-C tapes rather than 8mm or Hi8.VHS-C (as seen in photo above) was the main competitor to Video 8. Likewise Super VHS-C competed directly with Hi8. Both VHS-C and SVHS-C contained the same type of tape as their full size counterparts. These COMPACT VHS tapes were designed from the ground up to be used with a mechanical adapter to allow them to be played back in a full size video cassette player.

VHS and VHS-C tape are both 12.7mm (half inch) wide. The entire transport mechanism and helical scanning head drum of a VHS video player is designed to accommodate 12.7mm wide tape. 8mm tapes are approximately 1/3rd narrower with much smaller spool reels. There really is no way to make 8mm work in a VHS machine.

Sony did make some VHS and Hi8 combination players with two slots and two complete deck mechanisms inside. These were expensive, they weren’t widely available and are rarely seen in the UK. Sony did produce Hi8 video recorders – some were designed to go under the TV and had a tuner, others were made for post production or portable use. They were high end machines and still command a high price in the second hand market.

Playing back Video 8 & Hi8

If you still have a camcorder that still works then you can connect it to your TV, VCR or DVD recorder to view or copy what’s on the tape. Some cameras had a built-in LCD screen which makes reviewing tapes convenient.

How we copy Video8 and Hi8

Our studio uses Sony Digital 8 (D8) players for all Video 8 and Hi8 tape playback. A limited number of Digital 8 models are backwards compatible with analogue tapes. Those that are compatible offer excellent conversion quality. Digital 8 machines also have a digital FireWire output for direct connection to our editing systems. Click here for more information about 8mm video formats.

Video 8 and Hi8 to digital transfer service

We convert most video formats to USB MP4 and DVD. Download our order form and price list by clicking the red graphic below.

Click to download order form and price list

 

30 thoughts on “Myth – Hi8 to VHS adapters

  1. NIck

    That is wrong. I actually had one and accidently threw it away along with some other items while I was in the process of moving. That was about 6 years ago. The adapter was the same size as the VHS-C tape but it was specificially designed for the Hi8. I had bought it as a combo pack

    Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      Thank you for your comment. It would have been great if there were Hi8 to VHS adapters but sadly they never existed. As I wrote in my article quite a lot of people think they can remember having an adapter but this is unfortunately not the case.

      VHS-C adapters work because the tape itself & sprocket drive type are the same and therefore compatible. The mechanical adapter simply adds a couple of gears and spooling arms to allow the smaller cassette to be used in a regular VHS player.

      This is not the case for 8mm & Hi8 because the video heads, drive mechanisms, tape composition and read speeds are very different in terms of physical dimensions and technical specifications. If you have the opportunity to look at an 8mm/Hi8 cassette side-by-side with a VHS tape & compare them it’s fairly easy to see that there’s just no way that an adapter could ever work.

      Thanks again for your comment, I hope this explains things a little further.

      Reply
  2. Fivos Sakellis

    A while ago i tried to play an hi8 tape on a vhs vcr by taking apart a hi8 tape and a vhs tape and then swap the magnetic tape and put it on the vhs tape shell. Not only there wasn’t any picture or sound but the pinch roller ate the tape because hi8 uses 8mm tape instead of vhs or betamax which use 12.7mm

    Reply
  3. AL

    I may be wrong but I remember buying an adapter for my TDK Hi8 MP 120 tape. I bought it from Walmart for my JVC camcorder. I recently made the mistake of buying a VHS-C adapter but it did not work. I lost my original adapter years ago and never really worried about it until recently looking to upload them to my PC.

    Thank you. And it may not have been a traditional adapter but I assure you it was a VHS-sized adapter which I put my Hi8 tape in to play and show my mother. This was in 2000-2002

    Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      Thank you for your comment Al.

      Every few weeks somebody gets in touch on this issue. They’re sure they used to have an adapter but no longer have it.

      I can give you a 100% guarantee that no such adapter was ever made for the reasons set out above.

      Reply
      1. AL

        Gavin,

        Happy to report that I am not going senile/crazy. My mother in another state found the adapter. I have pasted the links for you.

        This link is for the adapter I bought that was a VHS-C adapter:
        http://tinypic.com/r/t4v80p/8

        As you can see it does not fit.

        This one is for the adapter I hope to receive by next week. This is the one I always used for my TDK Hi8 MP 120 tape. Worked like a charm in 3 diferent VCR’s:
        http://tinypic.com/r/ekgj8i/8

        Reply
        1. Gavin Gration Post author

          Hi Al,

          Thanks for posting the image links. The second adapter is also for VHS-C tapes – sadly it isn’t going to work with Hi8.

          Just to give a bit of detail – JVC invented VHS and later VHS-C. The ‘C’ or ‘Compact’ version was designed by JVC specifically to fit into a full size adapter as a selling point over 8mm.

          Sony had no interest in making 8mm compatible with their own Betamax players let alone JVC’s rival VHS/VHS-C format. Their efforts in making smaller camcorders paid off with their 8mm, Hi8 and Digital 8 Handycam products enjoying a dominant market position for several decades.

          Reply
      2. 1cubfan1

        So, you’re saying there’s no way to play back an 8mm/hi8 tape unless you still have an 8mm camcorder to play them on… either that, or I have to find some kind of local photo store or individual who has the ability & equipment to convert them over to dvd, correct?

        Reply
        1. Gavin Gration Post author

          That’s exactly right – an 8mm/Hi8 camcorder or deck is required. Some later Digital 8 cameras/players could also handle analogue tapes.

          Reply
  4. AL

    I stand corrected and I owe you an apology Gavin. I was proven wrong when I found an old cassette. I do have a Hi-8 but it was found in a shed in Fla. I found my own and my mother sent me the vhs-c adapter. I guess I will have to investigate a better way to see what is in the Hi-8 tape through other means. Thank you.

    http://tinypic.com/r/2005gs9/8

    Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      No worries Al – Get back to me via the contact us page if you need any info on finding the right kind of player locally.

      Reply
  5. Nabil

    Hi Gavin, when I bought our Sony 8mm camcorder, I also bought an adapter that I used for playing the tapes on our VHS player. I am absolutely sure I did have it. of course, now that I am trying to find it to convert my 8mm tapes to DVD using the VHS to DVD recorder that I recently bought, it is nowhere to be found…

    Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      Hi Nabil,

      Thank you for taking the time to contribute here.

      I’m afraid your memory is playing tricks on you. 8mm to VHS adapters were never made. There’s no way it can be done.

      Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      Hi Cedric,

      Thanks for posting. It’s a common theme here that people recall buying an 8mm to VHS adapter in the past. If an 8mm adapter did ever exist then you can be 100% certain that you’d be able to pick one up today from Amazon or eBay – either new or used. The reason you cannot buy one today is that 8mm to VHS adapters were never made.

      I do appreciate your feedback Cedric – thanks again for your comment.

      Reply
  6. lisa

    i was actually at best buy today and they told me that such an adapter does exist. that is crazy if they never made one. they said they didn’t carry them but kmart did

    Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m sure the people at Best Buy meant well with their information but what they think was an 8mm adapter was actually a VHS-C adapter.

      Reply
  7. Ken Ansted

    I had a cartridge that you could pop the Video 8 cassette in and play it on a VHS machine. It’s buried in my loft somewhere and I need to find it as I have some tapes I need to review and transfer to dvd

    Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      Hi Ken,

      Thanks for your comment. If I had a pound for everyone who told me a similar story I’d have enough to buy a Ferrari (Matchbox die cast). Some people are 100% certain but then, should they be fortunate enough to find it again, it turns out it was a VHS-C adapter.

      If you still have your old Video 8 camera then you can use that to play the tapes out to a computer or DVD Recorder.

      Gavin Gration – Director

      Reply
      1. joe croce

        One thing I will say Gavin is there is a player to play 8mm Hi8 and D8 tapes. It’s a recorder that is meant to save what you had on those tapes and you can put them to DVD with it. They are not made now but they sell for big dollars at 200 plus.

        Reply
        1. Gavin Gration Post author

          Thanks Joe,

          In the UK Sony we didn’t see any of the Hi8/8mm combo decks that were on sale on the USA and Japan. We did get the Walkman style players (D8/Hi8/8mm) plus VCR type Hi8 decks which were always expensive – we us the clamshell Digital 8 players with built in screens here.

          Used equipment in good working order such as Digital 8 cameras (with analogue playback) is commanding high prices. You can see some cheaper Digital 8 players but only the models without Hi8/8mm capability.

          Reply
  8. Ray

    I love how people are arguing with you about this. We do video work in the US and still have people ask about 8mm adapters. It was a daily occurrence 10 years ago. Much less frequent now but we still have the occasional argument. Sometimes about MiniDV tapes as well.

    Good luck! Let us know if you’d like to collaborate on a VHS-C to Betamax adapter!

    Reply
  9. MosleyDobieDog (@DobieAdventures)

    Hi,
    I’ve read all the comments & I’m quite taken aback, I’ve found a couple of Hi8 tape I think my kids are on when they were young, I remember taking them to a guys house I knew & him playing them in an VHS adapter on TV. How did he do it?
    I always thought at some stage in the future I could remove the tape & swap them into an old VHS cassette box for viewing!
    Crying now.

    Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      There were such things as Hi8 Video Recorders – they looked like a slim VHS deck but took Hi8 tapes instead. If you saw a Hi8 tape being put into a VCR then it’s very likely it was a proper Hi8 player.

      Reply
      1. George stoddart

        Hi Gavin I own a Sony Hi 8 cam Corder and I am sure I have a cassette that holds my hi 8 cassettes and and then plays in my vhs recorder .

        Reply
        1. Gavin Gration Post author

          Thank you George. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Hi8 to VHS adapter really is a myth – the engineering is impossible. I had two chaps in our reception earlier this week and one of them was certain he had an adapter. I’ve bet him a double packet of Jaffa Cakes that he doesn’t – that’s how certain I am!

          Thanks again for your comment.

          Reply
  10. mike

    The Nelson Mandela effect. Everyone thought they had seen his funeral in the nineties but he only recently died.
    Just seen on Amazon converters for Hi8 when you search but I assume Amazon have it wrong as it’s VHS-C.

    Reply
  11. Ray

    I made a video about this last year so people can see the difference between VHS-C, 8mm, and MiniDV tapes. They never made an adapter for anything but VHS-C since the tapes are different widths. Nothing but VHS-C will line up with the heads in a VHS player: https://youtu.be/8EszGlzL4BU

    Reply
  12. Arlyn Aleshire

    I think I get the message that there isn’t any VHS adapter that will play a HI-8 video cassette SO – What is the best possibility to view (preferably on a TV screen) a HI-8 video cassette if the original camera is defunct and no longer available? Is there some other device or instrument that can play these? Is there some way to convert them to CD’s??

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Hi Arlyn,

      Thank you for your comment. You will need a Hi8 player or camcorder to view your tapes. Some, but not all, Digital8 models are also compatible with Hi8. If you can find a second hand device or borrow one you’ll be able to view your tapes.

      There are a few transfer options to modern formats that you can do yourself or you can appoint a company to do it for you.

      The two main options are transferring video to DVD or transfer video to MP4.

      If you are comfortable with technology then MP4 is the best option. The files are very flexible and work on any computer, most tablets and SmartTVs. Some people prefer to have DVDs. At some point DVD players will be much less common so you may need to have the DVDs converted again in the future.

      Gavin Gration – Director

      Reply

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