There were three main “standards” for recording home video tapes. These were: PAL, SECAM and NTSC. The names of these standards are acronyms. Here in the UK we used PAL (Phase Alternate Line). The French and Russians used SECAM (Sequential Colour with Memory) and in the USA, Canada and Japan they used NTSC (National Television System Committee).
If you lived in America, Canada and Japan or bought a video camera whilst visiting those countries the chances are that your camcorder is an NTSC model. You may also find that some camcorders sold in holiday resorts such as Tenerife or Hong Kong may be NTSC versions.
How do I know if my tapes are NTSC?
The physical design of the video tapes is exactly the same no matter which country they were made or sold but the signal recorded onto them is determined by the “video standard” of the camcorder.
The three main clues to look out for are:
- Black and white picture when copying or viewing on a UK TV
- Camcorder or tapes may have NTSC printed on them
- Letter before tape length e.g. T180 is probably NTSC, E180 is probably PAL
Do they need converting to PAL when copying to DVD?
This is a good question. In general almost all UK DVD players and TVs will happily play NTSC DVDs provided they are connected directly by SCART or HDMI (or built-in TV/DVD). So, if you just want to view them on DVD there is no real need to convert the videos to PAL. If you have a PAL only AV amp or route your DVD player via a PAL only box such as a PVR then you may need to consider having the footage converted from VHS to a PAL DVD.
What about NTSC camcorder tapes?
Video tapes from NTSC camcorders including VHS-C, Video 8, Hi8, MiniDV and MicroMV can all be transferred onto DVD. We can leave them as NTSC discs or convert to PAL if required (see above).
There is no additional cost for standards conversion on basic home video transfers. To arrange a conversion please visit our video to DVD information page. If you need more information or advice then do feel free to click the contact us button at the top of this page.