Video 8 cameras from Sony arrived in 1985. The new compact tape format offered users the convenience of smaller handheld cameras and proved to be incredibly popular. Despite using a much narrower tape width Video8 delivered “good enough” video and sound quality. In common with other video cassette formats good quality Video8 recordings fare much better in the long term if they have been stored correctly. One weakness of Video8 (and Hi8) was occasional “drop-out” caused by defects or damage to the narrow tape surface
When we transfer Video8 (8mm) camcorder tapes we use Digital8 players (D8) made by Sony. These machines have noise reduction circuits, time base correction (TBC) and include digital video outputs compliant with the IEEE1394 standard more commonly known as “Sony iLink”, “FireWire” or simply “DV”. These features ensure that we achieve the best possible picture and sound quality from your Video8 camcorder tapes.
Digital video conversion of analogue tapes enables them to be preserved for future generations. DVDs can be backed up but you will need convert the files to a different format if you want to view them on a SmartTV or a tablet like an iPad. MP4 files on a USB stick are very easy to back-up with no loss of quality & they’re already in a format compatible with almost all digital playback equipment.
Our Video8 transfer service costs £11.99 Video8 to Digital order and price information page.
Sony developed and introduced the Video8 analogue video cassette format to compete directly with VHS-C. Sony launched their first Handycam branded model in 1985 using the new Video8 tape format with the advantage of a significantly increased recording duration compared to VHS-C. The quality of the picture offered by Video8 generally matched that of competing formats but the audio quality was technically superior. Video8 XR was a mildly improved version of Video8 launched towards the end of the formats life.
One of the drawbacks of Video8 was that you could only view the tapes back using the camcorder itself. Unlike VHS-C it is not possible to put Video8 tapes into a full size adaptor. As a result many users copied their Video8 recordings onto VHS tapes themselves. Once backed-up onto VHS the Video8 tapes could be re-used.
Although Video8 was used primarily in camcorders it did find a home in other places. If you saw a movie on an aeroplane in the last 25 years or so there’s a good chance it was being played via a Video8 (later Hi8) tape.
Hi8 & Digital8
Hi8 cassettes share the same outward appearance and mechanics as Video8. However, the tape formula and recording technology was much more advanced. Hi8 was superior to Video8 in terms of picture quality. It was further developed to include PCM Digital Audio on some models. The Hi XR variant also provided a slight boost in picture quality. Most Hi8 camcorders could play tapes recorded by Video8 camcorders.
In a surprise move Sony launched the Digital8 (D8) format in 1999 which also shared the same physical cassette design as Video8 and Hi8. In simple terms Digital8 cameras compressed video and audio using the same digital video (DV) codec used in MiniDV and then recorded it onto Hi8 tapes.
While the DV codec equalled that of MiniDV Sony were careful to position Digital8 cameras at the budget end of the market. That being said some D8 cameras outperformed many budget MiniDV cameras offering steadyshot image stabilisation, infra-red night-shot, headphone and microphone sockets. Some people preferred the more chunky design which was easier to hold steady than the much smaller MiniDV cameras.
Digital8 cameras from Sony and Hitachi were sold alongside competing MiniDV models. Most of the early Digital8 camcorders could also play Video8 and Hi8 recordings. PAL models sold in the UK also had the ability to play NTSC tapes. Sony dropped these features from most later Digital8 models.
Do you have video footage on Hi8 or Digital8? We can copy it to DVD or MP4 for you.