Video8/Hi8/Digital8

Introduction

TLDR: a qualifying Sony Digital8 camcorder can be used to play Video8, Hi8 and Digital8 tapes. Sony created the Video8 (V8) format in the mid 1980s. This was followed by the higher-quality Hi8 format and finally the Digital 8 (D8) format before the MiniDV and SD card formats took over. Video8, Hi8 and Digital 8 all use the same form-factor tape shell, which is the cassette on the left (a MiniDV tape is shown on the right for comparison): While using the same tape form factor was great because you could reuse the tape in later camcorders, these days the problem is how to tell what format the tape was captured in. For example, a Hi8 tape won’t play in a Video8 camcorder and a Digital8 tape won’t play in either of the earlier camcorders. A Video8 tape will play in a Hi8 camcorder. Further confusing the issue is the shell captioning. The “Hi8” and “D8” labels don’t necessarily reflect the video format that was used to record the tape. Visually, there’s no way to know what format was used. Fortunately, Sony incorporated Video8 and Hi8 playback in some of it’s Digital8 camcorders (not all), so it is possible to use a D8 camcorder to play/capture earlier Video8 and Hi8 tapes. The only sure-fire way that I am aware of to determine what the tape format is is to play the tape in a qualifying Digital 8 camcorder. There is a list of Sony D8 camcorders on Wiki that will play V8 and Hi8 tapes. In addition to that list, the following D8 camcorders will play V8 and Hi8 tapes: TRV330E (PAL); has TBC, DNR and passthru. TRV340E (PAL); has TBC, DNR and passthru.

Which Video Format is the Tape in?

When a tape is played in a qualifying D8 camcorder, the video format is displayed at the top centre of the screen as shown in these examples. Video 8 tape: Hi8 tape: Digital 8 tape: System automatically changing from D8 to Hi8/8:

Passthrough/Conversion

Some D8 camcorders will also do analogue video passthrough to the DV/Firewire output. This means that an external analogue source, such as a VHS or Beta VCR, can be transferred via the camcorder to the PC using Firewire. Some are even equipped with a timebase corrector and noise reduction, making them a viable choice for digitising analogue tapes, especially for PAL system tapes, which uses the better 4:2:0 colour format.

DV Transfer from Digital 8 Camcorders

Please refer to the DV transfer section of this website for extensive information on transfer of DV to your PC.

What is video Hi8 “XR”

This is Sony’s explanation of the Hi8 XR camcorders. “XR is an abbreviation of “Extended Resolution”; it represents the new type of 8 mm camcorder that has the property to realize more quality picture compared with the conventional camcorders including the Hi8 models. You can record and play back pictures more clearly in detail with the “XR” camcorder. Video tape recorded by a camcorder having the “XR” function shows excellent picture quality at maximum when it is played back by the “XR” camcorder. When video tape recorded by this “XR” camcorder is played back by a conventional Hi8 camcorder or when video tape recorded by a conventional Hi8 camcorder is played back by this “XR” camcorder, the playback picture quality is in the normal quality of the Hi8 camcorder.”
Digital8 MiniDV

Video8/Hi8/Digital8

Introduction

TLDR: a qualifying Sony Digital8 camcorder can be used to play Video8, Hi8 and Digital8 tapes. Sony created the Video8 (V8) format in the mid 1980s. This was followed by the higher-quality Hi8 format and finally the Digital 8 (D8) format before the MiniDV and SD card formats took over. Video8, Hi8 and Digital 8 all use the same form- factor tape shell, which is the cassette on the left (a MiniDV tape is shown on the right for comparison): While using the same tape form factor was great because you could reuse the tape in later camcorders, these days the problem is how to tell what format the tape was captured in. For example, a Hi8 tape won’t play in a Video8 camcorder and a Digital8 tape won’t play in either of the earlier camcorders. A Video8 tape will play in a Hi8 camcorder. Further confusing the issue is the shell captioning. The “Hi8” and “D8” labels don’t necessarily reflect the video format that was used to record the tape. Visually, there’s no way to know what format was used. Fortunately, Sony incorporated Video8 and Hi8 playback in some of it’s Digital8 camcorders (not all), so it is possible to use a D8 camcorder to play/capture earlier Video8 and Hi8 tapes. The only sure-fire way that I am aware of to determine what the tape format is is to play the tape in a qualifying Digital 8 camcorder. There is a list of Sony D8 camcorders on Wiki that will play V8 and Hi8 tapes. In addition to that list, the following D8 camcorders will play V8 and Hi8 tapes: TRV330E (PAL); has TBC, DNR and passthru. TRV340E (PAL); has TBC, DNR and passthru.

Which Video Format is the Tape in?

When a tape is played in a qualifying D8 camcorder, the video format is displayed at the top centre of the screen as shown in these examples. Video 8 tape: Hi8 tape: Digital 8 tape: System automatically changing from D8 to Hi8/8:

Passthrough/Conversion

Some D8 camcorders will also do analogue video passthrough to the DV/Firewire output. This means that an external analogue source, such as a VHS or Beta VCR, can be transferred via the camcorder to the PC using Firewire. Some are even equipped with a timebase corrector and noise reduction, making them a viable choice for digitising analogue tapes, especially for PAL system tapes, which uses the better 4:2:0 colour format.

DV Transfer from Digital 8 Camcorders

Please refer to the DV transfer section of this website for extensive information on transfer of DV to your PC.

What is video Hi8 “XR”

This is Sony’s explanation of the Hi8 XR camcorders. “XR is an abbreviation of “Extended Resolution”; it represents the new type of 8 mm camcorder that has the property to realize more quality picture compared with the conventional camcorders including the Hi8 models. You can record and play back pictures more clearly in detail with the “XR” camcorder. Video tape recorded by a camcorder having the “XR” function shows excellent picture quality at maximum when it is played back by the “XR” camcorder. When video tape recorded by this “XR” camcorder is played back by a conventional Hi8 camcorder or when video tape recorded by a conventional Hi8 camcorder is played back by this “XR” camcorder, the playback picture quality is in the normal quality of the Hi8 camcorder.”
Digital8 MiniDV