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Old January 14th, 2009, 07:25 AM   #1
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Bacwards Compatibility Issue

I wanted to transfer some "Video8 8mm" tapes to my PC using a "Backwards compatible" "Digital8" Camcorder, so I could make the transfer through a Firewire in order not to loose image quality during the capture.

The problem was that while playing back the tape, the picture was very bad with many horizontal lines, a problem which the manual warned could occur. There were no suggested solutions.

I tried a number of "Video8" tapes and there was no difference. Before starting to think about "Head cleaning" I bought a "Digital8" tape, recorded it, played it back and it was fine.

It does not seem to be a device problem or a tape problem..

Is there a solution to this?
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Old January 14th, 2009, 07:06 PM   #2
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Did you see the lines on the cam's LCD panel during playback or just in capture?

If it's both, it smells like either dirty heads, head misalignment or a combination of the two. If it's both, the new tape you recorded today would only have to overcome the dirty heads which if it's not too bad it might be able to do. The cheap go is to get a head cleaning tape. Head alignment will cost more.

Also, be careful how many times your run your old tapes through the cam. Hi8 was notorious for developing dropouts during playback. The more you do it, the worse it gets.
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Old January 15th, 2009, 10:59 AM   #3
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Thank you very much for your help,

I saw those lines on the cam's LCD panel during playback. I thought the capture outcome would be similar so I did not proceed to capture. I will try tape Head cleaning as soon as I get home and I will let you know. I hope this will do the trick. The tapes are quite a lot and it is a shame to loose them..

The weird thing is that this camcorder was never used before but from the time it was out until today, it is many years between. I don't know if this long time of inactiveness had a negative effect on it or how this could happen.

Thank you again!
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Old January 15th, 2009, 11:59 AM   #4
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Can you post an example frame to help deduce the type of problem?
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Old January 15th, 2009, 12:32 PM   #5
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Also, is it original 8mm or Hi-8, which came along later?
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Old January 18th, 2009, 10:30 AM   #6
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Thank you all,

I used the cleaning tape but unfortunately there was no improvement. I tried to attach a picture of what I see on the LCD when playing back the "8mm" recorded tapes on my "Digital8" "backwards compatible" camcorder but I saw no option allowing me to do that. Is there any?

Never used a "Hi-8" camcorder or tape. Those tapes are "Video8" "8mm" tapes, recorded on a "Video8" "8mm" camcorder I bought back in 1996. The tapes were recorded between 1996 and 2003. Even the most recent ones give me the same picture as the oldest ones do.
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Old January 18th, 2009, 06:22 PM   #7
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8mm. I think that's the rub. I've used 8mm, Hi8 and Digital8 and I think the Digital8 cams might only support Hi8. Check the manual for the unit, which if you don't have it anymore, you could check the manufacturer's Web site. It might be up there.

If it doesn't, you'll have to scare up an old 8mm cam and figure out an analog to digital conversion scheme.
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Old January 18th, 2009, 07:14 PM   #8
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It depends on the deck or cam. Some Dig8 decks support Analog 8 and some don't. If they support Analog 8 they support both regular and Hi8. If they don't, you'll get nothing but a blue screen with either analog format.

The problem is that the old analog cams could still record if their heads were out of alignment, and if you play back on a different deck with heads properly aligned, you get horizontal tracking lines. I had this problem when I had one of my old V5000s fixed and the repair guy made sure I knew that the tapes recorded in it when it was out of alignment would now play this way -- the only way around it would have been to leave the heads out of alignment and play back all the tapes that had been shot on it when it was this way.

A pain but unavoidable with Analog formats. The manual suggested no fix because there isn't any, other than to play back the tape on the same cam in the same condition you recorded it with. Which I assume is not possible.
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Old January 19th, 2009, 06:07 AM   #9
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This pretty much seems to be the case Adam. The camcorder was advertised as suitable for converting the old "8mm tapes" therefore should be more advanced in such matters, so I do not think it is a model`s issue. The camcorder I used to record those tapes was overused so the heads would be negatively affected. It could still record and playback though in a reasonable quality, with possibly out of alignment heads.

Anyway, when I insert the 8mm tape to my "Digital8" camcorder it recognizes it as an "8mm" or "Hi8" tape (It switches from "Digital8" mode to "8mm" - the screen then reads: 8mm\Hi8).

I uploaded a picture of what the camcorder`s LCD displays when playing back the regular "8mm" tapes.

2shared - download 1.jpg

Thank you all!
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Old January 19th, 2009, 07:01 AM   #10
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From the picture it looks like you have both a head alignment problem and that the tape has been degmagnetized. Did you store the tapes near a TV, stereo speaker or some other magnetic source? Short answer your tape is just old, has lost much of the magnetic information stored on it and is not salvageable.
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Old January 19th, 2009, 12:55 PM   #11
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Yeah, that tape looks trashed beyond what I was expecting from the description. I think you may be out of luck.
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Old January 19th, 2009, 01:30 PM   #12
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Dumb question maybe, but do you still have the original camera and if so does everything look this bad?

If the tapes play (albeit not perfectly) in the original camera, you could still go the analog capture route.

I know it's a long shot, but thought I'd ask anyhow. I still have Video 8 tapes around from 1988 or so and they played fine a couple of years ago on my analog 8mm gear from the same era. Haven't checked lately though.

So I think it has to be something way beyond just age.
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Old January 20th, 2009, 04:55 AM   #13
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The "Digital8" camcorder I played back the tape on has been never used before.. could it have a head alignment problem? The "Digital8" tapes work fine on it.

The "Video8" tape was stored in an isolated from any magnetic source place, but even so, never know what happens.. but I tried tapes from 1997 until 2003 and no difference.. this tape on the picture was recorded in 2003.

The "Digital8" camcorder would play each one of them like shown in the picture but they play fine on my analog "Video8" camcorder (the one I recorded them with). This is the weird thing here. I would just avoid to use it for capture because it "eats" the tape due to the extensive use over those many years and this cannot be fixed any more. Also with a "D8" camcorder I can capture via 1394 cable and this is the main reason why I preffered it.

If the problem was on the tapes shouldn`t they have the same problem on my old camcorder?
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Old January 20th, 2009, 09:26 AM   #14
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No, if the problem is on the tape it is probably because the original camcorder had some alignment or other problem that caused it to write the tapes in some incorrect way that prevents any other unit from playing them.

If they play back in the original machine but not in a different machine, then this is a typical indication that there is something wrong with the machine that recorded them.

Have you tried a different analog camcorder? I still have a couple of the old Sony's around but they are the really old ones - before Hi-8. Someone close to you might have one you could try - it's a long shot but at this point it might be worth trying.
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Old January 21st, 2009, 04:35 AM   #15
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I see, it is getting very clear now, I will look for a similar "Video8" camcorder and give it a try. I will let you know and thank you all again for your help!
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