Sony Handycam VHS Camcorders

How to Match Tapes to Video Cameras

Camcorders were a huge step up from film cameras when it came to convenience. No more waiting for development, you could just throw a tape in the VCR and start watching.

What About Formats?

One of the trickiest things to deal with when dealing with any form of media is the need to match formats. Not all camcorders use the same tapes and sometimes even cassettes that physically fit in the machine cant actually work for recording. There are two main types to consider, each with multiple sub-types:

  • Video8: Sonys 8 mm format began with Video8 and then progressed through Hi8 and Digital8. Each later format was backward compatible and able to play back tapes from the previous generations although the reverse was not true. The biggest issue with this format was that it wasnt compatible with the majority of home VCRs.
  • VHS: The original VHS camcorders suffered greatly in comparison to other options due to the sheer size of the tapes. The move to VHS-C made smaller camcorders possible without giving up the home video compatibility that was the strength of the format. While the picture quality was less than stellar, the convenience was worth it. Later models supported S-VHS, which increased resolution and image quality.

Whats the Difference Between VHS and VHS-C Camcorders?

The most visible difference between the two types of VHS camcorder is sheer size. The larger video camera has to be much larger in order to accept the physically larger videotapes. However, the size of the camcorder does allow for other benefits:

  • VHS: The full-size camcorder is easier to stabilize in use, and the videocassette is directly compatible with your home player. Another advantage it offers is the widespread availability of VHS tapes.
  • VHS-C: The smaller camcorder is more portable, but this comes with a reduced playing time from the smaller cassette size, and the requirement to use an adapter instead of putting the videocassette directly into the player.

Using Analog Camcorders

Analog camcorders, whether coming from Sony or any other manufacturers, helped usher in a sea change in home video in the same way that the digital camera rewrote the rules on still photography. People could play around with advanced features like optical zoom and built-in titling while still being able to view the finished product at home. The other advantage was recording time, a full-size VHS camcorder offered up to two hours of recording on one videotape while 8 mm film limited itself to a handful of minutes. Many camcorder models feature a flip-out screen that make it easier to see what your filming instead of watching everything through the viewfinder.  

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