Sony Handycam Video8 Camcorders

Recapturing Memories of the 80s with a Camcorder

The 1980s reflected rapid technological change, and one of those areas was the proliferation of videotape in place of film. The memories that had previously come on 8 mm film could now capture on 8 mm videotape.

What About Formats?

Just as with film, 8 mm video developed multiple only somewhat compatible formats over the years. Most playback equipment was backward compatible, but it was hopeless to expect a Video8 camcorder to do anything with Hi8 or even Digital 8 tapes after use. Heres a brief comparison:

  • Video8: The original format, it is roughly comparable to VHS; offering 240 lines of resolution and mono audio. Its one significant disadvantage was incompatibility with most home VCRs, but it still proved a successful camcorder format.
  • Hi8: Moving up in video quality through the adoption of different tape, Hi8 bumped resolution to 400 lines and added stereo audio.
  • Digital8: Using the same tapes as its predecessor, the digital format used them twice as fast offering half the running time in return for greater bandwidth. 

What About Camcorders?

Video camcorders like the Sony Handycam revolutionized home video. Video offered one huge advantage over its film predecessor; convenience. You could take the tape out of the camcorder and play it immediately on your TV. There was no need to worry about developing or any of the other issues that came with film cameras. This popularity also led to a wide range of features becoming available on camcorders:

  • Zoom: Zoom lets you bring the image closer; most Handycam models such as the Sony CCD-TRV16 featured both digital and optical zoom. For example, this model offers 18x optical and 180x digital, so you can get really close if you need to.
  • NightShot: This feature takes advantage of the sensors infrared sensitivity and allows you to film in near-total darkness. Activating the feature moves the video cameras internal IR filter out of the way, enabling it to pick up infrared signals. Two IR LEDs illuminate the scene, and the result is a green-tinged video that shows things you could never catch with the naked eye.

Using a Camcorder

Using an 8 mm camcorder is as simple as looking through the viewfinder and pressing record. Most models also feature a swing-out side screen for easier viewing. Once youre done, you can change the cassette and keep going as long as you have a battery charger and spare batteries. Many camcorders even offer a microphone and headphone jack for audio. Some even plug directly into your TV so you can use it as both a recorder and a player without difficulty. Add the right accessories and you can do a lot with this format.

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