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Need advice regarding Hi-8 video camera

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by BE, Sep 9, 2005.

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  1. BE

    BE Guest


    My brother has a Samsung SCL906 Hi-8 video camera he said he'd give me, but
    he reports some problems that may or may not be fixable and a feature or two
    that I might not like. I don't know much about video cameras.

    First, it has no "audio playback" - whatever that is. Does that mean that it
    can only record silent videos - no sound at all? Or is that just a playback

    He also told me that the recording is poor/grainy. Could this be because the
    recording head needs to be cleaned, or does it indicate something that
    cannot be fixed by simple maintenance?

    What about the connectivity issues of a Hi-8 camera in these days of digital
    cameras? Assuming I can get it working properly, what steps (or extra steps)
    are necessary to getting my final output fully digital?

    I appreciate any comments.

  2. Dave D

    Dave D Guest

    If it doesn't record/play back audio, it's pretty much useless. However,
    it's a freebie, you've nothing to lose!
    Could be dirty heads. As the video is grainy, and it apparently has no sound
    at all, and given that 8mm equipment records sound solely via the drum (ie
    no seperate analogue sound heads) it's possible the heads are severely
    contaminated. A good clean with isopropyl alcohol and *proper" chamois head
    cleaners might restore operation.

    Be careful though, if you haven't done it before, chances are you'll wreck
    the heads! The actual heads themselves are tiny little ferrite affairs seen
    in the gap between the rotating upper drum and the static lower drum and are
    about as delicate as the point of a sharpened pencil. The way I do ity is
    moisten the chamois with alcohol, place it flatly on the drum as if it were
    a tape, and gently rotate the drum so the heads brush against it. On
    removing the chamois you should see dirty black lines where the head dumped
    its filth. At a pinch, and this will horrify some techs- you can use a piece
    of smooth paper like a bank note used in the same way, but I wouldn't
    recommend to many cleaning sessions that way.

    Don't forget to clean the other parts in the tape path with alcohol as well,
    ie the capstan, pinch roller and all the tape guides. You can use a cotton
    bud (Q tip or whatever you call it in your country) to clean these parts but
    never ever put a cotton bud near the drum- it will snag and break off the
    The obvious way is to buy a VIVO card, or a graphics card with VIVO
    connectivity (Video In Video Out), connect it to the camera and grab the
    video that way, then compress it to a mpg or divx format. However, having
    done this myself I have to say the results are rather disappointing. There's
    just not enough processing power with the cards I've used to real time
    capture decent quality video at TV resolutions. Maybe someone else can
    recommend something capable.

  3. Peter Duck

    Peter Duck Guest

    In message <>

    I assume that it has some way of feeding a TV or VCR.

    On the UK, the lead for this often ends in a pair of 'RCA' plugs, for
    sound & vision, with an adaptor ('SCART') that suits European TVs, but
    not North American.

    With different adaptors, the RCA-plugs can also feed appropriate cards
    in a PC, though the video-quality is significantly better if both camera
    and card also have S-VHS sockets, linked by a separate cable (sound
    still via RCA-plug)
    I've used both an antique ATI 'All in Wonder' and a relatively new, and
    absurdly cheap (<30$), 'Comprousa' TV-card: the latter is at least as
    good and simpler to use, producing MPEG2 files directly.

    MPEG2 isn't 'state of the art', of course, but then neither is Hi-8:
    both are of roughly 'VCR-quality' rather than UK (PAL I) TV , which is
    rather better than NTSC: my digitised/played-back picture isn't
    noticeably worse than that when linking camera to TV direct, so there's
    no point in a 'better' card.

    A modern digital camera, on the other hand ...
  4. Dave D

    Dave D Guest

    Forgot to mention in my last post- the cleanest and most cost effective way
    to get an almost exact digital copy of a camcorder tape is probably to use a
    cheap standalone DVD recorder via its phono input or, if the camera has one
    (unlikely) the s-video which is better. The results should be virtually
    indistinguishable from the original.

  5. Dave D

    Dave D Guest

    Hi Peter,

    I started out with a seperate Creative capture card, which was dire. It
    required the graphics card to be set to 256 colour mode for one thing, which
    was unacceptable to me. Next I moved onto a WinTV card, which was reasonably
    good. Then I bought a secondhand All In Wonder (not Pro) which I was quite
    happy with, though it had some annoying bugs.

    Now I have a Nvidia Ti4200. It was, I feel, a backwards step from the AIW in
    some ways, and the buggy drivers are very sensitive to glitches when
    capturing from a VCR, which causes the Macrovision protection to kick in.
    However, it does the job, and I find the bundled Intervideo editor easy to
    use, though it annoyingly forgets one's preferences every time it closes.

    The drawback I have with the Nvidia is that although it allows capture in
    resolutions up to and above TV quality, when I do so it gives very poor
    results including dropped frames and a 'banding' effect, especially
    noticeable on fast action scenes. It looks like the interlaced lines are out
    of sync, giving and almost zig zag effect.

    My PC is no slouch, a P4 3GHz with 1GB ram and fast hard drives, so I'm at a
    loss as to why this happens. I planned on archiving all my camcorder stuff
    on DVD, but as I can only capture at lower resolutions, it's a non starter.
    I guess I'll wait until I get a DVD recorder!

    As for digital camcorders, they are definitely the way to go IMO. The idea
    of dumping the data onto the hard drive, editing it then transferring to DVD
    with little or no loss in quality definitely appeals to me!

  6. Peter Duck

    Peter Duck Guest

    In message <>

    Oops: I should have said 'MPEG1' in both places.
    My AIW, also second-hand, was/is probably similar, if not identical:
    16MB, not the 32MB version.
    - My Compro TV-card should also capture in better-than-TV MPEG2, but not
    in a PC powered by an 800MHz Duron: anyway, it would be 'overkill' for
    the output from a Hi-8 camcorder, with near-pointless increase in the
    resulting file-sizes.

    - The 'interlace out of sync' effect should, IIRC, be avoidable.
    It arises, at some point, 'cos a fast-moving scene has changed by the
    time the second 'half-frame' is interlaced with the first.
    I've forgotten, and can't readily find, details of the Hi-8 format, even
    whether it basically *is* interlaced, but software to convert between
    formats with different numbers of lines usually gives options
    concerning interlacing/'progressive scan', 'which field first', etc.

    Having chickened-out by letting the cheapo card 'do its own thing' in
    MPEG1/VCD, I'm now rather vague about all this ...
    I hope you're not eventually disappointed, either by non-improvement in
    basic output quality (the source is still distinctly 'old hat') or,
    specifically, a recorder tailored to TV-transmissions not coping well
    with the different(?) input from a Hi-8 camera.
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