8mm film quality compared to VHS-C tape.

It’s a busy time for me at the moment because I’m on holiday for a couple of weeks and instead of going away somewhere I’m doing some garden landscaping at home. However, in between bouts of digging and bricklaying, I’m also trying to take the next steps in my project to build an 8mm telecine machine.

Because I haven’t made much progress on that project, a couple of weeks ago I purchased a few old VHS-C camcorder tapes because they were the next technology which families used to record their home movies on. Several of the tapes I purchased have some interesting footage on, for example this trip to the Crich Tramway museum which I found on a tape along with some other holiday footage.

One thing that struck me when I watched this recording is that although the process of capturing the recording was much simpler than with film, the quality you get is basically as good as it’s ever going to be. With 8mm film it is possible to record each frame with a high resolution camera and stitch the images together to make a reasonable HD quality movie, but with the VHS tape it isn’t really possible to up scale it or re-sample it to produce a better quality recording.

It seems that the move to camcorders from home movie cameras was one of those instances in history where the consumer paid more for a poorer quality result.

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