A Short Note on 8mm Cassettes

I’ve recently been doing some video conversion from old analog formats, specifically VHS Tapes, and 8mm Camcorder Cassettes for some family members. Once I scavenged up a VCR, the VHS apes were no problem, however the 8mm Tapes were a little troublesome due to some information that I previously didn’t have that I’d like to share. The 8mm Cassette was also known as a Video8 tape – these were released as some of the first smaller tape based camcorder recording media. Previously, tape based camcorders used full sized VHS or Betamax tapes – and Sony’s manufacturing of the 8mm Cassette was their attempt at following up the 12mm Betamax, and bringing it down to a smaller form factor. There was never an adapter to take these tapes from their 8mm form and play them on VCR’s as VHS was actually the competition (the winner of this format war).

This was a fairly proprietary format, adapters were near impossible to find in order to rip these tapes, and the only ones around to my knowledge would have been to Betamax – at one point Sony even manufactured a home recorder that utilized these tapes, as well as a portable TV Player that would use them for broadcast recording, however they never really caught on in the consumer market. In ripping these tapes, I determined that it was easier to simply take to eBay, and find an old camcorder, and hook my video card into the video out ports on the camera. It was a bit of a leap of faith, as eBay always is, however this worked out quite well – it came as a full kit in a nice leather camera bag with all sorts of extra batteries, a battery eliminator (which was handy for ripping), the original paperwork (including the almost $1000 receipt from Montgomery-Ward in 1997), and all sorts of peripherals – not to mention blank, still packaged tapes!

It worked well right out of the gate – I gave it a quick once over, and a hit with some compressed air just to make sure it was clean where it needed to be, and went to work. I’m pretty impressed with the quality of the video, and how well they’ve stayed preserved over time – the newest tape was 18 years old, and there were small signs of degradation that are to be expected with analog formats, but overall they were in immaculate shape. I’m hoping to be able to play around with some more formats at some point, and just see how things have held up to time.

While I paid a little more for this than I should have for something that’s likely to only get used a handful of times, it was worth it just to see how some of this stuff has aged.

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