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What is the difference between the many video formats?
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Camcorders come in a wide range of different formats, each format being drastically different from each other. Here's a breakdown of the different formats and what makes them unique:

VHS/VHS-C - The lowest quality camcorder. These camcorders record directly onto a VHS tape, which you can take out of your camcorder and put directly into your VCR. VHS-C is a compact form of VHS. Smaller in cassette size, the VHS-C format is more convenient since you can use an adapter to play a VHS-C tape in your VCR.

S-VHS - Not as widely used as it used to be. The S-VHS or Super VHS format holds more lines of resolution and will give you a better image quality. However, an S-VHS tape will not play in a normal VHS VCR. You need an S-VHS VCR to play an S-VHS tape.

8mm/Hi8/Digital 8 - More inexpensive than DV camcorders, 8mm camcorders record at a high resolution and can usually record up to 2 hours of quality recording on each tape. Sony introduced the Digital 8 series of camcorders which records data digitally onto Hi8 tapes.

DV - DV (or digital video) is the highest level of consumer camcorders. These record at 500+ lines of resolution and can be used with the ultra compact DV-Mini tapes.

Beta/DVCAM - These are the highest formats and are considered television broadcast quality. Generally, these are the formats used by major television stations. Camcorders of these formats can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 or more.

Last update: 10:22 PM Monday, October 17, 2005


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