Best way to get still image from a Digital8 camcorder?

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Doc, Dec 13, 2007.

  1. Doc

    Doc Guest

    I've got a Sony Digital8 camcorder. I realize they're not famous for
    taking great still pics, but wonder what's the optimal way of
    accessing the image they take, and then tweaking the image. I'm
    talking about still pics taken onto the tape.

    The images I've seen using the Pixela software that comes with the
    camera, imported via the USB cable look terrible. I get far better
    results going through firewire into Pinnacle Studio, capturing stills
    that way.

    However, the images are somewhat "blocky" appearing, I assume due to
    interlacing issues resulting from the way the image is captured and
    the pixel method they use.

    The best tweak I've come up with so far is to go into Paintshop Pro,
    using the Soften transform, then hit it with the default Sharpen.

    Is there a better way?

    Thanks for all input.
    Doc, Dec 13, 2007
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  2. Doc

    dcasperson Guest

    I don't know if this is the best way but it is what I used and I find
    the results excellent to my eye.

    My Sony computers 1999-2003 vintage came with a Sony program called DV
    Still. It is part of their suite of video software programs called
    DV Gate. Unfortunately Sony never sold that software separately.
    As far as I know the only way to get them was to buy a Sony computer
    that had them pre-loaded. I think Sony quit making desktop
    computers several years ago. I don't know if their laptops have that

    When using DV Still, it had the camcorder controls on the computer
    screen so I would click on the PLAY button and watch the firewire
    video on the computer screen. When I saw something that I wanted to
    capture a still from, I would click on the CAPTURE button and it would
    capture 30 consecutive frames. 15 before the click and 15 after the
    click. Then I could look at the 30 captured frames and save to the
    hard drive the ones I wanted to save. It worked great and the
    quality looked great to me. Unfortunately I don't know how you can
    get that software.

    So, bottom line, I am no help to you. Sorry.

    dcasperson, Dec 14, 2007
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  3. Doc

    Scubajam Guest

    To capture still from tape I use my editing software, all of which
    have the ability to do what you want.

    I'd suggest using the free 30 day trial from Ulead. and
    get Video Studio 11. This is their consumer version, but also the
    latest codecs, etc.

    Load the clip in the timeline, then make the preview window as large
    as possible. You'll find arrow keys under the image to forward one
    frame at a time. Get the clearest frame. Then on the bottom right is
    a menu icon and one of the choices is save image to file. Name, save,
    done. Without using a large image and testing each frame, you might
    get a blurred image instead of a clean one.

    Then tweak the image using any such software. Paintshop, Elements,
    Paint, etc., depending on what you are used to or your budget.

    Jim McGauhey
    Washington State
    Scubajam, Dec 14, 2007
  4. You're just a fun guy :)

    To be serious for a moment: to me, the (encouraging) lesson from your
    post is that probably many consumer video programs have some similar
    capability built in - see Scubajam's post in this very thread!
    Gene E. Bloch, Dec 14, 2007
  5. Doc

    Trev Guest

    What's a soften transform Its not in My paint shop pro
    Which edition are you using ?

    Blocky is probably because of the low resolution. If you have PSP 9 or above
    start with the Digital Noise Reduction Filter

    Thats a link to a very detailed PDF from the filters creator
    Trev, Dec 14, 2007
  6. Consider addressing your question to the OP.
    Gene E. Bloch, Dec 14, 2007
  7. Martin Heffels, Dec 15, 2007
  8. Doc

    Doc Guest

    Version 7, under Effects.
    Doc, Dec 16, 2007
  9. You're a fun guy too - you replied to my post but you deleted all of my
    content :)
    Gene E. Bloch, Dec 18, 2007
  10. Doc

    Doc Guest

    I think I should clarify something, I'm talking about still pics taken
    with the video cam, not individual frames from motion video. The way
    this cam works, when taking stills it loads an image into some sort of
    onboard memory and then puts it on tape for about 5 seconds or so, so
    you get the exact same image repeated for that duration, I suppose
    just to give you a wide window to capture it into software.

    The cam comes with "Pixela" software for capturing the stills which
    loads the image via the USB port on the cam, but the results I get are
    terrible. Perhaps there'e something I'm not doing right but if I use
    the frame grab function in Pinnacle Studio using Firewire, the results
    are much better, but I just wondered if what I'm seeing is as good as
    this cam can do. It takes amazingly good video, but the stills come
    out only fair. The color is good but the overall resolution isn't that
    Doc, Dec 20, 2007
  11. Doc

    Mike Kujbida Guest

    I firmly believe that the "look, it can take stills as well as shoot
    video" line is just marketing B.S.
    The basic rule I've alway operated under is that a video camera is used
    for shooting video, not stills. For that, I use a still camera.
    To answer your question, yes, the results from using the frame grab
    function in Pinnacle Studio are probably as good as it gets.

    Mike Kujbida, Dec 20, 2007
  12. Doc

    Trev Guest

    Sorry for replying this way But the posts are cross posted but I'm only
    seeing reply's. And I dont Know where they originated.

    Any how may I point out that the stills may be no bigger then DVD size of
    720 by 528 Pal and as such are very low resolution if you are trying to
    print at any thing bigger then 3.5 inch by 2.5. You need approximately 200
    pixels to the printed inc for a photo that will be looked at from normal
    arms length.
    And it will probably be noisy too. PSP's Edge preserving smooth can help.
    But If its stills you want think about a 3MP or up camera. There should be
    plenty around by now at a good price
    Trev, Dec 20, 2007
  13. Doc

    sandyprice Guest

    Doc, I assume your digital8 on-the-tape still images feature also
    records 6 seconds of audio, along with the single still image, like my
    Sony TRV 900 and 120 DV camcorders? If so, the main use of that
    feature is really to allow you to "log" your next shot without having
    to keep a written log. by that I mean that you can take a quick
    "still photo" of your next scene and verbally describe what you are
    about to videotape, during the six second audio recording "window".

    When you capture the tape onto your computer you will be able to
    refresh your memory of what the scene was meant to show by listening
    to the 6 second audio description.

    I am assuming that your camcorder also has the capability to capture
    the still photos onto a memory stick? If so, that would reinforce my
    earlier statement, that the on-the-tape photos are not really intended
    for any use beyond logging your shots.

    sandyprice, Dec 20, 2007
  14. Doc

    Jeanne Guest


    I agree wholeheartedly. You can sometimes cross-over and get useable
    results if conditions are optimal but I would only do it as a last resort,
    for instance, if the proper camera were not available at the time that
    something wonderful happened in front of your eyes.

    Jeanne, Dec 20, 2007
  15. Doc

    Mac Lynch Guest

    Kia Ora
    I think we are flogging a dead horse here!. The resolution for most video
    cameras is simply not good enough for still images. Though Adobe Premier
    Elements has a function to grab stills from a Video.
    On the other hand, I have just got a new Sony DVD video cam with special still
    capability of 6+ megapixels written to a memory card. I believe the reults to
    be terrific! maybe better than my dedicated Ricoh Caplio 6.
    Mac Lynch, Dec 21, 2007
  16. Doc

    Jeanne Guest

    It would be great if the still image emerging from a camcorder were indeed
    improved in quality. My camcorder, oldie but still goodie, will produce
    decent stills grabbed from the video track if conditions are optimum. It
    will produce better ones if they are taken as stills and stored on the video
    track, but the downside of this is that it takes a while to switch from
    video to still and by then I've missed my shot.

    Jeanne, Dec 21, 2007
  17. Hey Jeanne - did you know that the presence of "-- " in the first
    columns of a post singnals most newsreaders that a signature file
    follows? And many newsreaders (mine, for one) suppress signature files
    in followups (which is why your content is not seen here), as well as
    greying them out when displyaing the original post...It's comparable to
    posting replies with ">" in column one - as a number of people do -
    which makes the replies tend to be invisible :)

    I respectfully suggest that you drop the "-- ", so as to add clarity &
    utility to your posts.
    Gene E. Bloch, Dec 21, 2007
  18. Doc

    Jeanne Guest

    Thanks so much for the heads up, Gene. That's the first time I've heard
    that. I didn't do it on purpose, but just from carelessness because the
    "--" are already there. I'll mend my ways. I may have > in column one
    sometimes as well since it's the default for Windows Live Mail. I didn't
    realize I was invisible.

    Jeanne, Dec 22, 2007
  19. Doc

    Doc Guest

    Interesting, does sound potentially useful. Also interesting that
    nowhere in the manual, at least that I've seen do they mention this.

    On some models but this one is to-tape only. I don't know whether
    those with a memory stick will record stills to tape or not.
    Doc, Dec 22, 2007
  20. Doc

    Mac Lynch Guest

    interrupting the video!
    Mac Lynch, Dec 22, 2007
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