Sharpest capture card

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by niteshade, May 27, 2005.

  1. niteshade

    niteshade Guest

    I was wondering if there is a general concensus (or fact based reviews)
    that show which <$100 capture card provides the SHARPEST image?

    I currently have a radeon AIW 7500 and am capturing VHS. WHen I have
    the same signal (composite or coax) going into my TV & capture card the
    image is significantly sharper when entering through the TV's tuner
    opposed to the AIW's.

    So since I'm spending all of this time, I think it would be best if I
    could get a card that is going to provide the sharpest from the get go.
    So does anyone know or have a link to a site where *sharpness* was
    evaluated between several cards? Thanks!

    niteshade, May 27, 2005
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  2. niteshade

    Guest Guest

    I'm not familiar with the AIW 7500. I use and AIW 9600XT and used an
    AIW 8500DV before that. Both cards gave me analog TV captures of
    excellent quality. Since I worked in cable TV for many years and have
    that background, I know how to ensure the best, quality signal is
    arriving at my graphics card. It's also the first place I look when
    there's a problem with picture quality.

    I'm not sure there's much of a difference between the tuner you have
    and either of mine. Tuners are tuners. Or so I'm given to believe.
    There's not much difference between one analog tuner and the other
    but, of course, I could be wrong. However, it's not just the quality
    of the tuner in your graphics card that can determine the quality of
    picture you see (and capture) on your computer. The coax cable, the
    coax F-connectors, the quality, the quantity and configuration of any
    splitters you've placed in-line can all lessen picture quality and the
    quality of your captures if they're not up to spec or are installed

    How many splitters are currently used in your wiring system? Where did
    these splitters come from? A local store or your local cable company?
    Where did the cable that runs to your AIW 7500 come from and who
    installed the connectors on that piece of cable? Were they merely
    pressed on with a crimping tool, or snapped in and sealed in a
    professional manner?

    Before you go and spend more money for another graphics card that may
    or may not improve the quality of your captures, you might want to
    first take a closer look at ALL the existing elements within your
    system. For example, you might simply try and reverse the lines that
    go to the TV and to the tuner and see if the quality of the picture on
    either has been affected. (Does the line that gives you a poor picture
    on your tuner also give you a poor picture on your TV?) A better test
    would be to run one single coax line from the source of the signal
    directly to the AIW 7500. (If cable TV is your source, run this line
    from the ground block outside your home directly to the capture card.)
    Then run that same line to the TV and see if there's any discernable

    Guest, May 27, 2005
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  3. niteshade

    niteshade Guest

    Thanks for the extensive reply. I'm quite experienced with computers &
    AV equipment, so unfortunately your post isn't of much help. I've
    already diagnosed everything in the fashion that you mentioned and the
    problem is 100% with the tuner card.

    Nothing is being split, when I'm doing the comparisons, the VCR is
    directly in to the TV, or directly in to the capture card. I've tried
    composite vs. the coax connection (with heavy gauge crimped cables),
    and the results are the same.

    Clearly, the capture card is putting out a somewhat mottled/blurry
    picture when compared to the TV's built in tuner or composite input.
    So basically, there is no fault whatsoever in *any* of the connections.
    The video from the tuner card is monitored via an s-video cable *in*
    to the TV, and I've also burned DVDs from the captured video & have
    tested directly from the DVD player to the TV via an s-video cable.

    Don't get me wrong, I appreciate your post, it's just that I have the
    experience and have already tested the basics. I just need info on
    video capture card comparisons.

    niteshade, May 27, 2005
  4. niteshade

    David Guest

    Have you checked the 'video soap' on the capture settings you have selected? There are a lot of options there.

    David, May 27, 2005
  5. niteshade

    David Chien Guest

    It may be the different tuners in the various AIW cards.

    Forget where, but maybe tomshardware or sites, there were
    note of the different tuners (even in the latest models), which
    contribute to varying capture qualities.


    anyways, also ask virtualdub's forums, as well as videohelp's forums.
    They'll probably have more help there, too.


    Otherwise, my ATI AIW 8500DV card captures the same resolution and
    detail level as my Canopus ADVC-100 off VHS source through a SVHS deck
    with DNR. The color levels will look different (naturally), but
    otherwise, fine detail levels remain basically identical in my prior tests.


    Also, when you are capturing to DISK, what are you DOING?

    eg. if you're using the ATI AIW sofware, oops! forget that!

    Best way to go?

    Video source through SVideo connectors if possible -> TBC/DNR box as
    needed -> ATI AIW card -> VirtualDub running either Huffyuv or PicVideo
    MJPEG compression codecs at their highest quality settings -> additional
    VirtualDub post-processing filtering, etc. as needed -> AVI file on the
    HD -> Cinema Craft Encoder (highest quality MPEG-2 video converter
    available, IMO) -> to DVD WITHOUT any MPEG-2 recompression! (you must
    make sure the DVD burning program doesn't recompress the MPEG-2 input;
    otherwise, maybe bettter just to skip the Cinema Craft step, and feed
    the DVD program the AVI file)

    1) Don't capture to MPEG-2/MPEG-1/MPEG-4/ATI codecs directly! This will
    result in low-quality video conversions!

    2) Do two-pass compressions using Cinema Craft Encoder. You'll get the
    highest quality possible going to DVD using this.

    3) Do post-process with VirtualDub to remove noise, static, clean up the
    video, etc. This will take forever to run, but well worth it.

    4) Do use SVideo if possible. Composite will work, but lower quality.
    Do use quality hookup cables and keep them short.

    5) Do use a TBC/DNR box or VHS if you have it for the best input video.

    6) Do expect the above to take 4-6+ hours per 1 hour of video minimum.
    David Chien, May 27, 2005
  6. niteshade

    niteshade Guest

    Thanks for the post David :)

    I'm running composite & s-video directly into the card (have a vcr that
    has both outputs). I've used virtual dub to capture avi & yes, I have
    also used the AIW software to capture to mpeg2. The video soap options
    are of no use with the particular problem I'm having.

    The problem is *not* occurring in the the capture or encoding process.

    The problem is simply the *output* of the AIW 7500 card. Whether the
    video in question is recorded or a live real-time signal, it is
    significantly SOFTER than if the signal is sent to my TV's input. This
    is true of all 3 input types that I have available (s-video, coax, and

    Thanks for the advice on the videohelp forums, I frequent that site a
    lot but have never signed up for their forums. I think that most
    likely, the culprit is just varying tuners in varying cards as you said
    that a couple sites have mentioned.

    The whole problem is that I'm capturing VHS that is soft already, and a
    capture card that further softens the image is of no use. Videosoap's
    sharpen filter just doesn't cut it either.

    I think I'll go sign up at videohelp's forums and see if anyone else
    has any recommendations or experiences with the 7500. I'm also curious
    as to why there is *not* a sharpness setting in the AIW software in the
    video section?
    niteshade, May 27, 2005
  7. niteshade

    Ed Light Guest

    Try a vcr as tuner, with an s-video connection to the capture card. Might do
    better. You'll need a sound cable to the sound card.

    Ed Light

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    Ed Light, May 28, 2005
  8. niteshade

    Ed Light Guest

    The TV could have sharpening on. You might browse through its settings.

    On the other hand, maybe the card is 8 bit, where newer ones are 10 bit.

    Or maybe it's just not a great card. Alot of them aren't.

    You could rerender it in a program that has sharpening.

    Ed Light

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    Ed Light, May 28, 2005
  9. niteshade

    niteshade Guest

    Thanks for the posts Ed. As far as the TV having sharpening on,
    wouldn't it also sharpen the signal when the video card was running
    into it? There is no sharpening effect that I know of with the TV, but
    I have manually edited the sharpness settings to see if I could get an
    acceptable level from the captured sources.

    The bottom line is that the ATI all in wonder card outputs a
    considerably softer (I'd say a solid 30-40%) image than when the *same*
    source with the *same connection* is routed directly into the TV.

    I believe that the only option is a different capture card since detail
    in the original source cannot be re-created (sharpening after the fact
    during a rendering process). I mean if the original signal is blurred
    as much as it is in this case(as I said, 30-40%), The original detail
    is just not going to exist in the captured file.

    So after everything is said and done, I guess no one is willing to
    suggest a particular card? (my original request).

    P.S. I haven't been able to post on the forums yet since
    they have a required 2 day waiting period before new members can post.
    niteshade, May 28, 2005
  10. niteshade

    Ed Light Guest

    I see -- you're not viewing it on your monitor.

    newegg user reviews are helpful, though they don't always publish
    unfavorable ones.

    These might be good.
    Ed Light

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    Ed Light, May 28, 2005
  11. niteshade

    Ed Light Guest

    capture cards don't usually have tv out. That would be your video card.

    Ed Light

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    Ed Light, May 28, 2005
  12. niteshade

    niteshade Guest

    Not sure what you mean about capture card not having video out, but the
    ATI all in wonders do "it all". So I only have the one card.
    Regardless, even when the video is viewed on the monitor the softer
    image is highly noticeable. I've done a lot of business with newegg
    and have found the reviews useful before.

    I just don't want to spend more cash on another card without knowing
    how it compares to other cards in regards to sharpness. I'm finding
    that that's pretty specific info to try to find in the reviews on their
    site :(
    niteshade, May 28, 2005
  13. niteshade

    Ed Light Guest

    Maybe you can get a better result in

    Ed Light

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    Ed Light, May 28, 2005
  14. niteshade

    Bariloche Guest

    If you capture with AIW software as mpeg, there may be some checkbox
    that says a correction is applied during the capture. I guess it to be
    a smoothing filter, intended for denoising and better yields from
    available bitrate. The result, of course, is a less sharpen picture.

    Though, anyway, capturing directly as mpeg-2 is not what can give you
    the best results, of course.
    Bariloche, May 29, 2005
  15. niteshade

    David Chien Guest

    Have you tried an uncompressed 720x480 resolution video capture of the
    incoming video signal to the HD as an AVI file using VirtualDub. This
    is the "ONLY" way to ensure that what you see actually represents the
    'best' video signal capture you can get off the ATI AIW 7500 card.

    If you use any other 'compressed' format (eg. MPEG-2/1/4/DV AVI, etc.),
    you can't guarentee this, and you can't tell if the problem lies with
    the hardware (just a soft tuner in the 7500 model?) or elsewhere.

    David Chien, May 31, 2005
  16. niteshade

    David Chien Guest

    Also, see this guy's screen captures off the 7500. You should get at
    least as good of a quality as this.

    Also, suspect that perhaps it is a hardware problem - eg. bad tv tuner.
    Cards to ship with bad components that can drive people crazy.
    David Chien, May 31, 2005
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